SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for The Flash #50 by Joshua Williamson, Howard Porter, Hi-Fi and Steve Wands, on sale now.
Since the current volume of The Flash began with DC Rebirth, Joshua Williamson and his collaborators have focused on building a new Flash Family for Barry Allen. As a result, characters like Kid Flash, Godspeed, The Flash of China and Negative Flash have found a place as allies (and occasionally enemies) of the Scarlet Speedster.
However, the return of Wally West in DC Universe Rebirth #1 suggested the existence of the rest of the Flash Family somewhere out there in the Multiverse, and the current blockbuster “Flash War” storyline has been focused on Wally’s search for his missing children, Irey and Jai. With the villain once known as Zoom having manipulated Wally into ripping open the Speed Force, you never quite know what’s going to come out the other side, and The Flash #50 ends with a huge shocker, as a fan-favorite speedster returns after nearly seven years of being absent from DC Comics.
Born To Run
Together, Wally West and Barry Allen chase Hunter Zolomon beyond the Speed Force and into Hypertime, where all possible futures exist simultaneously and any of them can merge with the prime timeline at any time. As the heroes plan how to stop Hunter, a mysterious voice calls out to Wally, and he sees a vision of his children as adults. The voice returns again as Wally digs deep into his memories and remembers his forgotten friends and family, urging him to “keep going…” Wally’s memories of the Flash Family from before the Flashpoint allows him to tap into the temporal energy and knock Hunter out of Hypertime, saving the day, if losing the villain along the way.
In the aftermath of the Flashes’ victory, it doesn’t feel much like a win. Wally still remembers and wants to find his children; Kid Flash resents Barry for stranding him and Iris in the twenty-fifth century; and Hunter Zolomon is still on the loose with the powers of the Strength, Speed and Sage Forces. Barry Allen sees the ordeal as a teachable moment to learn from and speeds off towards his next adventure, unaware that he, Wally and Hunter weren’t the only speedsters to return from the Speed Force. The owner of the mysterious voice which reached out to Wally materializes moments after The Flash races off… and Impulse returns to the DC Universe.
Hitting the pavement running (next to a shop sign that reads “Ringo-Design” a nod to the late Mike Wieringo, Bart’s co-creator who sadly passed away at the age of 44), Bart acknowledges that he was the voice in the Speed Force calling out to Wally. Apparently, the collapse of the Force Wall is what allowed him to make his way back to the world. Returning to the DC Universe with his trademark enthusiasm, Bart Allen’s arrival in The Flash suggests a brighter and more optimistic tone going forward, and the promise that the continuity of the pre-Flashpoint DC Universe has not been forgotten.