Three generations of the Flash

HEROES IN CRISIS shook up the comic world and, with it, long-time fans of the Flash. The reveal that fan favorite Wally West was the one behind the murders and subsequent cover up created controversy. Some argued that the developments constituted an understandable response to all the stress he has experienced since DC REBIRTH.  Some disagreed, arguing it fully didn’t make sense given his character. That strong emotions flaring up in people is understandable, many who grew up with Wally West as their Flash, and is there go to Scarlet Speedster.

With a new Wally West series — FLASH FORWARD — on the horizon taking a sprint down memory lane feels appropriate. However, Wally’s reach has extended beyond the current DCU or, in fact, comics themselves. Thus, we have decided to take a look at the top five Wally West iterations in all media!

Wally West Justice League
Image Courtesy of DC

JUSTICE LEAGUE TV show

This Wally — who streaked all over small screens as part of the JUSTICE LEAGUE — is the one that started it all for me. He was the cocky, tension breaking character that many loved — acting as a foil when moments got too serious in the show. In time, he became something of the heart of the team.

For evidence of his part in the League, look to the famous episode featuring the Justice Lords (Justice Leauge Season 2 Episode 11-12 “A Better World”). An alternate dimension Justice League known as the Justice Lords had become tyrannical overlords of the Earth following a tragedy. That moment of profound trauma? Wally West’s death. Without him, they lost what kept them tethered to their humanity. In their fog of grief, he was no longer there to steer they away from fascism.

He was many people’s first Flash and remains many’s go-to Flash.

Wally West Kingdom Come
Image Courtesy of DC

KINGDOM COME Flash

Appearing in KINGDOM COME by Mark Waid and Alex Ross, this Wally West is above the rest when it comes to raw power. Running at speeds no human can match while never stopping, he jumps from crime to crime, keeping Keystone city safe. In his commitment to protecting the innocent, he has transcended to near godhood. He literally appears to exist in different places at the same time, such is the blinding level of speed he has acheived.

His costume is different from all other versions of Wally, owing far more to the original Flash Jay Garrick.  Wally sports the Hermes inspired tin helmet and tight red long sleeve. What makes him stand out from the rest is his power and the weight of responsibility he feels. In a world where Superman retired, Wally never stopped. Even as a new generation of heroes rose, the Flash doubled down on saving the city instead of living his life.

Wally West Kid Flash Young Justice
Image Courtesy of DC

YOUNG JUSTICE Kid Flash

YOUNG JUSTICE‘s Wally West was a founding member of the team alongside Robin and Aqualad. His personality was the class clown of the group, taking every situation on the chin with a smile on his face. This version echoed his aforementioned JUSTICE LEAGUE incarnation. Like the original comics Wally, this iteration became Barry Allen’s protege and we catch him still in the mode of junior partner, Kid Flash.

This Wally West has a similar powerset to every other Wally on this list. Unlike the rest — but, again, echoing young comics incarnation — this Wally was depicted with a constant hunger. In order to maintain his energy level, given how many calories he burned running at superspeeds, he was snacking nearly any and all moments he had a chance.

The show created a couple of unique opportunities. For one, it presented him with a romance with Artemis that no other version ever explored. Secondly, the series gave viewers a chance to observe him grow up and mature. When the show started, he was 15 years old, and at the end of season two, he is 21. This created a connection with fans. Finally, it allowed viewers to see a Wally who struggled with being a hero before realizing it was his destiny. YOUNG JUSTICE’s Kid Flash “retired” and tried to go it as a civilian for time before, inevitably, seeing that he had too big a gift not to utilize it alongside his costumed peers, this time as Flash.

Kid Flash Wally West New 52
Image Courtesy of DC

NEW 52 WALLY WEST

When the New 52 first debuted, it appeared to be Wally West-less. Then, this Wally West screeched to a halt on the scene. It perhaps goes without saying that this Wally was not the one fans had gotten to know since the Silver Age. Eventually, that “original” Wally would show up too, but at first, there was just this one. Yea it’s confusing.

This Kid Flash boasted a more complicated and downbeat background. Like original recipe Wally, this West came from a largely absent nuclear family. His mother had died years earlier. His father, Daniel West, was a low-level criminal. However, one day he encountered the Speed Force and, briefly, became the Reverse Flash. Essentially orphaned, Wally moved in with his Aunt Iris. There he struggled to follow the rules and keep himself out of trouble. Even with that baggage, however, it was clear he was a good person who shared “other” Wally West’s gift for a humorous attitude.

Noticing the young man’s essential goodness and feeling at least partially responsible for his dad’s fate, Barry took him under his wing. Imbued with the Speed Force almost immediately, he became Kid Flash and helped Barry on his missions, became a member in Damien Wayne’s Teen Titans lineup. Even after the more familiar Wally West showed up in the New 52, this version continued to star in FLASH and TEEN TITANS. The character even inspired a televised adaptation who appeared on the FLASH TV series.

Heroes In Crisis Flash
Image Courtesy of DC

DC REBIRTH Wally

This is the current incarnation and thus the most controversial. Technically an extension of pre-New 52 Wally West, he has become significantly different with the rebooting/relaunching of the DC Universe. He has, in essence, been thrust into a world he doesn’t know, but feels so close to the one he does.

Moreover, the ways it differs are brutal to him. For instance, even though he remembers his children, they do not exist at all in the Rebirth Universe. Linda Park does exist, but she has never been married to him and does not even have romantic interests towards him. Essentially all that remains of the life he recalls is many of the actions he performed in his costume. Even that has been altered, however, with Barry now being the “top” Flash, denying Wally his evolution to being the only Flash and operating outside of his uncle’s shadow.

It is this Wally that apparently losing control in HEROES IN CRISIS, kills several fellow superpowered beings and seeks to cover up their murders by time traveling, leaking information about the traumas of other heroes to Lois Lane, and cloning himself.

All Wallys Are Great

Wally West has been a major player in the DC universe. For years, he represented potential fulfilled as he went from sidekick to adult hero, fully assuming the identity of Flash from his dead mentor. Even as that changed, however, he has contined to appear across platforms in all forms of media. Each version differs slightly but contains a core essence of what makes Wally Wally.

Each of these Wally West left an impact on those who watched him. These happen to be my favorite five. However, perhaps  I missed your favorite. Feel like there is one underappreciated? Comment and let us here at Comicsverse know in the comments below or @ComicsVerse on Twitter.

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