THE FLASH #51 is another fantastic issue of a soon-to-be long-cherished run. Joshua Williamson delivers the best Wally West-centric issue since his return in DC UNIVERSE: REBIRTH. Scott Kolins’ art looks as beautiful as ever. Wally West fans must not sleep on this issue.
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Warning, potential spoilers for THE FLASH #51 are below!

Let me start this review by saying that THE FLASH #51 is my favorite issue of this entire series. In this installment, Barry Allen and Iris West reflect on Wally West’s career as Kid Flash and the Flash, and what that meant for both Wally and the world as a whole. In-universe, it works as an incredible way to show how important Wally is to the DC Universe and how much he was missed during the New 52. Yet this issue also functions as a sort of meta-commentary on Wally West as a character, thanks to Joshua Williamson’s fantastic script. For a whole generation of comic readers, Wally was their Flash, not Barry. This issue explains what Wally means to these fans who grew up reading THE FLASH. It’s an emotionally touching story with beautiful art from Scott Kolins.

The War Ends in THE FLASH #50

Iris’ Tribute to Wally in THE FLASH #51

In the last issue, Zoom duped Wally into believing that he could save his time-displaced children from the pre-FLASHPOINT universe. However, Zoom only told Wally that his children may still exist somewhere in the timeline. Wally began frantically racing around the globe to hopefully find them. In THE FLASH #51, Iris West writes a memoir about her newly-recovered memories of Wally. She recounts all of the major events in Wally’s life, from his birth, to when he gained Speed Force powers, to when he took on the mantle of the Flash when Barry died. She goes over all the major points of Wally’s career. At the same time, Kid Flash tells Barry about his newfound knowledge that he came into existence as a result of Barry’s meddling with the time-stream in the FLASHPOINT miniseries. As a result, he moves out of Iris’s house just as Barry moves in.

THE FLASH #51 page 6. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Meanwhile, Wally still runs continuously across the Earth. Eventually, Wally grows so tired of running that he accepts defeat. Barry, knowing that Wally is in a bad place mentally, calls Superman and Wonder Woman to take Wally to “Sanctuary.” His story will continue in the HEROES IN CRISIS miniseries. To find out what else happens this issue, pick up THE FLASH #51!

What Wally Means to People in THE FLASH #51

At one point during THE FLASH #51, Iris comes to the conclusion that Wally’s greatest asset is that he inspires others, much like his hero, Barry. Wally’s an inspiration for countless citizens because, for a while, he was their Flash. In the comics, long before Dick Grayson donned the cape and cowl, Wally proved that sidekicks could easily live up to their mentors. Wally was every bit of a hero that Barry was when he was Flash. His actions inspired others to be heroic in their everyday lives, according to Iris. It’s a beautiful sentiment. Williamson makes this issue touching by showing Wally’s legacy. It’s not just that he saved lives. He inspired others to do the same. That’s the mark of a hero.

Iris’ take works on a meta level as well. For a wide swath of THE FLASH readers, Wally was their Flash. From CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS to THE FLASH: REBIRTH, Wally West was the Flash. DC seemed to have thrown him by the wayside for years once Barry came back. He completely disappeared during the New 52, much to the chagrin of longtime Flash fans. Finally, Wally came back during REBIRTH. He was an inspiration to a multitude of fans who grew up reading his book. Williamson knows that fans love Wally and this issue serves as his way of saying “I love him, too.” A lot of fans were worried that he’d be ruining Wally’s character during the “Flash War” arc, but he did just the opposite. With this issue, he showed that he cares about the hero and understands why he’s so beloved.

Sensational Artwork in THE FLASH #51

Scott Kolins brings his A-game for this issue. For one, the pages with flashbacks look just beautiful. Instead of fixing Wally’s backstory to fit with the Rebirth continuity, Kolins instead portrays Wally’s past as his pre-FLASHPOINT version. He gives some fantastic renditions of the New Teen Titans and Barry’s death during CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS. He even throws in some references to issues he’s worked on during Geoff Johns’ run on THE FLASH. All of these flashbacks look absolutely stunning.

THE FLASH #51 page 4. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

On top of this, Kolins goes out of his way to show how frantic and exhausted Wally becomes after looking for his lost children. In most Flash stories, the Flash almost never looks winded or sweaty after running, even though he’s exerting a tremendous amount of energy. However, Wally looks like a wreck here, with sweat pouring down his face and an anguished, tired expression. It shows how serious Wally was about finding his kids. It’s a small detail, but an important one.

Final Thoughts: THE FLASH #51

I Still Miss My Flash: The Original Wally West

THE FLASH #51 is beautiful in every way. The story is short and simple, but also holds a load of significance to longtime Wally West fans. Williamson outdoes himself this issue and proves that he’s one of the best modern Flash writers. Kolins, as always, delivers art that’s just so pleasing to look at. If you’re a fan of Wally West, you must pick up this issue.

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