The Flash: Dead Heat

Well, it’s finally happened.

After much wailing and gnashing of teeth, and claims that I would never turn my back on Barry Allen, I’ve officially converted:

I like Wally West.

Okay, so that’s not exactly the grand proclamation it could be, but it’s still a pretty big deal in my book.  I wasn’t really a fan of him in all of the post-Crisis stories, wishing and hoping Barry would somehow return.  Wally seemed whiny and self-obsessed, overly critical of those around him and all-around not what I look for in a superhero.

Slowly though, he won me over.  It began with the stories collected in Flash: The Return of Barry Allen,  and ended here, with Wally taking center stage alongside a slew of other speedsters to defeat a menacing foe.  I’ve finally started to see him for the superhero he really is.

If this was a cheesy romantic comedy this would be the point when the I’d have a sudden flash of realization, acknowledging that Wally West, the guy in front of me has been great all along, and I would run to him while an overused 90’s pop song is playing in the background.  Except, you know, he’s a fictional character and I’m not completely crazy…

Though the fact that I even thought about this might not support that fact.

Aaaaand now I’m getting distracted by the image of me running towards the frickin’ FLASH because come on. He could run around the earth in the time it would take me to run ten feet.

Sometimes I wonder if I have A.D.D. Other days I think I’m just bonkers.

Anyway.  The point of that little rant was that yes, I’m pro-Wally now.

In Dead Heat, all the known speedster’s superpowers inexplicably disappear.  All, that is, except Wally’s.  The heroes come together to figure out why that is, and ultimately discover that a powerful man named Savitar desires full access to the speed force, and is stripping others of their power so that he may keep it all to himself.

(There was clearly a gap in the storyline from the last Flash trade I had read, but luckily the comic does an excellent job of summarizing everything that’s gone on, explaining the speed force, how it gives these heroes their power, etc.  I never once felt lost or confused, so for that I’m grateful).

In order to defeat Savitar, Flash is joined by a host of other speedy heroes, creating a rather impressive group:

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Seeing characters from the past, present, and future, all united by a common power source and all determined to stop a single villain was exciting, and the inclusion of classic characters like Jay Garrick and Johnny Quick lent the story credibility.  Had this group been comprised of modern or futuristic characters only, I think something would have been lost in the story.

As fiercely as this group battles, they are simply no match for Savitar.  Ultimately the answer comes from Iris Allen (when exactly she came back I have no idea, but there she is), who had spent some time in the future and knows the outcome of the battle.  As she tells Wally, “You can’t defeat him.  Give him what he wants.”

Of course, Flash is smart enough to know Iris doesn’t mean to surrender, and instead leads Savitar closer and closer to the speed force, until ultimately both are able to cross the barrier into it.

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Savitar ultimately gets his wish, but this also means that he is no longer a threat to the world.

Of course, that still leaves the little problem of Flash getting back to Earth from here.  Citing love for his girlfriend as his driving force (and managing to make it sound sweet, not corny), Wally is able to return from the speed force and be reunited with his loved ones.

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Or is he?

That certainly doesn’t look like Wally West.  His costume is all wrong and he’s missing his signature ginger mane.  Who then, is this guy?  The comic ends at this pivotal moment, so I can only hope that the continuation of this story is collected on “the shelf.”

With my luck, they’ll go and do something crazy like kill off Wally West just as I’m starting to like him.  I might cry.

The story itself was great, but it was Wally’s characterization that really stuck out to me. He is finally written as a funny, relatable character, rather than the constant buzzkill he was before.  One of my favorite scenes in the entire trade, and what really cemented my feelings towards him, occurred on the first few pages.

Wally, sitting down to a nice lunch with his girlfriend Linda, inadvertently mentions the dreaded “M” word in passing: Marriage.

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Awkwardness ensues as they both try to change the subject.  Wally is inwardly cursing himself as Linda does the one thing guys dread most: she actually wants to talk about it.

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Luckily for Wally, before the conversation goes any further, he’s saved by a most unlikely source.

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This scene was hilarious and quite frankly, absolutely perfect.  What guy hasn’t been in the midst of the dreaded “talk” and secretly wished that ninjas would drop down from the sky, just so he’d have a reason to end the conversation?  I knew from this page alone that Wally’s character would be a little more light-hearted in this trade than in past stories, and I was extremely grateful for it.

I found myself wishing this trade was longer, something I hardly ever think when Wally West is present.  I guess I’m officially a Wally West convert, and I can only hope that my timing isn’t terribly off and that I’m starting to like him just as his run as the Flash comes to an end.

Fingers crossed.

-Jess

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One thought on “The Flash: Dead Heat

  1. Whoo-hoo, welcome to the Wally-side!

    Another wonderful write-up/trip down memory lane.

    The best part, well… one of the best parts of reading through this volume of the Flash is watching Wally grow into a mature, likable adult. I’ll agree when it started he was not always a nice fella, but I think a lot of that came from his inability to come to grips that he was now running around in Barry’s shoes.

    It seemed to me that Wally was projecting his attitude, somewhat. It felt as though he took everybody’s “You ain’t Barry” jabs to heart, even when they were said in jest.

    The addition of Linda Park to Wally’s cast was a great step forward in his maturation as well. I envy you getting to read through this era unspoiled!

    Like

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