The Green Lantern Corps Podcast

Wally West from Kid Flash to the Flash

Posted in flash,Profiles by mrread7 on April 11, 2009

Talking about the third Flash and the one I pretty much grew up with, Wally West, the former Kid Flash and later the third Flash. While I always knew who Barry Allen was, I didn’t read or had Barry’s stories read to me very much when I was a little kid before the Crisis on Infinite Earths happened. When I got back into comics in 94, I was reunited with Wally who had grown up and become a hero in his own right. Now, I share the story of the kid who idolized his uncle, became a hero in his own right and then later became a husband and father himself. Wally West was created by John Broome and Carmine Infantino and introduced in The Flash (vol. 1) #110 (1959). The character was the nephew of existing Flash character Iris West. During a visit to Central City police laboratory where Barry Allen worked, the freak accident that gave Allen his powers repeated itself, bathing West in electrically-charged chemicals. Now possessing the same powers as The Flash, West donned a smaller sized copy of Barry Allen’s Flash outfit and became the young crimefighter Kid Flash.
This costume was quickly altered to one that would make him more visually distinctive. The original red was replaced with a costume that was primarily yellow with red leggings, gloves, and mask.
In addition to his appearances within the Flash title, the character was used as a member of the newly created Teen Titans.
The decision by DC comics editorial staff to radically change their fictional universe saw a number of changes to the status quo of the character. With Wally West as the Flash his abilities became less powerful. Instead of being able to reach the speed of light, he can run just faster than the sound (Crisis on Infinite Earths, issue 12 1985), the character had to eat vast quantities of food to maintain his metabolism.
Those changes were quickly followed up and 1987 saw the publication of a new Flash comic, intitially written by Mike Baron. As long as his adventures as a superhero, the issue of money was a common theme during the series. West won a lottery, buys a large mansion, and became something of a playboy. The character’s finances and luck continued to ebb and wane until Flash (vol. 2) #62, when his playboy ways ended and his fortunes stabilized.
The 1990s also saw further modifications to the look of the character, with a modified uniform appearing in 1991. This modified costume altered the visual appearance of the traditional flash costume with a belt made of two connecting lightning bolts, remove the wings from the top of his boots, alter the material of his costume, and add opaque lenses to the eyes of his cowl. This modified design utilized elements of the costume designed by artist Dave Stevens for the live action television series, The Flash.

Flash (vol. 2) #1 (June 1987). Wally West holds his first title as the Modern Age Flash. Art by Jackson Guice.
A difficult encounter with a particularly vicious foe, the first Reverse-Flash (Eobard Thawne), also served to increase the speed of the character. After this encounter, he was Barry Allen’s equal in speed, though he still had not been able to recover Barry’s vibrational abilities.
This theme of power was further expanded upon by the writer Mark Waid further redefined the character by introducing the Speed Force, a energy source that served as a pseudo-scientific explanation for his powers and that of other fictional speedsters within the DC Universe. Using this concept as a basis, the character’s ability to tap into the speed force was used to expand his abilities. The character was now able to lend speed to other objects and people (Terminal Velocity and aftermath: Flash #95–101, 1994–1995) and create a costume directly out of Speed Force energy. Traditional powers such as the ability to vibrate through solid objects were also restored.
The 2000s saw Writer Geoff Johns revitalize the character by introducing new versions of characters such as Zoom and making significant use of the Rogues, marrying the character to longtime girlfriend Linda Park.

After the writer left the series, sales dropped significantly[citation needed] and DC editorial decided that it was time for the status quo to change once more. Using the mini-series Infinite Crisis as a narrative device, the character of Wally West and his family were seen leaving for an alternative reality. This allowed the character Bart Allen to become the fourth Flash and headline a relaunched third volume of the title, called The Flash: The Fastest Man Alive.
The critical reaction to this new version of the character was mixed and the character was killed off in the final issue of the short-lived third volume of the Flash comic.[2] It was decided that Wally West should be resurrected and the JLA/JSA “The Lightning Saga” were used to return the character is returned to earth along with his wife and children who appear to have aged several years.
The character next appeared in All Flash #1, seeking vengeance on those who had killed Bart Allen. This was followed by The Flash volume 2, which resumed publication after the long hiatus with issue #231 (Oct. 2007). The series found the character struggling with trying to raise his two super powered twins, plagued by accelerated growth and their inexperience in the heroic game; a task made more difficult by Wally’s unemployment, and inability to keep a steady job, and the mistrust of the League for his decision to bring two children in the fold. The series was cancelled with issue #247 (February. 2009).
In Final Crisis, the character was reunited with Barry Allen who had returned to life. Recent interviews with The Flash: Rebirth artist Ethan Van Sciver have revealed that the character will adopt a newly-designed costume in the limited series that reintroduces Barry Allen as the Flash.

There we have it folks, everything you needed to know Wally West. I’ll see you soon with the latest Green Lantern Spotlight podcast.


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