Review: ‘The Flash Annual 2021’ Undoes A Huge Mistake

by Tony Thornley

Overview

A massive retcon includes great character moments, and a huge step forward for the lead. The art is solid and leads to some great momentum for the fastest man alive coming out of this storyarc!

Overall
8/10
8/10

Several years ago, Wally West had the worst day of his life. In a moment of weakness while confronting everything taken from him in the wake of Rebirth, he caused an accident that hurt friends and allies. Or did he? That’s a question that The Flash Annual 2021 seeks to answer.

This story has been a lot of fun, bouncing from speedster to speedster and from adventure to adventure. But it all comes together in a big way in this finale chapter. It’s from Jeremy Adams, Fernando Pasarin, Brandon Peterson, Hi-Fi, Mike Atiyeh, and Steve Wands.

It’s all led to this. The source of the cancer in the Speed Force brings Wally West to the darkest moment of his life, the accident at Sanctuary. And in the moment between moments, and in his darkest hour, Wally finds one of his best friends ready to help and redemption, because the Sanctuary incident wasn’t his fault. It was the actions of one of his most terrible enemies… SAVITAR.

Wally West is my Flash. I like Barry, and I think, thanks to the TV show and the Rebirth series, he’s been given the character development he needs to stand on his own, but Wally is my Flash. So this arc was a breath of fresh air, despite a bump or two along the way. However, taking his lowest moment, and transforming it like this… that is what I personally needed here.

Normally a retcon like this, it could be too much. But Adams knows that Wally needs this, he needs redemption before he could return to the role he’s known for. So in the course of a single issue, Heroes in Crisis, one of the lowest stories for several different DC characters, is recontextualized and Wally West’s role in it is changed. And for me it works, not just because it undid a bad story but also because Adams gave the story the emotional depth it needed thanks to Wally’s team-up with Roy Harper. I was nervous about this run at first, but now I’m willing to see what Adams has up his sleeve.

For the art, they made all the right choices. Pasarin is able to convey the emotional depth of what Wally and Roy are going through. He makes Savitar frightening. He packs a ton of detail into the fight, and gives Roy a huge hero moment at the end with an immensely satisfying final panel. Meanwhile, Peterson does a solid job. While he does shift back into some of his more stiff and over-rendered tendencies, when Wally and Savitar burst out of the Speed Force, he flexes all the old muscles and gives readers the high-octane story they need.

Is this a perfect issue? No. But it’s very good, and it’s a huge step forward for a beloved character that works without pandering. Now, I’m thrilled to see what’s next.

The Flash Annual 2021 is available now from DC Comics.

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