Like many others out there I’m a HUGE Wally West fan. When I started reading comics Wally was long established as The Flash. That was it, he was The Fastest man alive and that’s all I needed to know. As I started looking into the history of the DC Universe and The Flash I realized that he was part of a much richer heritage and legacy. I read Crisis on Infinite Earths and was surprised to see Wally in the role of Kid Flash and Barry Allen in the role of The Flash. As CRISIS concluded I was shocked to see the death of Barry Allen and thought WOW, DC comics is a place where things can change and progress. Wally inherited the role of The Flash and he took the responsibility of living up to his idol. Suddenly Wally West and The Flash became more important in some way and Wally quickly became one of my favorite characters because not only did he CHOOSE to become Kid Flash to follow in his uncle’s footsteps but after his uncles death he CHOSE to honor his memory by becoming The Flash. This wasnt something he was immediately comfortable doing and he spent years in his uncle’s shadow. This held Wally back for many years but it was because of the strength of his family and friends that eventually Wally stepped out of the shadow of Barry and truly became The Flash and in my opinion the GREATEST of the fleet feets. Wally quickly (I’m sure there is a pun there but am far too lazy to think of one) became his own man and his own Flash by updating his costume and discovering and mastering the secrets of the Speed Force. Wally made the Flash cool for a whole new generation of readers and the concepts created during his run were the most interesting and entertaining concepts ever created for the character of The Flash.
Now that DC’s New 52 is among us Wally West is nowhere to be found. It’s clear that Wally has never existed in this continuity and the only thing that remains is Wally’s modified costume. I feel cheated by this and I’m not the only one. Wally was The Flash for two decades and fans were treated to a heroes journey the likes of which we have never seen. We saw Wally first become Kid Flash then truly grow into the role of The Flash. We also saw Wally West grow from a child to an adult with all the trials and tribulations that go along with that. And as put so eloquently by Kelson in this article on Speedforce.org “We didn’t just grow up with Wally West; he grew up with us.” With that said, I intend to delve further into why I feel that fans (and Wally) have been cheated (and how DC can make it up to us!) but before I do so I’d like to first discuss a few of the responses that fans have been getting from the higher ups at DC. In my opinion they range from evasive to lame to downright infuriating. I’ll attempt to go through them in chronological order to give you a sense of where DC is really at in their stance on Wally West.
Date: August 2011
Source: An interview with Dan DiDio via a reader of BleedingCool.com
In this interview Mr. DiDio is asked about the status of Wally. The following is a paraphrasing of his response:
[He] told me that Wally is lost outside of space and time searching for his family/universe and they would be dealing with that story sometime in the future.
This was the ONLY time a direct response was given to the wherabouts of Wally West. Every other response has been either extremely vague or, well, not so good for Wally fans. Usually when the higher ups at DC give vague responses it’s either because they have decided to place the character in Comic Book Limbo OR they have plans for the character but are trying to keep them under wraps because they are either still in development or the plans are so immediate that they want to surprise us with it.
Date: August 23, 2011
Brian Buccellato, co-writer of The Flash, had this to say in regards to the often asked question of Wally’s whereabouts:
We often get asked that very fair question, and we wish we had an answer that would satisfy. But the simple truth is we don’t. Our book is about Barry. We are focusing on Barry. And there is nothing we can say to put Wally fans at peace.
He continues to give his thoughts on why, in light of the reboot, Barry is now the focus of the current Flash title and Wally is nowhere to be seen:
[If] you are trying to introduce The Flash to a whole new audience, Barry’s origin is straight forward and not dependent on Wally. Wally’s origin, on the other hand, IS completely dependant on Barry Allen’s run as the Flash.
[if] you removed Barry’s association with Wally and retconned a new origin for him, he WOULDN’T be Wally any more. He would just be a new flash with Wally’s hair color and name. Wally’s much beloved journey from Kid Flash to Flash (and the death of his mentor) DEFINE who Wally is. So I just don’t see how you can start with him.
I completely agree that Wally would not be Wally if not for his history, however I still think that there is a home for him as I will explain later.
Date: October 26, 2011
Source: Manapul and Buccellato interview at New York Comic Con via ComicBookResources.com
The other co-writer of the current Flash series, Francis Manapul, reported that he and Buccellato have made a proposal for what to do with Wally West:
“The pitch is on Dan [DiDio's] desk. Let’s see if he finds it! That’s really all there is to say!”
I’d love to know what their pitch is but whatever it is I fear that it will be a long while before DiDio finds it.
At the end of the article mentioned above the following note appears:
EDITOR’S NOTE: CBR News approached DC Comics about Wally West and were told that at this time, the publisher has no plans for the character.
Don’t mind that stinging sensation Wally, that’s just DC slapping you in the face.
Date: February 18, 2012
Source: Report of a question asked at the DC Panel at Megacon via Siike Donnelly of BleedingCool.com
[DiDio] said because there were de-aging Barry, they didnt want him to be the same age as Wally. Plus they didn’t want to take away Wally’s kids and family or make him a teenager again, especially with Bart already in that role. [...] Their answer was that they are simply focusing on establishing the characters they started out with in this new 52, but not saying those other characters don’t exist or aren’t around in some way. They understand that everyone’s character is someone’s favorite. They just ask us Wally [...] fans to be a bit more patient with them and [that character] will be seen once more.
This response certainly backs up Buccellato’s reasoning and is a completely fair assessment of the character. Even though I excluded it from the quote above, DiDio and Berganza also mention the absence of Donna Troy. Since my post is about Wally West I want to stay focused on him, however my thoughts on where Wally could potentially fit in would work quite nicely for Donna too.
Date: April 14, 2012
Source: A Conversation with Dan DiDio via Cody Walker of BleedingCool.com
In this conversation with Dan DiDio he anticipates the, by now, infamous question of Wally West and the following is reiterated:
He explained that fans had grown up with Wally West, seen him get married and have children and with the de-aging of Barry Allen, it would cheat those fans who grew to love Wally to de-age him as well. “But don’t go quoting me on that,” he said with a laugh.
Once again, the higher ups at DC are very much aware of the fan support surrounding Wally and it’s clear to me that they do not want to do a diservice to the character. Mr. Walker of Bleeding Cool found Mr. DiDio’s response to be satisfactory. I, on the other hand, do not. While I do agree with Mr. DiDio that it would be a disservice to fans to de-age Wally, I also think that it’s a disservice to kill off Wally so unceremoniously in an alternate timeline (Flashpoint: Citizen Cold) where Wally had no recollection of ever having being The Flash. If Barry had the chance to bow out gracefully during Crisis on Infinite Earths why not Wally?
Date: April 22, 2012
Source: Question asked at Boston Comic Con via DCWomenKickingAss.tumblr.com
The following is a response by Francis Manapul and is reiterated below:
Manapul stated he had grown up on Wally and “day number one” had made it his mission to try and get Wally into the book and [that] DC was firm and said, “no, you can’t.” He said he “snuck” him in the book early on to “test the waters” but he had to remove him. Manapul said part of the challenge is that “one you introduce Wally the audience is then going to be waiting for him to become the Flash.”
So basically, in October of 2011 we have Mr. Manapul stating that he left his Wally proposal on Mr. DiDio’s desk. Six months later it seems that he doesn’t have much else to say on the subject other than DC doesn’t want him to introduce the character at all because of the reasons stated above. And he’s absolutely right, if DC were to reintroduce Wally West, we’d all be waiting for him to become a speedster, if not The Flash. And I would imagine if Wally were to return most of us would want to see him as The Flash and not just some other persona.
Date: May 18, 2012
Source: Interview with Francis Manapul via ComicBookResources.com
When asked why Mr. Manapul wanted to reintroduce Wally he states the following:
The thing is, it’s coming from a pure fan perspective. I grew up with Wally West, but it’s one those things that, within the context of the story and the world we’re building, he doesn’t really fit. Really, just focusing on Barry Allen has allowed us to do a more streamlined story and give a very good character study on Barry. [...] Introducing Wally West might murky up the water. It’s not our decision, but I think it’s better that we just focus on Barry Allen. At the end of the day, our mission statement is to make Barry Allen as cool as possible. So we’re putting all our effort into doing that.
This is probably the most telling statement of all. After months of questions the response is still the same. DC is putting all of their focus on Barry and introducing Wally would simply mess things up. As a fan of Wally West I really don’t care that his presence would make things more difficult to focus on Barry because I just want to see Wally in the red and yellow suit again. However, from DC’s perspective I understand that they have made the decision to go back to Barry and want to make sure that he is a successful character both in the comics and in the eventual Flash and/or Justice League movie. So the question remains, where does that leave Wally West? DC really shouldn’t just leave him out in the cold unless they want fans to keep asking about Wally. I’m pretty sure they are sick of answering that question by now and there are plenty of people out there with theories of what to do with the character. Even DC’s own creators are clamoring for his return. From writers trying to sneak Wally into the New 52 to the current Teen Titans artist Brett Booth designing a new costume for Wally on his blog.
It seems to me that for the time being there is only going to be one character named The Flash in the mainstream DCU. Which brings me to where I think Wally West can be reintroduced. My idea is really quite simple but I think a lot can be gained from it. First of all, and most importantly, if Wally is reintroduced he needs to have his history intact. I’m not interested in Wally any other way. So how can they introduce Wally with all of his history and not muck things up for Barry? Give Wally a world of his very own. With the multiverse back there is certainly enough room for multiple characters named The Flash (52 to be exact). The world of Wally West would essentially be the world of DC pre-Flashpoint but with a few key changes. In this world things would actually progress in the natural way that they would in life. Characters would grow old through the passage of time, sidekicks would eventually take on the role of their mentors, and heroes would eventually retire, pass on, or simply move on to other endevours. Much like the pages of Robert Kirkman’s Invincible or the T.V. series Young Justice, there is a clear passage of time and progression. A world similar to the one pictured below.
Seriously though, Wally’s world would give DC writers a chance to create a version of the DCU that isn’t, in a sense, stagnant. No matter how often a hero “dies” or “quits” or “goes missing” and is replaced by another character (like when Jean-Paul Valley or Dick Grayson took on the mantle of Batman) fans ultimately know that Bruce Wayne will return. It’s just the way things are and there is nothing wrong with it. But Wally’s world could be a place of legacy where he is the Flash, Kyle Rayner is Green Lantern, Donna Troy is Wonder Woman, and Dick Grayson is Batman. Wally of course would have his family restored and I don’t just mean Linda and the kids, I mean the entire Flash family. Bart Allen, Jay Garrick, Max Mercury and Jesse Quick would all be there standing (or I suppose running) by Wally’s side. Where is Barry in all of this? Well, he’s dead. Not to be harsh but it makes sense to keep only one Barry Allen running around the DC multiverse for the sake of simplicity. The Barry of Wally’s world died in the original Crisis and simply never returned but the Flash Family stands strong.
I mean really, who wouldn’t want to see these heroes back in action again? Simply put, Wally West is a character of legacy and heritage and his world could also represent that sensibility. DC has had a world like this before with the original Earth 2. In this world the characters of the JSA grew older and many of them had children who became the next generation of heroes. This world also featured a Batman who grew old as well and eventually retired the cape to become the commissioner of the GCPD before eventually passing away. This was huge at the time and fans absolutely loved DC world where anything could happen. And, of course, this world wouldn’t just be a Wally West showcase. This would be where all sorts of fan favorites would flourish and where fans who are still wounded by the effects of Flashpoint (*cough* me *cough* I miss Wally *cough* please bring him back) can find some relief. Wally West and Donna Troy are just a few characters currently missing from the pages of The New 52 and fans want to see them back in action. With so much potential room for these characters in the multiverse there is no reason not to include them in some way. So let’s get moving DC, Wally West fans are waiting!