Is Superman actually faster than The Flash? It’s a question that has been asked for nearly as long as the two characters have existed. They’ve raced in the comic books, they’ve raced on TV in both live action and animation, and…
— JUSTICE LEAGUE SPOILER ALERT —
They even race in the new Justice League movie. But can the Man of Steel outrun the Fastest Man Alive? The answer is a resounding “hell no,” and to prove it let’s take a look at the comic book history of Superman racing Barry Allen.
Superman #199 (1967)
At the behest of the United Nations, Superman and the Flash decided to race around the world against one another in order to raise money for “poverty-stricken lands.” As the race was happening, our heroes learned that criminals were illegally gambling on the outcome of the race, so in order to prevent their profiteering, they decided to cross the finish line at the exact same time. It was a noble outcome, but a massive letdown for fans wondering which hero would reign supreme.
The Flash #175 (1967)
A race so nice they ran it twice in the same year! 1967’s The Flash #175 found the Justice League captured by two aliens with a crippling gambling problem. Upset that the previous Flash vs. Superman race ended in a draw, they’re quite insistent on a rematch. This time, the two heroes are commanded to run to the end of the Milky Way galaxy and back. The loser’s hometown will be summarily destroyed and the winner will…get bragging rights and a dead friend? I don’t know. The Silver Age was dumb as hell. Even dumber, though, was the ending of the race. It turns out that these so-called alien gamblers were secretly Professor Zoom and Abra Kadabra, and that this was all an elaborate ploy to kill the Flash. Once they were disposed of, the race ended in…a tie! Why you ask? Because from one angle on the “3-D monitor” it looks like Superman won, while the other angle made it look like Flash won, and the Justice League simply couldn’t decide.
World’s Finest #198-199 (1970)
In order to stop a series of deadly time distortions caused by faster-than-light beings known as Anachronids, The Flash and Superman must race across space and time in the opposite direction to counteract the chaos they’re causing. Jimmy Olsen also nearly gets executed by a Roman general for being a sorcerer too. Because comics. The two decide to make a race out of it, get attacked by General Zod and a bunch of escaped Kryptonian criminals who were in the Phantom Zone in the process, and wind up crawling across a desert to reach a lever that will deactivate the Anachronids. The Flash reaches the lever first, pulls it, and wins the race, which seems like the superhero equivalent of that Japanese game show about a slippery staircase if you ask me.
Result: The Flash wins
DC Comics Presents #1-2 (1978)
When Superman and the Flash find themselves caught up in a conflict between two warring alien empires, it’s up to our heroes to race across space and time (again) to put an end to the bloodshed. In the process, though, they realize that stopping the aliens from obliterating one another would result in the destruction of not only Earth, but Krypton as well, which would prevent Superman from ever being born. Things only get zanier from here, but ultimately Superman cedes victory to the Flash for “pulling a spectacular victory out of a no-win situation.” You could say it’s a tie, but I’m going to count it as a victory for the Flash.
Result: The Flash (sort of)
The Flash Rebirth #3 (2009)
In 2009’s “Rearview Mirrors,” Geoff Johns may have given us the definitive answer to this question. When Barry Allen returned from the dead after dying in Crisis on Infinite Earths, the Speed Force was all out of whack. Believing that his very existence was harming his fellow speedsters, Barry decided to sacrifice his life to the Speed Force in order to restore balance to the universe. Before he could go through with his plan, Superman caught up to him and urged his friend to reconsider. During their conversation Superman claimed that he’d even won some of their races over the years, but Barry responded with a mic drop. “Those were for charity, Clark,” Barry uttered to a stunned Superman before leaving the Last Son of Krypton in the dust and running into another plane of existence.
Result: The Flash
To summarize, that is three wins and two ties for Barry Allen versus Clark Kent, which is enough evidence for me to declare that the Flash is, in fact, faster than Superman. But it isn’t just Barry Allen who is faster than Superman; both Jay Garrick and Wally West have outrun Superman as well over the years. Speed is what defines the Flash, after all, so it makes sense. The dude can literally run through space and time. Superman can technically fly faster than the speed of light outside of Earth’s atmosphere, but at the end of the day, he’s always going to be a little bit slower than everyone’s favorite Scarlet Speedster.
What do you think? Do you agree that Flash is faster than Superman? Let us know in the comments below.
Images: DC Comics