The Flash: The Fastest Man Alive: Lightning in a Bottle

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How is it possible for so much to happen in such a little comic??

The FlashFastest Man Alive continues the Flash legacy.  After Infinite Crisis, Bart Allen  has returned to our world, but somehow he’s aged 4 years. What’s more, Wally West and family are nowhere to be found, and Bart has no memory of what transpired in his missing year.  All we know is that the speed force is gone, and Bart is just trying to live a normal life.

Of course, we all know it’s not that easy, and while Bart is working at Keystone Motors there’s an explosion that somehow gives his friend Griffen superpowers.

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Unlike other heroes, Griffin is in it for the fame and money, quickly skyrocketing to a level of popularity within the city by saving lives, even if it means killing to do so.

These powers come with a price, as Griffin begins rapidly aging every time he uses them. We learn that the speed force isn’t really gone, but has somehow changed and mutated.  The speed force now lives within Bart himself, and he struggles to deal with its unpredictability, wishing he could remove the power.

This is a poor summation simply because there’s so much happening in the trade.  While Bart deals with adjusting to life as an embodiment of the speed force, he draws closer to Val Mota, a tech at S.T.A.R. labs, who just so happens to be the daughter of the Flash villain.

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The smoochin’ means they’re a couple now, in case you missed it.  Of course, there’s a bit of a “will they, won’t they” storyline in here, but it’s pretty obvious from the start that these two have a connection, so this was pretty inevitable.

That is, until Val’s father kidnaps her and leaves a note, telling Bart she’s moving away.  My only complaint with this trade is that this storyline isn’t wrapped up here. I’m really hoping Mistah J has the continuation on “the shelf”, because I’d like to know where this all goes.

The comic closes with Bart officially adopting the Flash persona, as he finally remembers where Wally and co. are: Living on one of the alternate Earths, meaning they’re out of the story for now, but will inevitably make a return at some point.

I love the Flash, but there are just so damn many of them. Jay, Barry, Wally, Bart, not to mention all of the other speedsters who work with them.  It must be tough to juggle so many characters, wanting to include them all yet being forced to pick and choose, simply because it gets a bit confusing with multiple Flashes running around.  That’s one of my only complaints about characters like Flash and Green Lantern: the title is a bit of a revolving door, passing from person to person with some regularity.  It keeps things fresh, but it can also make storylines convoluted.  I guess I tend to prefer the consistency of Batman over the ever-changing characters in these comics.  Still, it makes it easier for new fans to jump into the story, so I can’t fault them for that. This was a pretty solid comic overall, and it’s nice to see how far Bart’s come in his role as a speedster.  He’d make his grandfather proud.

-Jess

The Flash Omnibus by Geoff Johns: Vol. 3

Writing about these massive omnibuses is daunting, to say the least.  When so much action and storyline is crammed into the pages of a single trade, how exactly do you sum everything up?  The easiest way is to break it down into the basest of terms:  Everybody forgets who Flash is, but eventually the important people remember; Zoom teams up with The Cheetah to try and wear down everyone’s favorite speedster; Zoom’s ex-wife Ashley Zolomon tries to right the wrongs her husband has made; the remaining Rogues unite to wreck havoc across the city; and it all ends on a happy note as Linda Park-West goes from being barren to giving birth in three short panels.

Yeah, it’s a lot more complicated than that, but to accurately describe each and every issue who be exhausting and, quite frankly, unnecessary.  Go read this massive tome and see for yourself how Geoff Johns’s run on The Flash plays out.

What I’m instead choosing to focus on were a few key asides that stood out while reading.  With all of this hoopla taking place, it’s easy to overlook minor comments or inclusions, even if they wind up saying a lot about the overall narrative.

One of the first things I noticed while reading this was that it takes place around the time of Identity Crisis.  With Sue Dibny’s death fresh on everyone’s minds, it makes sense that the heroes might be mournful and a bit distracted.  I was surprised, though, to see the opposing faction express sadness as well.

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Captain Cold has been portrayed as a far more nuanced and sympathetic character here than in past Flash storylines, and this comment further cements that distinction.  When his fellow Rogues question sending flowers to Elastic Man, Cold comments that Ralph was always polite to them.  It’s a brief moment that the comic doesn’t dwell on, but it’s incredibly telling of just how complicated Johns sought to make Captain Cold.  It’s not often that a Rogue shows outright sympathy for a hero, yet Johns’s characterization made it feel natural.  I found Cold more compelling here than in just about any other comic I’ve read, easily catapulting him to the top of my list of favorite Flash villains.

Equally telling, although a bit incongruous, was a conversation between Flash and Wonder Woman while they battled The Cheetah.

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I’m not too surprised to hear Wally say this, given his more conservative leanings.  It just feels in character for him.  But Wonder Woman?  I’m willing to admit that given the recent events that led to Wonder Woman’s blindness, there is at least some ground to stand on in making her support the death penalty. Even so, it seems a pretty strong claim to make of her character, and one that didn’t feel fully necessary for either her or Flash’s story.  While this wasn’t a key moment in The Flash storyline, it stood out within the story.

Another aspect that actually did play a role in the overarching narrative was the introduction of Digger Harkness’s son, Owen.  Now, Owen was introduced during Identity Crisis, but it was interesting to watch his transformation into Captain Boomerang after Digger’s death.

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Superhero replacements to entire new readers and usher in a new generation are nothing new, but Owen’s storyline felt like one of the first instances of a villain being given such an elaborate backstory.  So many of the other legacy villains inherit their titles in such a lackluster way that I can never be bothered to follow it.  The story was charged with enough emotion and intrigue that I actually care where Owen’s character goes from here.  He’s a brand new Captain Boomerang, and I’m curious to see how he evolves into a Rogue in his own right.

While I liked the villains and the overall narrative, the most bizarre portion of the story was how it was all wrapped up.  Zoom and Wally are engaged in a battle, as Zoom forces Wally to watch the moment where Linda loses their unborn children over and over again.  All of a sudden, Barry Allen and Reverse Flash show up, engage in a battle as well, and disappear.  Zoom ultimately fails in his attempt to make use of the cosmic treadmill, and next thing you know, Wally is at Linda’s side in the hospital, where she’s suddenly very pregnant and about to give birth.

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This explanation is shaky at best, and really doesn’t explain how this all happened.  I take it to mean that Geoff Johns felt bad for making Linda barren, and chose to use the ole’ time-travel shtick to fix it.  It felt very reminiscent of the ending to Grant Morrison’s Animal Man run, but without the slick, self-aware wrap-up.  While I’m glad Wally and Linda got their happy ending, the easy fix at the very end of the story made the pain and suffering they felt (which, truth be told, made up a good portion of this book) somewhat less significant.  I can’t complain about it too much though, since I’m a sucker for happy endings.  I just wish there had been a bit more style to how it all happened.

What can I say? I’m picky.

Overall I thought Johns’s run on The Flash was really well done. He brought some great additions to the character’s lore while still keeping it firmly planted in the larger world.  There were plenty of asides and minor comments to hold my attention, although even without these the stories themselves were strong enough to propel the narrative.  These minor inclusions simply show how well-thought out these characters and stories are, and help cement Johns as a truly great comic book writer.

Now all I want is a follow-up comic that reveals that Wally and Linda’s kids have super-speed, and consists of them having to chase the babies around the apartment as they zip back and forth trying to avoid their bedtime.

Is that too much to ask?

-Jess

The Flash Omnibus by Geoff Johns: Vol. 2

Geoff Johns continues to amaze.

His run on Flash continues here with Volume 2.  In my post on Volume 1, I praised Johns’s ability to create self-contained story-arcs that affect the continuity without needing to be year-long events.  With the continuation of his run, Johns further cements his skill at crafting engaging yet brief stories, while also branching out and proving that he’s capable of seeing “the big picture”.

This is perhaps most evident in the character of Hunter Zolomon, a police profiler who specializes in metahuman criminals.  He and Flash are friends, and Zolomon is involved on a number of cases within the comic.  His storyline began in Volume 1, but really takes off in this trade.  After being attacked by Gorilla Grodd, Zolomon is badly injured and left paralyzed.  In his desperation he asks the Flash to use the cosmic treadmill to travel back in time and prevent an earlier incident in his life.  He asks Flash to stop a criminal from shooting him in the leg, effectively ending his FBI career and forcing him down the path that lead to his paralysis.  The Flash knows the dangers of meddling with time, and so refuses to grant Zolomon’s wish.  Hunter doesn’t take this well, saying that Flash doesn’t understand true pain or loss and that if he did, he wouldn’t hesitate to help.

Hunter’s downward spiral continues as he takes it upon himself to attempt to activate the cosmic treadmill himself.  The treadmill explodes, but the accident somehow corrects Zolomon’s paralysis and imbues him with his own speed powers.  Seeing a new purpose for his life, Zolomon adopts a new persona: Zoom.

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Zoom is obviously Wally’s “Reverse Flash”, a throwback to the similar arch-nemesis who plagued Barry Allen for so many years.  Zoom decides that the best way to make Wally better is to make him suffer a terrible loss.  His goal is to kill Wally’s wife, Linda.

Mercifully, Wally prevents this from happening, but the couple doesn’t get off scott-free.  A few months prior, they had learned that Linda was pregnant with twins. After an encounter with Zoom has her thrown against a wall, we learn that Zoom was still successful in causing Flash pain.

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Aaaaand Zoom’s officially cemented himself as Wally’s most hated foe.

There’s little time given to address the magnitude of this loss, and instead we focus on Flash tracking Zoom down.  At this point, many references are made to The Trial of The Flash, with comparisons being made to how Barry Allen addressed such a situation (killing the Reverse Flash) versus how Wally West might react.  At one point Zoom even lays out the easy solution, hearkening back to that earlier story and reminding Wally how his hero dealt with a similar scenario:

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Wally seems to briefly consider this option, but his good sense wins out.  Zoom escapes, but at least Wally’s integrity is in tact.  Unfortunately, he and Linda must now deal with this devastating loss.

Flash blames himself for the events, claiming that if his identity wasn’t public knowledge, none of this would ever have happened.  Wally is then visited by The Spectre (aka Hal Jordan), as well as Barry Allen, returned from the future (prior to his death) to offer guidance.

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Spectre informs Wally that he can’t change the events that have happened, but that he can erase the memory of who Flash is from everyone’s minds.  Of course, this means that Barry’s identity will be erased as well, and so his legacy (at least as Barry Allen) will be lost.

In the throes of despair, Wally agrees, and this volume closes with a brief glimpse into the new existence.  Wally is telling Linda of a new job he’s just gotten, and Linda absent-mindedly wonders where the Flash has been, to which Wally responds that he doesn’t know.

It’s a pretty big shake-up for The Flash, and I can’t help but wonder whether it’s a change that will last.  Wally is such a prominent figure in the public eye that it seems odd to backtrack to a secret identity (and nevermind the marital implications of Wally’s own wife not knowing about his identity.) I’m honestly not sure what will happen next, and it’s this ability to craft such realistic unpredictability that makes Geoff Johns such a fantastic writer.

I’m looking forward to reading Volume 3 to see how this all plays out.  As long as the next volume continues in Johns’s signature style, with emphasis on character development and a perfect balance between shorter stories and larger arcs, it will no doubt be another wonderful read.

-Jess

The Flash Omnibus by Geoff Johns: Vol. 1

Geoff Johns really knows how to write a comic.

What’s more, he knows how to write entertaining, engaging story arcs while still keeping them contained to 4-5 issues in length.  He doesn’t need to create a massive year-long epic to craft a well-thought out story.  So many other comics I’ve read will use “filler” issues, leading from one story arc to the next with little to no actual substance. They’re a fun one-off but don’t really add too much to the overall character story.

Not Johns though. His issues flow into one another yet have numerous jumping-on points for new readers, making his the beginning to his run on The Flash eminently readable.

Can you tell I really liked this comic?

Collecting the first portion of Johns’s rather lengthy run on The Flash, there is simply way too much that could be discussed for me to even attempt to summarize everything that happens.  I read so many other comics blogs where writers can go on and on about a single issue, and here I am trying to summarize 10 or more individual issues in one post. It’s damn hard to do, let me tell you.

That being said, if I attempted to write about each issue I’ve been reading, we’d be here forever.

Let’s just focus on a few major bullet points from this trade instead.

  • At some point apparently Wally and Linda got married. A little bummed I missed that issue, but I’ll live.
  • The Rogues play a huge role in Johns’s stories.  At least one of them pops up in just about every issue, with numerous references to them joining forces.
  • Wally has to begrudgingly work with Mirror Master and Captain Cold to stop an even more dangerous foe and return to their home world after being launched into a mirror universe.  I sort of love that he accepts their help but grumbles about them the entire time.
  • Wally’s story progresses while still making numerous references to past events in continuity.  That makes for a happy Jess.

I love the main storylines presented here, but even more exciting are the details.  There are so many asides and little inclusions that add to the sense of drama.

One of the biggest plot points in the story revolved around Julie, one of Wally’s ex-girlfriends, a police officer who was recently murdered and who left behind a baby boy.  The child’s parentage inevitably came into question.

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Small references were made throughout the story suggesting that the boy was Wally’s son, and the reveal to him was handled realistically and with enough weight to give the possibility substance.

Truth be told I really didn’t want Wally to be the father (it felt like an unnecessary wrench to toss into Wally and Linda’s happy lives at this point) so I was pleased to see that it was all a misdirection, with the boy’s real father being revealed as none other than the Weather Wizard.

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Of course, being a wanted super-villain doesn’t exactly make you excellent parent material, so the boy is set to be adopted by his late mother’s former partner.  Had a less-skilled writer included a side-story such as this, it could easily have felt contrived and obnoxiously overdone.  Johns included it with the perfect amount of detail, while still allowing for plenty of action to swirl around the discussion of what would become of this baby.

Johns’s details are wonderfully written, and help create a truly complete Flash universe.  We’re met with the introduction of new supporting characters who all have personalities of their own.  My favorite thus far is Detective Morillo, a young cop who somehow ends up with metahuman healing abilities and has the most lackluster response ever.

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Again, this inclusion isn’t necessary to the bigger plot at hand, but it helps create characters that the reader actually cares about, and gives more credibility to the world Johns is creating.  Besides, you need strong supporting characters to help round out the comic, especially ones who are going to be of some help to the hero. There needs to be a shake-up in the storyline every once in a while, instead of just seeing Flash fighting the same Rogues over and over.

Johns’s villains are believable and scary, while also at times being almost pitiable, such as when one such convict, named Fallout,  is being used to power the prison that houses him.

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It takes a lot to include details like this without slowing down the overall pace of the comic, and Johns pulls this off perfectly.

I really can’t say enough for these stories.  From what I can tell by peeking ahead on “the shelf” I have at least two more trades collecting Johns’s run on The Flash.  The books are somewhat massive in comparison to others around them, and I always get a little leery when a book is many hundreds of pages.  What if I don’t really like it? Will I really have to slog my way through 400+ pages of comics just for the sake of having read it?

Luckily, that fear is completely gone as far as these books are concerned.  I’m actually excited to get to the continuation of this collection just to see what Johns will do with the characters.

If you haven’t already read this, I highly recommend it.  The stories are fast-paced and interesting, and not one issue feels like filler.  Johns’s run on The Flash is pretty legendary, and based on having read these first handful of issues, I can easily see why.

-Jess

The Flash by Grant Morrison and Mark Millar

So much happens in this trade that it’s difficult to decide where to start.

Wally West continues his exploits as The Flash in This Grant Morrison and Mark Millar collection.  In it he teams up with his fellow speedsters for numerous life and death adventures, each more harrowing than the last.

While each story arc could have an entire post dedicated to itself, I’m choosing instead to focus on a few keys moments in these issues that stood out to me.

While reading any comic from a well-known author, there’s always a point where I pause and think, “Yep, this is definitely a *insert author’s name here* comic.”  It’s a point where, even if you didn’t know who the author was, the story just starts to feel so  indicative of a certain writer that one could garner a pretty fair guess as to his or her identity.  Grant Morrison, with his signature writing style and unique voice, is no exception.  While reading this collection, I was struck by the feeling at the start of the “The Human Race” story arc.  In it, Flash is placed into an impossible scenario by a race of ailens: race around the universe against an opponent, with the stakes being that the losing competitor’s planet will be destroyed.  This in and of itself isn’t a strictly Morrison-style story.  However, as soon as Flash’s opponent is revealed, it felt as though the story couldn’t have been written by anyone else.

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Krakkl was Flash’s supposed imaginary friend when he was a child, but as it turns out he was actually very real.  Flash tries to wrap his mind around this fact as he races Krakkl across the universe, not wanting to lose as it will mean the destruction of his world, but also not wanting to see the destruction of Krakkl’s own home planet.

The exchanges between Flash and Krakkl are brief but powerful, with Krakkl ultimately sacrificing himself so that Flash may outwit their alien controllers and save not only Earth, but Krakkl’s world as well.  The sacrifice felt truly emotional, as well as symbolic of Flash’s push towards full adult responsibility.  Although the story ends happily enough, it’s still a bittersweet ending, with the last vestige of Flash’s childhood innocence dying out.

One point in this comic had me worried that this post would be forced to turn into a tirade about the death of yet another superhero girlfriend.  Flash’s long-term love Linda is seemingly killed, taken by the Black Flash (a sort of Flash grim reaper).  Wally spirals into depression, angry and upset knowing that the Black Flash was really coming for him.  Wally feels that he cheated death, but at a horrible cost.

Let me tell you, I was angry at this part.  Fresh off the brutal death of Kyle Raynor’s girlfriend, I was ready to rant and rave about why it was deemed necessary to keep killing off all of these female characters.

Luckily, Linda’s death is short-lived, with Flash triumphantly saving her from the Speed Force.  Realizing he loves her more than life itself, Flash opts for an abrupt and, truth be told, somewhat poorly placed proposal.

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Thankfully, since he’s the fastest man alive Wally is able to whisk Linda off to Paris before she finishes her sentence, to complete his proposal in a more proper setting.

I was happy to see that Wally was allowed to have a happy ending (hopefully I’m not saying that too prematurely).  His love for Linda is repeatedly used as a driving force in his world-saving work, so much so that she seems a rather integral part of his life.  The Flash just wouldn’t be the same without Linda Park.

While I loved all of these stories individually, what affected me most of all was the marked shift in my mind towards accepting this newer age of superheroes.  For so long, I read about Barry Allen, Hal Jordan, and Oliver Queen, to the point that I didn’t want to accept that they were no longer key characters in the comics.  I was against their deaths and found myself resenting their replacements as a result.  Upon reflection, I realized how foolish this is.  I’ve been reading decades worth of comics in an extremely condensed amount of time, and most of my experience has been with those formerly mentioned.  For contemporary readers of the time, this wasn’t fully the case.  These heroes had been around for decades, and belonged to the previous generation.  It made sense for those characters to step aside and make way for the new generation, individuals that kids of the day could call their own and identify more closely with.

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That being said, change is hard, and it was especially difficult to take given that each predecessor was killed off.  I was surprised while reading this comic that, for the first time,  Wally West, Kyle Raynor, and Conner Hawke felt like a new generation of superheroes in their own right.  I no longer viewed them as second-rate copies of the originals, but as heroes with their own distinct personalities and style.  I didn’t expect for my opinions to change so suddenly, but I’m glad I can finally view these characters in a more positive light.

…Although if they figure out a way to bring any of the original guys back, I wouldn’t complain.

Each story collected in this trade was better than the last, and I find myself being more and more drawn to Wally’s character.  He’s come a long way from the snotty, petulant kid in The New Teen Titans, and has managed to escape Barry Allen’s shadow and make a name for himself as a hero.  His exploits are quickly becoming some of my favorites, and I’m glad to see that there will be no shortage of Flash stories ahead of me on “the shelf”.

-Jess

The Life Story of the Flash by Iris Allen

Just when I had finally accepted the death of Barry Allen.  Just when I had finally accepted Wally West as the new Flash.

THIS comic had to pop up on “the shelf”.

On the one hand, I love that this trade even exists.  A sort of meta-comic, this is the book teased at the end of Flash: The Return of Barry Allen.  It was fun to note that this comic also happened to come out in 1997, the very year that The Return of Barry Allen claimed it would be published.

Well played, DC.

This is a touching and truthful account of Barry Allen’s life, as told by his wife Iris.  She covers just about every aspect of his life, from his childhood and early adult life, to the freak accident that gave him his powers.

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I’m glad that with so many small changes in continuity, some things remain the same.  As crazy as a lightning strike hitting a bunch of chemicals is, it’s a part of the Flash’s identity, and it shouldn’t be touched.

Iris’s accounts are tinged with small asides referencing her feelings about certain events, with an emphasis placed on how she found out about Barry’s secret identity.

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I was particularly pleased to find this information included, as this time in the couple’s life is not collected on “the shelf” and was a gap in their story that I continuously wondered about.  It was bittersweet to learn that the first year of their marriage was a rather tumultuous one, but thankfully the truth ultimately brought them closer together.

Most touching was Iris’s account of how Barry sacrificed himself to save the world.  While she didn’t have details of what exactly happened, she muses that she hopes Barry found solace in his thoughts during his last moments.

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If she only knew.

The story continues to explain that Iris was pregnant at the time of Barry’s death, and that she later gave birth to twins.  A short family history is given to fill the reader in, with emphasis placed on Iris’s grandson, currently known only as Impulse.

This was a pretty invaluable addition to the history of Barry Allen’s Flash.  It fills in key information about his life and helps explain his significance to the overall story.  I can only imagine how invaluable this was at time of publication, to a new generation of readers who might see Barry’s name bandied about but not really understand who he was.  I love that such a compact history of the character was written, but even more so I love that it felt so organic, with Allen’s reporter wife penning the book.  It feels so much more fitting than had it simply been released as a history of the character.  That personal touch makes a huge difference to the narrative, and helps place it in the context of its contemporary comics.

Reading this story was a mix of emotions.  I couldn’t help but start missing Barry all over again after reading so much about his life.  While I’ve accepted Wally West as the new Flash, there’s still a special place in my heart for Barry, the loyal, sure-footed Flash who gave his life to save the world.

-Jess

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