I have a confession to make: I never really liked Wally West.
Maybe it’s because I took the death of Barry Allen pretty hard, or maybe it’s because Wally was always such a whiny little jerk. I just wasn’t much of a fan.
Truth be told, I hadn’t read a Wally West Flash story before this trade. He appeared in The New Teen Titans, but this is the first post-Crisis Flash trade to appear on the shelf.
I never thought I’d say it, but I’m actually starting to warm to Wally.
The tone of this comic plays a big part in that. The stories collected here focus on the earliest days of Kid Flash’s appearances, telling the story of how he traveled to Central City to visit his aunt, Iris West. While there he met his hero The Flash, met the same untimely accident that gave Barry Allen his powers, and developed his own super-speed abilities. These stories chronicle his adjustment to his new powers, along with his new role as Kid Flash.
The action scenes in these issues are entertaining, though not ground-breaking. The portion of the story that truly stands out is the emotional connection. Told as a series of flashbacks, with Wally West already ingrained in the Flash role after Barry’s death, we get to see just how deeply Wally cared for his Aunt Iris, as well as how he idolized Barry.
I admit to being more than a little happy to see Barry and Iris making reappearances in the comics. I was reminded why I liked Barry so much in the first place: he’s just so damn nice. What’s more, Iris is portrayed as perhaps the best role model a young kid could hope for, a confidante and friend whom Wally trusts and respects. Iris offers sound advice to her nephew, advice that carries over into his superhero life:
Iris isn’t aware of Wally’s secret identity at this point, but she nonetheless provides Wally with much-needed words of wisdom at a time when he’s unsure of how to handle these new responsibilities. I enjoyed seeing Iris in the protective mother/friend role, but it was even more refreshing to see Wally being so receptive to this advice. He truly respects his aunt and values her opinion. That’s a side of Wally I haven’t really seen before.
I often forget that when Barry and Iris died, Wally lost two very important people in his life. This tragic loss may help to explain Wally’s angry, isolated behavior. While I still think he’s often far rougher around the edges than he needs to be, this comic helped to soften my view of him. Seeing him express an emotion other than anger or frustration made his character infinitely more likable. Barry was a hero and a mentor to Kid Flash, but Iris was a mentor to Wally. The fact that he acknowledges this shows a caring side to his personality, a side that had been hidden up until this point.
I have a feeling there will always be aspects of Wally’s personality that I don’t like. He’s often portrayed as arrogant and having a major chip on his shoulder. Having read this story though, perhaps I’ll be a little less quick to judge him so harshly.
I may not love Wally, but at least I don’t actively dislike him as much anymore.