SPOILER ALERT: This article contains major spoilers for "The Flash" #9, on sale now.
Ever since the return of Classic Wally West in the pages of "DC Comics Rebirth," it was inevitable that he would eventually meet the New 52 Wally West, who very recently became Kid Flash. In "The Flash" #9 by Josh Williamson and Jorge Corona, readers finally see how the two Wallys interact, in the process giving a bit of shape to a relationship that has been only vaguely defined thus far. Along the way, there are further reveals about the nature of the Rebirth continuity and the mysterious figures behind it. But the big surprise this issue is the final page reveal, presaging the return of yet another speedster -- Jay Garrick, the original Flash.
Wally West of Two Worlds
Since this article discusses two characters named Wally West and two heroes who call themselves the Flash, for clarity New 52 Wally will be referred to as Kid Flash, Old School Wally will be Wally Flash, and Barry Allen will be Barry Flash, or just Barry.
Yeah, Kid Flash, "you don't know the half of it." Because even after their first adventure as a team, even after a heart to heart in their "civvies," even after an off-page training session, nobody actually tells Kid Flash that his new speedster friend is also named Wally West. Or that they're -- cousins, is that what we're going with? Cousins who have never met, but were both raised by Iris except she doesn't remember Wally Flash? -- yeah, maybe it's best they didn't try to explain it just yet.
The Speed Force, Corrupted
When the two Wallys shake hands, it's Barry who gets a shock -- he's suddenly flooded with Speed Force energy and begins lashing out from a pretty dark place. "What's the point," he asks, of the things they can do? He shouts that both his proteges' parents "abandoned" them, revealing to Kid Flash that Daniel West, the New 52 Reverse Flash, was not his uncle but his father. Harsh.
Barry further berates Wally Flash that he's not fit to carry on the Flash legacy, and then is consumed by the Speed Force, where Zoom taunts him that Barry will "run alone forever." The two Wallys together serve as Barry's "anchor" to the world, though, and pull him out of the Speed Force before he can disappear forever.
With the immediate danger now passed, Kid Flash has a moment to acknowledge the blow he's just been dealt regarding "Uncle" Daniel, and the fact that both Barry and Iris have withheld the truth from him. He runs off, but later Wally Flash catches up with him for comfort, as they share not only the experience of running as the Flash's sidekick but also difficult family lives. It should be noted that Kid Flash recognizes Wally Flash right away, despite being out of costume. "That red hair is a giveaway, dude."
What else did Barry see in the Speed Force?
Barry says "I don't know what it was but… it filled me with hope."
Jay Garrick was the original, Golden Age Flash, debuting way back in 1940's "Flash Comics" #1. His first team up with Barry Allen in "Flash" #123 in 1961 (the cover of which was homaged on this issue) also marked the debut of DC Comics' multiverse, as Jay was said to inhabit the parallel world of Earth 2. These concepts will also be familiar to viewers of television's "The Flash," where a false Jay Garrick was the primary villain of season two before the true hero was revealed -- here, too, the helmet represents "hope."
This version of Jay Garrick, though -- who had been allowed to age and often served as a mentor to Wally West during his tenure as the main Flash -- has been absent since "Flashpoint." The New 52 Earth 2 is an entirely different place, one in perpetual conflict after a devastating war with Darkseid. The heroes of this world bear the names of many 1940s-era characters, but are significantly changed. The Jay Garrick of this world is also the Flash, but he's a young man with an entirely different costume and history.
Barry also comments that the helmet is "something I wasn't supposed to see," suggesting that the person behind his Speed Force trances is the same person who manipulated the timestream. Barry says this adversary is slipping, though, because the two Wallys were not supposed to meet, and Wally Flash was not "meant to return." And yet he did. It's a short leap to the conclusion that the same is true of Jay Garrick -- here's hoping we find out sooner than later.