As you know, Superman and the Flash face each other in another race to see just who is the fastest man alive. It has been 50 years since the two heroes first competed in a challenge of speed, and there have been countless rematches since then. You'd think the Scarlet Speedster would go unchallenged as the king of quick-footed heroes, but Superman stands as a confident competitor. As we wait for this race to begin, let's back into comic book history to see just how these two titans of the DC Universe have measured up against one another going toe-to-toe for that checkered flag! Who's fastest, let's find out.
Our tour through fast, furious, and friendly rivalries begins in Superman number 199 from 1967. The first race between Flash and Superman was framed as a UN charity fundraiser. The two would be tasked with going on a nice jog around the world with a few obstacles in their path. Entire civilizations stopped for a day to watch the excitement unfold. Everyone was placing bets on who would win. Everyone, including two crime syndicates who bet against one another. One of them said that Superman would win, and the other one said that Flash would win. Their sinister schemes where kind of a little bit of convolutedly to get into.
Both attempted to interfere with the race to stack the outcome in their favor. The syndicate who bet on Superman to win captured The Flash and replaced him with an actor who would no doubt lose the race against the Man of Steel. Unbeknownst to them, the other syndicate enacted the exact same plot in reverse, replacing Superman with an actor who was meant to lose against The Flash. This resulted, as you would imagine, in a stalemate as the two actors, each determined to come in last, eventually stopped in their tracks. This outcome gave the real Superman and Flash enough time to escape capture, incapacitate their doppelgangers, and finish the race.
So who won?
Well, the first matchup famously ended in a tie so that both crime syndicates would lose their bets. No one would collect any earnings. Flash and Supes end the contest in an intentional wash. If that alone didn't compromise the validity of the outcome, readers may recall that the race had the very specific rule that prohibited the two costumed men from utilizing the full potential of their quickness. It was a contest of skill, not speed.
The two were destined for a rematch later that same year in Flash number 175. Two gambling aliens by the name of Rokk and Sorban showed up to pit the heroes against each other once again, but this time, the race would expand further than just our planet. Superman and Flash would have to race to the nearest edge of the galaxy and back. The stakes were high. No longer competing for charity, the aliens instead threatened to destroy the losing hero's home city. It appeared that Superman would win the race after Flash ran out of energy and admitted defeat, but with a second wind, the two crossed the finish line, unclear about who came in first.
After the revelation that the evil aliens were actually Reverse-Flash and the magician Abracadabra in disguise, the story ends with a call upon the readers telling them to make up their own minds about who was fastest. Without a clear victor, this race was another effective tie. Three years later, fans would demand a champion. No more outs. No more ties. There must be a winner! In World's Finest number 198 and number 199, the Guardians of Oa call upon Superman and inform him that their universe has been invaded by time-disrupting beings known as Anachronids. If they aren't stopped, time will fall apart.
The past will melt into the present, destroying both. The Guardians suggest that Superman and Flash speed through the galaxy in the opposite direction of the Anachronids in order to balance things out. It's a little weird, it a little convoluted, but it gets more confusing. The race quickly gets out of hand, and both heroes are ultimately captured by Kryptonian outlaws who were banished to the Phantom Zone, a sort of interdimensional purgatory of punishment and exile. It was revealed that the villains created the Anachronids as a way to disrupt the time barrier of the Phantom Zone and roam free in our universe.
Again, very convoluted, but this was the 70s. As our heroes escaped injured, they crawled towards the control panel that would shut down the Anachronids and save the universe. That's right, the last leg of the race, so to speak, didn't finish with a sprint, but with, as Superman recalled, slither. In the end, we finally got to crown the first official winner, The Flash! But because these two heroes weren't in fighting condition during that final stretch, many fans were still itching for a proper showdown. We then saw Clark and Barry take to the races in DC Presents number one and two from 1978.
For the 4th matchup, it wouldn't be a race through space, but one to the end of time. Superman and Flash were kidnapped by two warring alien species who had been battling since the beginning of time. Earth was looking to be another casualty of their war as the aliens threatened to disintegrate our planet. Instead, Flash agreed to travel back in time and stop the war from starting up in the first place. Stop aliens from fighting, they don't hold their hostage. Sounds like a good plan. However, this is when things got complicated. Superman discovered
that one of those alien factions was responsible for colonizing Krypton
all those years ago.
If Flash successfully stopped the aliens from doing battle, then they wouldn't have fled to Krypton to settle the planet, and Clark would never have been born. So in other words, Superman had to beat Flash in a race to the end of the time barrier if the Man of Tomorrow lost, he would cease to exist. If the Sultan of Speed lost, Earth would be destroyed. But, this was a time travel story, after all, so the solution to both their problems was staring them in the face the whole time. They simply went back and stopped the aliens before they attacked Earth, nip it in the bud. As for the race, there was no clear winner as to who broke through the time barrier first. Flash was vibrating as he crossed it so that Superman could fly through the Scarlet Speedster's body. For that plan to work, they'd almost have to reach the barrier at the exact same time. So, another tie.
The match-up of Superman and Flash would extend beyond Barry Allen when the Kryptonian icon raced Wally West in Adventures of Superman number 463. The reality-bending trickster, Mr. Mxyzptlk, arrived to wreak havoc, but he made the Man of Tomorrow a deal. If Superman beats Wally West in a race, Mxyzptlk will leave and head back to his home in the 5th dimension. We all remember how cocky Superman got that day. Despite the fact that he had yet to officially win a race, Superman replied, what makes you think it will be much of a contest? Adding, when you get down to it, what we really have here is a race between Superman and Kid Flash. Even though it was beneficial for Flash to lose the race and send Mxyzptlk back to his home, Wally wouldn't stand for the insults Superman was throwing down.
The two heroes were off to the races once more. As they sped around the world yet again, the superpowered beings hit a wall and started to slow down. It was close, it was neck and neck, but Flash pulled ahead and crossed the finish line mere inches before Superman. But what did this mean for Mr. Mxyzptlk's then, right? He would only leave if Superman won. That was the deal he made. It was revealed Mxyzptlk had lied, shocker. He said he would only go back to his own dimension if Superman won, but in reality, the imp was only planning on leaving if Flash was victorious. He believed Superman was a shoo-in to win the race, even though he'd never won a race up to this point, and he wanted to stack the deck in his favor! Probably should have paid attention, Superman never wins these races, or does he. For shadow A.
Years later, we saw Wally and Clark face off again Flash number 209. Prior to the race, Wally had The Spectre, Hal Jordan, erase everyone's memory that he was The Flash, including the minds of the Justice League. When the heroes confront him about this, Wally refuses to explain and instead runs off to find his wife, Linda Park. Superman, spoiler alert, gives chase. As the two heroes speed off, Flash eventually stops the race when he gets to his apartment. Superman follows a few seconds after as Wally whispers to himself, "I won." the story ends with Wally finally coming clean and revealing his secret identity to the League once again. It was a quick race, or sure, but it's clear that Wally certainly thought it counted.
Since readers have now seen the Man of Steel lose to Barry Allen and Wally West, many wondered if Superman could beat the original Flash, Jay Garrick. In 2002's DC Presents: Flash/Superman, we found out the answer to this question. The villainous magician Abracadabra was once again at the heart of the story when he cast a spell on Wally causing him to age rapidly until he would eventually die. Abracadabra also cursed Wally with a mental compulsion to run at top speed. The only way to break the curse would be if either Clark or Jay could catch up to Wally. But whichever hero does would become afflicted with the aging curse themselves, effectively transferring it from Wally to them. Neither Superman nor Jay was able to catch up to Wally on their own, but at the last second, Jay used his powers to steal a bit of Superman's speed, grab ahold of Wally, and break the curse. This caused Jay to start rapidly aging instead, almost killing him.
Of course, Abracadabra's magic is really just highly advanced technology, and the heroes found a way to reverse it and defeat the so-called magician. But the important takeaway is the race here, because, in a way, the victor is ol' Helmet Hat himself. That's only if you don't consider it cheating that he stole a bit of speed from Superman.
Or at the very least, it's a tie, whatever. The point is, it seems that the mighty Kryptonian superhero simply cants beat any Flash in a footrace. At least he couldn't until, Superman number 709 which featured Kal-El chasing a mind-controlled Flash. A little backstory, the Monarch of Motion had found a Kryptonian headband that he placed on his own head out of curiosity. You know, he's a scientist and all that. The headband drove Flash crazy, crowding his mind with Kryptonian imagery and history. He located Superman and egged him on to give chase. For the very first time out of all of their contests, Superman caught up with Flash and removed the mind-controlling Kryptonian headband.
It took 40 years people, but Superman finally won a race against the Flash! However, Flash explained twice after their encounter that he purposefully let Superman catch him so that he could save him from the mind-device.
2009's Flash: Rebirth number three. Like a few other entries on the list, this isn't really isn't an official race of any kind, but it contains some very important commentary about each time the two heroes have competed against one another. In the story, Barry Allen attempts to enter the Speed Force, the source of his powers, while Superman gives chase. The interaction culminates in an important revelation, Flash tells the Man of Steel that he's been holding back his true top speed and can go much faster than Clark. The Crimson Comet then rockets away from Superman with ease.
Many have cited this development as the main takeaway of all these races. Now, many have sided this development has been made taken away of all of these races if you look at all these competitions, Superman has won exactly one time with the rest either being ruled in the Flash's favor or as a tie between the two. But this evidence seems to dispute that, instead arguing that every race would have been won by The Flash if the hero actually gave it his all.