Since Jay Garrick debuted as The Flash back in 1940’s Flash Comics #1, DC Comics has had no shortage of speedsters. While Garrick mostly stood alone for decades, the ‘60s brought with it a new batch of heroes with super-speed, including Barry Allen. Soon, Allen would eclipse Garrick and come to be the main Flash in the DC Universe, and the nexus point for a whole new generation of speedsters.
While the concept of super-fast individuals is as old as DC itself, the Speed Force is still a relatively new idea. In a clever bit of retconning, the Speed Force was discovered within the pages of DC Comics as an overarching presence that speedsters had been tapping into for years without realizing it.
Super-speed has long been one of the core superpowers used in sci-fi, but the idea of the Speed Force took it to a new level. With the Speed Force, users could travel through time and space, give and take speed, and even shoot lightning. It amped up the powers of all speedsters and led to the proliferation of characters who could wield the power.
While Barry, Jay, Wally West, and Reverse-Flash are all fairly well known, we wanted to take a look at some of the plethora of other characters tied to DC’s lightning-fast construct.
Here are 8 Heroes (And 7 Villains) Connected To The Speed Force.
15 Hero: Max Mercury
Max Mercury is both one of the newest and oldest speedsters. He’s also deeply tied to the discovery of the Speed Force. Max debuted in Flash #76 in 1993 as a retconned Golden Age hero. His story dates back even further, however, as he was born sometime in the early 1800s. As a young adult, his work as a messenger put him in contact with a group of Blackfoots who he quickly struck up a friendship with. In a brutal twist, Max’s commander ended up ordering their death, but igniting his powers.
The shaman of the group used his dying moment to grant Max super-speed in order to stop his former allies and any injustice he encountered. By the ‘40s, he was operating as Max Mercury and spent the next few decades fighting crime. Eventually, Max helped to explain the concept of the Speed Force to Barry after discovering he was a conduit for its powers. From there, the idea flowered through Flash comics and has become a core part of the modern mythology of DC’s speedsters.
14 Villain: Inertia
Thaddeus Thawne II has gone by a number of names, but he’s best known for the using the monikers Inertia and Kid Zoom. In Flash comics, the 30th century has long been a destination for time travelers. By setting stories 100 years in the future, writers can examine how actions from the present will affect things and play out various scenarios involving the family members of our heroes.
From our time until the 30th century, the Allen family and the Thawne family have a history of hatred and intermarrying. This has spawned a number of heroic and villainous speedsters, and made for some confusing lore.
One future Thawne is the first Thaddeus, a villain who just so happens to be president of the Earth. During one of his schemes, he creates a clone that becomes Inertia. Thanks to President Thawnes daughter marrying an Allen, Inertia even becomes the uncle to Bart Allen, aka Impulse. The two spent almost a decade fighting across time, before Inertia (then Kid Zoom) was brutally murdered by The Rogues in 2008.
13 Heroes: Iris and Jai West
It’s not only the Allens and the Thawnes that are tied to the Speed Force. Ever since Wally West recreated the accident that gave Barry his powers, he too has been a speedster.
Initially serving as Kid Flash, Wally would take over as The Flash for almost two decades following Barry’s death in Crisis on Infinite Earths. Eventually, he and Linda Park would have two children of their own, but like many speedsters, they’ve got a complicated history.
During a fight with Zoom, the pregnant Linda had a miscarriage, but a subsequent event restored her pregnancy somehow. She and Wally then absconded to an alien world to birth and raise their children Jai and Iris (named after Wally’s aunt). While initially normal, they developed Speed Force powers within a few months of birth and rapidly began aging. Eventually, Wally discovered the source of their aging was due to a darkness within the Speed Force. Once he extracted it from them and they reverted to kids.
Eventually, circumstances would force Iris to remove Jai’s Speed Force powers, leaving him normal for the moment. Iris, meanwhile, took over the mantle Impulse from Bart Allen and began serving alongside the Teen Titans.
12 Villain: Daniel West
Not all of the Wests who have gained a connection to the Speed Force use their powers for good. Debuting in 2012’s Flash #0, Daniel West is the brother of Iris in the New 52 timeline. Sadly, his birth killed his and Iris’ mother, driving his father to alcoholism and serving as an excuse for him to abuse his son.
Over the years, Daniel fell into a life of crime, eventually being thwarted by the Flash and ending up in jail. Thanks to an accident with a Speed Force battery, he gained the power to reverse time and became connected to the energy field.
Dead set on traveling back and killing his father, Daniel became the new Reverse-Flash. With his powers linked to a Speed Force charge, however, he set about killing various other users and draining them of their power. As before, he was eventually stopped by The Flash and returned to prison.
11 Heroes: Sprint and Turbo Charger
During the New 52, a number of new speedsters emerged thanks to a variety of incidents with the Speed Force. While a battle on a ferry raged between the Flash and Captain Cold, the destruction of the boat sent four individuals into the Speed Force. Along with Iris West, Albert Lim, Floyd Gomez, and Marissa Rennie were all locked in the energy construct for months. When they were finally rescued by the Flash, they began exhibiting various Speed Force powers.
Lim and Gomez decided to use their powers for good, taking the names Turbo Charger and Sprint, respectively. Their first battle, however, proved a disaster and soon after they were hunted and killed by Daniel West. Rennie, meanwhile, decided to turn to crime but was also unsuccessful. She too was killed by Reverse-Flash, before he turned his attention on Barry and Iris. As mentioned earlier, he was finally stopped, but not before reducing the Speed Force user population of the DC Universe.
10 Villain: Godspeed
Godspeed is the newest villainous speedsters in DC Comics, appearing as part of the Rebirth initiative. Arriving in last year’s The Flash: Rebirth #1, Godspeed begins life as August Heart.
A detective, Heart worked alongside Barry at Central City Police Department and was even present when he underwent his accident and became the Flash. Shortly after, a Speed Force storm transforms Heart into a speedster, gifting him with the power to stop the criminals who killed his family.
Acting like a super-fast Punisher, Heart as Godspeed is a violent anti-hero who often clashes with the Flash. Though they battle a number of times, Barry and Wally are eventually able to stop Godspeed and put him behind bars.
Given his connection to Barry and the Flash, however, we expect it won’t be long until Godspeed is back on the streets again.
9 Hero: John Fox
John Fox is one of a handful of heroic speedsters not related to the Allens or the Wests. Born in the 27th century, Fox is part of a mission to travel back in time and grab one of the Flashes to help stop the threat of villain Manfred Mota. He fails in his mission, but the energy of the time travel ordeal imbues him with super-speed and connects him to the Speed Force.
He develops a costume and starts working as the Flash before being replaced by a group of super-fast robots. He still manages to intervene in a number of incidents, even traveling back to the 1990s for a bit and serving time as the Flash. Eventually, he and Wally team up to thwart some foes and stop the time cops Speed Metal from arresting him.
Fox ends up hiding out in the far future of the 853rd century, where he works alongside the time period’s Justice Legion.
8 (Anti) Hero: Walter West
Like Daniel West, Walter West uses his Speed Force powers not for heroism, but for his own ends. Actually, he’s more like Godspeed, thanks to his status as an anti-hero. Along with John Fox, Walter West was envisioned by Mark Waid. He first appeared in 1999’s Flash #150 as part of the Dark Flash Saga.
In the story, he’s the Wally West of another reality. During an encounter with Kobra, Iris is killed and Walter loses all sense of himself. He becomes a brutal vigilante, using his Speed Force powers to stop criminals any way he can. He even took the main Wally’s place for a time, though to much worse results than when Fox did it.
Along with the usual Speed Force powers, Walter also excels at regeneration and a specialized version of speed inducement wherein he can accelerate the very neurons in a person's’ mind until they pass out.
7 Villain: Johnny Quick
In the DC Universe, two individuals have used the name Johnny Quick. The first speedster to use the moniker was a Golden Age hero dating back to before DC was formed. In the ‘80s, he was even retconned into the World War II superhero group the All-Star Squadron. There, he fought alongside Doctor Fate, Starman, and his future wife Liberty Belle. Eventually, Quick entered the Speed Force in an effort to save his daughter.
Meanwhile on Earth-3, Jonathan Chambers also takes the name Johnny Quick. Like his other counterparts on the parallel world, however, he uses his powers for evil. As one of the core members of the Crime Syndicate of America, the evil Johnny Quick has had much more relevance in the past past few decades than his original counterpart. He’s been fighting the Flash and the Justice League since his debut in 1964, and even crossed over into the New 52.
6 Hero: Jesse Quick
Though Jesse Chambers didn’t appear until 1992, she’s the daughter of Johnny Quick and Liberty Belle. Gaining both her father’s super-speed and her mother’s super-strength, she’s served since her first appearance as a superhero.
As part of the revival of the Justice Society of America, Jesse took the name Jesse Quick after her father and served for years with the group. She’d also later serve for a time with the Titans, before jumping back to the JSA. When she did, she switched to her mother’s name of Liberty Belle.
As is the case with superheroes, she couldn’t just pick one moniker and stick with it, though. She’s since gone back to Jesse Quick, which she’s stuck with so far. It’s a loose version of this character that also appears on The Flash, though her backstory and lineage have been greatly altered.
5 Villain: Turbine
Turbine is one of the newer speedsters, but like many of them, he’s got a deep history that was previously unknown. Debuting in 2012’s Flash #8, Roscoe Hynes was one the infamous Tuskegee Airmen to fight during World War II. During one of his missions, Hynes’ plane was caught up in a storm and the pilot was thrown into the Speed Force.
He’d remain there for nearly 70 years, learning how to spin his body at super-speeds and generate cyclones. During Flash’s trip into the Speed Force to rescue Iris, Hynes followed the Scarlet Speedster out and took the name Turbine. He’d go on to assist the Rogues in one of their altruistic moments, saving the residents of Keystone City from Grodd and his minions.
The event gained him membership into the Rogues, turning him into the latest speedster to vex the Flash.
4 Hero: XS
XS is not only an Allen family speedster; she’s also from the future, which fully connects her to the Flash pantheon. Premiering in 1994’s Legionnaires #0, XS was born Jenni Ognats. She’s the daughter of Jeven Ognats and Dawn Allen, Barry and Iris’ daughter conceived in the future. As such, she eventually gains super-speed and spends much of her time jumping to the past and future.
As a child, her family is caught up in a Cosmic Treadmill accident thanks to Professor Zoom. It leaves them stranded on an alternate Earth where they eventually get attacked by the Dominators. It’s then that Jenni’s powers manifest, leading to her eventually taking the name XS and joining the Legion of Super-Heroes.
From there, she’s had a number of adventures throughout time, meeting up with John Fox and even her distant relative Bart Allen, aka Impulse.
3 Hero: The Accelerated Man
Not much is known about the Accelerated Man, but his potential is fascinating. Leading up to DC’s Rebirth, Grant Morrison helped to craft a new book detailing the many parallel Earths in the comics. Dubbed The Multiversity Guidebook, the comic introduced a number of new stories and characters to the DC Universe. Some have had a huge impact, but others are still waiting to be fleshed out.
One fascinating concept is Earth 19, where Victorian versions of various superheroes live. Like Marvel’s Noir series or the Elseworld’s book Gotham By Gaslight, Earth-19 features some steampunk updates on classic heroes. Among them are Bat Man, Wonder Woman, Shrinking Man (aka the Atom), and the Accelerated Man. The Flash’s look in this world is a fascinating one, and it seemed to impress the minds behind the TV show.
Back during Grodd’s attack earlier this season, we hop to Earth-19 in the Arrowverse and see Gypsy interacting with an Accelerated Man identical to the comics. While Gypsy and H.R. Wells prove not all of Earth-19 is steampunk, it’s still an intriguing tease that we can’t wait to see explored more.
2 Villain: Lady Flash
Ivana Christina Borodin Molotova has held many identities. First appearing in 1987’s Flash #7, she was part of a program called Blue Trinity which the Soviets were using to create their own version of the Flash. Molotova was eventually given speed powers, hopping around to a number of different identities, including Lady Savage, during her time with Vandal Savage.
She then donned a Flash costume and developed an addiction to Speed Force drug Velocity 9, taking the name Lady Flash. She’d go on to plague many a speedster and their loved ones, participating in various schemes against Jesse Quick, the Flash, and Linda Park. In the second issue of Flash: Rebirth (the original Geoff Johns comic from 2009, not the current reboot), she was finally killed, but not before helping to bring about one of Flash’s greatest foes.
1 Villain: Savitar
Unlike the Accelerated Man, Savitar is one of many characters who was drastically changed for the Arrowverse. First showing up in 1995’s Flash #108, Savitar was a Cold-War-era pilot whose encounter with a storm gave him Speed Force powers. More than Turbine, Savitar possessed a wide range of abilities and thus dubbed himself the "god of motion."
From there, his reign put him in conflict with nearly every speedster, but they eventually joined forces to help stop him. Like on the show, the Flash trapped Savitar in the Speed Force, though it was a fate he desired in the comics.
Lady Flash eventually takes part in a ritual to free Savitar from the Speed Force. In doing so, she takes the name Lady Savitar and attempts to kill the Flash. Instead, she’s disintegrated by the touch of Barry, whose costume morphs as he becomes the new Black Flash. She makes it a bit longer than her would-be master, though, as he’s killed the previous issue by the Flash’s touch.
Which speedster in DC Comics is your favorite? Let us know in the comments.