Welcome back once more to ASK…THE QUESTION, our monthly column where we take your pressing DC mysteries and provide answers to the best of our ability. I’m your host, Alex Jaffe, better known in the DC Community as HubCityQuestion. As always, if you’d like to submit a question of your own, you can stop by my virtual office at any time in the DC Community to make your inquiry, which I will, in time, address to the best of my ability.
Let’s get some answers!
Encyclopedia Extraterrestria, Vol. 5: S-T
Thanagarians, Kryptonians, Kherubims, oh my. How many aliens have come, gone, or stayed on Earth?
Our six-month expedition through Earth’s alien visitors continues here, in my exhaustive attempt to address this particular inquiry. You may consult previous installments of this column for Earth-visiting aliens under A-R, as well as the long list of caveats and exceptions regarding the kinds of alien races which will not be appearing here. If there’s one you think I’ve omitted, please don’t hesitate to write. We’ll include any noted species which have evaded my search in an appendix at the end.
Sabromians: A giant race of green-skinned aliens with batlike ears, solid red eyes, and four whisker-like face protuberances who once staged an invasion of Earth by starting with the Fortress of Solitude.
Saturnians: In the Golden Age, the Empire of Saturn occupied the ringed planet and all of its moons, ruled by the devil-like Emperor of Saturn. Saturnian slavers Saturnette and Eviless were frequently opposed by Wonder Woman in the Emperor's bid to annex Earth under his rule. Eventually, Saturnians came to be typified by such red-skinned humanoids as Jemm, Son of Saturn, and were further established as descendants of Martian colonists.
Scrubb: The hairless, blue-skinned Scrubb are known for their love of sport and competition, challenging planetary civilizations to confront their own champions one-on-one to be spared destruction. In one famous incident, both Superman and boxer Muhammad Ali volunteered to represent Earth against the Scrubb.
Sh'pilkuzzians: The race of Larfleeze, keeper of the Orange Lantern. Larfleeze has been to Earth on several occasions, from aiding in the fight against Nekron in Blackest Night, to discovering the true meaning of Christmas.
Sklarians: Human in appearance, the Sklarians seem to be a matriarchal, technologically simple race with superhuman reflexes that relies on raiding others for advancement. An all-female cadre of Sklarian raiders contend with the Legion of Super-Heroes 1,000 years in the future.
Somahutrans: A light purple-skinned race with two antennae on their forehead, Somahutrans live symbiotically with a diverse array of bacteria in their bodies infectious to most other races. The Somahutran Infectious Lass is a member of the Legion of Substitute Heroes.
Space Kraken: The monstrous space kraken of the planet Ahnkis were brought to Earth as living warcraft by the alien sea god Commander Drogue, aquaforming the planet and transforming its inhabitants into mutated soldiers.
Star Conquerors: A cosmic race of one-eyed starfish with some telepathic ability capable of controlling host bodies by grafting themselves onto their faces. Able to grow to enormous sizes, as in the case of Starro the Conqueror.
Sun-Eaters: Some of the most powerful beings in the known universe, a Sun-Eater can take a large amorphous or humanoid shape to drain energy on a cosmic scale. Superman has sometimes kept a baby Sun-Eater at the Fortress of Solitude, and the Justice League has on multiple occasions battled the humanoid Sun-Eater, Starbreaker.
Symbeasts: A race of tiny parasitic creatures which can take a multitude of forms by linking up with one another, transforming and extending from their host body. These alien symbeasts are the power source of Menagerie, of the Elite.
Talokites: A race of blue-skinned humanoids from the Talok star system. Mikaal Tomas, the alien Starman, is a Talokite, as is Sinestro Corps lorekeeper Lyssa Drak, and Shadow Lass of the Legion of Super-Heroes.
Talynians: An elflike race which genetically engineered their own warlike tendencies away to become a culture of peace, until they were wiped out by Psimon of the Fearsome Five. Jarras Minion, the last of the Talynians, escaped to Earth and became an ally to the Teen Titans.
Tamaraneans: Golden-skinned humanoids from the Vega star system. Like Kryptonians on Earth, Tamaraneans gain incredible power from solar energy, including super strength, flight and the ability to process new languages with physical contact. Typically represented in comics by Starfire of the Teen Titans.
Tchk-Tchk: A collective insectoid race of invaders who cram themselves en masse into humanoid power suits to conquer new worlds. The Tchk-Tchk paint these suits yellow, for protection against the Green Lantern Corps. In Post-Crisis continuity, one of Hal Jordan’s first missions as a Green Lantern was to repel Legion, a Tchk-Tchk invader, from their designs on Earth.
Technis: The Technis are an artificially intelligent alien computer hivemind, first made aware of Earth by a spacefaring Swamp Thing. The Technis eventually come to Earth to assimilate Cyborg of the Teen Titans.
Thanagarians: The dominant, humanoid race of the planet Thanagar, known for their high strength, stamina and senses, militant culture, and Nth metal technology. By many accounts, the original race of Hawkman and Hawkwoman. (Or at least one of their lives.)
Thought-Beasts: Somewhat resembling a triceratops, the Thought-Beasts were native creatures to Krypton which could project mental images. At least one Thought-Beast survived Krypton's destruction in the Fortress of Solitude.
Tormocks: A sadistic species of shapeshifters with advanced bioengineering technology who have raided the universe for millennia. Sworn enemies of the Vuldarians, the Tormocks come to Earth to exterminate Guy Gardner.
Trogkians: A quadrupedal species resembling a wooly mammoth with two long tusks in place of any discernable head. Moose, a Trogkian member of the Sinestro Corps, came to Earth as a fighter in the SInestro Corps War.
Tsauronians: The lizardlike race of Ontiir, a member of the Dark Circle who infiltrates the Science Police 1,000 years in the future.
Flash vs. Superman: Feats of Fleet Feet
Are there any official stats on wins/losses between the Flash and Superman in foot races? I’ve joked about how they seem to get interrupted every single time. I would love to know if anyone has ever calculated those statistics!!!
Good news: we’re about to calculate those statistics for you right now!
The tricky thing about tabulating the results of races between Superman and the Flash is that for most of DC history, there’s only ever been one Superman, while there have been multiple Flashes. So, in the interest of measuring Kal-El’s foot speed against each individual Scarlet Speedster, we’re going to separate each of their races.
There’s some common folklore among debaters of this very question that the Flash is faster than Superman on foot, but Superman can overtake him if he’s allowed to fly. We’ll see if that happens to be true, but Jay’s only recorded race with Superman happened to take place with all feet on the ground.
In DC 1st: Flash/Superman, Abra Kadabra arranges a race between the heroes where only the winner will die and the loser spared. Naturally, each hero wants to make the sacrifice for the other. It’s ultimately Jay who crosses the finish line first, by stealing Superman’s speed in a move he learned from Wally West.
Footrace Record: Jay 1, Superman 0
In season four, episode five of TV’s Smallville, a young Clark Kent curiously encounters the future Impulse before ever crossing paths with Barry Allen or Wally West. Showing the future Man of Tomorrow that he still has a lot to learn, Bart leaves Clark coughing up his dust on a long stretch of Kansas road.
Footrace Record: Bart 1, Superman 0
Now we get into it. Barry Allen’s Pre-Crisis races against Superman are where their reputation for ties originates, occurring in Superman #199 (footrace), The Flash #175 (flight allowed), and DC Comics Presents #2 (flight allowed). The first decisive victory between Superman and a speedster takes place in World’s Finest Comics #198-199. As the cover to issue #198 boldly states: “And this time, there MUST be a winner!” Despite cover illustrations to the contrary, this race too is on foot, and it’s Barry who claims victory.
The 10th issue of The Death of Superman, Part 1, a tie-in series to the Death of Superman animated movie, has Barry reminiscing about a footrace between himself and the departed Superman arranged by Mr. Mxyzptlk. Encouraged by Superman to use all of the powers available to him, Barry defeats Superman, and spoils a wager Mxy placed against him in the process.
The most infamous race of recent memory between Superman and Barry, once more on foot, is in The Flash: Rebirth #3. There, Superman, along with the rest of the League, attempts to stop Barry from returning to the Speed Force again to protect his family, having only just reunited with him.
“I’ve raced you before, Barry,” Superman says to his old friend. “I even won some of those races.” (Fact check: dubious.)
Barry’s response is one you’ve likely seen screencapped on the internet whenever this question comes up: “Those were for charity, Clark.” The Flash promptly kicks into high gear, leaving Superman helplessly behind. This is reinforced in the 2018 Flash War story arc, where a superspeed battle between Barry and Wally leaves Superman with no hope of catching up to either hero—even in flight.
Superman’s first arguable win against Barry occurs in Superman #709, one of the last Pre-Flashpoint Superman stories, again on foot. Here, we find the Flash’s mind overwhelmed by a diadem containing a Kryptonian sunstone, forcing him to run recklessly. Superman manages to catch up to Barry and remove the mind-altering crown, but Barry insists that his addled state is what allowed Clark to catch up with him in the first place.
The only completely decisive win for Clark against Barry occurs in Tom King and Andy Kubert’s Superman: Up in the Sky #4, on foot. How does Superman manage to defeat the Flash here? I’ll be honest with you: he shouldn’t have. The whole story, and in fact both their entire histories together until now, enforce the idea that Superman is a being of many talents, but the Flash will always be the faster hero. But unfortunately for the Flash, there’s one thing you can always count on Superman to do when it absolutely matters most: the impossible. (And hey, maybe this is the race Superman was talking about earlier.)
Total Record: Barry 3, Superman 2, Ties 3
Footrace Record: Barry 2, Superman 2, Ties 1
Speed Force Scholars will tell you that although Barry often gets top billing these days, Wally West is truly the fastest man alive. That seems to ring true from Wally’s first ever race against Superman, on foot, in Adventures of Superman #463. Superman doubts that the young speedster filling in for his mentor has what it takes to fill Barry’s boots, but Wally is quick to prove him wrong.
Wally would beat the Man of Steel again in The Flash #209, even as Superman flew. However, despite his relatively long stint as the Flash, there just aren’t as many races of record between Wally and Kal-El. As mentioned earlier, Barry and Wally do completely outclass Superman together in the Flash War arc and there a few races with results we can’t be sure of, such as in the Superman: The Animated Series episode “Speed Demons” and issue #7 of the Rebirth-era Titans series. We never get to see those races finish. But for the results on record, Wally is the clear winner.
Total Record: Wally 3, Superman 0
Footrace Record: Wally 1, Superman 0
As we can see from the results here, the common folklore compromise that Superman can beat the Flash—any Flash—if he’s allowed to fly in the race doesn’t actually seem to bear any truth. In the cases of both Barry and Wally, if we include races where Superman flies, the record against him is even more lopsided. And the few times Superman actually has managed to eke out a win were all on foot. If there’s one thing I’ve gathered, it’s that the true answer to who wins a race between the Flash and Superman is simply this: the winner is whoever needs it more.
Believe it or not, that’s all the space we have for this week. Join us next time when we’ll be finishing off our encyclopedia of Earth-visiting aliens. And until then, you can always stop on by the DC Community should you dare to ASK…THE QUESTION.
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Alex Jaffe is the author of our monthly "Ask the Question" column and writes about TV, movies, comics and superhero history for DCComics.com. Follow him on Twitter at @AlexJaffe and find him in the DC Community as HubCityQuestion.
NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of Alex Jaffe and do not necessarily reflect those of DC Entertainment or Warner Bros.