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‘The Flash #51’ (review)

Written by Joshua Williamson 
Illustrated by Scott Kolins
Published by DC Comics


“The Last Race of Wally West?”

Say it isn’t so.

I have a nephew, and his favorite superhero is The Flash.

The speed. The lightning. The red. Most of all, the whole hero thing. It’s in his blood.

It’s a bond we share, me and that kid. One we value in ways we don’t even try to define for anyone else.

We get it. That’s enough. We understand.

It’s impossible for me then to read this latest issue of The Flash, and not feel real affection and appreciation for Josh Williamson and Scott Kolins, and the story they’ve laid out for us.

I won’t say I entirely agree with the resolution of the story arc and the fallout of The Flash War itself. For Wally in particular. It’s hard to see Wally going through the losses he’s had to endure. He’s just not the type to easily give up. It’s not really in his blood.

In the end though, I’m willing to accept this outcome of Wally’s ‘last race’, for all that his immediate future is now both uncertain and difficult.

I won’t spend time here delving into what that involves. Suffice to say there will be more of Wally’s stories to be told. We’ll simply have to be patient. As he will have to.

More importantly however, is the story our team manages to tell about the true power of Wally’s relationship with his Uncle Barry, how it was and is, and what it’s meant for both of them. And for us.

The Flash legacy, more than most, is a history shaped in paradox, reflections, alterations, and the many changing fortunes of time. The convoluted history of the DC universe has seen The Flash at its core time and again, appropriately so for a character so central to the entire mythos of the superhero.

That’s been at times both confusing and frustrating, daring and heartbreaking. Through it all though, the spirit of The Flash family has held true, and the legend of The Flash has been upheld for generation after generation of readers.

I’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy several eras of Flash stories, some with Barry in the red and gold, some with Wally. My nephew’s only seen Barry, and it’s worthwhile to have that point land. He doesn’t have the context, the relativity, to appreciate what Wally has truly meant, not just for Barry himself, but for the continuation of the dream. But I do.

The current configuration of DC has Wally truly as a man out of place and time. Not easy for someone with the power to be nearly everywhere at once. But his story is as much a part of Flash history as Barry’s is by now, and it’s good that DC and Williamson have finally tackled the fact of that in a way that honors the man Wally had to become in order to keep The Flash alive.

The world Wally finds himself in now doesn’t remember that man. They don’t know him really, for the hero he once was, or the hero that he truly is. But Wally knows. And a bunch of us do too.

So, it’s good to have a new generation get a glimpse of that, and it’s good for those of us who’ve come before to share in that appreciation, and at the same time to affirm for all those still yet to come, the one thing that will always hold true for The Flash legacy, whatever configuration it’s in, or whatever paradoxes it may come to hold.

The very thing the youngest generation already believes. The one thing they already see in themselves.

The speed. The lightning. The red. The whole hero thing.

Some races will never end.

Next Issue: And then the Wall came crashing down.

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