Yes, the number one is the Flash. And that is not really much of a spoiler since, just like my list on superheroes with powered armors, it is quite obvious where this list is going. Nonetheless, a question remains which “Flash” is number one?
Before we proceed, let me also point out that the characters evaluated for this list are those characters that have “super speed” as their primary or sole superpower and NOT as a mere offshoot of another base power (for instance, in lightning or electric powered characters, they obtain “super speed” by transforming into electrical energy, allowing their movements to be lightning fast) or is merely one of their various powers (e.g. Superman).
10.) SPEEDY GONZALES
The Mexican stereotyping of this character might be borderline racist to some, but I find him a delightful character. Aside from his super-speed – being “The Fastest Mouse in all of Mexico” – he also possesses the same quality of cleverness for outsmarting antagonists as other Looney Tunes protagonists, Bugs Bunny and Road Runner.
9.) FLASH (JAY GARRICK)
Jay Garrick was the very first “Flash.” He gained his super-speed and super-fast reflexes after supposedly inhaling “heavy” water vapors while falling asleep in the laboratory he’s working in (don’t ask me how that worked). He then donned a red-shirt with a lightning bolt on it and a winged WWI helmet (as reference to the super-fast Roman god, Mercury) to fight crime.
This Flash, along with the other superheroes of the Golden Age, was supposed to exist in a different universe from the main DC universe. Then in 1985, DC Comics decided to merge those universes into one. Hence, from that point on, the original Flash now shared a reality with the more popular modern Flash. Since Jay was from the WWII era, he was a very old man already at that point. But he was still able to remain active as a superhero because of some magical anti-aging treatments. So by the time the 2000’s arrived, Jay’s chronological age is around 90 already, but he still appeared to be a very fit 50 year-old. I find the idea of a super-fast aged superhero awesome.
In DC’s New 52, Jay Garrick is re-interpreted as the Flash of Earth 2, who gained his super-speed powers from the god Mercury himself.
8.) SPEED DEMON
I never cared much for this Spidey villain before. Then came the brilliant and very funny Superior Foes of Spider-Man (arguably one of the best ongoing comicbook titles at the present). Just like his teammates in the new Sinister Six (actually, a group of C-list villains that just adopted the name, and nowhere as dangerous as those previous Sinister Sixes), because of the book’s cleverly good writing, Speed Demon was given more personality (though by making him appear less menacing but more pathetic); he’s portrayed as a cowardly crook, which makes his power invaluable for running away.
Dash Parr is the son of Bob Parr (a.k.a. Mr. Incredible) and Helen Parr (a.k.a. Elastigirl). Because of his superhero parentage, Dash was born with the power of super-speed. Still a juvenile, he is cocky and reckless; nonetheless, he has several times provided key heroic moments.
6.) YORUICHI SHIHŌIN
This might be a violation of the requirements I’ve mentioned at the beginning to qualify for this list, since, being a former Gotei 13 captain, Yoruichi possesses all of the Shinigami combat skills and abilities. However, having the reputation as the “Goddess of Flash”, Yoruichi’s most notable characteristic is as a Hohō (step method) and Shunpo (flash step) expert; in fact, no one can ever match her in terms of Shinigami fast movement techniques. Thus, she is most identified with her super-speed (and by turning into a cat). She is so fast that it appears that she can be in several places at once. We have never seen her use her Zanpakutō yet, but given that her high proficiency in hand-to-hand combat and her super-speed already make a lethal combination, there seems no need for her to use it.
5.) ROAD RUNNER
The super-fast Road Runner, with his trademark “Beep! Beep!”, is one of Looney Tunes most iconic characters. He is constantly duking it out with Wile E. Coyote, who is out to make a meal out of him. While Wile makes use of Rube Goldberg-like contraptions (acquired from Acme Corporation) or formulates absurd plans to catch the Road Runner, the latter, however, always gets away because of his super-speed, cleverness, and plain “good guys’ luck.” This results to Wile often falling prey to his own trap. Those Road Runner vs. Wile E. Coyote duels were awesomely hilarious.
Interesting trivia: in real life, road runners are fast, but coyotes are actually faster.
4.) SONIC THE HEDGEHOG
Sonic is one of the most iconic and most successful video game characters ever. But he has also made the jump to comics and TV, increasing his popularity. This blue hedgehog is known to leave behind an image of “blue streak” when running because of his supersonic speed. Being true to his hedgehog nature, Sonic can roll himself into a ball for defense or increasing his attack power by spinning rapidly while in this ball position. His speed and power also increases exponentially whenever he has his hands on a power-up ring.
Sonic is always ready to defend the weak from oppression and is extremely loyal to his friends. He is quite witty and sarcastic, which he often makes use in making fun of his enemies. Sonic also has the tendency to be quick-tempered and impatient, probably because of being used to moving in a fast pace.
3.) FLASH (BARRY ALLEN)
The forensic scientist Barry Allen gained his super-speed by getting hit by a lightning and being dosed with chemicals (again, don’t ask me how that worked). As a result of the accident, Barry found himself with the ability to move in super-speeds. Ignorant non-comic book fans often wonder why is the Flash around in the Justice League when Superman already has super-speed as one of his powers, making the Flash redundant and worthless next to Superman. The Flash is not just merely about having super-fast movement. He has complete molecular control of his body. His body can heal at high speeds. His perceptions also increase whenever he’s moving at high speeds, meaning he can notice details and process it even if he’s moving at a fast rate. He can think as fast as he moves. He can “vibrate” his composition which allows him to phase through solid objects. He can create powerful wind vortexes by rotating his body or limbs rapidly. He can run so fast that he can transform himself into energy, time travel, and alter reality.
In 1985, during the “Crisis of Infinite Earths” event, Barry Allen made the ultimate sacrifice to save the multiverse. For many years, Barry remained dead. Then in 2008, he returned. He is now the main Flash once again.
Pietro Maximoff a.k.a. Quicksilver is Marvel’s answer to DC’s the Flash (though the former is notably less powerful than the latter). He has the mutant ability to move and think in extreme speeds. Formerly a villain and a member of the “Brotherhood of Evil Mutants”, Pietro has long reformed, become a superhero, and a member of X-Factor and the Avengers (I’m glad he’s in the next movie).
Quicksilver possesses a rude, arrogant, and impatient personality – a result of his super-fast perception, making the world around him seemingly moving in slow motion and he is continually waiting for it to catch up.
Recently, in the “Avengers vs. X-Men” storyline, I love the part where in one moment Quicksilver was just watching on TV the Avengers’ initial clash with the X-Men in Utopia, then in the next moment, he’s already at the place at the side of the Avengers and punching Magneto on the jaw.
1.) FLASH (WALLY WEST)
Wally West is the best Flash ever. Not only that, but he’s also the greatest speedster in fiction.
Wally West, as Kid Flash, was formerly the teenage sidekick of Barry Allen. After Barry’s death, Wally took up the mantle of “Flash” to himself. And as Flash, Wally was able to surpass his predecessor. I think Wally West (and Carol Danvers, if we consider her a sidekick) is the only comicbook character to do that – a sidekick that took up his mentor’s superhero mantle and become more popular and successful than him.
How can I say that Wally is better than his mentor, Barry Allen? There is a reason that it took 23 years before Barry returned again. In the comic book industry where death is never permanent, a popular character will never stay dead long enough to become a status quo. Barry Allen stayed dead because Wally West as Flash sufficed and was awesome enough. Wally’s struggles and eventual success to live up to Barry’s legacy put an unparalleled depth to the character. For a lot of us, Wally West is the Flash. We grew up with Wally as Flash and got use to it (Barry was four years dead already when I was born). We watched the Justice League animated series, arguably the best depiction of the Justice League ever, and we had Wally, not Barry, and we loved Wally there. So Wally was loved in both the comics and the animated series. He was never lacking as the Flash; he has even become more popular than Barry. There was never a massive cry for Barry to return. His ultimate sacrifice in “Crisis of the Infinite Earths” already defined him as a character, a fitting end to a true hero; I even think it cheapens the impact of that sacrifice if he would be brought back.
There was never a reason to bring back Barry, identify him as the Flash again, and sideline Wally. It won’t make sense. So why did that happen then? The only answer I can think of why Barry Allen was returned as the Flash was because Geoff Johns is obsessed with the Silver Age and has the delusion that he is righting a universal wrong by making Barry the main Flash again. And DC was stupid enough to let him do exactly that.
DC could have had something special here: the greatest character development of a sidekick taking up the mantle of his mentor. Bucky Barnes becoming Captain America and Dick Grayson becoming Batman have been awesome, but they never truly surpassed their predecessors. Only Wally West has ever done that. But, now, by making Barry Allen the main Flash again, it negates everything DC has established in Wally West before. What a waste.