One of the biggest pieces of the DC Rebirth one-shot that kicked off a new age of DC Comics was the return of the classic Wally West. He had been thrown through the timestream and finally made his way back, only to find a new Wally had taken over. He’s been adrift for a bit, although he has a home with the Titans, but not much else. We haven’t had a lot of time with him outside of Titans, so I was glad to see him get the spotlight in this prelude to “Flash War” in The Flash 2018 Annual.
This issue really includes two stories. There’s Wally’s tale in the present and a murder investigation in the future. Let’s stay with Wally for a bit. He’s come into his own as a Flash once again, but he hasn’t spent a lot of time as Wally. This makes sense in a way because what are his options really? He would need all new paperwork and information in order to establish an identity. He does know a few people that can probably help with that, but he just hasn’t done it. He wasn’t able to connect with this lost love so his life as a super hero is all he has.
In desperation, Wally reaches out to an old friend/girlfriend, Magenta. She was living completely unaware of his existence (as is the case with most of the world) until he kind of jumpstarts her memories, sending her into a spiral that brings out her villainous side. Although he had good intentions, it’s a jerk move by Wally. He wants someone to talk to and just grabs onto someone without thinking about how that could affect them. Fortunately, they’re able to patch things up.
I like how Christian Duce draws Wally. There are times that he looks like his usual charming, care-free self. Then there are other moments where you can see the chip on his shoulder. He never takes things out on the other Wally. Instead, his problems are with Barry, because –SURPRISE! – the Scarlet Speedster is not great at sharing important information with the people he cares about. See also, the past dozen or so issues of The Flash. You can see the inner turmoil on his face as he recognizes that Barry’s right, but he’s been running from his problems since he got back. Yes, that’s an awful pun. Deal with it.
There’s a great shot where Barry and Wally are scowling at one another face-to-face out of costume. It’s here you see how similar the two really are, in more ways than one. They may have different hair styles, but they have the same personal problems.
OK, now let’s go back to the future as a group of officers investigate Eobard Thawne’s murder. We know Iris killed Reverse-Flash back in The Flash #27. It looks like she’s going to have to answer for her crimes, despite her good intentions. There are a number of great tidbits dropped in these scenes, hinting at things to come. As much as I liked the focus on Wally, I was more excited about these sequences as they are laying the groundwork for so much cool stuff.
The one downside about all this is that “Flash War” isn’t starting in earnest until May. That means all of this awesome setup won’t pay off for another four months. I have faith in how writer Joshua Williamson builds a story, so I’m in this for the long haul. If the final pages of this issue are any indication, we are in for a wild ride.