Jay Garrick’s original Flash set the stage for speedsters in DC comics, but it wasn’t until Barry Allen’s Silver Age introduction that the Speed Force came into play. While there have been several different takes on the Speed Force since its inception, each version has served as the primary power source for whichever character happens to be the Flash at that time.
Jay, Barry, Wally West, and Bart Allen have each held the mantle of the Fastest Man Alive, and the Speed Force, created and powered by Barry Allen himself, has always been loyal to the Flash. However, some of his greatest enemies have been known to access its powers too.
That said, the Speed Force does have some rules. Only those who claim the title of ‘speedster’ can use it to make them faster, so Superman, for instance cannot use the Speed Force to improve his super speed. Hunter Zolomon (Zoom), meanwhile, is not a speedster. Contrary to his time on The CW’s The Flash, Zolomon alters time relative to himself, only appearing to move faster than those around him, and there has been no comic book evidence that he has access to the Speed Force. With that cleared up, let’s count down Every Character Connected To The Speed Force, Ranked By Speed.
15. Danny West
The younger brother of Iris West, Daniel West ran away from home after crippling his abusive father, William. Despite continued attempts to reconnect with his sister, Danny fell in with the Rogues while serving a five-year prison sentence for attempted robbery. Upon his release, Danny tried to escape the Rogues, but was hit by a monorail car powered by a Speed Force battery. Danny gained the power of super speed from the accident, but unlike the other speedsters on this list, his powers depend entirely on the Speed Force charge in the monorail’s battery.
Ironically, Danny was turned into a villain by his attempts to save his relationship with Iris. Desperate to go back in time and fix what he did to his father, Danny hunted down those with the Speed Force and drained them of their powers. With heightened speed and a fully-charged battery, he was briefly a match for Barry Allen’s Flash, who could only follow him back through time. Barry eventually convinces Danny to give up his powers, and he later joins the Suicide Squad.
The future granddaughter of Barry Allen and Iris West, Jenni Ognats was raised in the 30th century with her cousin, Bart Allen. While Iris takes Bart back to the 20th century to keep him safe from the Dominators, who are searching for metahumans to experiment upon, Jenni’s powers eventually manifest when she is forced to watch her father being tortured.
She was fast enough to escape from the Dominators, and she has since spent a lot of her time travelling between centuries, joining the Legion of Superheroes in the 30th, and reconnecting with Bart to battle Savitar in the 20th. There, she learned that she could break through the timestream without help from the Cosmic Treadmill, thanks to some training from her grandfather, Barry. Her top speed is, as yet, un-clocked, but any relative of Barry Allen is bound to have a near-unlimited potential, and as XS, she has already displayed the abilities to run on water and phase through objects.
13. Lady Flash
Christina Alexandrova has worked on both sides of the Force (literally). She was imprisoned and experimented on by the immortal Vandal Savage, aiding Wally West in his defeat of Savage and briefly taking up a career as the superhero Lady Flash. However, she is tempted into joining Savitar’s cult, and is perhaps best known for her attempts to free the God of Speed from within the Speed Force (which means we may well be seeing a version of Lady Flash on The CW this season!)
She is trapped in the Speed Force by Jesse Quick, but escapes, and finally succeeds in bringing Savitar back to Earth. Unfortunately for her, Savitar is quickly defeated, and her response is to kill the rest of his followers, absorb their speed and ambush Barry and Wally. She holds her own against the two speedsters, injuring Wally, but eventually meets a sorry end, crumbling to dust at Barry’s touch.
12. Max Mercury
Granted super speed by a dying Native American during the 1830s, Max Crandall has travelled back and forth though time as often as any speedster on this list. Max became a crime-fighting superhero in just about every era he popped up, and each time formed a new alter ego. Max went by Windrunner in his own time, Whip Whirlwind in the 1890s, Quicksilver in the 1930s and 40s, before finally settling on Max Mercury (so as to avoid comparisons with Marvel’s Quicksilver.)
Max has never used his connection to the Speed Force to power his speed, nor has he ever sought to enter it, but his understanding of the Speed Force is second to none, passing the knowledge of its greatness onto the sceptical Jay Garrick, and his own trainee, Bart Allen. He was also the one to realize that Barry Allen was the source of the Speed Force. It is possibly for this reason that he was allowed to merge with the Speed Force when the Rival took control of his body. Although never quite on the same level as the Flash, Max has run at speeds equal to Jay and Barry in short bursts.
11. Johnny Quick
Not to be confused with the Johnny Quick of Earth-3, who happened to be a member of the Crime Syndicate of America (basically the anti-Justice League), Johnny Chambers garnered his speed through a unique method. Unlike the majority of the Flash family, Johnny gained access to the Speed Force through a formula of his own creation (3X2(9YZ)4A). He used his powers for good, taking up the mantle of Johnny Quick and fighting crime as part of the All-Star Squadron, a team of which Golden Age Flash Jay Garrick was a member.
Like Mercury, Johnny has shown… flashes of a speed equal to Jay’s, but he has never quite matched him in the long run. However, becoming a speedster by way of a specially designed formula, rather than your more basic methods of accident gone wrong or scientific experiment, does have its benefits. Johnny has the ability to fly (though at a slower speed than he could run), something that Jay has never done.
10. Jesse Quick
Jesse Chambers became a speedster simply by speaking her father’s formula, which is perhaps the least work anyone has ever done to gain a superpower. Jesse is quicker than her father, and she has the added bonus of super strength, which she gained from her mother, Liberty Belle (whose name she would eventually take), but she has never run as fast as any Flash, which you can put down to the fact that she has never fully mastered the Speed Force.
Jesse teamed up with Wally during his run as the Flash, a relationship referenced in The CW’s The Flash, where Jesse and Wally have a brief romantic arc at the beginning of season 3. In the show, Jesse is the Earth-2 daughter of Harrison Wells, who affectionately refers to her as Jesse Quick. They travel to Earth-1 to help Barry in his fight against Zoom and she is hit by the dark matter energy from a failed experiment to restore Barry’s speed. The effects of the dark matter are delayed, but she returns in season 3 as a speedster.
9. Jay Garrick
Long before there was even a Speed Force, Jay Garrick was sent into a coma following a lab accident. He woke up to find that he had developed super speed, and there began the Flash. Jay was inspired to fight crime by old comic books featuring Whip Whirlwind (who would eventually appear in the present as Max Mercury), and interestingly enough, comics of Jay’s heroics would later reach the Multiverse, where they were picked up by Barry Allen, and Jay in turn became the second Flash’s speedster hero.
Jay may be the oldest, wisest, and most experience of the four Flashes, but his connection to the Speed Force is still fairly new, and his top speed even with the Speed Force barely scratches the surface of Barry, Wally, and Bart’s potential. Jay is The CW’s speedster of Earth-3, and he is actually portrayed as Barry’s Earth-1 father Henry Allen’s doppelganger.
The self-proclaimed God of Speed, Savitar– whose real name is still unknown– was a Cold War fighter pilot whose jet was struck by lightning. Discovering that he had super speed and believing it to be some kind of divine gift, he renamed himself after Savitr, the Hindu God of Motion, and became obsessed with speed, studying to uncover its secrets. Because of this, he has gained powers from the Speed Force that no other speedster has been able to master; force field projection, instant healing, and handing out speed as a gift to the members of the cult who worship him.
Savitar will be the main villain of The Flash season 3, where he has been shown to have speed far beyond the Flash, Reverse-Flash, or Zoom. His comic book counterpart is faster than Johnny Quick, but Quick is the only speedster we know for sure Savitar can outrun. He was trapped in the Speed Force by Wally, and caught and killed by the recently resurrected Barry Allen, so while his knowledge of the Speed Force is unprecedented, we can safely assume that the TV show is overpowering this villain somewhat.
7. Walter West
An alternate universe version of Wally West, Walter’s life exactly paralleled Wally’s until his Linda Park was killed by Kobra, whereas Wally was able to save his girlfriend from the venomous villain. After her death, Walter devoted his life to getting faster, seeking guidance from Savitar. The God of Motion taught Walter everything he knew about the Speed Force, before Walter killed his teacher with relative ease, and became the Dark Flash.
In their one battle, Walter actually defeats Wally West’s Flash, and he even manages to shake off the combined efforts of Impulse, Jesse Quick, and Max Mercury (though Bart is able to sneak up on him). Wally returns to Walter’s world disguised as Zoom, and Walter redeems himself, joining his lookalike in the fight against Kadabra and finding another great love in Angela Margolin. As Zoom, Wally has surpassed Walter, but anything Wally can do, you have to image Walter can do too.
6. Iris West II
Iris and her twin brother Jai are the twin children of Wally West. Their super speed began manifesting at the age of only three months, and the twins began aging rapidly. When captured by Gorilla Grodd, Iris’s powers overwhelm her, and she ages into a fully-fledged adult. Wally takes her into the Speed Force to determine the cause of her sudden growth, and while there, Iris forms a connection to the Speed Force, mastering it entirely and returning to childhood.
Eobard Thawne’s repeated disruption of the Speed Force causes crippling pain in both Iris and Jai, but Iris decides to take her brother’s connection to the Speed Force onto herself, freeing Jai of the pain and rendering him virtually powerless. After being freed by Jesse Quick, Iris accepts her duties as a speedster, and takes the mantle of Impulse from Bart. Despite never going faster than her father, Iris’s complete connection to the Speed Force at such a young age gives her a far greater potential than Wally.
5. Bart Allen
Of the three that remain, it’s almost impossible to determine which Flash is the real Fastest Man Alive, but Bart ranks the lowest for a few reasons. First, while Wally has merged with the Speed Force and Barry is its literal source, Bart has a mixed relationship with the Speed Force, as it is the reason for his hyper-metabolism, causing him to age swiftly in both directions. Second, he has never quite lived up to his potential. Bart, being a blood relative of both Barry and Eobard Thawne, has had the gift of super speed since birth, but Barry and Wally have been shown to run at greater speeds far more consistently.
Bart made his live action debut in Smallville, it’s only a matter of time before we see the character on The CW. He is, after all, an integral part of Flash continuity, becoming the superhero Impulse during his time in the 20th century and serving as Wally’s sidekick for a time. It’s just that his tenure as the titular character was all too brief for him to be considered as an equal to his predecessors.
4. Barry Allen
Every character on this list owes a debt to Barry Allen: the source of all speed, the most recognizable speedster in all of comics, and contender for the Fastest Man Alive. It’s quite possible that there’s more to come from Barry, but where he falls short, believe it or not, is on his inability to master the Speed Force. After succeeding Jay Garrick in bringing the Flash to the Silver Age, Barry heroically sacrifices himself in the Crisis on Infinite Earths storyline, running faster than he had ever run to reverse the effects of Anti-Monitor’s Antimatter cannon. He ran so fast that he became one with the Speed Force, but he proved unable to free himself without Wally’s help.
There have been numerous iterations of Barry and Wally’s versions of the Flash, and naturally, each has been faster at one (Flash)point or another. For many, Barry remains the definitive Flash, and now that he has been resurrected for good, we might get confirmation as to who is faster, but at the end of the day, Wally at his fastest has achieved feats Barry never could.
3. Eobard Thawne
Eobard Thawne has one of the more twisted backstories of any DC villain. Born in the 25th century, Thawne worshipped Barry Allen, having been told tales of his heroics from a young age. Desperate to tap into the Speed Force so as to meet his hero in the past, a future version of himself visited Thawne, and killed everyone who stood in his way of his experiments. Nicknamed Professor Zoom for his extensive knowledge of the Speed Force, Thawne knew it was his destiny to become a speedster, but when he found Barry’s washed-up cosmic treadmill and returned to a time after Barry’s death, he learned that he was destined for something else: to become the Flash’s greatest rival.
Driven insane by the news, Thawne dyed an old Flash suit yellow and developed the Negative Speed Force. Barry and Thawne have more or less been on a par during their various encounters throughout history, but the Negative Speed Force gives Thawne a slight edge. It is able to counteract and even steal Barry’s Speed Force, and his research allows him to use it to stop time, delete others from existence, and travel through eras on his own. Thawne served as the primary antagonist in season 1 of The Flash, played by Tom Cavanagh and later Matt Letscher, and he continues to pop up through various stages of Barry’s life.
2. Wally West
For a long time after Barry’s death, Wally struggled with the idea of taking the step up from Kid Flash to Flash. It was actually a time-travelling Professor Zoom who uncovered Wally’s true potential. Thawne suggested that if Wally wasn’t up to the challenge, he would become the new Flash, and the psychological barrier Wally had placed on himself to keep him from surpassing his mentor finally broke.
While Wally never had Barry’s ability to phase through objects, often preferring to just run straight into things (thereby blowing them up), Wally learned to mainline his power directly from the Speed Force. Thanks to this connection, not even Thawne’s Negative Speed Force can drain his powers, and Wally has manufactured a suit out of pure Speed Force energy. His top speed is unknown, but as Barry struggled to escape the Speed Force, Wally was able to enter it and bring them both out, and he has outrun instant teleportation, a black hole, and even death.
There are plenty of speedsters whose exact speed is yet unknown, so before we get to our number one Speed Force user, stand by for some honourable mentions:
John Fox: A 27th century speedster, John was lost in time following a visit to the 20th century, where he helped Wally West prevent the Ice Age, and wound up protecting the future of 85,265 AD.
Turbine: Following a plane incident, Roscoe Hynes found himself trapped in the Speed Force in the year 1944. Seven decades later, the Flash pulls him into the present, but Hynes, wanting to return to his own time, joins the Rogues as Turbine.
A fairly new addition to the Flash lore, August Heart is a colleague of Barry’s at the CCPD. Seeking revenge for his brother’s murder, he is out one night when a Speed Force storm erupts over Central City, imbuing him and many of its citizens with super speed. Barry and August work together for a time, rounding up and trying to help those who were hit by the storm, but when Barry learns that the suspect in August’s brother’s murder has been killed, he figures out that August is the elusive Godspeed. The storm had given Godspeed the unique ability to sense the Speed Force in others, and he uses this to take the powers of the speedsters Barry is trying to help.
We don’t know as much about Godspeed as the other characters on this list, but we do know his connection to the Speed Force is as pure as it comes, and that the Flash is going to have to reach a whole new level if he is to surpass his latest rival. During his brief run in the comics, Godspeed is shown to be much faster than the Flash, and it takes the combined efforts of Barry, Wally and Barry’s recruits to bring him to justice. Though he’s currently locked up in Iron Heights, we somehow don’t think we’ve seen the last of Godspeed.
The Flash continues with the mid-season finale, “The Present,” on Tuesday, December 6th at 8PM ET on The CW.