9 Greatest Superman vs. Flash Races of All-Time

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Who Would Win a Race: Flash or Superman?

Illustration of "Superman vs The Flash" by Alex Ross
"Superman vs. The Flash" by Alex Ross. Alex Ross

This week was the highly anticipated Supergirl\Flash cross-over event. It's a milestone in television history and carries on a tradition from the comics. Flash and Superman have raced each other many times. While Superman has speed as one of his core super-powers is he faster than Flash?

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1. "Superman's Race With the Flash!" (1967)

Comic panel of Superman #199
Superman and Flash race - Superman #199 (1967). DC Comics

Comic: Superman #199

Created by Jim Shooter and Curt Swan

Track: World

Winner: Tie

Barry Allen is the first (technically second) Flash and this is the first organized race between the two of them. The UN secretary asks Superman and Flash to race around the world to help charity. Since they can both run “faster that the speed of light” the course is designed to level the playing field. The public buys sweepstakes tickets for their favorites.

It sounds like an easy win but they challenge each of them in different ways. Superman can't fly and has to swim. Flash has to survive extreme temperature conditions. After Superman and Flash discover organized crime is trying to fix the race they decide to end the race together making it a tie.

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2. "The Race to the End of the Universe!" (1967)

Comic panel of Flash #175 (1967)
Flash #175 (1967) by Ross Andru. DC Comics

Comic: Flash #175

Created by E. Nelson Bridwell and Ross Andru

Track: Milky Way Galaxy

Winner: Tie

Late that year the bitter rivalry didn't end between Barry Allen and Superman. In a story written by E. Nelson Bridwell and pencils by Ross Andru two aliens demand that they race across the galaxy. 40,000 light years. They threaten to destroy one of two cities: Flash's hometown of Central City or Superman's hometown of Metropolis. The Justice League are held hostage and can’t help. 

Just like the last race the playing field is leveled by giving Flash a force field that generates oxygen. No one explains how Flash can run in open space and Superman is clearly flying not running. 

Anyway, after a red sun and green Kryptonite meteors, Superman maneuvers things to save Flash from a bunch of traps. After it's revealed the two aliens were really Professor Zoom and Abra Kadavar they race to the finish line. In the end, the comic gives a cop out by saying the finish looked different from different angles. So no one knows who won.

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3. "Race to Save the Universe!" (1970)

Comic panel of Flash #175 (1970)
Flash #175 (1970) Dick Dillin and Paul Norris. DC Comics

Comic: World's Finest 198-199 (1970)

Created by Dennis O'Neil, Dick Dillin and Paul Norris

Track: Two Galaxies

Winner: The Flash (Barry Allen)

The leaders of the Green Lantern Corp, Guardians of OA, tell Flash and Superman that they have stop time distortions across the universe. How? By running of course.

They need to run in a preset course across the galaxy to stop time distortions. Flash is given a medallion which gives him air and an energy path to run on. Barry suggests they make a race out of it since they never answered the question of who’s faster. During the race the Phantom Zone criminals Kru-El, Jax-Ur, General Zod, and Professor Vakox attack them. 

Flash and Superman are hurt and have to crawl across the desert to the control switch. Flash manages to reach the control switch and says, “Guess what? I won!” Superman says that in that world with the red sun he's the fastest man alive. Flash finally wins one.

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4. "Chase to the End of Time!" (1978)

Comic panel of DC Comics Presents #2 (1978)
DC Comics Presents #2 (1978) by Dan Jurgens. DC Comics

Comic: DC Comics Presents #1–2 (1978)

Created By Dan Jurgens

Track: Time

Winner: Tie

A mysterious ray attacks the small town of Rosemont causing extreme turbulence. When Superman traces the rays to warring spaceships over Earth he and Flash are abducted by aliens. It turns out the warring aliens — Zelkot and Vokir — have sent someone back in time to end the war and don’t want them to interfere. The two race across time to prevent a time paradox that would prevent life from starting. Flash races to save Earth from being wiped out of history while Superman races to save his life on Krypton. Or so it appears. By the end, they work together to stop the time assassin and save life on Earth and Krypton long enough to save Superman. Both make it through and arrive in the present via a time loop. They defeat the aliens and save the universe. 

Superman congratulates Flash on pulling a victory out of a “No-Win” situation. Technically it’s no much of a race, and they didn’t really reach a finish line. But they were neck-and-neck through most of the race so we’ll call it a tie. 

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5. "Speed Kills" (1990)

Comic panel of Adventures of Superman #463 (1990)
Adventures of Superman #463 (1990) by Dan Jurgens. DC Comics

Comic: Adventures of Superman #463 (1990)

Created By Dan Jurgens

Track: World

Winner: Flash (Wally West)

Mr. Mxyzptlk declares that Flash (Wally West) and Superman have to race across the world. Mr. Mxyzptlk says he’ll go back to the Fifth dimension if Superman wins. Superman agrees but says it’s not much of a contest against ‘Kid Flash’” So Wally decides to win just to prove Superman wrong. This a few years after "Crisis on Infinite Earths" and the two are nowhere near as fast and as strong as they used to be. In fact, while Superman and Barry Allen could travel faster than the speed of light, now they’re top speed is the speed of sound. While the two are pushed to the limit Flash wins by a nose. Of course, it turns out Mr. Mxyzptlk had lied and only planned to go back if Superman won. He bet on the wrong horse and was forced to disappear. 

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6. "Speeding Bullets" (2002)

Comic panel of DC First: Flash/Superman (2002)
DC First: Flash/Superman (2002) by Rick Burchett. DC Comics

Comic: DC First: Flash/Superman (2002)

Created By Geoff Johns and Rick Burchett

Track: America

Winner: Flash (Jay Garrick)

Superman had lost against Barry Allen and Wally West but what about Jay Garrick? In DC continuity, Jay Garrick is the first Flash from the “Golden Age” of DC comics. By this time Superman and Flash were close to their Pre-crisis levels and could run fast enough to travel through time.

A criminal named Abra Kadabra escapes from prison and goes to Metropolis. He casts a spell on Superman, Wally West and Jay Garrick forcing them to run after Wally who’s rapidly aging. The only way to free Wally is to race after Flash and touch him which would mean they would die from aging. As they race across the land, at the last moment, Garrick steals some of Superman’s speed and touches Wally.

It turns out Abra Kadabra’s “spell” was actually just done using microscopic robots called nanites and they save both Jay and Wally. So Jay wins the race here, but not on his own power. Still won though.

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7. "Fast Friends" (2004)

Comic panel of The Flash #209 (2004)
The Flash #209 (2004) by Howard Porter. DC Comics

Comic: The Flash #209 (2004)

Created By Geoff Johns and Howard Porter

Track: World

Winner: Flash (Wally West)

After The Flash (Wally West) erases everyone's memory the Justice League confronts him. Instead of explaining he goes running looking for his missing wife Linda Park. Superman says he's the only one that can catch up to him and talk some sense into him. 

The two run around the world looking for Linda and Superman is close, but can never catch up. He even tries to use his heat vision to throw off Flash's balance down, but Wally is faster. Superman runs from sheer momentum while Flash runs by tapping into the energy field known as the "Speed Force". Wally looks everywhere he thinks she might be including France.

Finally, they end at Wally's empty apartment and he mutters “I won."

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8. "Rearview Mirrors" (2009)

Comic panel of Flash Rebirth #3 (2009)
Flash Rebirth #3 (2009) by Ethan Van Sciver. DC Comics

Comic: Flash Rebirth #3 (2009)

Created By Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver

Track: Central City to Metropolis

Winner: Flash (Barry Allen)

This one isn’t a formal race, but it does pit Superman against Flash. When Barry Allen gets infected by the Black Flash he goes running to his death. Superman races after him telling him to stop. He says they can’t lose Barry and reminds him that he’d even won a few races against him.

Barry says, “Those were for charity Clark” and blows away from him. This is supposed to answer the ultimate question of who’s faster and I guess it does.

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9. "Grounded, Part Seven" (2011)

Comic panel from Superman #709 (2011)
Superman #709 (2011). DC Comics

Comic: Superman #709 (2011)

Created By J. Michael Straczynski, Chris Roberson, Eddy Barrows and Allan Goldman

Track: Metropolis

Winner: Superman

When Flash (Barry Allen) is being mind controlled by a Kryptonian headband he runs around remaking the city to look like Krypton. He can't slow down so Superman has to stop him. Superman chases after him saying always wondered which one is faster. He runs after him and catches him.

It's one of the few times Superman catches him.

So Who's Faster?

While Superman is faster than a speeding bullet, in almost every documented case Flash beats Superman. In fact, every version of the Flash has beaten Superman at one time or another. So, while Superman is fast, Flash really is the fastest man alive.