Last week we took a look at some missing characters from the New 52, specifically the Teen Titans.
While some members have appeared, a key group of characters have yet to appear in DC’s rebooted universe, and I for one miss them terribly. Like that one shirt that fits really well, but then you go to a party and suddenly you end up not having said shirt in your wardrobe. I miss that shirt. Anyways, in going through my list of Titans yet to appear, of which there were quite a few, one character stood out as potentially the biggest loser of the missing Teen Titans. A character who had started life as a sidekick and was the first to replace his mentor, only to have a history of heroic action wiped out due to the New 52. Of course, I’m talking about Wally West AKA Kid Flash AKA The Flash.
There have been a number of characters who used the name Flash over the years, spanning the comic ages. First was Jay Garrick, who was published during the Golden Age. After a brief hiatus a new Flash appeared, with an iconic costume and enhanced origin story, heralding in the Silver Age. A lightning bolt struck a wall of chemicals, which doused forensic scientist Barry Allen and transformed him into the Flash. While this might seem like a very unlikely occurrence that would result in superpowers, it actually happened twice.
Wally West, the nephew of Barry’s eventual wife Iris West, was visiting the lab where the Flash got his powers when the exact same ‘random’ accident doused him in electrified chemicals. And just like that a sidekick was born. Wally donned the colors of the Flash and became Kid Flash, soon adopting his own costume and embarking on a life of superheroics with his Uncle Barry, and eventually the Teen Titans. The Flash/ Kid Flash relationship is arguably one of the healthiest of the DC universe, with the Batman and Robin relationship being the opposite side of the spectrum, as evidenced most recently in the Young Justice TV series.
Then in 1985, there came the Crisis on Infinite Earths. Barry Allen sacrificed his life and died a hero, leaving his one time sidekick to adopt the mantle of the Flash, albeit rather reluctantly. Here starts the growth of sidekick to hero, the ‘son’ replacing the ‘father’. While Wally always carried the burden of Barry’s time as the Flash with him, he eventually proved himself time and time again as a dominant hero of the DC Universe. As a grown man, Wally married long time girlfriend Linda Park, who he had two super-powered children with.
I was born in 1985, during the Crisis (I will forever phrase it that way for the rest of my life). By the time I started reading comics I was starting to become aware of Barry Allen and the sacrifice he made, but the only Flash I really knew was Wally West. An unsure, but fully capable speedster with limitations who was doing his best to fill his hero’s shoes. And he did this for 25 years, in his own title and as a central character in Titans, and nearly every Justice League title released after he put on the scarlet. A lot of what defines the Flash mythology was created or further explored during Wally’s run as the Flash, the most central being the Speed Force that powers and connects all speedsters.
Why was he screwed over by the New 52?
Well, the answer is quite simply Barry Allen. The Flash in the New 52 is once again Barry, who returned to life pre-New 52. Now Barry is a younger, still very cool Flash that has been active for only 5 years. This leaves no time, or room for Wally West. With the mantle of Kid Flash currently residing with Bart Allen in Teen Titans, where does that leave Wally? Certainly not as a sidekick to Barry, as it would be extremely difficult to re-introduce Wally as a teen, with Bart already filling that role. It would be an empty attempt, anyway. I grew up with Wally West, I’m not eager for him to start over again. And I can’t imagine he would end up being just another Flash, or even worse another Earths Flash. We already have that with Jay Garrick in Earth 2.
And what about his family? Linda filled the supporting role as the tether that kept Wally grounded, and the potential of his two children, Jai and Iris, was just beginning to develop. Both had speed force related powers, and the family dynamic had almost turned the title in to a Fantastic Four-esque comic, which is pretty much non-existent in current DC issues, with the exception of Animal Man.
Also lost are all the deep connections Wally had developed with the rest of the DCU. His close friendship with Nightwing (Dick Grayson) for one, not to mention the other Titans. His status as one of the founding members of the greatest incarnation of the Justice League in JLA by Grant Morrison and Howard Porter is gone forever. Not to mention his relationship with the Rogues, a group just being reintroduced in the pages of The Flash. And the biggest loss of all is his relationship with Barry. While Wally lost him at a young age, with Barry’s rebirth pre-New 52 we were just starting to see how this relationship could have developed with the two veteran speedsters.
There obviously has been discussion with DC about Wally’s status in the New 52. While nothing concrete has been said, there have been whisperings of a draft on how to use Wally handed in by the current Flash creators Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato. It was also whispered that if/when Wally surfaces in the New 52 it will probably be as an adult, complete with family. These are all still rumors, and there is no commitment from DC on the status of Wally West, the one time Fastest Man Alive. Which is upsetting, to say the least.
Don’t get me wrong, Barry Allen is the Flash. Always has been and always will be. But he isn’t my Flash. No, that has always been Wally West, and the New 52 is a weaker place without him.