42

I have heard from many people that the Flash is faster than Superman.
But how do we know this? Have we ever seen them head-to-head?

  • 8
    This is a fascinating article describing some of the times Superman and various Flashes actually went head-to-head – Jason Baker Jan 28 '15 at 4:10
  • They have raced lots of time.. in various continuities. – Umbrella Corporation Jan 28 '15 at 11:26
  • You may find this interesting: scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/12679/… . Flash seems to be faster than Superman, but this manages to catch the Flash, apparently predicting his movements – algiogia Jan 28 '15 at 12:16
  • The latest Flash#49 confirms that flash is faster than Superman – Amit Bisht Aug 7 '18 at 14:36
49

It's already been established that all of the Flashes can move past light-speed via the Speed Force. As for Superman, he's never shown to move at light-speed while running inside a planetary atmosphere.

  • This image should answer your question, though. This scan was taken from Flash v2, #220.

    Superman and Flash race through the roads of New York; the captions read Flash's thoughts: "My wife can't wait. I know Linda is out there somewhere. And once we look into each other's eyes-- everything will be fine again. Everything will be perfect. Superman's still right behind me. Though his perception hasn't quite shifted up to mine yet. His movements are slightly slower-- but his sheer momentum is incredible. The power in his muscles snaps the laws of physics and gravity in half. In terms of raw speed, Superman and I used to be evenly matched. I'd even say he might've been a tad faster. But that was before I got over my fear of replacing Barry. Before I discovered where my speed actually comes from. And before I learned how to better tap into the Speed Force and take complete control of my abilities. I could steal all of Superman's kinetic energy and stop him cold, but it's be like throwing him out of a car-- one moving at over two thousand miles a second. That combined with Superman's strength, he'd create a path of total destruction from here to Moscow." Superman says out load to Flash "Whatever happened to you. Whatever you did to hide who you are... it's not going to change your relationship with the League." To which Flash replies "It already has."

  • Flash states that Superman is moving at over 2000 miles/sec, which is also over 120,000 miles/minute, and also 7,200,000 mph. That's Mach 9350. I believe this is that fastest that I've seen Superman move under the Earth's atmosphere. He can, however, break light speed in the vacuum of outer space.

  • Superman has raced the Flash several times over their history but it is considered a given that if the Flash decided to run at his maximum, Superman who lack the environmentally-protective Speed Force aura, is unable to move at his maximum without causing catastrophic environmental damage due to his moving near light speed.

    Superman and Flash race up the side of a building and off the top of it; Superman: "You already sacrificed years of your life for everyone. You've been given a second chance." "It wasn't a get out of jail free card. It was a wish off a monkey's paw." "We don't know that for sure." "You can't stop me." "I've raced you before Barry. I even won some of those races." "Those were for charity, Clark."

  • Barry Allen reminds Kal-El, even though we have raced several times in the past, ultimately, "I allowed you to participate and ultimately YOU CANNOT beat me in a race. Not now, not ever."

    An important caveat to this statement is that Superman CAN move faster than light in space and has been shown to do that on several occasions in the New 52.

    A rugguish looking Superman flies through Satrun's rings out in space the caption reads "Eighteen hours earlier." and Superman thinks to himself "I punch through the ice and rocks of Saturn's rings. And I should be elated. After sixty days of tearing non-stop through endless space... I'm nearly home. But the last time I saw Earth, I was fighting Brainiac while possessed by the Doomsday Virus... and the lives of everyone on the planet hung in the balance. But we saved the Earth. I dragged Brainiac into a Black Hole."

  • Outside of a planetary atmosphere he has proven to be able to achieve speeds faster than light, traveling from Pluto to Earth in a matter of minutes. Whether this is due to him achieving superluminal speeds or by warping space around him has not been discerned or disclosed. His current top speed is estimated by this travel time at 16 to 20 times the speed of light!


As to why Superman cannot move faster than light in atmosphere, I submit to you an XKCD article explaining what happens when something moves at near-relativistic speeds in atmosphere: Relativistic Baseball. Totally worth the read.

| improve this answer | |
  • 5
    That's Mach 9350 I know the speed force allows Flash to move really fast without creating harmful sonic booms... What's Superman's excuse. – user16696 Jan 28 '15 at 7:39
  • 7
    You may want to point out that the Flash in the top panel is Wally West, while the one in the lower panel is Barry Allen. Not a huge deal, but the uninitiated may be confused by the dialogue otherwise. – Omegacron Jan 28 '15 at 15:53
  • 2
    The operative word is limited to the speed of light in ATMOSPHERE! – Thaddeus Howze Jan 28 '15 at 21:46
  • 6
    limited to the speed of light and no faster... What a loser! – Daft Apr 14 '15 at 21:08
  • 4
    "His speed is over 9000!" - For those who understand... I just had to do it :D – Spandan Aug 27 '16 at 11:14
5

False, Superman can move faster than lightspeed. On Earth he won't fly at lightspeed because this could be catastrophic to the planet Earth, Flash doesn't have that problem because part of his powers prevent any damage to the planet. In space Superman does not have that limitation and can let it rip. In a recent issue of Red Hood and The Outlaws, Superman flew from Pluto, back to Earth in the same amount of time, or faster, than the Outlaws were able to teleport back to Earth. That is 4.67 billion miles, in seconds.

The thing here is that people are concentrating on the running... yes... Flash can outrun Superman because Superman does not need to run, therefore he is not used to it. On the other hand... if he was flying, it might be a different story.

Earth-Pluto (4.67 billion km of distance) in minutes is in the bases of the 17 billion km/h that Batman refers in the JLs (aprox.16xlightspeed). Maybe approx. 20 billion km/h.

Superman flies through space alongside a spaceship and knocks on the door saying "I need a few moments of your time, Starfire.". The captions read "I'll be honest. Even before I died and was resurrescted--long story--there were few things that could make me afraid. One, something happening to my mother. We know how that turned out. Two, any empty bread basket. Yeah, food issues. Three? Superman." We see the control station of Starfire's spaceship with her sat in the captain's chair and various other characters working at different consoles around her with a close up of Superman's face on the screen.

Red Hood and the Outlaws beam down onto a desert island with Red Hood holding two pistols in the air Superman flies down to meet them; Starfire prepares herself and Red Hood points a pistol at him
Click images to enlarge.

| improve this answer | |
3

In Superman #309, Superman flies 11 light-years in a couple of minutes/hours -- that is: thousands of times lightspeed. Not sure if Flash ever did that.

Superman flies at spaceships surrounding Earth, he destroys one by flying through it and then sets off away from Earth with the other spaceships following him

| improve this answer | |
  • 2
    Not to poo poo on these kinds of questions but nothing in the DC universe makes any sense. This means that until DC definitively states who is faster there is absolutely no sense in arguing it. Since flash has been stated to be the fastest (if he wants) the only possible conclusion is that flash could move even faster than superman's superluminal speeds. – Magic Lasso Mar 9 '17 at 2:18
  • 1
    Flash moved from the ends of the universe to Earth in less than a plank time. youtube.com/watch?v=z4O-5eV4LiA - He beat cosmic beings that could teleport instantly anywhere. In a bet. – Mindwin Feb 25 '18 at 23:15
2

In The Flash: The Human Race (1998), the Cosmic Gamblers get the Flash to run in a race for the fastest being in existence, where losing means the destruction of planet Earth. The Flash counter bets with the Gamblers that he can run faster than they can teleport. The Flash then gathers more Speed Force than ever and makes a move in less than a Plank Instant (smallest unit of time), arriving at destination before instant transportation of the Gamblers is achieved.

The Flash sprinting and grimacing surrounded by the yellow lighting of the Speed Force with the background turned to an orange/red blur, the caption reads: "Ina  fraction of second so infinitesimal no word exists to describe it, I'm leaving the recognised space-time continuum and approaching trans-time velocity.""

Being faster than teleportation is certainly faster than Superman, as we've never seen Superman able to catch up with teleportation. This is all scaled by the end of this interesting video:


In The Flash Rebirth #3 (2009), Direct competition between the Flash and Superman did clearly demonstrate and acknowledge that during a chase where the Flash easily outruns Superman. See Thaddeus Howze's answer for the illustration.

And in Flashpoint (2011), the Flash does even better as he uses the Speed Force to travel back in time (some speed overflow you could say). Modern Age Superman can't time travel with his speed alone. See: Can Superman reverse time in comics by flying faster than speed of light?.

| improve this answer | |
-1

In Smallville there is an episode where the character Impulse beats Clark in a running race. By a considerable margin.

| improve this answer | |
-4

Everyone here doesn't realize Flash is faster then Superman by a lot no matter space or Earth. People are saying Flash can run at the speed of light and Superman can do it, then others are saying Superman flies faster in space. Regardless Flash is able to run so fast he can go back in time and he can travel through dimensions because he is so fast regardless. There have even been recent Flash comics where Mr and Ms Quick run so fast they can fly. Flash is the fastest man alive. Flash traveled at a speed faster than a Planck second which is the smallest period of time so basically Flash is able to beat time itself in a race.

| improve this answer | |
  • 2
    Well, which "recent Flash comics"? – Null Jul 30 '15 at 19:09
  • @Null I found the reference; The demonstration of the fastest speed in the Universe is done in dccomics.com/graphic-novels/the-flash-1987/flash-the-human-race where the Flash can literally run faster than instant teleportation. And it dates from "1998", so ain't quite "recent" indeed. – Cœur Dec 26 '19 at 14:05

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.