Silver Age Showdown

It’s always a treat when I get to add a vintage comic book to my collection. You simply don’t come across these things every day. Plus, I’ve been looking for this particular issue for a while now. I’m a huge Flash fan, and you can’t have a proper Flash collection without collecting his races against Superman.

I’m pretty sure we’ve all heard (or participated in) the age-old debate about who’s faster between these two titans. Well, things weren’t much different half a century ago. Superman is known for being “faster than a speeding bullet” and Flash is the Scarlet Speedster, the Sultan of Speed, the Crimson Comet. So it only makes sense to pit the two against each other in a race around the world.

It was in 1967 – nearly 30 years after the creation of the two superheroes – that DC Comics finally gave the fans what they wanted. The race that was three decades in the making took place in the pages of Superman #199 where the two raced for a charity event organized by the U.N. This was one of the earliest comic book crossovers and certainly the most interesting one at the time.

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With the success of this Superman issue, a rematch shortly followed in the pages of Flash #175, and the two went on to have several races against each other in the decades that followed. Nearly 50 years since the iconic showdown, the Flash raced Supergirl in a crossover episode of their TV shows, proving that super-speed races still captivate fans of the superhero genre.

…Though if you really want to know who’s faster, check out this page from the third issue of The Flash: Rebirth (2009).

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It’s a race!

It's a race!

Who’s faster? Superman or the Flash?

This has been the subject of so many debates over several decades of comic book history. Nowadays, it’s quite established that the Flash has earned the title “Fastest Man Alive” (perhaps most decisively in June 2009’s Flash Rebirth #3). But back in the 40’s, 50’s and early 60’s, people could only guess. It wasn’t until June of 1967 in Superman #199 when comic book fans finally got to see the Man of Steel and the Scarlet Speedster in a showdown to see who’s the fastest.

Needless to say, it was a big hit. And having their first two races end in a draw only captivated readers even more. In the decades that followed, Superman would go on to race not only Barry Allen, but also fellow Flashes Jay Garrick and Wally West. Most recently, sidekicks Superboy and Kid Flash raced for the very first time in Superboy #5 (Mar. 2011), proving that comic book fans still appreciate a good old-fashioned high-speed throwdown.

From my collection: Superman and Flash race for the second time in The Flash #175 (Oct. 1967).