*Warning: Spoilers from all over the issue*
Several months ago I wrote about the introduction of Wally West to the New 52. My thoughts boiled down to: ‘Have optimism, but don’t set yourself up for disappointment’. Why? Because how is an introduction going to compare to the last twenty-five years of history that is ingrained into most minds? That’s kind of where I am with The Flash Annual #3. So I will do what I must: Try and compose myself as unbiased as possible. I say “as possible” because if you think anyone is going into this issue with no bias then there is a Hunter S. Thompson quote I’d like to introduce you to:
“With the possible exception of things like box scores, race results, and stock market tabulations, there is no such thing as Objective Journalism. The phrase itself is a pompous contradiction in terms.”
So, I guess I shouldn’t beat around the bush. What do I think of the new Wally West and his new story? Well, as the internet made us all aware, Wally West was sort of introduced in The Flash #30 last week. Introduced as a corpse. It kind of amused me in a dark way. I’m introduced to this Wally West in the same way I left off the Wally West of Young Justice. Most idiots began to take note and make a lot of noise about Wally being darker than the Pre-Nu52 in more ways than one.
Yes, Wally West is now, as confirmed by the creative team, biracial. Honestly, I have no problem with this. Will I miss the red hair? Sure, of course. But diversification within the superhero genre has been long overdue and I can accept characters coming back looking physically different.
It was only when I started reading this Annual that the warning bells began to go off. The first one went off when Barry is introduced to Wally for the first time. Wally (Who is confirmed to be twelve in the present day. He’s young than Billy Batson. Weird.) is caught spray painting an Anti-Flash tag on the side of a building.
Huh. Well, obviously there is anger at superheroes in general in this Post-Forever Evil world. This kind of event would be natural, right?
Second warning bell went off when Iris (confirmed to still be Wally’s aunt) picks Wally up from the police station and gives a little exposition about his background. His father (still Rudy) had run off and his mother disappeared during the Crime Syndicate’s attack and Wally had idolized his Uncle Daniel (a.k.a. a New52 Reverse-Flash. Why ‘a’? We’ll get to that.), even after he turned to a life of crime.
Thus does the ‘broken home’ aspect set off warning bell #2. ‘But Forever Evil’s events were sure to make some people orphans’, I think as sweat begins to drip down my neck.
The final warning bell blared off when Iris suggested to Barry, the white guy, talk with Wally, the once again bi-racial troubled kid, and be a positive influence and show him a better path.
Look, I am not against the idea of Wally being initially antagonistic towards The Flash. I really am not. I think it could be a potentially good story. I would be much more open to this storyline if the initial events did not come off as such a massive cliché. Seriously, it almost reaches an uncomfortable level at times and the words ‘White Man’s Burden’ keep sounding off in my head.
But that is only part of the issue. The other part deals with events twenty years in the future where Electric Blue Barry Allen and a wheel-chair bound Iris are at the grave of Wally West as Barry is being incredibly mopey about being History’s Greatest Monster and all. Also, kudos for reminding me that Flashpoint erased Irey and Jai West. I was almost over that. Now the fact that a new generation of heroes was cut off before its prime is at the forefront of my thoughts again.
Barry formulates a plan to get back to the past and make everything better. However, before he can get back to the past, he needs more Speed Force power so he finds Grodd, who has used the power to pilfer the past and the future. Electric Blue Barry Allen kills Grodd (because this is a dark future and dark futures are nothing if they don’t have heroes doing immoral stuff). Then it’s off to the past to save us all from the real enemy of this series, Barry himself. I mentioned before about ‘a’ Reverse-Flash. Why? Because Grodd mentions the name of a Reverse-Flash, Eobard Thawne, which may be a plot point for the future.
This is the part where I talk about the art. Duties were split between present and future timelines, with Ron Frenz and Livesay on present and Brett Booth Norm Rapmund on future with Andrew Dalhouse coloring everything. Honestly, I do not have much to say on the art. The kinetic energy that is necessary for a Flash book is there in the action scenes. The massive fault in it is, well, everyone looks the damn same except swapping out skin tone and hair. Look I know all artists can’t be Naoki Urasawa and give specific facial details to everyone, but come on!
So at the end of the day, do I think this new Wally West can be great? Yes, but first impressions really left a sour taste to the tongue. Again, I would be okay with the premise of Barry and Wally butting heads at first if they left out the ‘white guy saving black kid’ vibe. Am I going to stick with this book? Yes I am. In spite of my snark, the future events did interest me a bit. Also, Geoff Johns and Gary Frank’s Shazam gave me a swerve but it pulled out of any nosedive and ended up being one of the best stories in the New 52. Here’s hoping this book can do that as well.