During the Golden Age of Comics, comic book fans looked up to Jay Garrick, the original Flash, but it wasn’t until the introduction of Barry Allen, the Silver Age Flash, that a new world of speedsters would be born, along with the concept of the Speed Force.
Over the years, there have been various takes on the Speed Force and the ultimate speed of each speedster, namely Barry Allen and Wally West. Until an official answer is given, comic book fans will continue to debate who is fastest amongst not only the Flashes, but also amongst speedsters across DC Comics.
And while there are technically seven core members of the Flash Family — Barry Allen, Wally West, Jay Garrick, Max Mercury, Bart Allen, Jesse Quick, and Iris West II — for the purposes of this list, we’ve added four more characters who’ve been closely associated with said family. With that in mind, here are The Fastest Members Of The Flash Family, Ranked.
11. Jai West
As one of the twin children of Wally West — the third Flash and Barry Allen’s successor — and Linda West, Jai West (presumably named after the Golden Age Flash, Jay Garrick) inherited his father’s power of super-speed, though it came with severe drawbacks. Similar to what happened with Bart Allen (more on him later), although born with the Speed Force, Jai couldn’t control his super-speed and, therefore, suffered from advanced aging. At one point, he even grew to be eight-years-old practically overnight.
The story surrounding the birth of Wally and Linda’s twins is convoluted, involving the villain Zoom and time travel. Nevertheless, Jai and his twin sister, Iris West II, never knew how long they would live. Hence their father training them to become superheroes in their own right, for as long as they could do so. However, once Barry Allen returned, Jai and Iris could no longer function together — only one of them could be connected to the Speed Force at a time, so, in a selfless act to save her brother, Iris absorbed the Speed Force from her brother into herself.
While Jai still maintains some form of super-speed, he only uses it to accelerate the growth of his muscles, thus allowing him superhuman strength — which is why we’ve put him last on our list of fastest speedsters in the Flash Family.
10. Liberty Belle
The advent of the superhero brought about the Golden Age of Comics during dire times, such as the Great Depression and the Second World War, which is why the majority of superheroes during this period can be seen fighting alongside Allied forces. One such character was Libby Lawrence, AKA Liberty Belle, an athlete who escaped mainland Europe by swimming across the English Channel following the Nazi’s invasion of Poland.
Unlike all of the other characters on this list, Liberty Belle does not receive her powers via the Speed Force, but in a unique way. She, like heroes Uncle Sam and General Glory, is connected to the Spirit of America. When visiting Philadelphia, Libby encounters Tom Revere, a guard at Independence Hall. It’s there that he gives her a replica of the Liberty Bell, which imbued her with superhuman powers.
It’s only when she rings the Liberty Bell that her strength and speed are temporarily enhanced, thus making her superhuman. However, unlike other speedsters, she doesn’t have constant super-speed. Although she is not traditionally associated with the Flash Family, Liberty Belle’s relationship with Johnny Quick and Jesse Quick, and the fact that she possesses superhuman speed, are why we’ve chosen to add her to this list.
9. Max Mercury
Of all the speedsters on this list, Max Crandall’s origin is perhaps the most intriguing. He was a US Cavalryman in the 1830s who was endowed with the power of super-speed by a dying shaman of a local Native American tribe. Following the event that granted him his powers, Max became a local superhero who went by the name Windrunner.
Although his powers are derived from the Speed Force, he, like several other speedsters, does not have a strong connection to the extra-dimensional energy. In fact, he’s never entered the Speed Force, nor drawn energy from it to power his speed. However, he has occasionally been able to intuitively harness the power of the Speed Force to travel forward through time.
After spending some time as Windrunner, Max traveled forward into the 1890s, where he went by the name Whip Whirlwind. Interestingly, when Mark Waid brought back Max Crandall in 1993, DC Comics had renamed the character from Quicksilver (his superhero identity during the 1930s and 1940s) to Max Mercury in order to avoid confusion with Marvel Comics’ speedster of the same name.
8. Johnny Quick
Most comic book readers will recognize Johnny Quick as the speedster villain from Earth-Three, the parallel Earth in which heroes are non-existent and villains rule the world. In fact, in his world, he was a version of the Flash who was part of the Crime Syndicate of America, the villainous counterpart to the Justice League of America. However, the version associated with the Flash Family and the one we’ve chosen for the purposes of this list is Johnny Chambers, the Golden Age speedster who was created following the success of Jay Garrick in Flash comics.
Johnny Chambers, AKA Johnny Quick, made his debut in More Fun Comics but was later retconned into the DC Universe in All-Star Squadron, a team he fought for alongside the Golden Age Flash, Jay Garrick. Unfortunately, he was never quite as fast as his Flash counterpart (though he was able to rival him, albeit briefly), because he didn’t obtain his speed through an accident, but by using a special speed formula — 3X2(9YZ)4A — that allowed him to access the Speed Force. However, Johnny was able to do one thing that Jay wasn’t: fly, although the ability was fleeting.
7. Jesse Quick
Fans of The CW’s The Flash TV series will undoubtedly be familiar with Earth-Two Harrison Wells’ daughter, Jesse Wells, whom he affectionately calls Jesse Quick. While the show obviously plays around with the source material, her character is based off a real comic book speedster, Jesse Chambers, who also goes by the name Jesse Quick, and who was once Wally West’s partner during his run as The Flash.
Technically, of all the core Flash Family members, Jesse Quick is the slowest, but that doesn’t make her the slowest speedster in the DC Universe (as evidenced by the aforementioned characters). In fact, she’s not only faster than her parents — Johnny Quick and Liberty Belle — but she is also a coalescence of both of them, taking after her father’s speed and her mother’s strength.
Similar to her father, Jesse obtained super-speed by speaking the speed formula, a formula linked to the Speed Force. Furthermore, she obtained super-strength from her mother, while also retaining her super-speed. Although she does have a connection to the Speed Force, she has come nowhere close to mastering it, which is why she is one of the slower members of the Flash Family.
6. Wally West II
With comic book characters spanning decades, it’s common for new writers and editors to reimagine and reinvent certain characters, especially their origin stories — and Wally West was one of them. In 2011, following the massive crossover event Flashpoint, and the start of the New 52 universe, the original Wally West disappeared, and a new Wally West was born.
The introduction of this new Wally West brought about a controversy amongst longtime Flash fans — not just because of the color of his skin, but because he replaced one of the oldest and most beloved Flash characters of all time. It was a seismic shift for Flash fans — but, then again, so was the New 52 reboot. Even though he’s only briefly appeared in Flash comics since his introduction, Wally has already demonstrated the ability to run faster than the speed of light, making him one of the fastest speedsters in the DC Universe.
Despite the return of the original Wally West in DC: Rebirth, the New 52 version still exists, though he has been shown to have little control over his powers. As with Jesse Quick, fans of The Flash TV series will recognize this version of Wally West on the show, though his origin has been altered. He is no longer the nephew of Iris West but rather her long-lost brother.
5. Jay Garrick
New and casual comic book readers may not know much about Jay Garrick, the Golden Age Flash, but that’s slowly changing with his inclusion on The Flash TV series. Long before Barry Allen and the introduction of the Speed Force, there was the speedster Jay Garrick, who was endowed with super-speed by inhaling heavy water vapors as a result of a lab accident. After being in a coma for several weeks, Jay woke up and discovered that he was capable of superhuman speed, something he quickly used to meet his future wife, Joan Williams.
As a child, Jay used to read pulp comics featuring the speedster Whip Whirlwind, who inspired him to don a superhero costume and become the Flash. Interestingly, due to the concept of the multiverse, Barry used to read stories of Jay Garrick and his fabled heroics, which is what in turn inspired him to become the Flash. However, despite being the original speedster, Jay was never able to surpass Barry in terms of speed, as it wasn’t until recently that he even obtained a connection to the Speed Force.
4. Bart Allen
Of all the speedsters on this list, Bart Allen is the only one blood-related to Barry Allen, the Silver Age Flash. Being the grandson of The Flash comes with its perks and limitations, such as being born with powers of super-speed, but having to deal with the resulting hyper-metabolism. However, after traveling back in time and discovering a way to combat his advanced aging, Bart ended up becoming the superhero Impulse (a name he received from Batman as a warning) — but that’s only part of his story.
Bart Allen has arguably one of the most confounding narratives for a speedster in the DC Universe, being connected to Barry Allen, Eobard Thawne, and Captain Boomerang, and becoming a superhero in the past. However, one thing has always remained clear: he is one of the fastest speedsters ever to live.
Bart is known to have the highest potential to become the fastest man alive, due to his unique connection to the Speed Force following the events of Infinite Crisis. However, he has never proven to be consistently faster than Barry or Wally, even when he assumed the mantle of The Flash. His potential is limited by his unstable link to the Speed Force — and therein lies the reasoning for his position on this list.
3. Barry Allen
Barry Allen is by far the most recognizable Flash in DC Comics history. Having made his debut in 1956, Barry Allen became the Silver Age Flash, a reimagined version of the Golden Age superhero Jay Garrick. Barry was in many ways similar to Jay, but also fundamentally different. We didn’t realize how different until recently when it was revealed that Barry Allen isn’t just connected to the Speed Force. He is the Speed Force.
It’s because of Barry that we even have a Flash Family, and he’s why characters like Max Mercury and Jay Garrick are allowed to exist in the DC Universe. In fact, everything we know about the multiverse we owe to Barry, whose iconic comic Flash of Two Worlds introduced readers to alternate realities and successfully reintroduced Jay Garrick into continuity.
As for his speed, most fans consider Barry to be the fastest man alive — and he very well might be — but we cannot confidently say that he is the fastest member of the Flash Family. Theoretically, Barry should be the fastest since he has the strongest connection and, thus far, an unquantifiable speed limit. However, Barry was never able to master the Speed Force — not like his longtime sidekick and friend, Wally West.
2. Wally West
After achieving enormous success with Dick Grayson, DC Comics introduced sidekicks for several other superheroes, namely Green Arrow and The Flash. While the archer got Roy Harper, the Scarlet Speedster got Wally West, AKA Kid Flash — and so began an unyielding bond that would define Flash comics. Similar to other superheroes, Wally eventually succeeded his mentor and became The Flash after Barry died during the massive crossover event Crisis on Infinite Earths.
Determining who is faster — Barry Allen or Wally West — is perhaps one of the most contentious subjects in comic book history. It’s possible that readers will never get an official, definitive answer, especially since the Speed Force seems to be a fluid concept to DC Comics writers. Still, judging by what we know of the Speed Force and the past feats of both speedsters, we can assuredly say that Wally West is the faster Flash.
Barry has been shown struggling to break the time barrier, yet Wally has done it with ease, even once helping Barry cross that boundary by giving him a push in The Flash: Rebirth (2009). For a long time, Wally put a mental block on himself, a preventive measure to ensure that he would never replace Barry. However, due to special circumstances, Wally was forced to break through that limitation and become the fastest man alive.
1. Iris West II
By now, it should be painfully obvious that the Speed Force is a convoluted concept; something that has perplexed both longtime and casual comic book fans over the decades. The fact is, if you haven’t read each and every Flash comic since the Silver Age of Comics began, then there’s a high chance you’ve missed something that could be used to determine just who is the fastest of all.
Seeing Iris West II, AKA Impulse, as first on this list will come as a shock to virtually every fan, but here’s the thing, we’re not discussing theoretics, Impulse is the fastest speedster in the DC Universe. As previously mentioned, it was revealed prior to the New 52 reboot that Barry produces the Speed Force while everyone else merely borrows from it. Wally, on the other hand, mainlines from the Speed Force, thus making him faster than Barry.
With that in mind, the reason Iris West II is faster than both Barry and her father, Wally, despite never having run faster than either them, is because her potential is practically limitless. And that is because she is the living embodiment of the Speed Force, having the ability not only to run faster than anyone but also to control and manipulate both speed and time.