The Flash is coming to the end of its second season, and it just keeps getting better and better. Not only has Barry Allen spent time on Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow, he recently jumped worlds to hang out with Kara on Supergirl – including a little bit of footrace fun! The two sped alongside each other to give Barry the speed he needed to jump between Earths again, so we didn’t actually see who would have won, but it does give rise to one of the biggest question in comic books – who really is the fastest man (or woman) alive?
While that’s a near-impossible question to actually answer, we’ve gathered twelve contenders to the title from Marvel and DC. All of these speedsters can get from point A to point B in a flash – and without the use of teleportation, reality bending, or any other trickery. Just good old fashioned speed. A definitive ranking would need a much deeper discussion than we can fit in here; including which age of hero, which person (for titles that have been held by multiple characters), which point in their history we are taking them from, and what may be affecting their powers. Consider this a starting point, and until we can get all twelve of these guys (and gals) behind the starting line together, tell us who you think would be the ultimate winner in the comments!
Nevertheless, here are the 12 Fastest Superheroes Of All Time.
12 Iris and Jai West (DC)
Initially, Impulse was the name given to Bart Allen, aka the second Kid Flash. Now, however, the moniker belongs to Iris West. Iris West the second, that is – the daughter of Wally and Linda West, and great-niece to the Iris West that Barry Allen fell in love with long ago.
Having been exposed to the speed force as infants, Iris and her brother, Jai, aged at an accelerated rate and developed speedster powers. While Jai’s power manifests as the ability to grow his muscles, Iris developed full speedster powers and the ability to vibrate through objects. (She also appears older than Jai.) Her speed developed after her vibration abilities, and it was only once she gained this full power that Iris took on the mantle of Impulse, much to the surprise of Flash and Kid Flash.
11 Jesse Quick/Liberty Belle (DC)
The daughter of the first Liberty Belle and Johnny Quick, Jesse Chambers received powers from both her parents. Her mother, Liberty Belle, gained super strength and speed by ringing a miniature replica of the Liberty Bell, which she wore on her belt.
Her father, Johnny Quick, could access the Speed Force by means of reciting a formula which he found in an Egyptian temple (3X2(9YZ)4A). Jesse therefore gained superspeed from both sides, although it was the use of her father’s formula which gave her the greater power due to its connection to the Speed Force. Now Jesse has retired the Jesse Quick name, and is an ally to the other speedsters under the same name as her mother: Liberty Belle.
10 Max Mercury (DC)
The "zen master of speed," Max Mercury is the oldest speedster in the Flash family, a time-jumper with a powerful connection to the Speed Force. He initially gained his powers when a messenger on the American frontier, a shaman from the Blackfoot tribe, bestowed speed on him when they were attacked, allowing him to escape with the message.
He became known as Windrunner, but accidentally brushed against the Speed Force and was thrown forward in time. Since then, he has been a friend to Jay Garrick, a mentor to Wally West and a father figure to Bart Allen. Although he has a greater knowledge of the Speed Force than most, he isn’t as fast as many of the other members of the Flash line, as he jumps through time whenever he gets too close to the Speed Force.
9 Superboy (DC)
A human/kryptonian hybrid, Superboy Kon-El was created by Camus as a clone of Superman. His mix of human and kryptonia DNA gives him a unique set of powers, including tactile telekinesis which mimic Superman’s powers, and others which come directly from his Kryptonian heritage. His superspeed is one of the latter, and the teen titan can travel faster than the human eye can see (as long as he is under a yellow sun).
In 2011, Superboy took on fellow Teen Titan Kid Flash (Bart Allen) in a footrace, which would have told us a lot about his top speeds… but in an echo of the earlier Flash v Superman races, we didn’t get a definitive answer. Still, they were close, which puts him at incredibly high speeds. (For those wondering, neither won because Krypto ducked in to beat them both!)
8 Northstar and Aurora (Marvel)
Jean-Paul and Jeanne-Marie Baubier are twin mutants who were separated at birth and reunited by Wolverine as part of Alpha Flight, a Canadian superhero team. Both twins have the same mutation and powers – that of flight and of superspeed. The two have the ability to control the kinetic energy in their bodies to an incredible degree, allowing them to move supernaturally fast, run across water, create cyclones by running in circles, and all the usual speedster tricks.
The twins have the potential to be able to run at light speed, but although their bodies have adapted to deal with friction from their speed, they could not deal with the effects of moving at lightspeed. Northstar is fractionally faster than his twin, Aurora, but she has greater endurance, which allows her to travel at high speeds for longer.
7 Supergirl and Powergirl (DC)
Superman’s cousin is a Kryptonian just like him, so Kara Zor-El has the same sun-induced superspeed that Kal-El does. Now with her own live-action TV series (Supergirl), Kara was originally Superman’s older cousin, but her pod was knocked off course, and by the time she made it to Earth, Kal-El had aged far past her. This also gives him greater speed than Kara, as he has been exposed to the Earth’s yellow sun for longer (and he is proportionately larger and more powerful, for the most part).
Powergirl, also a Kryptionian, is Supergirl from Earth-2, one of the only survivors of her universe. As such, her powers are almost identical to Supergirl’s, although she has different experiences, fighting style, and *ahem* assets.
6 Quicksilver (Marvel)
The son of Magneto and brother to Scarlet Witch, Pietro Maximoff’s speed is a result of his mutation. His speed doesn’t come with any other enhancements, but does effectively give him faster reflexes and greater stamina. He also has a temper as quick as he is! The speedster can maintain his speeds over great distances, but has also used them in small spaces to create whirlwinds, and can run across water or up walls. He has also used his abilities to vibrate his muscles, wreaking havoc on everything he touched.
The speedster is much faster than ordinary humans, but his top speed varies from around 200 mph all the way up to Mach 5. After the events of M-Day, Pietro lost his powers (and briefly gained the power to travel in time thanks to the Terrigen Mists), but seems to have regained them in more recent comics.
5 Kid Flash (DC)
Wally West was Kid Flash when he first obtained superspeed – a name that he took on in honor of his mentor, Barry Allen. However, the current Kid Flash (since Wally has become The Flash in his own right) is Bart Allen, a young speedster from another time. Barry Allen’s grandson, he was born with a hyper-accelerated metabolism, which sped up his growth and would shorten his life span.
In the hopes of saving him, his parents sent him back to our time, which slowed his growth, but left him with his powers of super speed. Trained by Max Mercury, he is still learning to control his powers and connection to the speed force. A member of the Teen Titans, he can achieve incredible speeds, and it has been suggested that he has an even better connection to the Speed Force than Wally West. As such, he has been able to use his powers to become invisible, and even create clones of himself to send through time.
4 Shazam/Captain Marvel (DC)
Formerly referred to as Captain Marvel (no, not that Captain Marvel, nor Ms Marvel, nor Captain Mar-vell, all of whom are Marvel characters, and which may be part of the reason for the name change!), Shazam is the superhero alter ego of Billy Batson. Chosen as the successor to the ancient wizard Shazam, when he says the wizard’s name, he becomes a superhero with the wisdom of Solomon, the strength of Hercules, the stamina of Atlas, the power of Zeus, the courage of Achilles, and (most importantly for this list) the speed of Mercury.
His speed is God-like, rivalling Superman and the Flash, and he moves so quickly that he is invisible to the naked eye. His speed also allows him to defy gravity, giving him the ability to travel through the Earth’s atmosphere and even outer space.
3 Makkari (Marvel)
Makkari’s obsession with speed is such that he has channeled all his cosmic energy into becoming faster, thus draining and even losing him many of the other abilities that Eternals have. Part of a race of beings created by the Celestials, the Eternals have the ability (in varying degrees) to teleport, fly, and project energy blasts. Eternals are also functionally immortal, telepathic and super-strong. Makkari’s focus on his speed has made him the fastest of the Eternals, with the ability to outrun gravity (to race up walls and over water), create cyclones by running in circles, and is now capable of running at the speed of light for sustained periods.
However, his speed obsession is also damaging to his health – it has reduced his strength (although he is still much stronger than the average human), and his body accumulates fatigue poisons over time.
2 Superman (DC)
Superman has all kinds of incredible powers, thanks to his Kryptonian origins – and just one of those is his superspeed. Still, it’s one of his longest-standing and best-known powers, giving him the tagline “faster than a speeding bullet.”
Of course, Superman is much, much faster than a speeding bullet, which moves at a snail’s pace in comparison to this superhero! His speed has even been the first thing noticed about him in the past – on Smallville, for example, he was originally known as The Red-Blue Blur. Superman’s speed has developed over the years since he first appeared – in the Golden Age, he actually wasn’t that fast – able to outrun a train, but not yet capable of the kind of feats that he finds easy now. At his top speeds, Superman can outrun the speed of light, but not Wally West (although races with previous Flashes ended in dead heats).
1 The Flash (DC)
Possibly the best-known comic speedster (especially now that there is a hugely popular TV series about him!), several people have worn the mantle of The Flash over the years. The first Flash was Jay Garrick, who inhaled a radioactive chemical which gave him superspeed. The second Flash was Barry Allen, a scientist working for the police force who was struck by lightning in his lab. (Both Jay and Barry have appeared on The Flash, but it is Barry who is the star of the show.)
Finally, we have Wally West, Barry’s nephew who gained his powers in a near-identical lab accident. All three can run at near lightspeed and phase through objects, but Wally is the fastest of them all, with the ability to run at the speed of light and use his speed in previously un-heard of ways, thanks to his ability to tap into the Speed Force itself.
Can you think of any other superspeedsters who should be on this list? Let us know in the comments!