SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Teen Titans Special #1, and “The Lazarus Contract” storyline, on sale now.
In Teen Titans Special #1, the three-title crossover (Deathstroke, Titans and Deathstroke Recruits His Version of Teen Titans in Issue #21
The Once and Future Wally
As seen in the earlier chapters of “The Lazarus Contract,” the storyline has revolved around the idea of Deathstroke attempting to steal the super-speed from one of the Flashes (either the original Wally West, or the current Kid Flash, referred to in this article as New Wally West), and then go back in time to save his son Grant from becoming the Ravager at the hands of H.I.V.E. and then dying in combat with the Titans.
When Teen Titans Special #1 kicks off, Deathstroke is streaking through time using New Wally’s connection to the Speed Force, while Original Wally is trying to stop Deathstroke alongside the rest of the two Titans teams. In the process, we get a glimpse of the Teen Titans of the past as the present-day teams collide with those from years ago. What’s interesting here is that it helps confirm that while almost no one remembers Wally West now, his place within the present DC Universe’s timeline does indeed still exist. This past incarnation of the Titans definitively includes Wally West, whom, ever since escaping from the Speed Force in DC Universe: Rebirth #1, was merely erased from everyone’s memories courtesy of classic Flash rogue Abra Kadabra. Changes in the DCU’s still-Rebirthing timeline now immediately “snap” into place; as soon as Wally was part of the present day timeline, he existed throughout the entire timeline rather than simply a refugee from another universe.
Two Wallys, One Speed Force?
At the same time, though, Wally’s place within the DC Universe doesn’t appear quite as stable as it first looked. Ever since his re-introduction, we’ve been informed that Wally and New Wally are two distinct, separate individuals. They’re cousins who share the same name, but New Wally isn’t a simple replacement within the family tree for the original Wally. A closer connection than names and being cousins, though, might exist between the two characters that was previously unseen.
In an attempt to stop Deathstroke from using New Wally’s powers, when the two Titans teams encounter the younger Teen Titans, Damian Wayne uses the Stone Palm technique to attack the earlier-in-the-timeline Wally West, stopping Wally’s heart. Doing so promptly disrupts the timeline, with a “dead” Wally resulting in Deathstroke’s stolen speed vanishing. The problem is, that doesn’t quite line up with what we’ve known up until this point. Deathstroke wasn’t using Wally’s speed — he was using New Wally’s speed. So why would killing Wally — even if just temporarily — wipe out the connection that was stolen from New Wally? The idea that it would somehow keep Kid Flash from meeting Deathstroke (since the latter deliberately engineered the meeting) feels a little too simplistic an answer.
The question, then, is whether the two Wally West’s are somehow linked in a way that we haven’t yet discovered. Did New Wally’s speed force link somehow come from Wally himself? Or will, in a moment of recursion, Wally at some point in the future travel back in time and in a Flash-esque maneuver, give his link to the speed force to New Wally at the moment that New Wally gains his powers?
What’s Old Is New Again
When the dust settles in Teen Titans Special #1, several characters have their status quo altered, and among them is, yes, Wally West. Dr. Villain (pronounced Will-hane), a supporting character from the classic Priest and Denys Cowan run on Steel, gives the team the bad news: Damian Wayne’s attack on the past incarnation of Wally had lasting consequences. Wally now has a pacemaker, and every time he uses his speed powers, he runs the risk of burning out his heart and dying.
This is actually a callback to the pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths incarnation of Wally West, whose time as Kid Flash was cut short due to intense, crippling pains that cropped up every time he used his powers. It was chalked up as a side-effect of gaining his powers while he was still a teenager (instead of an adult like Barry Allen), and in fact he even retired at the start of the classic Teen Titans storyline “The Judas Contract” because of the agony. The end of Crisis on Infinite Earths had that pain erased and set the character up to become the Flash in the wake of Barry’s death. But with Wally now not only in pain from using his power but actively inching towards death, could this “Contract” be the start of the end for Wally all over again? And if so, could this potential end for Wally West tie into the upcoming DC Universe-wide clash that began with DC Universe: Rebirth #1?
Barry Allen infamously died in Crisis on Infinite Earths in order to save the universe; As such, it’s hardly out of the realm of possibility that DC is looking to reset its roster of characters so that there is only one Wally West before long. If this happens, will Wally pass his powers along to New Wally once and for all, as hinted in this storyline? Or is something more nefarious still brewing? Once again, Wally West and Titans are firmly at the center of the greater story rippling through the DC Universe. And again, the only thing that’s certain is a lack of certainty… especially for Wally West.