Warning: The following contains spoilers for Heroes in Crisis by Tom King, Clay Mann, Mitch Gerads, Travis Moore, and Clayton Cowles.
We've seen heroes fall before, though the big reveal of the killer in Tom King's Heroes in Crisis has come with a fair bit of controversy. That is par for the course, as we've seen heroes like Hal Jordan fall to the darkness and stir up some fan outcry at seeing a hero brought down to the levels of a killer.
Of course, with Hal, it was easy to later explain away and even easier for the character to atone for his past crimes. Heroes in Crisis revealed that Wally West was the murderer of the patients living at Sanctuary, but this one isn't so easily explained away. Another hero has fallen, but why? Today we are going to take a look at five reasons the Wally West twist made sense, and five reasons it makes no sense at all.
10 DOES: WALLY HAS EXPERIENCED SERIOUS TRAUMA
Throughout Wally's therapy with Sanctuary, he is constantly reminded that he is not alone, that other heroes are going through the same thing. Unfortunately, Wally has seen more trauma in his life than most of the heroes at Sanctuary or in the DC Universe, and it makes sense that he would eventually reach that breaking point.
Wally lost his friend and mentor Barry Allen/Flash when he was only a teen and had the added pressure of filling the shoes of one of the world's greatest heroes. Wally faced his own mortality a number of times and was even wiped out of existence prior to his return in Rebirth, which also erased his family. Anyone could suffer a breakdown from any one of these traumatic moments.
9 DOESN'T: WALLY HAS EXPERIENCED SERIOUS TRAUMA
Yet throughout every one of those moments prior to the loss of his family, Wally West always got back on his feet, stronger from his experiences. When he ran too fast during the Terminal Velocity storyline and joined with the Speed Force, he came out a changed man due to his experience.
That's not to say heroes like the Flash don't have a breaking point, it was just Wally West was always able to beat his breaking point, push farther than he was supposed to and survive. Wally was a symbol of hope for the heroes of the DC Universe because he always had hope for them, no matter what he was dealing with.
8 DOES: THE SPEED FORCE IS DANGEROUS
Wally's confession to Sanctuary revealed the method of death for the patients at Sanctuary, which happened due to Wally losing control of the Speed Force. He describes it to Sanctuary as a power he is constantly forced to deal with, which sounds like a heavy burden to carry when already dealing with the loss of his family.
Seeing how many speedsters have struggled with controlling the power at their disposal when connected to the Speed Force makes it easy to see how someone could lose control and lash out, just as Wally described. Many heroes have fallen to the temptations of the Speed Force, and Wally could just be the latest.
7 DOESN'T: WALLY WEST HAS THE DEEPEST CONNECTION TO THE SPEED FORCE
The Speed Force was first introduced during Wally's time as the Flash, in the aforementioned Terminal Velocity storyline from Mark Waid and Mike Weiringo. As such, Wally has always had a unique connection to the Speed Force that powers all speedsters, and his unique understanding of the Force gave him mastery over it others didn't have.
So seeing Wally apparently lose control of the Speed Force is hard to process, considering how in tune with the Force he had become over the years. He was so connected to it he would retain his abilities even if other speedsters had lost their speed. Yet his decades of Speed Force mastering all failed him at Sanctuary?
6 DOES: THERE WERE TOO MANY WALLY WESTS
If we're just looking at this from an editorial standpoint, Wally West was a problem. First of all, there are two Wally West's in the DC Rebirth universe, with the younger Wallace West/Kid Flash appearing years after Wally West, largely due to the new version of the character seen on The CW's The Flash.
When Wally returned in the Rebirth era, DC was now forced to explain away the existence of two Wally Wests. And there were separate series and teams to keep the two Wally's away from each other, but when those books were canceled, it was starting to feel like there were too many Wally Wests, and Heroes in Crisis seems to be the way to get rid of one of them.
5 DOESN'T: WHY BRING WALLY BACK ONLY TO BREAK HIM?
But then why bring the original Wally West back in the first place? Turning him into not only an accidental murderer but someone who also then covers up the crime in truly unheroic fashion seems like an insult to his resurrection. While King definitely gets to the root of this rebirth and its effects on Wally's mental state, it's hard to believe this was DC's plan when Wally returned.
After the New 52 erased Wally West from the new rebooted reality, there was a definite fan outcry to see the return of the first Wally West, so it works to bring the character back for some fan service. But to bring Wally back only to turn him into a murdering criminal just doesn't make any sense.
4 DOES: SANCTUARY WASN'T HELPING
It goes without saying that superheroes will experience an above average amount of trauma over the years, which usually gets labeled as just "part of the job." This is a theme King and Mann attempted to explore with Heroes in Crisis by giving heroes a place to go to recover from world-ending Crises and murders and other hazards of the job.
And while we saw characters like Gnarrk genuinely experience a positive change through their own personal ruminations, the majority of the other revelations throughout Heroes in Crisis didn't seem to provide much actual help or trauma-counseling. Wally spent weeks talking in circles to himself while making no progress with seemingly no help from Sanctuary, so the chances of him breaking were high.
3 DOESN'T: HOW COULD WALLY FOOL THE TWO BEST SUPERHERO DETECTIVES?
We'll get to the morality of his decision to cover-up his crime soon, but first, let's talk about the logistics. According to Wally in his confession to Sanctuary, he covered up his crime to buy himself time, setting up an overly elaborate scheme using the VR room to frame Booster Gold and Harley Quinn, but his reasons are questionable.
We know Wally needs to buy himself five days to "do something as good as what I'd done bad," but it's almost past the realm of believability that Wally would be able to manipulate the scene so much that Flash and Batman wouldn't see through the obvious deceptions. Especially when the bodies died from Speed Force energy, something Barry should be able to immediately identify.
2 DOES: WALLY WOULD STOP AT NOTHING TO SAVE HIS FAMILY
While the "hero loses control" element of the story makes the twist less believable, Wally's motivations behind his mental break are clear, although using the break to explain his actions is questionable. Regardless, Wally has always done everything he could to save his family, and if that's where Heroes in Crisis ends up taking Wally, it makes sense.
The cover-up, the distractions, even the murders, it all makes sense if Wally's purpose was to bring his family back to life. Does it justify his actions? Of course not. Wally purposefully manipulated two traumatized patients of Sanctuary into taking the fall for the massacre, a truly deplorable action. But maybe, just maybe, to Wally in his shattered state, the ends now justify the means if it brings his family home.
1 DOESN'T: WALLY WAS A HERO
It's easy to say Wally West was a hero, and he would never do what he did in Heroes in Crisis. But it's a true statement, Wally West was a hero. One of the greats. For many comic fans he is, was, and always will be the best Flash, largely due to Barry Allen being dead for decades while Wally filled his yellow boots.
When looking at the massacre itself, provided Wally wasn't able to control his powers or wasn't in his right mind and he still killed the various heroes of Sanctuary, there is still no reason for him to cover up the crimes while framing Booster and Harley. Wally is a hero, no matter how broken he may be after the loss of his family, and it's the main reason why this killer twist makes no sense.