Who is faster, Superman or Flash? This is a question that inevitably comes in countless comic book debates. After scouring the tomes of Flash and Superman canon, we've come to a firm conclusion! We will take a look at charity races, high-stake races, as well as powers and individual feats of speed by both characters throughout their history.
Read on to discover the answer of which character is faster: Flash or Superman?
Alright, first a disclaimer, the charity races are NOT an indicator of who is faster. You’ll find out why towards the end of this article. That being said, it would be erroneous to not take a look at the times The Flash and Superman actually went head to head for speed supremacy.
On another note, there are various versions of Flash, including Wally West and Barry Allen, but race results tend to be the same regardless of which Flash is tapping into the Speed Force.
When it comes to “friendly” races, Superman and Flash have run a few, starting with Superman #199, titled "Superman’s Race With the Flash!” by Jim Shooter. The superhero duo was called in by the UN Secretary in order to raise charity funds. The race generated enthusiasm and public support, but also attracted the attention of criminal gangs. These gangs bet big money on the winner, and thus tried to foil either Superman or the Flash so they would lose the race and earn them big bucks. The American gang backed Superman, while the European gang backed Flash.
On June 10th, the race began, with Superman and Flash instructed to circle the globe 3 times across a designated track. The race went over oceans and by historic landmarks. As the race continued both heroes encountered the obstacles designed by the criminals to slow them down. Catching on to the plan, they help each other to overcome the obstacles.
As Flash and Superman reach the final stretch of the race, they are fully aware of the gangsters' intentions. Thus they decide to finish with a tie to prevent either criminal enterprise from winning.
So who is faster after Charity Race #1? Neither. We learn nothing about who is faster.
Fans weren’t satisfied with the race results of #199. A tie! E. Nelson Bridwell and artist Ross Andru decided to up the ante and give the readers a winner! “The Race to the End of the Universe” is the second race between the two characters. This time, a pair of aliens arrive on Earth and threaten to destroy Metropolis or Central City if the two characters don’t race each other. (I guess those aliens were as demanding as fans to know who is faster?).
On the cover, the issue shows Flash saying, “Superman, I quit, I can’t beat you,” as Superman replies, “I finally got you to admit you’re not the fasted man alive, Flash!”.
In order to make the race fair, Flash is given a special force field that can maintain oxygen. How can he run in empty space is another question (but Superman being able to fly makes sense?).
Once again there are traps along the way including some Kryptonite meteors to thwart Superman.
Did the issue reveal who won? Did the cover reveal the answer? No… Instead, we get an answer from viewers saying that the winner depended on the viewing angle of the finish line. Thus, nobody knows who actually won. Fans were foiled from an answer again! (Hey, but those comics flew off the shelves!)
In an issue titled “Race to Save the Universe” the stakes are raised even higher. To save the universe, Flash and Superman have to run from opposite ends of the Universe to a fixed destination. Doing so will stop time distortions threatening reality.
With such a long distance to travel, surely this race will settle who is fastest?
Well, once again, we find people trying to foil them along the way, including General Zod and others from the Phantom Zone. They end up injuring the heroes who limp to the finish line.
In the end, Flash won! The first winner of a race between the two! Based on the race, we could hardly say Flash is faster, considering injuries to both make it impossible to factor in who is actually the speediest.
The above are samples of some of the first races between Superman and Flash. Here are other notable results including the above races:
Superman Vol 1 #199 - Tie
Flash #175 - Tie
World’s Finest #198-199 - Flash
DC Comics Presents #1-2 - Tie
Adventures of Superman #463 - Flash
DC First: Flash/Superman - Flash
The Flash #209 - Flash
Flash Rebirth #3 - Flash
Superman #709 - Superman
The final tally from the above 9 races are:
Flash Wins: 5
Superman Wins: 1
From these races, It’s clear that Flash is the definitive winner. So checkmark for head-on races goes to Flash (in all his incarnations). But can these tests really determine the winner?
Alright, so if we take out races from the picture and just look at the abilities and powers of the characters, who is faster?
Forget racing Superman, the Flash has outraced Black Flash, the embodiment of death. In the race, Flash actually raced so fast he outran space-time itself and ended up beyond the end of the universe, a place death could not exist. Thus, Flash outran death itself.
So yea, the Flash can outrun space-time. That’s pretty fast. On a slightly slower scale, he has also proven the ability to outrun the speed of light. This is what helps him travel through time on occasion.
For reference, the speed of light is 186,282 miles per second (299,792 kilometers per second).
Superman can also travel faster than the speed of light. How else does he fly between planets at such an intense speed? Superman once went to the sun and back in 1 minute and 54 seconds. For reference, it takes light more than 8 minutes to get to the Earth from the Sun. That means Superman traveled quite a bit faster than the speed of light.
In the end, Flash is faster. Flash has won the most races, and his greatest feat, outrunning Death and the Universe itself proves it. Superman has never traveled so fast as to run beyond death and the end of the Universe.
In addition, writers always intended for Flash as a speedster to be faster than Superman. Yes, power levels will fluctuate. Even now, Superman and Batman are immensely more powerful in their Justice League version than their solo titled comic book series. That’s just the nature of comics and writer discretion. Flash was always meant to be the fastest superhero from DC. It doesn’t make sense for DC to have Superman be the fastest character alive. After all, Flash has always been advertised as The Fastest Man alive.