Review: The Flash #9

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Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artist: Jorge Corona

Summary
It’s Halloween in Central City and Barry and Wally (the younger) are with Iris in her office at Central City Picture News. Barry notices that someone has sent her flowers and Iris explains that she doesn’t know who sends them, they just arrive weekly with no note.

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When they learn of an accident on the Keystone bridge, Iris leaves to get the story, while Barry and Wally also depart to help as the Flash and Kid Flash – separately, because, as Wally explains, the Flash has not revealed his true identity to him yet.

At the bridge, the Flash explains to Wally that fixing the bridge would be better than pulling all the people off the bridge at super-speed. As Barry does so, a car starts to explode behind Wally. Luckily, Wally’s cousin, the elder Wally West arrives on the scene and stops the explosion by stealing speed from it.

Kid Flash doesn’t recognize the elder Wally, and assumes he’s one of the speedsters granted speed by the Speed Force storm that hit Central City a few issues back. Barry says that this someone else, a friend of his. The elder Wally introduces himself as also being called “The Flash,” which leaves Kid Flash a bit confused. Barry explains that he also trained this other Flash like he is training Kid Flash.

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As the two Wallys shake hands, their contact causes a disruption in the Speed Force that causes Barry to have a vision of future events. Then Barry starts an angry rant about the uselessness of saving people who don’t want to be saved. Then Barry reveals that Daniel West, the Reverse Flash, is not the younger Wally’s uncle, but actually his father. We then see an image of Zoom telling Barry that he is destined to run alone forever.

The elder Wally realizes that Barry is being absorbed into the Speed Force, and that he needs to find an anchor to pull him back to the real world. Kid Flash suggests that maybe he and his cousin can pull Barry back if they do it together. Happily, this succeeds.

Barry explains that it wasn’t really him saying those harsh words – that it was like his heart had been removed, but Kid Flash interrupts, demanding to know if it’s true that Daniel West is his father. Barry admits that this is true, and Kid Flash runs off. The elder Wally tells Barry that it’s best to not follow and just let him run it off.

Later that night, the elder Wally, out of costume, finds his cousin to have a talk with him. Wally recognizes his older cousin, even without the Flash costume, but the elder Wally says he can’t tell him who he really is yet. The younger cousin unburdens his feelings about finding out that his super villain uncle is actually his father, and the elder sympathizes and tells him about his troubles with his own parents.

Wally also tells his younger cousin that someday he will challenge Barry to a race and that Barry will let him win. He advises to not let Barry do so, but to beat him fair and square, and that it will be worth it. Finally, Wally offers to show Kid Flash how he stopped the explosion earlier.

Later, Barry and the elder Wally are having a discussion. Barry is glad that Wally talked to his cousin, but asks the real reason Wally is in Central City. Wally explains that he wanted to bring Barry up to date on the encounter between the Titans and Abra Kadabra (in the Titans series).

Barry guesses correctly that Wally is the one giving flowers to Iris. Barry suggests that Wally should go see Iris, but Wally insists that he won’t until they find and deal with whoever has been manipulating the timeline, he will keep away from Iris to keep her safe.

Considering what Wally has told him about Abra Kadabra, Barry concludes that someone else is the person who changed history, and that whoever it is isn’t done with them. He also believes that this foe never intended the two Wallys to meet, or for Wally to return.

Barry also mentions one last vision he had in the Speed Force, something he doesn’t think he was meant to see, but something that somehow filled him with hope. It’s not clear whether Barry knows what it is, but the image is clearly the winged helmet of Jay Garrick – the Golden Age Flash.

Positives
Finally, we get to see the two Wallys meet! However, Wallys touch does not cause Kid Flash’s memories to return, and he doesn’t fill his cousin in on who he really is, so there is still a fair bit unresolved between them.

It seems to me that the elder Wally’s advice to his namesake win his race against Barry is referring to Wally’s struggle to live up to Barry’s legacy when he took up the mantle of the Flash. Wally finally came into his own as the Flash when he finally realized that he needed to surpass Barry, metaphorically winning his race against Barry. This metaphor is nice reminder that the writers are being mindful of Wally’s role in the legacy of the Flash.

The big revelation at the end of the issue makes it clear that Jay Garrick will be returning at some point in the future. I also enjoyed the foreshadowing of this revelation spread through the issue:

  • The accident takes place on the Keystone Bridge, that is, the bridge that connects Central City to Keystone City, home of the Golden Age Flash.
  • Kid Flash states that there being two Flashes is confusing, and his cousin replies, “You don’t know the half of it” – hinting that there is more than just a second Flash.
  • The cover is patterned after that of The Flash #123 (Sept. 1961) where Barry first met Jay Garrick  and the story is titled “Kid Flash of Two Worlds!” after “Flash of Two Worlds!” the story featured in that issue.
  • The variant cover features a statue of Hermes/Mercury, wearing an identical helmet to Jay’s. Also, the story title “Kid Flash of Two Worlds!” is a play on “Flash of Two Worlds!” the title of the story in which Barry met Jay.

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Also, some more hints about the Rebirth storyline. We have confirmation that Abra Kadabra may be involved, but that he isn’t the main villain. The revelation about Jay Garrick adds to the evidence that the Justice Society is returning to the DC Universe. Also, there is evidence that things are happening that the villain messing with history didn’t intend: Wally’s return and the two Wallys meeting. This gives hope that either the villain isn’t able to foresee everything, or someone is acting against him.

Negatives
I don’t like that the elder Wally is keeping his distance from Iris, but I can understand his reasoning, given what happened with Linda Park in the current Titans storyline. Also, I think he could be a little more open with his younger cousin, but there should be plenty of opportunities in future issues for him to open up with his Aunt and cousin.

Verdict
An amazing issue that has delivered a lot of items that I’ve been waiting for: the meeting of the former and current Kid Flashes, more Rebirth hints, and the promised return of the Golden Age Flash. I could hardly ask for anything more from a single regular issue.

4.5outof5

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Derek McNeil

I have been an avid reader of DC Comics since the early 70s. My earliest exposure was to Batman and Superman comics, Batman (Adam West) reruns, and watching the Super-Friends every Saturday morning.