[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers.]
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artist: Howard Porter, Christian Duce
Reviewed By: Derek McNeil
“FLASH WAR” prelude! The biggest Flash story of 2018 starts here, with a special story starring the classic Wally West, who’s conflicted over whether to let Iris West know he is alive—and he’ll need the help of the Flash to figure out what to do! But when Magenta, Wally’s old love, needs his help, the Flash returns home to Keystone City where he is confronted with violent memories of an unknown world…A major turning point for the Flash family that sets the path for earth shattering stories in 2018!
In this annual, the main story is bookended by a story set in the Flash Museum in the 25th Century. This story contains the aftermath of Barry and the Reverse-Flash’s battle in issues #25-27. The police are investigating to figure out what happened in the museum.
In several panels we see background details that give fascinating glimpses at things that may or may not be part of Flash history. One panel shows statues of Max Mercury and Johnny Quick, neither of which have appeared in the New 52/Rebirth continuity so far. Plus a statue of the Impulse – the version of Bart who was in the New 52 continuity was never Impulse.
However, we cannot be certain that this means any of these characters will definitely be returned to DCU canon, as we are told that there is something wrong with time and that something has damaged the Speed Force across time and space. Therefore making history as shown in the museum somewhat questionable.
Back in the present day, we see Barry and both Wally Wests in action against the Top before having a discussion over lunch. Apparently Barry and Wally have let the younger Wally in on the secret of who he really is, as they openly discuss Wally keeping that same secret from Iris.
When I first read about the premise behind “The Flash War,” I found it hard to believe that a conflict could set Barry and Wally against each other, but Williamson appears to have found the only thing that could believably come between Barry and Wally – the wellbeing of Iris. Although, they only engage in a brief argument here that is quickly patched up, it indicates that if one did something that the other saw as harmful to Iris, then that could conceivably set them at odds.
Feeling lonely, Wally seeks out his old girlfriend Frances Kane. This turns out to be an unwise decision, as it brings out her darker personality Magenta. Interestingly, Magenta also seems to remember living with Wally in the mansion he bought after winning the lottery, which indicates that at least the early issues of Wally’s series is in the official continuity again.
Finally, we return to the 25th Century to learn that the future authorities have determined that Iris has killed Eobard Thawne and a group is dispatched to the past to capture her and bring her to face justice for this crime. This group, called the Renegades is based on the Rogues and led by Commander Cold.
The final revelation is that these events are being manipulated by a villain to make the Flashes go to war. This villain is Hunter Zolomon, a.k.a. Zoom, whose motive is “to make the one, true Flash into the hero we need.” However, he does not say which Flash he feels to be the one, true Flash or what exactly what it is we need him for.
Okay, how many Reverse-Flashes do we actually need? There’s Daniel West (currently deceased, but will likely return at some point), Eobard Thawne who is known as the Reverse-Flash and Professor Zoom, and now Zoom has been returned to continuity. Also, there is a Negative-Flash (Meena Dhawan). It’s getting to be a bit confusing. However, Hunter Zolomon is an interesting contradiction in that his motivation for fighting the Flash is to force the Flash to improve. But hopefully they are planning more for him that just to be another opposite version of the Flash.
Also, I was a bit disappointed that the original Wally let his younger namesake in on his secret off-panel. I would have really like to have seen that conversation. But the important thing is that they finally had that conversation.
The only other complaint I have is that it’s a bit of a mean trick to get us all hyped up for “The Flash War” when it doesn’t start until #46 in April, after the current Grodd storyline concludes. However, it does appear that some elements bridging this prelude to the main event will occur during the intervening issues, with Wally intending to finally face Iris next issue (#40).
This story reminds me of how much I miss Wally’s comic and the supporting cast that was written out of the DC canon with the New 52 reboot. It gives me hope that many of those characters are going to be coming back soon. I am also reminded of how much I miss seeing Barry and Wally working together. I hope this storyline isn’t leading to one or the other giving up the Flash identity, but rather to affirm that there is room in the DCU for two Flashes (or three once Jay Garrick returns).