It's time to celebrate the best super speedsters that have inhabited the world of DC's Flash series. It hit a new milestone when it reached #750 in February and has reached a whole new audience with its series on The CW.
In the course of the 750 issues, numerous super-speeders, both heroic and evil, have come and gone from the mantle and world of the Flash. In honor of the Scarlet Speedster crossing another finish line, here are the 10 greatest super speedsters of all time.
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 hasn't resurfaced since Flashpoint - but he was mentioned in passing by a Donna Troy from an alternate future as possibly killing a version of Wally West.
Despite his absence in comic books, Savitar was the main villain of season three of CW's The Flash - with a very different origin.
9. Johnny Quick
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. This version of Johnny Quick played a prominent role in Forever Evil, in which the Crime Syndicate temporarily conquered the prime Earth.
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.
Johnny was seemingly killed by Alexander Luthor when he took on the Mazahs persona.
8. Max Mercury
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 1830’s.
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. Mercury hasn’t been seen in recent years, though he did play a small role as Windrunner in Flashpoint.
7. Jesse Quick
Jesse Quick, a.k.a. 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.
Jesse Quick was also a recurring character in CW's The Flash.
6. Bart Allen / Kid Flash / Impulse
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 was aged into adulthood.
Bart recently returned as Impulse as part of the current relaunched Young Justice title.
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.
Zoom was the primary villain of Flash season 2. He spent most of the season masquerading as Jay Garrick, the Flash of Earth-2.
4. Jay Garrick / The Flash
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 is seemingly in the process of returning to comic books as part of the current Doomsday Clock series.
Jay Garrick appeared as a main character in Flash season 2. Though Teddy Sears portrayed him for most of the season, it turns out Sears was secretly Zoom. The real Jay Garrick was played by John Wesley Shipp, who played Barry Allen in the 90s Flash show, and who has also played several other roles on the show.
3. Professor Zoom
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 lead directly to Flashpoint, which saw Allen and Thawne fighting throughout the timestream, leading to the DC reboot known as the "New 52."
Thawne has continued to menace Barry Allen into the "New 52" and "Rebirth."
He was also the "big bad" of Flash season 1.
2. Wally West / The Flash
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 recent history is complicated - involving time travel, unwitting murder, and more. He remains in action in the DC Universe, currently starring in Flash Forward.
1. Barry Allen / The Flash
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 will soon anchor a television version of the fateful Crisis on Infinite Earths.