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Best DC super speedsters of all time

Flash 2021 Annual #1 cover
Flash 2021 Annual #1 cover (Image credit: Brett Booth (DC))

DC has rewritten its cosmology again, rechristening its Multiverse as an 'Omniverse' of infinite realities and universes. 

To go along with the new status quo, the man most synonymous with the name the Flash, Barry Allen, has left Earth to join Justice League Incarnate, a team of heroes from many different realities including Captain Carrot and President Superman.

This has left Wally West as the man character in The Flash title, once again taking over as the Fastest Man on Earth from Barry.

With so many super speedsters in the DC ranks and two taking new (or different) roles in the DC Universe, we're looking back at the best DC speedsters of all time.

10. Savitar

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Originally a supersonic jet pilot for a developing nation, the man known as Savitar gained his super-speed powers when his experimental plane was struck by lightning.

Naming himself after the Hindu god of speed, Savitar had the unique ability to sap the speed of others - though his nemesis Wally West was immune to this effect.

Savitar also had a cult of followers who worshipped his speed, and in World War II took on Johnny Quick, nearly defeating him before Max Mercury stepped in and trapped Savitar in the Speed Force. Savitar later escaped but was seemingly killed by Barry Allen when Professor Zoom altered Allen's powers to cause other speedsters to die at his touch.

Savitar re-emerged recently after it was discovered he had found a way to get inside the Speed Force and had been draining away its energy. This caused the Speed Force to break into mainstream DCU and send out surges of energy through those that tap into it - one of those bolts went through Wally West, resulting in the Sanctuary disaster which kicked of the Heroes in Crisis event.

Wally eventually found Savitar and excised him from the Speed Force, and put him away in a prison he hopes can hold him.

9. Johnny Quick

(Image credit: DC/Harry N. Abrams)

Johnny Quick was Flash's villainous counterpart in the Crime Syndicate of Earth-3. On that world, there are no heroes, and villains rule, with each of the Justice League's primary members having an opposite, evil number who form the Crime Syndicate. 

Interestingly, Johnny Quick was also the name of a Golden Age super-speedster who used a special 'speed formula' - "3X2(9YZ)4A" – to access the Speed Force. Johnny Quick, a.k.a. Johnny Chambers, fought alongside the Justice Society and All-Star Squadron in WWII, before retiring with his wife, Liberty Belle, and raising a daughter who became Jesse Quick, and later took on the mantle of the second Liberty Belle.

8. Max Mercury

(Image credit: DC Comics)

First appearing in 1940 in a brief appearance as 'Quicksilver,' the character of Max Mercury was something of a blank slate. Decades later, writer Mark Waid reinvented Mercury as a time-traveling speedster with a career dating back to the 1830s.

In his later years, Jay Garrick convinced Mercury to come out of retirement to help train Wally West as the new Flash when Barry Allen was killed. Together, the pair took on Professor Zoom as he impersonated Barry Allen and later fought Savitar together. 

After being trapped in the Speed Force for years, Barry Allen ran across him during a battle with Eobard Thawne. After Thawne was defeated, Barry helped bring Max (and Jesse Quick) back out of the Speed Force and into the DC timeline once again.

7. Jesse Quick

(Image credit: DC Comics)

Jesse Quick (AKA Jesse Chambers) is the daughter of Golden Age speedster Johnny Quick and his wife, fellow JSA member Liberty Belle. Jesse Quick uses the same 'speed formula' as her father to access the Speed Force, and also inherited her mother's super-strength.

Jesse Quick has operated in conjunction with the Flash numerous times over the years, first appearing as something of a sidekick to Wally West. Quick also spent time on the JSA as the second Liberty Belle, taking up her mother's former mantle, before returning to her identity as Jesse Quick.

In DC's Future State, Earth-11's Jess Quick, the protege of that world's Jesse Quick, was the primary Flash.

6. Bart Allen / Kid Flash / Impulse

(Image credit: DC Comics)

Bart Allen has had a strange and interesting history. Originally operating as Impulse, Bart is the grandson of Barry Allen from the future. His family tree also ties him to XS of the Legion of Super-Heroes, Professor Zoom, and the second Captain Boomerang. But all of that aside, Bart is a powerful hero in his own right.

As the heir to a great legacy of super-heroics, Bart traveled back in time to become a hero, eventually trading in his mantle of Impulse to become the second Kid Flash, and later even briefly serving as Flash when he aged into adulthood.

Bart recently returned as Impulse as part of the relaunched Young Justice title. 

5. Zoom

(Image credit: DC Comics)

The second 'Reverse-Flash,' Hunter Zolomon was a police profiler who was paralyzed in a battle with Gorilla Grodd. When Wally West refused to go back in time and prevent the accident, Zolomon tried to use Flash's Cosmic Treadmill to do it himself, resulting in an accident that gave him time-altering powers that mimicked super speed.

Zoom, driven mad by the accident, set out on a course to 'improve' Wally West as a hero, seeking to deliver him personal tragedy that would steel his determination and make him fight harder. His twisted logic brought him to cause Wally's wife, Linda, to miscarry a child.

Zoom lost his powers when they were stolen by his would-be sidekick Inertia, a clone of Bart Allen, who used Zolomon's power to menace Bart Allen in his time as Flash.

4. Jay Garrick / The Flash

(Image credit: DC Comics)

Jay Garrick is the original Flash, the old veteran who spent decades serving as a member of the Justice Society and mentoring younger heroes. In DC's original continuity, it was stories of Jay Garrick that inspired Barry Allen to become the Flash, and later, it was Jay and Barry who first crossed the bridge between Earth-One and Earth-Two.

Garrick recently returned to comic books as part of the reintroduced Justice Society.

3. Professor Zoom

(Image credit: DC Comics)

Eobard Thawne was the first 'Reverse-Flash,' a man from the future who traveled back in time to meet his hero, Barry Allen. Driven insane by the revelation that he was destined to become a villain, and having used plastic surgery to become Allen's spitting image, Thawne attacked Central City, masquerading as Allen before being defeated by Wally West.

Thawne later traveled back in time again, this time trying to prevent Allen from becoming Flash in the first place. When this failed, Thawne went back in time and framed Allen's father for the murder of his mother. This action led directly to Flashpoint, which saw Allen and Thawne fighting throughout the timestream, leading to the DC reboot known as the 'New 52.'

After decades of terrorizing the Flash, Eobard Thawne was finally beaten (it seems) in  2020's 'Finish Line' storyline. Barry does it by tricking Thawne into resetting the villain's own timeline and making it so he never had the desire to become more than a Flash fan from the 25th century - and in actuality, becoming the curator of a Flash museum.

2. Wally West / The Flash

(Image credit: DC Comics)

While his mentor Barry Allen was the first to tap into the speed force, in classic continuity, his first sidekick Wally West was the first to truly master it.

Wally eventually learned to use his speed in ways no other Flash had previously imagined, and while he took some time growing out of his teenage Kid Flash sidekick years, he eventually lived up to Barry’s legacy as one of the universe's greatest heroes with a long run as the Flash.

Wally's the main comic book Flash once again, as Barry Allen has joined the multiversal super team Justice League Incarnate.

1. Barry Allen / The Flash

(Image credit: DC Comics)

Barry Allen is the first hero to tap into the Speed Force. And while he didn’t reach the heights that Wally West was able to reach through the Speed Force in his lifetime, since his resurrection prior to the 'New 52,' Barry has reclaimed his mantle as the one true scarlet speedster.

Barry wasn't the first Flash – at least not historically. In current continuity, he's not predated by Jay Garrick – but he was the hero who set the bar among all of DC's pantheon, even going beyond Superman’s heroism by sacrificing himself to save all of reality in Crisis On Infinite Earths.

Barry was even responsible for saving reality again, by creating the timeline that became DC's 'New 52,' where Barry is once again the fastest man alive. Barry also headlines his own TV show on CW, which anchored a television version of the fateful Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Now, in comic books, Barry has left Earth to become one of the members of Justice League Incarnate, a super team made of heroes from various worlds across DC's Omniverse. This has left his protege, Wally West, as the number one Flash of Earth.

George Marston

I've been Newsarama's resident Marvel Comics expert and general comic book historian since 2011. I've also been the on-site reporter at most major comic conventions such as Comic-Con International: San Diego, New York Comic Con, and C2E2. Outside of comic journalism, I am the artist of many weird pictures, and the guitarist of many heavy riffs. (They/Them)