Thanks to the success of The Flash on The CW and the inclusion of the Scarlet Speedster in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and The Justice League, there is a lot of talk about the character. Like pretty much every property DC owns, the Flash has gone through a lot of changes since he first debuted in the comics in Flash Comics #1, written by Gardner Fox and penciled by Harry Lampert in 1940.
Different artists and writers have had the opportunity to take a crack at the fastest man alive over the years and, thanks to DC’s delight in rebooting the universe, there are tons of different characters and versions of those characters who call themselves the Flash.
But who is the best? We don’t necessarily mean the fastest or strongest, but which was written or played better than any other? To be clear, when we rank a version last, that doesn’t mean we don’t love that Flash–rather, there are just other versions the Flash who are more memorable or better presented.
Here is Every Version Of The Flash, Ranked Worst To Best.
16. BIZARRO FLASH
Most folks probably already know all about Bizarro Superman. He says “good” when he means bad and generally is in every way opposite of the Man of Steel. Though he possesses many of the same powers, they are inverted (Heat breath instead of cool breath and so on).
After Bizarro gained the ability to make duplicates of himself in “Escape from Bizarro World”, written by Geoff Johns and Richard Donner, he created Bizarro World and populated it with Bizarro versions of other superheroes. Naturally, he created a Bizarro version of The Flash.
So, what do you do when you have to create an inverted version of the fastest man alive? You make him obese, make him pass out after only a few steps, and you give him the ability to fly at light speed. Mix it all together and you have a Bizarro Flash!
Kyrad is probably a version of the Flash most people have never heard of, due to his appearing in only one story back in The Flash #309, written by Cary Bates and penciled by Carmine Infantino in 1982. We decided to throw this one-off character onto this list simply because his power level is pretty high on the speedster-scale.
Kyrad was a telepathic human from the 98th century who traveled back in time to help save the Earth with the help of some 20th-century heroes. Initially, he hoped to obtain a Green Lantern ring but went on to steal the Flash’s speed when GL turned out to be off-planet. When his plan fails, Flash agrees to help out his would-be-captor.
They travel back in time to the night Barry obtained his powers and steal the discarded lab clothes still full of the lightning-struck chemicals. They use these to give Kyrad the same powers as Barry so he was able to return to his “present” and become a superhero for his time.
14. Bart Allen (Smallville)
Smallville‘s version of The Flash made his first appearance in the season four episode “Run.” Bart Allen, as played by Kyle Gallner, was a hyper-active teenage boy who survived by using his powers to be a pick-pocket. Clark taught Bart that stealing – for any reason – was wrong and they faced off a couple of times in foot races, both of which Bart won.
Bart was later discovered by Oliver Queen, who gave him the code name Impulse, and was tortured by Lex Luthor until he accessed the Speed Force. He joined up with Smallville’s version of the Justice League. Bart made a few other appearances during the show’s run, but as a weird amalgam of various different Flashes from the comics, he never made a big impression.
13. SELA ALLEN
Sela Allen is the Flash of the 23rd century and if her name didn’t give it away, she is a descendant of Barry Allen. She was attacked by the Cobalt Blue of her timeline, who used his ability to magically control speed to slow her nervous system down to a crawl. This locked her into a perpetual state of slow motion.
To save her, her father placed her at the very edge of the Speed Force with the hope that it would restart her nervous system and bring her back into a normal speed, but it instead gave her the ability to project herself as a being of pure speed.
She became the living embodiment of the Speed Force itself. Thus far, she has only appeared in seven issues of the comics having debuted in The Flash #146, written by Mark Waid and penciled by Paul Pelletier in 1999. We haven’t seen much of her yet, but given her power, she could become one of the most powerful speedsters in the DC Universe.
12. LIA NELSON
Lia Nelson is the Flash of Earth-9, more often referred to as Tangent Earth. Tangent Earth is similar to New Earth, but the superheroes there have vastly different origin stories and powers. Because of this, Lia Nelson’s powers are different than Barry’s or any other Flash from New Earth. She can turn herself into a being of pure light.
Lia was a fashion model and actress whose parents gave birth to her while on a mission to Jupiter, making her the first baby born in space. This unique birth gave her the abilities she uses to fight crime as Flash!
She can transform her body into light, which, of course, allows her to travel at light speed. This does grant her similar powers to a speedster, but she has additional abilities as well. Lia can also manipulate and create light to suit her purposes and is very powerful, but thanks to her being from Tangent Earth, she does offer some unique differences to the Flash namesake, which make her an interesting addition to this list.
11. TANAKA REI
Tanaka Rei was the Flash of Earth-D. He was a Japanese man who grew up reading the comics featuring Barry Allen as the Flash, which inspired him to become The Flash of his world when he acquired superhuman powers similar to his childhood hero.
He eventually met up with the “real” Barry Allen during the Crisis on Infinite Earths. Barry arrived in Earth-D and helped Tanaka Rei defeat that world’s Mirror Master. Barry and Tanaka then went to the Justice Alliance of America and teamed up with Earth-One’s Justice League of America in order to mount a defense against the Anti-Monitor’s Shadow Demons in the hopes of saving Earth-D.
It became inevitable that the reality would crumble so a Cosmic Treadmill was built to move all the inhabitants of Earth-D to Earth-One. At the last moment, Barry was abducted along with the rest of the Justice League of America, leaving only Tanaka to power the treadmill. He ended up perishing with the Justice Alliance of America when the universe came to an end.
10. DANICA WILLIAMS
Danica Williams is the Flash of the mid-21st-century, operating in the 2040s. She is a new addition to comics and the Speed Force, having first debuted in Justice League Beyond #19, written by Derek Fridolfs and penciled by Jorge Corona, in early 2013.
She is an employee of the Flash Museum in Central City and has a direct connection with the Speed Force. This gives her the same powers as The Flash, but she also has the ability to communicate with previous versions of the character. She is often in contact with Jay Garrick, Bart Allen, and Wally West.
Given that she is the Flash from her time, she is a member of Justice League Unlimited. During her first meeting with the group, she ended up having to save them all from Mindslide after the supervillain had replicated their powers and mind-controlled the heroes so that they would fight one another.
9. JESSE CHAMBERS (QUICK)
Jesse Chambers comes from auspicious beginnings being the daughter of Johnny Quick and Liberty Bell, two superheroes from the Golden Age of comics. She was born with the abilities of her mother but was taught the mathematical formula by her father (Shh, don’t tell anyone but it’s: 3X2(9YZ)4A) that allowed her to tap into the Speed Force allowing her to become a speedster.
She went on to become a leader of The Titans under the name Jesse Quick and later became a member of the Justice League of America.
Compare to some of the other Flashes on this list, she isn’t quite as fast and is only able to reach a top speed of a “pathetic” .5C (That’s half the speed of light). Despite her clear disadvantage, she is still a pretty dangerous lady to cross, which is why she is one of our favorite versions of the Speedster/Flash character.
8. JOHN FOX
DC likes to repeat their characters across the ages, which is why John Fox is the Flash of the 853rd Century. Fox went on a mission from the 27th century into our present time to recruit one of the Flashes to help fight the supervillain Manfred Mota, who threatened the future Central City.
His mission to recruit the aid of a Flash from the past failed, but he was exposed to tachyon radiation in his attempt to pull a speedster into his own time. This connected him to the Speed Force, which gave him the powers of a speedster making his mission a technical success.
Fox accepted his newfound powers and went on to defend the world in his time (27th century) before bouncing around time to finally settle in the 183rd century, where/when he joined up with the Justice Legion.
7. BART ALLEN
Bart Allen is the fourth Flash in DC Comics and the second Kid Flash, though he hails from the 30th century. Bart was born around the time of the Legion of Superheroes and is the son of Don Allen (Barry Allen’s son) and Meloni Thawne, the daughter of Professor Zoom. He was born with his grandfather’s super-speed but had a metabolism that caused him to age at an accelerated rate.
He was sent to the past (our present) to see if his cousin Wally West could offer some aid for his condition. Wally was able to get his cousin to use his powers in a way that shocked his system into a normal metabolic rate, which succeeded in halting his rapid aging. He remained in the present and was given the name “Impulse” by Batman thanks to his constant rushing into danger.
Eventually, he went on to join the Teen Titans and took on the name his cousin had previously used becoming the second Kid Flash.
6. THE FLASH (1990)
Back in 1990, CBS attempted to launch a The Flash television series starring John Wesley Shipp as Barry Allen. The series was only on for a full season of 22 episodes before it was canceled, but it had a lasting effect.
The series was true to the characters and was well-done with a significant budget for the time. The costume alone cost the production team $100,000 to put together and it looked just like the costume Barry wore in the comics.
There are a number of references throughout the new series paying homage to the original. Most notably, Shipp has returned to the small screen as a Scarlet Speedster, but this time, he has made recurring appearances on The CW’s Flash series as Jay Garrick, the Flash from Earth-3. He also played Henry Allen, Barry’s father, before the character was killed in the series.
5. JAY GARRICK
Jay Garrick is the first speedster– the original Golden Age version of the Flash and a founding member of the Justice Society of America. He first appeared in Flash Comics #1, written by Gardner Fox and penciled by Harry Lampert in 1940.
Garrick stumbled onto his super speed while attempting to purify hard water without residual radiation via a cyclotron while in college. He was working late into the evening when he decided to lean back and enjoy a smoke but knocked over the equipment, which released “deadly” fumes.
He passed out and was in a state between life and death for weeks before he awoke to learn he was now the fastest man alive and the very first Flash in the DC Universe.
Garrick remained a superhero for years and he served as chairman of the JSA. Eventually, he retired, but returned to active service and met up with Barry Allen, who informed him he was from Earth 2. That all changed thanks to the Crisis on Infinite Earths.
DC decided to kick off their extended universe with a new Flash played by Ezra Miller, keeping the television series separate from the cinematic one. While this is a different approach than what Marvel decided to do with the MCU, it does give us a whole new Flash to deal with.
Miller’s Barry Allen comes off as fresh to the world of crimefighting. He quips and makes little jokes to deal with his nervousness at being thrust into the global affairs of the newly-formed Justice League.
He is also still coming to terms with his powers and while he is fast– fast enough to challenge the Man of Steel to a race– he doesn’t appear to be as fast as he has been in the comics.
The incredibly charming Miller does a great job of portraying the character and will continue in the role in any forthcoming Justice League and Flash solo films.
3. WALLY WEST
Wally West is the nephew to Barry Allen and he was struck with the same bolt of lightning that gave Uncle Barry the powers of the Flash. He adopted the name “Kid Flash” and became his uncle’s sidekick and a member of the Teen Titans.
After Barry Allen’s apparent death while saving the universe during the Crisis on Infinite Earths, Wally took on the mantle of The Flash in honor of his uncle and went on to become a member of the Justice League. Wally dropped the “Kid” in his title and even adopted the same red uniform his uncle wore.
Wally has many of the same powers his uncle has, probably thanks to the similarity in their acquisition of those powers. Because of this, he is nearly as fast as Barry Allen, making him one of the two fastest men alive in the DC Universe.
2. THE FLASH (2014)
The latest Flash television series was brought onto the small screen thanks to the success of Arrow. Barry Allen was first introduced thanks to a backdoor pilot on that series and, in very short order, the Arrowverse expanded to include the Scarlet Speedster of Central City.
Barry Allen is portrayed by Grant Gustin, who takes on the role with a charm and gusto. The Barry Allen in the series is nowhere near as fast as his namesake in the comics, which is one of the driving plot-points throughout the series; he needs to become faster to beat his enemies.
The show is fun to watch and has incorporated many storylines from the comics including Flashpoint, which allowed The CW’s DC lineup to include Supergirl. There have been a number of crossover episodes with the series thanks to Barry’s ability to jump from one universe to another.
1. BARRY ALLEN
Barry Allen is the second person to take on the mantle of The Flash, following Jay Garrick. He was first introduced in Showcase #4, written by Robert Kanigher and John Broome with pencils by Joe Kubert and Carmine Infantino in 1956. This was the comic that launched the Silver Age and with it came Barry Allen.
Allen earned his powers thanks to an accident involving chemicals similar to Jay Garrick. While working in the Central City Police Department as a police scientist, Allen was working next to a rack of chemicals as it was struck by lightning. Those chemicals spilled all over him and he seemed unharmed. Soon after, he noticed everything around him moving slower than normal… much slower. It didn’t take long to figure out that he was the one who was different – he was moving at an incredible speed.
Barry Allen is considered by most fans to be the fastest Flash, though some might argue that Reverse Flash is faster (he’s a bad guy so he doesn’t get to go on this list).
Did we miss any of your favorite versions of The Flash? Let us know in the comments!
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