After spending the last several issues dealing with the news that the children he’d forgotten he even had are out there in the multiverse somewhere, Wally West has gone running. Running around the world, searching for Irey and Jai. But only around the world – his recent battle with Hunter Zoloman saw him and Barry Allen lose access to both alternate realities and the time barrier.
While Wally wears himself out, physically and emotionally, Barry deals with daily life. There’s a difficult chat with Kid Flash.
And a new resident of his apartment.
As for Wally’s Aunt Iris, she’s doing what a journalist does.
This is, for the most part, a really enjoyable issue. Writer Josh Williamson does a fabulous job recapping Wally’s life story in relation to Iris West, enriching both characters.
The subplots with Kid Flash and Commander Cold merit their page time, and I like the meta discussions around favourite Flashes. Everything looks fantastic as depicted by Scott Kolins, who stuns me – in a good way – with his take on Batman.
Then come the final pages, starting with this.
Artist Scott Kolins may have drawn the prettiest tombstone ever here. Has any page ever seemed more like a final goodbye? With each piece of new information I see, DC’s upcoming Heroes in Crisis mini-series sounds ever more unappealing. And now we get Wonder Woman and Superman acting like Death from Sandman, helping someone accept their time is over, followed by a conversation Barry has with Batman that reads like serious foreshadowing.
OK, this is comics, Barry was killed with a chilling finality and came back, and we lost Wally with the arrival of the New 52… but his return with DC Rebirth seemed to signal the arrival of hope, of a happier time for DC’s heroes. In recent weeks, though, we’ve seen Wally lose that hope just as Superman loses his wife and son, Catwoman abandons Batman and the Sanctuary concept hints at a whole community of traumatised super-beings – the DC Universe is darkening and while the dawn has to follow, it feels like we could be in for a long period of misery as Heroes in Crisis writer Tom King’s interest in PTSD meets DC chief Dan DiDio’s Nineties sensibilities at the world’s worst speed dating night.
Even one of those poles on Howard Porter and Hi-Fi’s striking cover looks like a hangman’s gallows.
Josh Williamson has racked up an impressive 51 issues on this book and there have been many great moments, but what we haven’t had is a sustained period of happiness for Barry and friends. I realise conflict is drama, but a threat to the status quo isn’t much of a threat if the status quo is unhappiness – it’s just a different shade of misery. And speedsters look best in scarlet.