Wally West is battling his own mind as all of his old memories have come rushing back into his head at once. Think of all the adventures he had in the pre-Flashpoint world that were erased during the New 52 suddenly unlocking and appearing at once. It’s like he picked up a couple of the Flash Omnibuses and started binge reading at super speed. In any case, his mentor Barry Allen is searching all around the world (and off it) for help which means a whole bunch of tests, including magical, scientific, mental, and more.
This strain is hitting not just Wally, but his relationship with Barry. Wally wants some time to figure this out, while Barry sees a problem that needs fixing and rushes to try to help. This is frustrating at first, especially since Barry has made a number of knuckle-headed, selfish moves as of late, however it comes around during a poignant talk with Alfred of all people.
While searching for Batman to run even more tests, Barry breaks down and asks Alfred how the Dark Knight is able to live with bringing someone he cares about into his war on crime. He sees Wally is in trouble and it’s tearing him up inside. Meanwhile, Batman has had a string of sidekicks and proteges over the years and doesn’t seem affected at all. Artist Scott Kolins captures this in an awesome shot of the Flash pacing back and forth at super speed. You can see him grappling with all these thoughts in frustration with all the after images that are left behind, even in a small space.
Writer Joshua Williamson gives Alfred some of the best lines of the book. The butler is filled with snappy comebacks and wisdom. It makes sense as he’s seen it all in his time working for Batman. I’m a big fan of snooty Alfred. Sure, he has to clean up the place and bandage Batman when he comes back home after a night fighting crime, but it doesn’t mean he’s going to take any lip from anyone, especially a speedster flying into the Batcave and making a mess.
Wally’s memories have him seeing things, flashes to alternate timelines or worlds. It’s a troubling thought when you can’t trust your own mind. You can see the shock on his face as he tries to wrap his head around images from the past popping up and then vanishing. This breaks him down as he’s powerless to do anything. He feels like he’s going crazy. It builds to a tender moment between him and Barry in the rain as Wally kneels down defeated. All he wants to do is be a hero and run, but all this stuff is tearing him apart.
Since this issue serves as a prelude to the upcoming event “Flash War,” there is imminent danger on display, most notably a team-up between the Reverse Flash and Zoom. A chunk of this issue is told from Hunter Zolomon’s point of view, providing a recap of his origin and his quest to make Wally West a better hero. He’s watching these events unfold from the 25th century. Zoom has found a kindred spirit in the Reverse Flash that could lead to some dangerous possibilities, however, thanks to Iris, Eobard Thawne met his untimely end so this team up was cut short.
This sets Zoom off as he prepares for what might lead to “Flash War.” If the Flash can take away Zoom’s ally, it seems like he could do the same right back. Since Barry and Wally have no idea this is coming, I kind of feel bad for them. They’re going to get blindsided by this evil speedster from the future and they’re entirely unprepared. Hopefully their recent adventures will help them fight back this menace.
This build up is what makes The Flash #46 such a tense read. This is the calm before the storm. The Flash Family has these few precious moments to catch their breath before their lives are thrown into chaos. Let’s hope that their close ties will hold under such strain.