SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for The Flash Annual #1 by Joshua Williamson, Howard Porter, Christian Duce, Hi-Fi, Carlos M. Mangual and Travis Lanham, on sale now.
This summer, The Flashes are going to war in what’s being billed as one of the biggest Flash stories of all time, but the question remains: what could make the notoriously amiable and close-knit Flash Family to turn on each other?
This week’s Flash Annual provides a solo spotlight on the returned Wally West that he hasn’t really had since being rescued from the Speed Force in DC Universe Rebirth #1. However, while Wally reunites with an old flame in the present, plans are in motion in the far future as Wally’s worst enemy is conspiring to rip the Flashes apart.
The majority of the issue follows the elder Wally West who is still finding his way in the world after returning from the Speed Force. Most of the DC Universe is still unaware of his existence or his return, thanks to the machinations of Abra Kadabra and that includes his aunt and best friend, Iris West. Barry thinks that Wally should tell Iris that he’s back — and that he exists — but Wally continues to delay that particularly awkward conversation.
However, Barry isn’t being completely honest with Wally, either, as he didn’t inform his nephew that Iris was taken into the twenty-fifth century by Professor Zoom, or that she killed Eobard Thawne with a Black Hole gun. It’s this revelation that seems to be the spark of the Flash War — which we’ll get back to — because Wally and Barry square up and come close to butting heads, if not for the intervention of Kid Flash. All three heroes care a great deal about Iris West, and if anything’s going to bring them to blows, it’ll be what they think is best for her (regardless of what she thinks is best for her, which is A Problem).
Wally is somewhat of a man out of time; the woman he loves doesn’t remember him, his only family doesn’t know that he exists and his only friends are fellow superheroes in The Titans. In order to ground himself somewhat, Wally seeks out an old flame in the form of Frankie Kane, but in doing so he inadvertently reminds her of her powers, her mental illness and her alter-ego, Magenta. Frankie and Wally were best friends turned sweethearts in Blue Valley, Nebraska and when she started to show signs of a metahuman ability, Wally encouraged her to embrace it despite the damage it was doing to her mental health.
Once again, Wally’s selfishness gets the better of him, and by forcing his baggage onto Frankie, he reawakens Magenta, who goes on a short rampage before being whizzed back to Blue Valley where Wally is able to remind her of all the positive memories she was missing, bringing her back down to Earth. Frankie ultimately thanks Wally for restoring her memories and, in a potentially foreboding line, asks him, “If you found out a big part of your life was missing, wouldn’t you go a little nuts?”
Wally himself is missing a big part of his life, in that he doesn’t remember his twin children, Irey and Jai. Wally’s story ends with him determined to get the answers he’s missing (to be continued in The Flash #40), but what happens if Wally uncovers the fact that he had children who aren’t just missing, but no longer exist? How does the mind of a parent react to that? With “Flash War” on the horizon, we may find out very soon.