Wally West's trip through the Speed Force lands him back at Sanctuary, and the worst failing of his life...
But an old enemy returns from the void, and all is revealed to be not quite what readers thought!
Warning! Spoilers ahead!
…Okay, you were warned!
Wally West fans, rejoice: Heroes in Crisis has been undone!
The events at Sanctuary still occurred, sadly. But Wally West has been relieved of his culpability, granting this decades-great character the return to form he’s so sorely deserved since being dragged through the mud in HiC.
And as it turns out, writer Jeremy Adams has cleverly been building to this moment from the very start of “Blink of an Eye,” his freshman outing as Flash writer. If Wally West was to ever truly regain his well-earned mantle as the Flash, the events at Sanctuary would have to be dealt with.
Throughout DC’s Rebirth era, Wally was back (a gift if there ever was one for Wally fans reeling from his permanent benching post-Flashpoint), but not really back-back. DC made it clear that Barry Allen was The (capital T) Flash, and kept finding ways to keep Wally on the sidelines, culminating with him murdering other heroes, then staging his own death by murdering his future self in order to subvert the Justice League’s investigation. It was easily Wally’s lowest point, and spat in the eyes of Wally fans everywhere. (You can read some of Comic Watch’s choice thoughts on HiC here, here, and here.)
But now, Wally West is BACK, BABY!
The one and only, accept-no-substitutes FLASH!
And folks, if you couldn’t tell, this reviewer could not be more thrilled. Adams clearly has a deep affection for the character, and it shows. In Adams’ hands, Wally’s history is brought to life, particularly with the inclusion of the surprise villain hearkening back to the classic Mark Waid era. Wally’s characterization is spot-on, and at last, moves past the sins of HiC – hopefully, this means it will never be mentioned again (although with a certain scarlet bowman making waves in Infinite Frontier, you never know).
Of course, all of this requires a pretty dense understanding of Flash and Wally history, and that density is where Adams’ script stumbles just the littlest bit. Flash Annual 2021 is absolutely not new-reader friendly, but sometimes – especially when it comes to finales – that’s unavoidable. But be forewarned, without a pretty comprehensive knowledge of Flash lore, the vagaries of the Speed Force, and HiC, this issue might leave newer fans a bit confused. It’s a small price to pay for such a grand course-correction, however.
The art, by Fernando Pasarin and Brandon Peterson, is a bit of a more mixed bag, though. Pasarin has a style reminiscent of Ivan Reis’ best Green Lantern work from the ’00s, and it looks great (though I wish he would give Wally more of a lean, runner’s build as opposed to a bulky, standard superhero one). Pasarain is asked to do good, in a crucial chapter in Wally West’s life, and more than exceeds in his assignment. I wish, though, I could say the same for veteran artist Brandon Peterson, whose work continues to be dragged into the uncanny valley and is simply… off to look at. Some of it is the extremely noticeable digital coloring, which brings a bizarre unreality to his pencils, but others are the angles Peterson chooses to deploy, which have a flair for the melodramatic. Neither style gels very well with one another, which leads to a less-than-optimal flow from scene to scene as the pencillers change hands.
Flash Annual 2021 successfully concludes the triumphant of Wally West to the Flash mantle. It rectifies the sins of the recent past, and at last allows the character to move forward. Do yourself a favor and don't miss out on this one.
Flash Annual 2021: Heroes in Retconning! (SPOILERS!)
Writing - 10/1010/10
Storyline - 9.5/109.5/10
Art - 7/107/10
Color - 7.5/107.5/10
Cover Art - 6/106/10
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