Timelines and multiverses begin to collide as Wally copes with his newly regained memories. Who is responsible for the changes in the timeline, and why was Wally such a prime target? Meanwhile, in the shadows, a few familiar faces plot new challenges for the Flash Family. War is on the horizon.
THE FLASH (2016) #46 “Road to Flash War”
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artist: Scott Kolins
Letters: Steve Wands
Cover Artist: Dan Panosian; variant by Francesco Mattina
Colorist: Luis Guerrero
Publisher: DC COMICS
What You Need to Know:
One of the hardest hit titles by the “Flashpoint”, “New 52”, and “Rebirth” cycle has been The Flash. Wally was plucked from time, omitted from the New 52 timeline, and replaced by another Wallace West character. Reverse Flash was rewritten as Wallace’s father. Hunter Zolomon, aka Professor Zoom, was also erased from the New 52. Upon the launch of “Rebirth”, Wally returned, coexisting with Wallace, but with his memories damaged and scattered. All memory of him was temporarily stifled as well, which erased his relationship with his wife, Linda Park, and by extension, his children. Last issue, when Wally reconnected with his Aunt Iris, he found himself flooded with more memories of a forgotten time than he alone could handle.
What You’ll Find Out:
The issue opens with a recap of Zoom’s origins for newer readers—a tale of a man, cast off by society yet embraced by Wally West as a friend until Zolomon transforms himself into Zoom to carry on the tradition of villains with the aim to make their counterpart heroes the best they can be. As Zoom ruminates in his cell, the prison is raided by Eobard Thawne, The Reverse Flash, recruiting him for a team up to realize their dreams (there is no such disclaimer, but I would assume these events take place before “The Button” story-arc, although time travel in the DCU can be tricky, particularly when these two are involved).
Barry and Iris are shown in a montage sequence parading Wally around the greatest minds of the DCU searching for answers to the cause of Wally’s fractured mind and memories to no avail. Frustration and resentment begin to set in for Wally, who demands no more testing. In yet another testing sequence, this time with Cyborg and his father, we begin to see first hand the manifestations of Wally’s trauma. As he is talking to Victor, he begins to see Victor as he has existed in other times and places (including the iconic George Perez romper from the 80s). This would seem to indicate not simply memories, but temporal distortions, reaching beyond “Crisis on Infinite Earths” even. If the previous theory was that Wally is from a pre-Flashpoint timeline, whereas “Rebirth” is an extension of the post-Flashpoint DCU, then these images suggest a larger conspiracy at work that could threaten to unravel the very underpinnings of all DCU continuity-altering events.
Wally flees, seeking some time to himself, and Barry seeks help from the patriarch of one of DC’s largest extended families—Batman. Fortunately for Barry, Bruce is out, so he gets answers to his questions from a much more reliable source in one of the more emotional sequences in an emotional issue.
Back in the 25th century, Zoom and Reverse Flash argue regarding whether or not the Flashes can be changed. Thawne has given up hope, but Zolomon insists his plan can work. Frustrated, Thawne takes off for the 21st century, where he falls victim to the events of “The Button” and dies. Thawne’s death breaks Zoom’s belief that the Flashes can be better, and more so his belief that they deserve to be better, prompting Zoom to alter his plans and declare war.
The danger of such a declaration can be clearly seen in the previous sequence. When Wally is troubled, he runs, but he does not just run anywhere. He has certain places from his past that he runs to, as opposed to simply running away from something else, the mark of a truly great Flash. Zolomon narrates Wally’s therapeutic run through places of past defeat and victory, which ends at the Flash Museum. As Wally looks around the museum and its various memorials and tributes, he explains that it has always been a place of peace for him (there is an interesting plaque depicting major Flash moments). The problem is, in this timeline, there is no Flash Museum. Not only does Wally remember it, but so too does Zolomon, tying the two together intimately in whatever this great conspiracy may be.
What Just Happened?
As we prepare for “Flash War” it is becoming readily apparent that there are major changes on the horizon for the Flash Family, and perhaps the greater DCU at large. Wally remembering pre-Flashpoint details can be easily dismissed as a man displaced in both time and world, but that dismissal fails to explain why the others have begun to remember Wally as well. There is a schism in the continuity of the Rebirth Earth, one that will need to be resolved in the near future. From this current vantage point, it is difficult to predict with any accuracy where this all may be headed (although one can say with some certainty that Doomsday Clock and the events in Detective Comics, particularly issue #980, are all intricately linked together in a wide-sweeping Epic Event). For now, we prepare for a war that will determine the future of the Family and hope that the casualties are not too great.
Final Thought: I have truly enjoyed the past several issues of The Flash, and as a longtime fan, I am worried about what comes next for Barry and Wally, but I can’t wait to see what Williamson and company have in store for us. This title has really hit its stride, banking on an emotional core and a nostalgic draw that Williamson executes extremely well. And how about that GORGEOUS variant cover from Mattina? Be still my beating heart!
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