Where’s Wally?: A Fangirl’s Search for The Missing Flash
In light of the news that, yes, The Justice League movie is a go and that Wonder Woman and The Flash are having scripts written for their own movies, as well as the new Character Art segment started last week, I feel the need to address my thoughts on the disappearance of one of my favorite characters in the DC Universe: The Flash. Not just any Flash, mind you, I’m referring to my version of The Flash, the one I and a great many of my generation grew up with, Wally West. Watching Young Justice right now, there’s Wally West. Watched Justice League and Justice League: Unlimited? That’s Wally. Read a Flash comic book from 1985 to last year? Wally freakin’ West! Granted, he first appeared in the 1960s, but he didn’t take up the mantle of The Flash until 1985 after Crisis on Infinite Earths. So, I’ve done the math, and…hmm, yes, it appears that I’ve literally grown up with Wally as The Flash – give or take a year.
Which brings us to the present day where we’re fast approaching the one year anniversary of the DC relaunch/reboot and I really only have one question thus far: Where’s Wally West? It’s a simple question, DC Comics. Just tell me where he is and when you plan to put him back in the DC Universe and I’ll be a happy camper. Really. I’m not that hard to please.
Unfortunately, the answer is never that simple. To recap: Last year, DC Comics, in an attempt to garner more readership, decided to do a “soft reboot” of their comic books. They reduced their books down to 52 new titles, starting at #1, that would reimagine popular characters, taking them back to their most “iconic” state, and introduce lesser known characters to a new audience. Launching this whole new universe was the crossover event, “Flashpoint.” In Flashpoint, Barry Allen, another Silver Age resurrection by Geoff Johns, wakes up in an alternate universe that he created while attempting to save his mother from being killed by the villain Thawne. In trying to restore the original timeline, Barry creates the New DC Universe, much of which is built upon Barry and his younger self’s memories as the two merged during the reset. As a result, many of the heroes are de-aged, and superheroes on the whole have only been around for about 5 years – except for Batman who’s apparently been operating as an “urban legend” for about ten so they can account for Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, and Tim Drake being Robin before Damien Wayne (comics are weird).
So, yeah, Barry Allen fucked everything up. A lot of this also has to do with time travel and the Speed Force, but then you go cross-eyed and forget how to do math for a while, so I’d rather keep it as simple as possible. The point is that in this new universe, Wally West, along with a handful of other heroes that were known within the comic book community, apparently doesn’t exist. And wouldn’t you know it, this bothers some people. Why? Because, as stated previously, Wally West was their Flash. I think it’s even more irksome that Barry remembers Iris West, though not as his wife or girlfriend, but can’t even remember Wally in any capacity. And it’s not even the fact that Wally hasn’t shown up in the New 52. I’d be totally on board if, say, there was a plan, or the slightest inkling that Wally existed somewhere. Is it so hard to have Iris mention the fact that she has a nephew? Yes, I know, Iris is younger now, but that doesn’t mean she can’t still have a nephew. The real problem, for me at least, is that the creators and editors at DC seem to have gone out of their way to make it nearly impossible for Wally to be reintroduced!
Barry Allen is a younger character now, but over in the Teen Titans book we have Bart Allen as Kid Flash. Bart, in the old continuity, is actually Barry and Iris’s grandson from the future and they’ve pretty much confirmed that Bart is from the future in Teen Titans. So, Barry’s in his twenties and Bart is a teenager, which leaves absolutely no clear middle ground for Wally to exist. Again, Wally is Iris’s nephew, and, in the old continuity, he began his superhero career as Kid Flash, Barry’s sidekick after he recreated the accident that had endowed Barry with his powers. When Barry sacrified himself to save the universe in Crisis on Infinite Earths, Wally became The Flash in his honor, making him the first sidekick to take up the mantle of his mentor. With DC ageing their heroes back a decade or two, one would have assumed that Wally would show up as Kid Flash, but no, they gave it to Bart! And don’t even get me started on the fact that a young Jay Garrick gets to show up and be all “The Flash” over on Earth Two. Basically, everyone in the Flash family is present except Wally. Well done, DC. Well done, indeed.
I know I’m sounding like Complainer McGrouchy, but this stuff bothers me. I’m a DC girl all the way, so when I see characters I’ve grown up with or gotten to know in one capacity or another, I see them in terms of the relationships and storylines established in the comics or cartoons I read and watched as a kid. Seeing the universe I know reset wouldn’t bother me so much if the entire universe had been reset. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love what Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo are doing with Batman, but it’s a glaring example of how wrong everything is with the current continuity. Wally’s non-existence is another.
Going back to the old continuity, Wally was one of the founding members of the Teen Titans along with Dick Grayson as Robin and Aqualad. It was a character point that Wally and Dick were best friends and, though they were both heroes, their lives took very different paths with Wally becoming The Flash and Dick trying his best not to become Batman…until he did. The point is, it established important relationships and made the characters more three dimensional. In the New 52, Dick is about 21, so he’s closer to Barry’s age in the current continuity, which is just weird. Oh, and Wally totally had a wife and twins who were all awesome in their own right. But we all know how comic book editors feel about superheroes and their families. Sigh.
The last thing, I promise, that makes it hard to understand DC’s reluctance to include Wally thus far is his obvious presence in every other DC related cartoon. Technically, The Flash that appeared in an episode of Superman: The Animated series was never named (and the voice actor was different), but the same design was used in Justice League and Justice League: Unlimited, which makes him Wally West in my book. Wally was a founding member, the rookie of the group, which gave him a great dynamic with both Batman and Green Lantern. When he was left out of the first season of JLU, fans were pissed that Wally was reduced to barely cameo status. The creative team cited not being able to figure out how to use him properly as an excuse, but they finally brought him back in JLU’s second season, and boy did they use him in the best ways possible. Not only was Wally in an episode that featured Big Barda and Mister Miracle (huzzah!), but he was essential to an ongoing storyarc about the immense power of the Justice League and the threat of them becoming like their misguidedly evil counterparts The Justice Lords. All of this culminated in Wally tapping into the speed force and separating a melded Braniac and Lex Luthor.
IT. IS. AWESOME!
Even if he isn’t The Flash, Wally has appeared as Kid Flash numerous times. There was an episode of Teen Titans, and a few episodes of Batman: Brave and The Bold. Most recently, and I mean very recently, Wally was a main character on Young Justice. The first season, which was made prior to the reboot, had Kid Flash as a founding member of the team of sidekicks. The second season, with it’s five year jump, didn’t include Wally immediately, but it seems the creators have found a way to keep Wally involved in a major storyline without having to entirely address the changes made in the comic books. It’s clever and it makes sense, but it seems awfully strange that DC wouldn’t make a point to feature Wally in the comics when a vast amount of the new readers they desire would probably be watching Young Justice as well. It’s a missed opportunity to capitalize on a popular character.
So, yeah, I’m still searching and I’m trying to be optimistic that Wally’s debut is right around the corner, but I’m not holding my breath. Dan DiDio claims it wouldn’t be fair to Wally’s fan to reimagine him in a way that isn’t satisfying, but I call bullshit on that since he seems to have no trouble doing that to a lot of other popular characters. And he continually teases that Wally’s return is on the horizon, which, again, I put no stock in. I get the impression they’re keeping Wally on the outs as a way to do another crossover event wherein we find out Wally’s been out of sync the whole time with the new universe. He shows up and more changes occur or the universe starts collapsing and some junk. I feel like he’s getting closer, yet he’s so far away.
But I’m impatient, so who’s ready to start a campaign? See that Where’s Wally West pic? Send it around, share it with your friends. Hell, make your own version and send it to us here at Noise Shark. Let’s get Wally back wherehe belongs!
As always you can like us on Facebook and follow us @NoiseSharkMedia and you can follow me @darling_sammy
About Sam (68 posts)
I'm the lead writer for Noise Shark and I handle the creative content as well. And that voice of anger you'll hear emitting from the podcast? Oh, yeah, that's me. I'm so full of opinions it's ridiculous! My interests include movies, television, music, history, comic books...pretty much everything! No stone will be unturned, so expect a wide variety of articles from yours truly.
Have fun and enjoy!