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My Name Is Wally West...

All-Flash #1
writer: Mark Waid
artists: various

When last we saw Wally West, he had emerged from …elsewhere… dazed and confused but clutching his family. Welcomed by his extended family, the Justice League of America, it looked like things were looking up for the Flash.

Then take a look at the cover of All-Flash #1. Both that and the first page (some of Karl Kerschl's best work) portray a Wally West without a trace of a smile. You see, in a rare moment of editorial confluence, the very same day that Wally returned from the Speed Force in Justice League of America #10, his cousin Bart Allen ran his very last race in Flash, the Fastest Man Alive #13. There's a reason for that really good timing, and one that haunts Wally throughout this issue.

It's been just over a year since Wally "retired." With All-Flash #1, it's as if he and Mark Waid writing him had never left, so smoothly do the character and creator just pick up and run. From page one, this is the Flash we've been missing - "My name is Wally West. I'm the Flash. The Fastest Man Alive. And I'm still …too …late."

He can't save Bart; sorry, Wally, but that was an editorial decision. In Waid's hands, he can quickly re-assert himself as the hero we've loved for over twenty years while also going over in a nutshell what has happened in Bart's life.

Some of it you do have to shrug off as Silver Age, take it for granted, sort of plot points. As summarized here, the whole issue of Iris Allen being from the future, having spent time in the future with Barry Allen and coming back again does make one wonder. How did that work again? And it may be a quirk of inking over Joe Bennett's pencils, but Waid seems to imply that Iris and Barry had a longer happier life in the future than we may think of it. In this case, then, thank heavens for those continuity punches.

Replaying a moment or two of Flash #13 also goes far to reassert how Waid treats the Rogues' Gallery. As I chose to believe was going on, but Waid makes explicit, they're horrified by what they've done. It's not that at heart they're decent people, but that with the possible exception of Mirror Master, they've got a sense of honor.

They also get taken down elsewhere by what appears to be the Secret Society of Super-Villains. Clearly, the answer to why that's happening is supposed to be coming in Countdown, but it makes for a minor annoyance here, a flaw in an otherwise well-done story.

In the last two pages of the book, Waid and his new creative Flash-partner Daniel Acuna lay hints of what's to come starting with Flash #231. That numbering nods to the previous series, and though it's a nice touch, it's also clear that All Flash would make a better title. They've got some cool stuff coming our way, and as he has been doing in Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes and Brave and the Bold, Waid looks to continue his commitment to making accessible, fun books for all ages.

The Fastest Man Alive is back. And he's brought a good comic book with him.

Hey, write to us and let us know what you think, or talk about it on the forums!

Derek McCaw


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