Review: THE FLASH #771
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Jeremy Adams
Colours: Michael Atiyeh
Letters: Steve Wands
Reviewed By: Derek McNeil
The Flash #771: The Legion of Doom, Teen Titans Academy, Max Mercury’s Wild West origins, and more! Wally West’s leaps from speedster to speedster throughout time draws to a close as he begins to realize why he’s been sent on his quest by the Speed Force and what might be behind it. But with one last stop before he’s allowed to go home, will this journey break Wally forever or return him to glory?
In Jeremy Adam’s first story arc, Wally’s consciousness has been jumping into different speedsters of different eras – or should we say “leaping”? There is clearly more than a passing resemblance to the classic TV show Quantum Leap. However, the arc seems to be approaching it’s end, as we see Wally in multiple eras, not just a single one.
First, it appears that Wally has somehow left the main DCU altogether, and wound up in the world of the Super Friends. He finds himself in the body of Reverse Flash, about to be inducted into the Legion of Doom. Adams is having a blast in this section of the story, which lightens up on the seriousness a bit and leans into the comedy. I especially love seeing Luthor’s obvious jealousy at seeing another villain being the one to kill Superman.
Next, we see a number of single page peeks at a number of other leaps Wally makes. It would have been great to see some of these fleshed out into full stories. However, the rapid succession of scenarios does underscore Wally’s exhaustion and longing to finally get back home.
The one scenario that surprised me was the reappearance of Mopee. That is quite the obscure Silver Age reference. Mopee first appeared in The Flash #167 (Feb 1967) in a story that featured one of DC’s earliest and most egregious retcons. Mopee was an magical being who claimed to have given Barry his powers. In this story, he took Barry’s powers back. Luckily, this retcon was ignored afterwards and generally assumed to be apocryphal. It’s surprising that Adams would reinsert this story back into continuity, but I am guessing that Mopee is really just another imp from the Fifth Dimension, and lied about giving Barry his powers.
The next leap is the highlight of the issue. Wally lands in the body of his son Jai twenty years in the future, facing his grown up daughter Irey. However, Irey is expecting him, revealing that Wally had told his children this story many times. This section of the story is a bit more serious, and gives us some intriguing hints about this future timeline.
Irey reveals, “Turns out… I might be stronger in the Speed Force than you were… or anyone for that matter”. This hints at some very interesting future stories ahead for Irey, who is one of my favourite characters. Also, she lets slip that she’s married, but won’t tell Wally to who, except that “you hate him”. When Wally presses for information about Jai’s love life, Irey states that “Jai’s dating this girl…she’s a bit much. Time-traveller… I think she’s giving you an ulcer” – which sounds a lot like Gold Beetle.
The most important part of their conversation comes when Wally speaks of his having made the right choice to retire from the superhero life. Irey’s reaction is to do a spit take and laugh at the idea of Wally retiring. Wally believes that he is keeping his family safe by retiring. However, Irey denies this, “You did keep us safe. You taught us to use our powers for good. You taught us that being a hero is doing the right thing no matter what. You didn’t just teach us how to survive, Dad. You taught us how to thrive”. Hopefully, Wally will take these words to heart and change his mind about quitting the hero game when he gets back to his own time.
However, he has one major ordeal left before getting home: his final leap. This time, the speedster he is inhabiting is himself – but at the very lowest point of his life. He finds himself at the moment that he lost control and accidentally killed the other heroes at Sanctuary in Heroes In Crisis. The Flash #771 ends on this cliffhanger, guaranteeing that the conclusion in The Flash 2021 Annual will be an major event in Wally’s life.
I have mixed feelings about Heroes In Crisis. While the story was powerful and had some great moments, I feel that it was an ordeal that didn’t Wally should never have been put through. Also, I didn’t think the idea of Wally losing control of the Speed Force made any sense. The Speed Force was never elsewhere portrayed as a destructive force that DC’s speedsters had to keep under control.
The Speed Force surges throughout time, however, may offer a better explanation. I could accept that it was one of these surges that caused those deaths, rather than Wally “losing control” of the Speed Force. And maybe, like Sam Beckett, Wally will be able to “put right what once went wrong” and prevent all or at least some of those deaths.
The Flash #771 has a beautiful variant cover featuring scenes that highlight the friendship of Wally and Roy Harper a.k.a. Speedy a.k.a. Arsenal. Clearly Roy will be a major part of the final chapter of this story arc. But one of these scenes features a certain character whose death was unnecessary and who deserves to be resurrected.
To continue with the Quantum Leap analogy, the final episode of that show saw Sam Beckett, in his final leap of the show, choosing to fix the worst thing to happen to his best friend Al. Before he returns to his own time, I would love to see Wally make a stop to the time of Justice League: Cry For Justice and prevent the death of Roy’s daughter Lian. I don’t know if that’s likely, but that’s the way I would end the story if I were Jeremy Adams.
In The Flash #771, we get a whole slew of guest artists. Showing each different era portrayed by different artists in their own styles is quite an effective device. This gives each scenario its own feel and tone. Kevin Maguire’s art style is particularly effective at evoking the feel of the Super Friends cartoons. I love that he also threw in references like Luthor’s armoured battlesuit and his ship, the Lex Soar Seven from the Super Powers toy line.
Oh, hell no! There’s not a single thing wrong with this issue. This is Adams’ best issue yet, and each page was a visual treat.
If anyone had any lingering doubts that Jeremy Adams has the chops to follow in the footsteps of Joshua Williamson, Mark Waid, or Gardner Fox, then The Flash #771 will alleviate them. Adams clearly understands the Wally West and will treat him with the respect the character deserves. I can’t wait to get my hands on The Flash 2021 Annual to see how this storyline wraps up.