Subway Shorts – The Flash Annual 1

The Flash comic is getting in on the big event train, with the annual setting the stage for the upcoming Flash War and giving some more insight into the recently-returned original Wally West.

The Flash Annual 1
Written by Joshua Williamson 
Art by Howard Porter and Christian Duce 

There’s been a lot going on in Barry Allen’s life, and The Flash comic has focused on the craziness surrounding Central City, his relationship with Iris West and her nephew, his protege, Kid Flash. But what about that other Wally West? The original Wally West, the one that started the whole Rebirth era by escaping the timestream and returning to a world he didn’t exactly recognize… one that seemingly doesn’t recognize him, either, save for a few heroes? That Wally has been featured mainly in Titans, trying to figure things out with the other former sidekicks with whom he grew up.

A lot of the current DC Comics continuity hinges on what happened to Wally, where he was and how he escaped. And while I assume those questions will be answered in DOOMSDAY CLOCK (maybe… who knows at this point…), but Wally still has to re-establish himself in the world where he returned. And this issue is a first step toward building his world beyond the Titans and setting him back firmly in the world of The Flash.

After reading the last issue of THE FLASH, I wondered how it was that Iris West had yet to ask Barry about the new guy in the red suit running around the world, and while they address that here, it’s not really explored beyond that. Barry sets Wally up to come face-to-face with Iris, to give him a chance to tell her what’s going on, though like his former wife Linda, Iris has no idea that this Wally even exists.

Not really having anyone else to turn to after the Justice League disbanded the Titans, Wally sets out to Blue Valley to find his former girlfriend, Frances, who gained abilities of magnetism and became the hero/villain/whatever Magenta (the character was introduced in the third season of The CW’s FLASH TV show). The reunion does not start out very well.

The reappearance of Wally West in her life opens up Frances’ memory banks and brings back all the bad things that happened to her because of Wally. A fight ensues, until Wally figures out how to get through to her, and it leads to a much calmer reunion and gives Wally the initiative to start to reinsert himself into the world – with a little help from Dick Grayson and Bruce Wayne’s corporate credit card.

The story is fun and gives hope to fans of the character that Wally will get more of a focus going forward, teasing a little bit of dissension in the Flash family with the upcoming FLASH WAR on the horizon. But that’s likely not going to be the impetus for this big story coming in May. For that, we look at the book’s framing sequence, which takes place in the Flash Museum in the 25th Century, as police examine the murder of Eobard Thawne – the Reverse Flash – at the hands of Iris West. A SWAT team designed after the Rogues are sent back in time to arrest Iris and we see the man pulling all the strings – Zoom!

There are too many speedsters running around the DCU in a yellow suit. This one, though, will continue his mission to make Barry Allen a better hero by orchestrating a war between the Flashes.

FLASH WAR kicks off in May, so we have a few months to see how Joshua Williamson and company build to it. This prelude, though, did a much better job of getting me hyped for more Wally – who was The Flash when I started reading comics in the early 1990s – than it did for the upcoming story arc. Hopefully we get a lot more of the original Wally West going forward.