Year of the Villain is hyped as DC's event of 2019, as six heroes are transformed into sinister versions of themselves by a deadly pathogen released by the Batman Who Laughs. A new teaser asks, "Who Are the Infected?," and offers as suspects a wide selection of heroes, antiheroes and supporting players, ranging from Wonder Woman to Lobo to Jimmy Olsen. However, one hero stands out from the rest, primarily because of his fashion accessory: Wally West.
He's depicted wearing a scarf. More significantly, he's the only character among the dozens in the teaser who appears to have an extra article of clothing. Everyone else is clad in the typical costumes or, in the case of "civilians" like Jim Gordon, their usual day-to-day wear. Wally is hardly Harry Potter or the Fourth Doctor; a scarf isn't part of his signature wardrobe. To the contrary, as a speedster, his metabolism would seem to make additional protection from the cold unnecessary. Heck, he created his new red-and-silver costume entirely Speed Force energy, so why would he later add a scarf?
Do We Read Anything Into Wally's Placement?
The DC heroes in the teaser are portrayed as figurines, playthings for the Batman Who Laughs and his ravenous Robins. Wally is one of six characters -- along with Superman, Lobo, Firestorm, Natasha Irons and Hawkgirl -- gripped by the villains, which might lead us to suspect they're the ones infected by the pathogen. Except that's probably too obvious, and would ruin the mystery of "Who Are the Infected?" Therefore, it's likely misdirection.
A Hero in Crisis ... Again
However, the premise of Year of the Villain, in which six heroes are transformed into dark versions of themselves, would fit in with Wally's controversial portrayal in Heroes in Crisis. It might also be used to further explain, or even excuse, the events of that storyline. If that were the case, then what is the significance of the scarf? A sort of scarlet -- or, well, gray -- letter?
Connection to Other Events
While Year of the Villain is positioned as DC's premier event of 2019, this year will also bring the conclusion of Doomsday Clock, which promises to solve the mysteries of the New 52 universe that existed before the current Rebirth. As Rebirth returned Wally West to continuity, it was assumed that Doomsday Clock would restore in its conclusion much of what the hero had lost. It's unknown what connection, if any, Year of the Villain will have with Doomsday Clock, but it's almost certain that the former will be, in some way, beholden to the latter's outcome.
There's also the new miniseries starring Wally West, Flash Forward, which will spin out of the events of Heroes in Crisis. Given that the miniseries will debut around the same time as Year of the Villain, it may very well tie into it. If we're lucky, it may even explain the origin of this mysterious scarf.
Whose Scarf Is It, Anyway?
Although Wally is wearing the scarf, it may not actually belong to him. Is it somehow tied to Linda Park, Wally's wife in the old continuity who now wants nothing to do with him? Could it even belong to Wally and Linda's children, who were erased from history following the New 52? It may even be related to Jay Garrick and Max Mercury, other speedsters who have yet to reappear in Rebirth. The former was hinted at returning in a previous issue of The Flash, but has yet to do so.
Whoever it belongs to, the scarf sets Wally apart from the rest of the DC heroes in the Year of the Villain teaser.