"Speed Demons" is the fourth episode of the second season of Superman: The Animated Series, and the 17th of the overall series. It depicts the first appearance of the Flash in Metropolis. Superman and the Flash are asked to compete in a charity race. However, they soon discover that the race is just a hoax in order for them to generate power for a weather altering machine used by the Weather Wizard. With this machine, he can create any weather anywhere. Superman and the Flash must team up to beat him.
A race to determine who is the "Fastest Man Alive" is being held in Metropolis. It's revealed that the race is between Superman and the Flash, who shows up and showboats for the crowd, hitting on Lois and literally running circles around the Man of Steel. After the competitors have a few words, the Mayor announces that the two will race around the world one hundred times and whoever wins will be declared the Fastest Man Alive. The pair is given special tracking armbands so that their progress can be watched. After receiving their instructions, Superman and the Flash take off on their run.
The race continues for a time and the Flash holds a slight lead over Superman. As the two continue to run, a man drives up a remote road and happily comments that they are fools and they should keep it up. He comes to a cabin that is strangely surrounded by snow while the rest of the area is warm and dry. He gets angry at the sight and quickly enters the cabin. Inside, he sees a smaller man who is holding a strange rod in his hands. This man, Ben, explains to the other man, Mark, that his machine works thanks to Superman and Flash generating high velocity ionic energy. Mark angrily takes the rod and identifies himself as Ben's older brother.
Elsewhere, Nimbus Tracking Station gets a call from Mark, who now calls himself the "Weather Wizard". He tells them that he's about to demonstrate his power and creates a storm off the coast of Australia. This storm catches an oil tanker in its midst and causes it to crash thereby rupturing its hull and releasing an oil spill. Fortunately, Superman and the Flash are nearby. Superman saves a drowning sailor and repairs the hull. Flash then uses his speed to clean up the oil.
After saving the ship, Superman and Flash go to Nimbus Tracking Station and hear of The Weather Wizard's demand of one billion dollars. Flash identifies the man as Mark Mardon and recalls a previous scheme of his. Superman mentions that there was some money involved that was never recovered. Flash and Superman leave to confront their new enemy.
The Weather Wizard notices the duo coming for him and decides to end their threat. Ben tries to stop him on the basis that he's uncomfortable with the concept of using the machine to kill people but The Weather Wizard is unsympathetic.
He raises the rod and Superman and the Flash find themselves caught up in a blizzard of catastrophic proportions. Both heroes are frozen in a solid block of ice. The Weather Wizard believes he has killed his enemies but Superman manages to use his heat vision to escape and the Flash vibrates through the ice. After their ordeal Superman realizes that the armbands are more than just tracking bands and destroys them.
Back at the Nimbus Station, the pair find that the Weather Wizard is threatening to destroy Metropolis if his demands aren't met. Ben confronts the Weather Wizard over his cruelty but finds his brother still won't listen to reason. Upset over the way things have turned out, Ben leaves but soon finds that his brother doesn't want any loose ends: hail falls onto his car and grows to dangerously large proportions. Fortunately, Flash and Superman are able to track the Weather Wizard's location by the weather anomaly and manage to save Ben before he's killed. Ben tells his rescuers about his brother's plans and the two go to confront him.
However, the Weather Wizard has already started a storm on Metropolis and when the Flash attempts to run into the house, he finds it's protected by lighting. Superman manages to get in by tunneling into the house. However, when Superman confronts the Weather Wizard, he finds that the weather rod is a powerful weapon all of its own. Fortunately, the Flash joins Superman and forces the Weather Wizard to drop the rod. This causes gale force winds to kick up in the house and Superman has to save both men. When they get out, the machine is destroyed.
The two take the Weather Wizard back to jail and realize how well they work together. They then decide to continue their race to determine who is the Fastest Man Alive.
- Though it's never actually determined who is the Fastest Man Alive within this episode, the comics have indicated that the Flash is the faster runner. This fact is also confirmed in the Justice League Unlimited episode "Flash and Substance".
Home video releases
- Superman: A Little Piece of Home (VHS)
- Superman: A Little Piece of Home (Mini-DVD)
- Superman: A Little Piece of Home (DVD)
- Superman: The Animated Series, Volume One (DVD)
- Superman: The Complete Animated Series (DVD)
- Superman and Friends (DVD)
- There's no indication in this episode as to if this version of the Flash is Barry Allen or Wally West. However, when this version of the Flash reappears in Justice League, he is revealed to be Wally West.
- The comics have depicted a number of races (both for charity and under threat) between Superman and Barry Allen, in which the winner was never clearly established. When Superman raced Wally West, the third Flash, Wally won, even before his significant power boost and mainlining of the Speed Force.
- Michael Rosenbaum took over the voice duties for Flash in Justice League and Justice League Unlimited. Rosenbaum would also play Lex Luthor in Smallville, who was shown to have a grudge against that series' version of Flash (there called Impulse). Charlie Schlatter wouldn't voice Flash again until a decade or so later in two episodes of The Batman.
- Miguel Ferrer, who voices Weather Wizard, also played "Weatherman", the villain of the live-action TV pilot Justice League of America, released in the same year as this episode.
Flash: Swanky, but you don't need a satellite to see who's gonna win this race.
Flash: Man of Steel, feet of lead.
Superman: Slow down, a ship's in trouble.
Flash: Unusual weather we're having.