Review: FLASH FORWARD #5
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Scott Lobdell
Aritists: Brett Booth, Norm Rapmund
Colours: Luis Guerrero
Letters: ALW’s Troy Peteri
Reviewed By: Derek McNeil
Flash Forward #5: Wally West has gotten to the heart of his mission to save the Multiverse…and the heart he found was his own. When it’s discovered that the dark multiversal world that’s threatening all of existence is the world in which Wally’s children are alive, our hero must overcome his greatest fears, regrets, and anger to do what’s right. But what’s right is the hardest thing anyone would ever imagine doing…letting go.
During the course of this miniseries, Wally West has been travelling from Earth to Earth, fighting attacks from the Dark Multiverse into the DC Multiverse. Up to this point, little explanation has been offered to what has been causing these attacks. With Flash Forward #5 finally starts to give us some hints about this. As this is the penultimate issue, it sets up the finale, where presumably Wally will have to face whatever is behind this crisis. However, it may well be that Wally himself is the cause of this threat.
The Dark Multiverse’s assault is centred around a mysterious planet, which Tempus Fuginaut refers to as the “incursion point”. Very oddly, someone has erected a monument to the heroes that Wally accidentally killed in Heroes In Crisis. And somehow, Wally’s children, Jay and Irey, have been revealed to be on this planet, rather than having been wiped out of existence, as previously thought.
Clearly, this world is connected to Wally somehow. But how? One possibility is that someone has a grudge against Wally, and has brought his children to this world. The other possibility is that Wally himself has somehow unconsciously created this world.
It seems to me that the latter would explain a lot. Who else but Wally would be concerned with the dead heroes. A vengeful friend or relative would be looking for revenge for one or a few of them, but only Wally would be obsessed with both.
If Wally has somehow unconsciously created this world, then it seems to follow that the Jai and Irey on this world are also creations of his mind. This seems more likely than positing that some mysterious villain has discovered this world and placed them there. It also seems unlikely that the two children would have been able to survive for months on their own on a hostile world.
I found it interesting to see the Mobius Chair make an appearance. The chair seems to be ideally suited for use in stories as a repository of hidden or forbidden knowledge. It’s more suitable that Wally learns about his true role in the scheme of things from this established item of DC lore rather than creating some new entity to impart the knowledge.
I also found Fuginaut’s declaration, “Be grateful that it did not require you to sit. This time” intriguing for a few reasons. First, it seems to imply that the chair is not just an object, but has its own motivations for imparting or withholding knowledge.
Also, implies that something more dramatic would happen if Wally had sat in the chair. In the Justice League: Darkseid War storyline, sitting in the chair transformed Batman temporarily into a god of knowledge. Would the same or a similar transformation have happened to Wally? The words “this time” implies that we might get the answer to this question before the end of this story.
It is clear that the chair has imparted some important knowledge to Wally, but the implications are not fully clear to us yet. But this knowledge seems both comforting and disturbing to Wally. He cautiously thanks the chair for the revelation, but also berates Fuginaut over it.
And then Fuginaut informs Wally that he is the only one who can destroy this world because he is the one that created it. But this revelation is no comfort to Wally. Chillingly, he declares, “But the price you’re asking…I can’t. Not now. Not ever!”. Even more so is the next issue blurb: “The End– in every way you can imagine”. I certainly hope not, as this could include possibilities such as Wally dying or becoming something other than the Flash.
I suspect at the least that it means that Wally will have to let Jai and Irey perish with this world he has created. That will not be as bad as it seems, if it turns out that they are not his real kids, but constructs of Wally’s unconscious mind. But not if they are the real Jai and Irey.
I will be very displeased if we are told that Jai and Irey are never coming back and that Wally has to resolve himself to that. Having to let go of these constructs he has created to fill the void they have left is one thing, but I still want to see them brought back into proper DC continuity at some point.
And I will extremely upset if this story is leading towards Wally’s death. I can possibly accept his transitioning to another identity or role in the DCU, depending on what that is. If the transformation truly evolves the character, that could be a fascinating option, but Lobdell needs to sell it as a true evolution and not a random change for change’s sake.
I have quite enjoyed this miniseries so far, but Flash Forward #5 has made me realize something about the series. My overall satisfaction with it hangs on where it leaves Wally when it concludes. At this point, it could end up being the redemption that the character badly needed, but there are some worrying signs that DC is about to crap on the character once again. I am hoping that next issue, Lobdell steps up and delivers the former.