Thanks to The Flash, DC Comics is overrun with speedsters, most of whom play major roles roles in some of the company’s many memorable storylines. Whether it’s the Scarlet Speedster himself or an arch-nemesis, DC is full of masked speedsters who blaze up the streets.
With the CW’s hit series and a , let’s take a look at the some of the famous — and some of the not-so-famous —speedsters in DC’s rich comic book history.
The Flash (Barry Allen)
No better way to kick off this list than with the Scarlet Speedster himself, the Flash. First appearing in DC Comics’ Showcase Issue 4 in 1956, Barry Allen — a notoriously late forensic scientist and all-around nice guy devoted to solving crimes is changed forever when a lightning bolt shatters a case of chemicals in his lab. No longer the perpetually late scientist, he instead becomes the fastest man alive. As The Flash, Barry used his speed to save lives and fight crime. The character has been involved in some major arcs in DC Comics history including Crisis On Infinite Earths, which led to his death. However, he eventually returned years later and became responsible for the cataclysmic arc.
Barry Allen may be the second of the Flashes, however he is definitely the most popular. Having been portrayed by John Wesley Shipp in the 1990 TV series The Flash, on the 2014 TV series of the same nameand will be portrayed by Ezra Miller in DC’s upcoming Justice League film.
The Flash (Jay Garrick)
The original Flash, Jay Garrick first appeared in DC Comics’ FlashComics Issue 1 way back in 1940. Part of the legendary Golden Age of comics, Garrick was involved in a laboratory accident where he inhaled hard water vapors that gave him the ability to move at superhuman speed. Though he tried to make a go of becoming a college football star, he eventually gave it up and became The Flash — a superhuman vigilante who saved lives and fought crime.
The character was popularized further by his recent appearance on The Flash, . He is portrayed by the incomparable John Wesley Shipp.
Kid Flash (Wally West)
Wally West is one of the most popular speedsters of them all. Kid Flash debuted in The Flash Issue 110 in 1959 and has been involved in many major storylines. In the comic books, West is the nephew of Barry Allen’s wife Iris. On a visit to CCPD, Wally is involved in an accident eerily similar to the one that made Barry the Flash and subsequently became Kid Flash, assisting the Scarlet Speedster in fighting crime and co-founding the Teen Titans with Dick Grayson. He eventually went on to take up the mantle of The Flash after Barry Allen is killed in Crisis On Infinite Earths.
Perhaps his most popular appearances on TV were as the primary Flash in the Justice League cartoon voiced by Michael Rosenbaum and onwhere he was voiced by Jason Spisak. Wally currently appears in The Flash portrayed by Keiynan Lonsdale and it has been that he will take up the Kid Flash mantle during Season 3.
Impulse (Bart Allen)
Barry Allen’s loud but lovable grandson Bart Allen first appeared in DC Comics’ TheFlash Volume 2, Issue 92 in 1994 and has since gone on to become one of the most popular speedsters in DC history. Bart was born in the future where his powers manifested early and resulted in hyper-accelerated metabolism and aging — he appeared 12 when he was only 2. To save his life, his grandmother Iris West-Allen sent him back in time to our present where Wally West’s Flash tricked him into a race around the world. Said race shocked his metabolism back to normal.
Having no real concept of a childhood, Bart had no sense of danger and was thus quite impulsive — hence the name. Yet he heeded the call of heroism and became Impulse, fighting crime as a speedster. He subsequently became a founding member of the team Young Justice, donned the mantle of Kid Flash, and eventually — albeit briefly — became the Flash.
Reverse-Flash (Eobard Thawne)
The Reverse-Flash debuted in The Flash Issue 139 in 1963 and was initially a fan of the Flash. Born in the 25th century, Thawne became obsessed with meeting his idol Barry Allen and recreated the accident that made Barry the Flash. He then traveled back in time to meet his hero, however he arrived too late. He later became obsessed with becoming Barry and vowed to destroy his life, killing Iris and attempting to do the same to Barry’s second fiancee. Barry subsequently killed him to save her.
However, years later in the Flashpoint arc, it’s revealed that Thawne altered Barry’s childhood by killing his mother, determined to torment him. A similar storyline took place in The Flash where Thawne (portrayed by Tom Cavanagh) destroyed Barry’s life by killing his mother because he had such a hatred for him.
Reverse-Flash is, without a doubt, the Flash’s arch-nemesis.
Zoom (Hunter Zolomon)
The second Reverse-Flash, Hunter Zolomon, is perhaps better known as Zoom and first appeared in 2002’s The Flash: Secret Files & Origins Issue 3 . After his father murdered his mother and was killed by police, he became obsessed with learning about the criminal mind. He is later paralyzed from the waist down by Gorilla Grodd. Zolomon used the cosmic treadmill to destroy the Flash Museum in the process.
He regained the use of his legs and could alter the speed at which he could move in time, giving him the effect of super-speed. As Zoom, he decides that like Barry Allen, Wally West’s Flash needs some tragedy to make him a better Flash and ends up making Wally’s wife Linda miscarry their unborn twins. Wally gets revenge on him by defeating him.
Zoom appeared in Season 2 of The Flash and was downright terrifying. Zolomon was portrayed by Teddy Sears.
Jesse Chambers is the daughter of Golden Age superheroes Johnny Quick and Liberty Belle. First appearing in Justice Society of America Volume 2 Issue 1 in 1992, . Thus, she became Jesse Quick — the ultimate combination of her parents’ legacies. As a speedster, she partnered up with iconic DC teams, including the Teen Titans and the Justice League. She would then go on to honor her mother by donning the Liberty Belle mantle.
She is portrayed by Violett Beane on The Flash who that the character would return sometime during Season 3.
Black Flash first appeared in 1998’s The Flash Volume 2, Issue 138, and is a manifestation of death — basically an omen to those connected to the Speed Force, kind of like of the Grim Reaper. When Black Flash shows up, you know that one speedster’s time is close to being up. Having not appeared too much in the comics and with very little being known about him, Black Flash is still one of the more popular speedsters.
During The Flash‘s Season 2 finale, the Time Wraiths took Zoom into the Speed Force, but not before his decaying body and mask began to resemble that of Black Flash. ?
Max Mercury first appeared in The Flash Volume 2, Issue 76 in 1993 (based on a prior brief appearance in National Comics Issue 5 in 1940). Originally a scout for the US Cavalry in the 1830s, Mercury was enchanted by a dying Indian Shaman and gained super-speed. Originally known as Wildrunner, he repeatedly traveled through time using the Speed Force. With each time jump came a new identity. He changed his name to Whip Whirlwind and acted as a mentor to Johnny Quick and Jay Garrick before jumping through time again and became Quicksilver. He later became an enemy of Savitar and engaged in major battles with him.
When he reappeared in 1993, he was given the new name — Max Mercury — and Quicksilver was quickly dropped to avoid confusion with Marvel’s character.
A staple of the Golden Age of superheroes, Johnny Quick first appeared in 1941’s More Fun Comics Issue 71. The character, Johnny Chambers, was initially a newsreel photographer. However, he became a speedster by reciting the speed formula — 3X2(9YZ)4A — taught to him by Professor Gill, who derived it from inscriptions found in a pharaoh’s tomb.
Upon gaining super-speed, he became a mystery man and was involved in many storylines with the Justice Society. He fell in love with fellow superhero Liberty Belle and the pair had a daughter, Jesse. Quick was later killed in a battle with Savitar when he sacrificed himself to save Jesse.
First appearing in DC Comics in The Flash Volume 2, Issue 108 in 1995, Savitar was a Cold War pilot when lightning struck his plane. He could suddenly move at super-speed and was able to take out the enemy using his abilities. As Savitar, he developed a cult following and became obsessed with speed, continually seeking out the power of the Speed Force. Fortunately, the power kept eluding him — thanks primarily to the efforts of Wally West/Flash.
Trajectory (Eliza Harmon)
Eliza Harmon appeared in DC Comics in 2006’s 52 Issue 9, when she begged Lex Luthor to give her super-speed. He granted her wish and placed her on his new team of superheroes. However, she couldn’t slow down without using the drug know as Sharp and blamed Luthor. She wanted to become the next Kid Flash, but Luthor stripped her of her powers during a battle with Blockbuster and she was subsequently killed.
The character suffered a similar fate during her appearance on The Flash (portrayed by Allison Paige) when she became obsessed with speed and the drug Velocity 9 and eventually disintegrates.
A new speedster from DC, and made his debut earlier this year in The Flash Volume 5, Issue 1. August Heart, a friend and CCPD colleague of Barry Allen’s, witnessed his brother’s murder when he was younger. After a Speed Force storm, he becomes infused with the power and Barry attempts to train him. However, he turns on Barry and becomes the killer known as Godspeed.
DC Comics has introduced many speedsters over the years. While some of them may not be as famous as others, it doesn’t change the fact speedsters have become an essential aspect of the DC Universe. Having been involved and responsible for many of the groundbreaking storylines, speedsters continue to influence and alter the continuity of the comics. Whether you’re a fan of them or not, it’s impossible to deny the extraordinary impact that speedsters have had on DC Comics.
Which DC speedster is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!