The Death And Rebirth of Wally West

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Wally West. Kyle Rayner. Conner Hawke. Dick Grayson. These are just several heroes who had the opportunity to take over the mantle of an iconic hero in DC Comics’ lineup of modern gods, with their day-to-day issues adding a bit more relatability to the mantle they held. Wally, in particular, was the first to take up the mask of the Flash following Barry’s death during Crisis On Infinite Earths, going so far as to replace Barry Allen for decades. Now, with the latest annual of The Flash, readers receive both a deconstruction of Wally and the concept of generational-legacy heroes.

Whether you love or hate Wally’s direction over the past few years, since re-emerging at the start of Rebirth, most comic fans will agree that it has been an interesting ride. From universe-hopping hero attempting to return to his prior status quo (and family), to troubled anti-hero responsible for the death of many friends ad allies in Heroes In Crisis, to actually sporting the power of Watchmen‘s Dr. Manhattan in Death Metal, writer Jeremy Adams took on the monumental task of not only returning West from this abyss of poor choices, but restoring him as “the one true Flash” once more and guiding the series as Barry explores the multiverse. With all this said, does this issue work in restoring Wally or as a simply worthwhile read at the end of the day?

(Photo: DC Comics)

To start, this is not an issue readers can dive into without having a cursory knowledge of Wally’s backstory and character as well as the latest run of the solo title, but that is true of many superhero comics today. You need to have an understanding of what Wally has been going through these past few years as well as the disastrous event Heroes In Crisis, which saw West lose his mind and murder many of his friends. Does this issue undo those events? Yes and no. You can certainly make the argument that West is given an enormous olive branch here, with the weight of these murders no longer on his hands, but the events still happened, even with an asterisk.

Retcons in comic books are inevitable, with writers deciding to forge a new path for a character requiring changes to the past or halting a character’s progression in order to make them more recognizable or desirable to readers and fans. You can look at Winter Soldier as the ultimate example of a “good” retcon, wherein Bucky Barnes—once considered to be a monolith amongst characters that could not be returned from the dead—is now in countless movies and just featured in his own television series. When you dig even deeper, you see the original events which killed Captain America’s original sidekick still happened, only with an asterisk.

The same can be said for Wally West here, his friends are still dead, killed by a blip within the Speed Force that Wally was part of, but his journey can progress according to Adams’ plans, which in this case is restoring him as the Flash. Wally is able to slap on the crimson suit once more and has his family in tow when patrolling the streets, perhaps finally outrunning his uncle’s shadow as well.

The issue itself can be too wordy at times, and the super science to get Wally from point A to point B might be a bit too much for some to swallow, but it does share some heartfelt moments along the way, especially when it comes to Roy Harper’s final goodbye to Oliver Queen. At the end of the day, this issue is about having your cake and eating it too, and it earnestly works in that regard. Wally West earned his place as the Flash for decades before Barry was brought back to nostalgically fill the yellow boots, and Adams’ run celebrates all things Wally and ensures it’s a celebration worth reading.

The conflicting art styles of Fernando Pasarin and Brandon Peterson help round out the issue, showing us the stark difference between Wally’s troubled past and his bright future. Adams’ run remains a love letter to the Flash, specifically Wally West, and this latest installment does an admirable job of setting the stage to see how Wally will do sporting the scarlet cowl once again.

Rating: 4 Out Of 5

Published by DC Comics

On July 12th, 2021

Written by Jeremy Adams

Art by Fernando Pasarin and Brandon Peterson

Colors by Hi-Fi and Michael Atiyeh

Letters by Steve Wands

Cover by Brandon Peterson and Michael Atiyeh

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