The Flash: Did DC Rebirth Save Wally West (or Break Him?)

One of the biggest fan-favorite characters to wear the mantle of the Flash is Wally West, the original Kid Flash and nephew of the Silver Age Flash Barry Allen. After Barry's return during Final Crisis, Wally took on more of a supporting role throughout the DC Universe, saving the day alongside the Titans and focusing on being a loyal husband and father to his growing family. After being temporarily removed during the New 52 era, Wally would play a pivotal role launching the subsequent DC Rebirth era...but endured grave tragedy as the current publishing initiative continued.

Now, CBR is looking back over Wally's history during DC Rebirth and if his involvement in the crossover event Heroes in Crisis potentially broke the Scarlet Speedster for good.

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Kickstarting DC Rebirth

Wally West as the Flash

At the start of DC Rebirth in 2016, it was revealed that the original Wally West had been removed from the DC Universe by a mysterious omnipotent force, later confirmed to be Doctor Manhattan in the crossover comic Doomsday Clock. With his children erased from existence and his wife Linda Park unable to recognize him, Wally lacked a connection to draw him back into the DCU until he came into contact with his uncle and mentor Barry Allen who saved him while regaining his memories of his life before the reality-altering events of Flashpoint.

As more and more heroes gradually became aware of their past lives and Batman and Barry continued to investigate the cause of the wholesale revisions to reality, Wally would join his old friends to form a new incarnation of the Titans and attempt to remind Linda of their relationship and marriage before Flashpoint. As his old enemy Hunter Zolomon reminded him of his lost children, Wally decided to break the Speed Force in a desperate attempt to restore them to the timeline. While Barry would bring Wally back to his senses, the resulting damage to the Force Barrier would empower Zolomon, making him the fastest man alive. Guilt-ridden by being tricked by Zoom and devastated by the loss of his family, Wally was admitted to the superhuman mental recovery center Sanctuary for rehabilitation.

Tragedy at Sanctuary

The recent crossover event Heroes in Crisis by Tom King, Clay Mann, and Mitch Gerads opened with a tragedy that shook the DCU to its core: the patients at Sanctuary were seemingly slaughtered by a mysterious assailant, with Wally among the dead discovered on the premises. As the heroes investigate what exactly occurred at Sanctuary and who was responsible for the massacre, Lois Lane receives a video confession from Wally West.

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Overcome with emotions over losing his family that no one, including Linda, could remember, Wally had accidentally unleashed the Speed Force energy within him killing most of the patients with him at Sanctuary. With Harley Quinn and Booster Gold spared as both were in their own virtual reality therapy sessions, Wally reprogrammed Sanctuary's systems to imagine each was responsible for the massacre while he used Booster's time travel technology to recover a version of himself from five days in the future to murder and leave at the scene. Through the video confession and Blue Beetle's investigation, the truth is discovered and the heroes stop Wally from murdering himself before the Justice League takes the rogue speedster into custody.

The Redemption of Wally West

Wally West and entered -- even started -- the DC Rebirth era with so much promise as initially the one hero who remembered his past and could help the rest of the DC Universe follow suit. However, just as the speedster seemed poised to help lead the charge against the reality changes wrought by Doctor Manhattan, he instead became rocked by trauma and tragedy as forces within him lashed out uncontrollably, killing those around him as trauma and raw emotion is wont to do.

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What makes Wally's sudden turn the most problematic was his immediate reaction. While he had confessed to the murders to Lois Lane, Wally's first act was to actively and consciously pit Booster Gold and Harley Quinn against each other by framing each of them for the Sanctuary killings and kill a future version of himself to maintain the lie; Wally West may not have intended to kill anyone but he sure committed to it after the fact. With the character set to journey throughout the multiverse, perhaps Wally can find a semblance of redemption but the one-time Flash has certainly lost his own way for the moment.

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