Ever since ancient times, martial arts and combat techniques have uncovered the key to victory. It is not brutish strength that gives a warrior the needed edge in battle. It is overwhelming speed that is a sure-fire path to victory. The Comic Books also have characters that put extreme emphasis on speed as a super weapon. Marvel has beings like Makkari and Quicksilver. DC has Speedsters like the Flash and Superman. All of them are powerful Avatars of Velocity. Let us find out which among the two greatest comic book universes has the upper hand with respect to blistering speed.
The question we pose is a bit more complicated than it looks. There is no absolute way to give us a definite answer. Marvel Comics and DC Comics have characters that satisfy the faster than light criterion by a huge margin. Many of them are at milestones way past that. With them being purely fictional characters with no real world roots, it is very difficult to relate their velocities to actual world physics. So we have to take into account the feats of the super-fast superheroes of each universe and find out a middle ground for judgment.
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It would be quick of people reading this to assume that DC’s Flash easily takes the cake here. But like we said, things might not be that simple. Take for example the Silver Surfer of Marvel Comics. Silver Surfer has the power to access interstellar velocities by using his Power Cosmic to access wormholes to bend time and space to his will. So if we measure speed in that sense, the Surfer takes the cake here. But if we measure velocity in terms of distance traversed in a well-defined path within a fixed period of time, the Flash wins that round.
For simplicity’s sake, let us stick to the latter aspect and forego the former aspect for the time being. Let us begin!!
Marvel Universe Speedsters
Marvel does not have an extra-dimensional source of energy for super humans to draw energy from. Unlike DC Comics and its speedster’s connections to the Speed Force realm, Marvel has super humans that draw power from other less potent sources of speed. The Silver Surfer for instance, uses his Cosmic Energy Powered Surfboard to get the job done. Captain Marvel uses Energy Manipulation to propel herself forward. Quasar uses the Quantum Bands to access the energy of the Quantum Zone while Nova uses the energy of Xandarian World Mind.
Yet the top three spots for the quickest and the fastest folks of Marvel go to three chaps – Quicksilver, Makkari, and the Runner. Quicksilver’s real name is Pietro Maximoff. He is Magneto’s Son and a powerful mutant. Quicksilver’s mutant ability gives him the ability to perform some pretty incredible feats of speed. He is the third fastest being in the Marvel Universe. Quicksilver has been compared to DC’s Flash since forever but there is no way he can outrun the Flash in a race. Maximoff’s powers have limits and ceilings while the Flash is a living God of Speed.
The next two candidates are Makkari and the Runner. Makkari belongs to the race of Eternals – an evolutionary off-shoot of humanity that was experimented upon by the Celestials and gained vast energy manipulation powers. Makkari has dedicated all his powers to enhancing his speed at the expense of diminishing his other super powers. On more than one occasion, Makkari has traveled at speeds way beyond the speed of light. During the Galactic Marathon arc, Makkari accessed a power level that transformed him into the personification of Speed itself, allowing him to defeat the Runner. The Runner is the fastest being in the Marvel Universe. An Elder of the Universe, he has proved in latter issues to have a speed that far exceeds Makkari’s.
DC Universe Speedsters
The Flash adorned the pages of DC Universe in the 1940’s. Jay Garrick wore his winged helmet and went for a run and the DC Universe was never the same again. The legacy of the Flash was later carried on the shoulders of Barry Allen and then his protege Wally West, both well-known and formidable speedsters. DC has Speedsters that are fast even though they do not have access to the Speed Force. Superman has raced the Flash may times in the comic books, relying on the speed granted to him by his superior Kryptonian Physiology to keep up with the Flash.
Other sources of speed also exist in the DC Universe. Eobard Thawne aka the Reverse Flash uses energy from a polar opposite realm of existence called the Negative Speed Force. Using that power, the Reverse Flash can run just as fast as Barry Allen.
He can even run faster than the Flash if he steals the Flash’s speed through an ability called Speed Stealing, a feat many speedsters of the DC Universe share with each other. Hunter Zolomon aka Zoom relies on another power source to become as fast as the Flash. He uses a localized time manipulation field to speed up time around him to gain speed.
Barry Allen is the reason the Speed Force exists. It is when he starts to run that the lightning generated via his trail powers the very Speed Force, keeping it alive. Barry Allen is the living God of the Speed Force. But he is still not the fastest being in his universe. That place goes to his protege Wally West, the third speedster to take on the mantle of the Scarlet Speedster. It has been publicly acknowledged that Wally’s connection to the Speed Force is even stronger than Barry Allen’s. This allows him to draw more energy from the Speed Force than any other DC Speedster.
Verdict – Who Wins – Marvel or DC?
The judgment is two-fold. Clearly the two fastest beings in Marvel and DC are the Runner and the Flash (Wally West). Provided they both have access to their powers in a neutral realm, then the Runner would win if it is a marathon race since Wally West’s endurance is not as much as the Runner’s. But if it’s a straight (shorter) dash to the finish line, Wally West takes the cake. Overall, the Speedsters of the DC Universe have better chances at winning this round.