That’s what the Man of Steel and the Scarlet Speedster had to do…to
decide who really was the fastest man alive…and that’s what they have
done, and done again and will do again as well!
It all happens so fast…as these two Justice League members race like school children!
But, let’s take a step back and start at the beginning of the race, shall we?
Superman’s Race With The Flash
It all started with Superman #199
(August, 1967) in a story by Jim Shooter
with interior art by Curt Swan
, and a cover by Carmine Infantino
Superman (Clark Kent) and Flash (Barry Allen) were to race to help
raise funds for the United Nations…until mobsters decided they wanted a
piece of the action.
Most of the Justice League of America of the time was there as well,
as was Lois Lane and Iris West Allen, Supergirl and Robin, and Jimmy
Olsen and Perry White (this was one of the earlier gatherings of DC
characters outside the team books as well, beyond just the Justice League of America
No winner decided here, though…
The Race To The End Of The Universe!
Next up, Flash #175
(December 1967, cover by Carmine Infantino
, story by E. Nelson Bridwell
and art by Ross Andru
provided the first rematch, and, along with the JLA, added a few Flash
foes like the Weather Wizard, Abra Kadabra and Reverse-Flash to the mix,
and friends like Flash Museum curator Dexter Myles…as the race was
organized by Rokk and Sorban, two alien gamblers who Superman, Batman
and Robin had last encountered in World’s Finest Comics #150
What race wouldn’t bring out alien gamblers?
Still no winner here though…
The Greatest Race Of All Time!
Quick detour…Superman #199
and Flash #175
were reprinted in Limited Collector’s Edition #C-48
(1976) with a stunning cover by Carmine Infantino
(layout) and Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez
Worth noting now, as Carmine had worked on the races in the past (and around this time worked on the first Superman/Spider-Man book, along with Ross Andru
and others), and Jose was to do some important Superman/Flash work in the future!
Just some stunning artwork, keeping the race going!
A Quick Detour
time to detour a bit more, as though Superman and Flash worked together
regularly in the Justice League of America, they still didn’t meet that
much in their own books…though Barry Allen tried to fill Superman’s
boots in Superman #220
(October 1969, by Jim Shooter
and Curt Swan
) with Clark Kent being the Flash, and later, Superman and Flash had a little run in as seen in Action Comics #441
(November 1974, by Cary Bates
and Curt Swan
, with cover by Nick Cardy
and Green Arrow back-up story, not related to the main story), but
these weren’t races…as the race was decided finally between these
Race To Save The Universe!
Breaking from Superman and Batman team-ups came World’s Finest Comics #198-199
(November-December 1970, with covers by Curt Swan
and Neal Adams
respectively, and interiors for both done by writer Dennis O’Neil
and artist Dick Dillin
), wherein Superman teamed up with Flash at the behest of some mystery foes (read about them here),
and the title of who was the Fastest Man Alive was decided as the
heroes raced across the galaxy…and more! No spoilers, but, there was a
Chase To The End Of Time!
Still, the racing went on, and Superman and the Flash kicked off the new Superman team-up book with DC Comics Presents #1
(July-October 1977 by writer Martin Pasko
and artist Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez
wherein Superman and Flash had to race through all of time thanks
to two alien races at war (the Volkir and the Zelkot), to see who was
the fastest, and along with way ran into the Reverse-Flash and the
Legion of Super-Heroes (though not at the same “time”…Professor Zoom was
in the 25th Century, and the Legion was in the 30th).
The pair went to the end of time, and looped around to their starting point to finish this one…
Superman and Flash ran into each other a couple of times later outside of the Justice League book, with DC Comics Presents #38
(October 1981 story by Martin Pasko
and art by Don Heck
, with a George Perez
cover) and #73
(September 1984, by Cary Bates
and Carmine Infantino
), but these weren’t really races and get mentioned…mostly because of the great covers! Also of note, in DC Comics Presents #38
, was a great story on the Crimson Avenger, and a two-page spread featuring Superman and all his DCCP co-stars, drawn by George Perez
Who Is Really The Fastest Man Alive?
Adventures of Superman #463
(February 1990, by Dan Jurgens
, as both writer and artist for this issue) tried to answer that, with a race between Superman and the new Flash, former Kid Flash Wally
West. This time the race was instigated by Mr. Mxyzptlk (the 5th
dimensional imp who bedevils Superman), and folks like Lex Luthor, and
both the Justice League America and Europe were involved…
…and this race even continued over into other DC Comics that month like Hawk & Dove
and New Gods
(though the racers were just in the background…).
This kept the race going for a time…
A Few More Races
Superman and Flash (Wally) raced again in Flash #53
(August 1991 by William Messner-Loebs
and Greg LaRocque
, and a cover by Dan Jurgens
), and a little later, Superman raced the original Flash (Jay Garrick) in DC First: Flash/Superman #1
(July 2002 by Geoff Johns
and Rick Burchett
and cover by Kevin Nowlan
) to save Wally’s life from Abra Kadabra in an homage to all the previous races.
Mostly with these, you can see how Wally West matured as the Flash, and Superman really didn’t gain any ground on his racing…
Collect Them All
Most of the issues here (well, Superman #199
, Flash #175
, World’s Finest Comics #198-199
, DC Comics Presents #1-2
, Adventures of Superman #463
and DC First: Flash/Superman #1
at least) were gathered in the Superman vs. Flash
tradepaperback in 2005, with a cover by Alex Ross
…proving the time is circular, not unlike proven during one of the races between these two super heroes!
This is also a nice, easy way to get a good start with all that
racing, without having to run out your funds paying for expensive back
issues…and looks great on any bookshelf when you have time after your
Superman foe Bizarro and Flash foe Zoom even raced once, in Superman #221
(November 2005 by writer Mark Verheiden
and artist Ed Benes
in a battle of the opposites, and Superboy (Kon-El, the clone of
Superman) raced with the second Kid Flash (Bart Allen – he who was
formally Impulse) in Superboy #5
(May 2011, by Jeff Lemire
and Pier Gallo
, and cover by Francis Manapul
No ruining these races for you, but they were different to say the least!
Running In Different Formats
Superman and Flash still race to this day, whether it be in the Superman: The Animated Series
(in “Speed Demons”, aired September 13, 1997, written by Rich Fogel
and directed by Toshihiko Masuda
, wherein the race was interrupted by the Weather Wizard). They’ve even raced live in Smallville
(in “Run”, aired October 20, 2004, written by Steven S. DeKnight
and directed by David Barrett
), though this involved a younger Bart Allen (played by Kyle Gallner
was Impulse and Kid Flash in the comics as well and Bart continued to
run in and out of Smallville, even meeting Smallville’s Green Arrow,
Aquaman, Cyborg and Black Canary along the way).
Still Running Along
Barry Allen returned, and so did Superman/Flash races…with Flash: Rebirth #3
(August 2009, by Geoff Johns
and Ethan Van Sciver
). Ironic that Flash should return in the Arrow
show (with Geoff Johns
a co-writer on “The Scientist”, along with Andrew Kreisberg
and Greg Berlanti
, debuting on December 4th, 2013, with Grant Gustin
as Barry Allen)…and the Flash has his own show starting in October, 2014 on the CW!
…but Superman and Green Arrow had a little in common in comic history
, but Flash never really raced the Emerald Archer!
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