Since the start of Rebirth last summer, we’ve been treated to some great stories in the pages of our favorite comics, but the larger story of what’s going on in the DC Universe has been unfolding slowly. There have been pieces revealed—a realization here, a surprising character there. But this week, in the pages of the just released THE FLASH #9, we were given some of the most significant revelations since the whole thing kicked off DC UNIVERSE: REBIRTH. Even better, they took place in a single-issue story that also serves as a nice tribute to the different ages and eras of the World’s Fastest Man.
If you’re a DC Comics fan, this issue is the very definition of a must-read. It’s probably the closest thing we have to a chapter 2 in the Rebirth story right now, and it’s one you’re going to want to pick up even if you haven’t been reading The Flash. If you haven’t yet read Flash #9, you should probably do that now and return to this post after you’re done reading it because we’re about to discuss the story. If you do keep reading, well, consider yourself properly SPOILER ALERTED.
Now, are you ready? Let’s discuss what happened when Wally West met Wally West.
A Fast-Paced Tribute
Along with its twists, The Flash #9 is a pretty nifty tribute to the Flash’s 75-year legacy starting with the cover, which is an homage to the famous cover of THE FLASH #123. That’s the issue when Barry Allen met Jay Garrick for the first time, giving birth to the entire DC Multiverse in the process. It’s an image that most Flash fans know, and this isn’t the first time modern day Flash creators have paid tribute to it. The Flash TV show also recreated the image in season two.
But the cover image is just the beginning. The story’s title, “Kid Flash of Two Worlds” is also an obvious riff on Flash #123’s “The Flash of Two Worlds,” while the story itself is full of discussion on legacy and what it means to be a Flash. There are references to races between the Flashes, the burden of keeping your identity secret and even a fun reference to the Golden Age of comics—a nod to how Barry Allen revealed he had read about Jay’s adventures in the pages of Golden Age comic books in issue #123.
Finally, much like that iconic story was built around an important first-time team-up, so is this one. Only this time, the two Flashes meeting each other for the first time are the two Wally Wests.
What’s In a Name?
The fact that there are now two Wally Wests in the DC Universe, and that they’re both a part of the Flash family, is one of its neater quirks. Initially introduced as a part of the New 52 reboot, it’s unlikely that the younger, African-American Wally West was ever intended to share the stage with the prior Wally West. However, all that changed with DC Universe: Rebirth, which brought back the previous Wally West and explained the common last name by revealing that they were both distantly related to each other. In Geoff Johns’ comic, the older Wally is seen observing his younger cousin, but they never meet, and despite the young Wally’s adopting of the Kid Flash moniker, the two still hadn’t met until this week.
When they do, like the two Flashes before them, the two Wally Wests get along swimmingly, teaming up to save Barry and wrapping things up with the older Wally passing down some good advice to the younger one. It’s a moment where they share a bit of their pasts with each other and it’s made clear how important the Flash was to each of them as they were growing up. It acknowledges the accomplishments of both Wallys, while also accepting the fact that none of it would have been possible without the influence of Barry Allen and all that he’s done as the Scarlet Speedster.
That’s not to say their meeting is without complications. The moment the Wallys shake hands it creates a disturbance in the Speed Force that gives Barry a violent vision (somewhat reminiscent of the ones he had in FLASHPOINT) and nearly wipes him out of existence the same way Wally was almost destroyed in DC Universe: Rebirth. As Barry mentions later in the comic, they clearly weren’t supposed to meet and the older Wally wasn’t meant to return. Barry is obviously referring to the forces who have been messing with the timeline, but it’s hard not to read a small little wink from writer Joshua Williamson in the statement.
But speaking of the timeline, “Kid Flash of Two Worlds” also dives deeply into the greater story unfolding within the DC Universe. The Flash’s vision seems to reveal a destroyed Central City with villains run amok and teases the return of Zoom, who torments Barry by saying he’s destined to run alone forever. Considering the key role the Flash plays in all Multiverse-affecting events, this could very well be the first echoes we’re getting to where things are heading, especially considering the last time the Speed Force gave Barry a vision, way back in THE FLASH: REBIRTH #1, much of what it showed him came to pass.
Of course, the real excitement comes at the end of this issue, in which Wally and Barry check in with each other for the first time since the former went off to find the Titans. Wally brings Barry up to speed on his dealing with Abra Kadabra, and together they realize that while the magician may have been the one who made the world forget about Wally, he wasn’t responsible for changing history—those people are still out there.
We readers know this, but the Flashes are still piecing it together, and they discover it thanks to a final vision Barry received when he became lost in the Speed Force. An image of an instantly recognizable helmet that belonged to the very man at the heart of the issue this comic pays tribute to—Jay Garrick.
Is Jay returning to Earth Prime? Will we soon be in for another amazing Flash reunion? Only time will tell, but until then, we’re going to take a page from our favorite speedsters and race to comic store each week until we find out.
THE FLASH #9 by Joshua Williamson, Jorge Corona and Ivan Plascencia is now available in stores and as a digital download.