As a kid I grew up with The Hulk and The Flash as my favourite superheroes, I grew out of liking The Hulk, but have always loved the Flash, and I especially loved it when the Flash would race Superman for the title of Fastest Man Alive. Sadly though being skint and/or stupidity I sold these issues years ago but Comixology has a Flash sale on, so I grabbed these issues for a bargain price of 69p each.
Superman #199 has a fantastic Carmine Infantino cover, and I especially like Batman failing to support his supposed best mate, but imagine being a kid in the 60’s and 70’s and seeing this cover? It’d be impossible not to buy this.
The premise of the issue is that mobsters are betting on either hero so they follow them around timing their speed, but we find that the United Nations have asked the pair to run a race to aid them.
As both men can travel faster than light a course is designed for them to make it a real race.
Rival mob gangs have plans to sabotage the race so that the Flash and Superman both fail, so although the heroes are doing a lot of great work for charidee mate, the mobsters have bet billions on the outcome of the race. Eventually the day of the race arrives, and Superman and The Flash get their marks and race.
There’s a strange moment that looks odd to 21st century eyes when the heroes go through Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan.
As the race continues natural hazards come thick and thin such as hurricanes and flying chunks of Kryptonite that in the DC Universe of the time, seemed to be as common as rickets. Eventually the mobsters break out their cunning plans and yes, this is real.
Do the baddies stop the heroes? Course not, but it’s enormous fun in that wholesome and slightly staid way DC were back then, but this isn’t the end of the heroes rivalry.
The second race between the heroes isn’t on Comixolgy’s sale as far as I can see, but this is, and isn’t that a glorious Neal Adams/Carmine Infantino cover? This time things seem more modern thanks to Denny O’Neill’s script and the vastly underrated Dick Dillon art. Essentially some bad guys are mucking around with time and that brings in Green Lantern’s Guardians to ask Superman for help.
Thanks to some Guardian SF gibberish Superman and The Flash have to run through space to stop these creatures, and the pair decide to make a race of it.
The pair race through stars, alternate realities and eventually find the Arachnoids as the story spins into the next issue.
A pretty average Neal Adams cover fronts up the second part of the story as the pair of heroes attempt to save the universe, Can they do it?
The heroes find out the people responsible for the Arachnoids, and it’s the Phantom Zone baddies.
Can the heroes win? Of course they do, but who wins the race is probably a bit of a surprise for what was a Superman team-up comic but it really didn’t matter as these stories were just about giving fans the buzz of seeing heroes play out playground arguments on the paper.
For the last comic on this incomplete list of Superman/Flash races, it’s tie to hit the 1980’s for Adventures of Superman#463, but instead of the Barry Allen Flash this is now the Wally West Flash of DC’s post-Crisis universe, and thanks to some prodding from Mr. Mxyzptlk the pair of heroes have a race.
After Superman acts like an arsehole to the Flash, the race is on.
The pair come across natural obstacles as well as more problems of an impish kind.
These though aren’t the demigods of the previous issues running between galaxies, but are more limited in their powers.
These stories aren’t especially great comics, let alone great examples of superhero comics but they do show how superhero comics developed from the staid 60’s through the groovy 70’s and the more down to earth 80’s, but all hold a sense of fun in what they’re doing and that’s often something that doesn’t happen in most superhero comics these days. These comics are snapshots of history. As said, the question of who’s faster, The Flash or Superman is a kids argument but at the end of the day these are kids comics that all can enjoy because reading these are just joyful nostalgia.