by Matthew Yapp
The DC universe is home to a great many speedsters, arguably too many. While Barry Allen currently has and always will have my heart, it is International Women’s Month so I am going to be discussing five of the most prominent female speedsters dashing around the DC multiverse. When comics are so heavily dominated by men, it is important to reflect on the women who help make the universe great. I’ll be going through their origins and history in the comics as well as other forms of media.
Joanie Swift was only around for one comic back in 1952. She was the first of the female speedsters which is notable. First appearing in Adventure Comics #181 Joanie was a college secretary who obtained her powers by reading a “speed formula” which was created by Johnny Chambers in order to make himself into Johnny Quick. After unintentionally tapping into the speed force Joanie spent the day with Johnny Quick. The pair recaptured animals that Joanie had accidentally released when testing her new powers. Joanie was incredibly skilled when rounding up the animals, in fact, doing a better job than her more seasoned counterpart. Unfortunately, after an encounter with her biggest fear, a mouse, she passed out. When she awoke, her powers were gone and Johnny Quick decided it would be for the best to keep her from using the speed formula again thus ending our run with Ms. Swift.
The names of Speedsters used to be really on the nose if you haven’t noticed, and Jesse Quick was no exception. Jesse first appeared in Justice Society of America Vol 2 #1(1992). Jesse was the daughter of heroes Johnny Quick and Liberty Belle. Jesse inherited the gift of speed from her father and superhuman strength from her mother making her quite the powerhouse. Her father trained her as an apprentice, but her mother pushed hard to keep Jesse out of the superhero world. After her father was killed by the speed god Savitar, Jesse took up his mantle and became a part of the Justice Society of America. Later on she would also take up her mother’s title becoming the new Liberty Belle in Justice Society of America #1 2007. She also happens to be one of two female speedsters featured on The Flash TV show, although her character is drastically different.
Again, not exactly creative with the names here DC. Ivana Molotava was introduced in Flash Vol 2 #7 (1987) where she and two other children were experimented on by the Soviet Union to make The Blue Trinity. The three of them were created with intentions of rivaling the Flash, and were sent to America in order to capture the Flash, however their mission failed and Ivana was sold off to the classic DC villain, Vandal Savage as a weapon. Ivana was given Velocity 9, a drug that gave her enough speed to rival the Flash. While she stayed loyal to Savage for some time she eventually turned on him, helping the Flash defeat her captor. She had a short-lived superhero career dubbing herself Lady Flash, however she later aligned herself with the previously mentioned villain Savitar. She became the leader of Savitar’s speed cult until the Flash eventually defeated her in Flash: Rebirth #2 (2009).
Eliza Harmon was first featured in 52 #9 (2006) where she was a subject in the Everyman Project, which were scientific experiments done on regular citizens in order to give them meta-human abilities. Eliza was a huge fan of The Flash and asked to be given superhuman speed. However, once it was given to her she was unable to return to a normal speed unless she was given the drug “sharp” to slow herself. Never the less she joined the Lex Luthor-owned super hero team Infinity Inc. Sadly, she was killed in a battle with Blockbuster when her speed failed briefly. That was not the end of her legacy however as she was featured in an episode of The Flash TV show as a speed super-drug fueled villain. While it’s not a great send-off for a complex character it’s still nice to see more live-action female speedsters.
Iris West II was first featured in Flash v.2 #225 (2005) as a baby along with her twin brother Jai West. Iris had an extremely unstable connection to the speed force similar to her father, Wally West, the third Flash. This led to her aging at incredible speeds in random spurts. She went from a toddler to a full-blown teenager in a matter of days. Fortunately, her family was finally able to stabilize her powers returning her to the age of ten. She trained alongside her brother Jai both hoping to become the future Flash when their father eventually retired. However, time and time again Iris was a step ahead of Jai. This is what led to her gaining the title of Impulse II, the successor of Bart Allen, her distant cousin. She is still the current running Impulse in the comics.