Secrets are part of any super hero's life. Well, any super hero who tries to maintain a hidden identity. There comes a point in nearly every story with such a character when they have to decide whether they should entrust loved ones and tell them the truth. Some heroes have an easier time with this than others. In fact, you could argue that some go overboard with sharing their true ID. (I'm looking at you, Barry Allen on The CW's The Flash.) But that's not the case with Barry in the comics. THE FLASH VOL. 2: SPEED OF DARKNESS by writer Joshua Williamson and pencillers Davide Gianfelice, Jorge Corona, Neil Googe, Felipe Watanabe and Oclair Albert finds Barry keeping his identity from Wally West.
If I gave you a Bingo card titled "Reasons Super Heroes Do Not Divulge Their Identities," you'd probably score at least one win over the span of a film or a run of a comic. The reasons include being scared about letting the information into the world, not trusting the person who wants the information, wanting to protect others, etc. You can share a few excuses you've heard in the comments and tell me whether you think they're valid.
Barry fell into the "wanting to protect" category with Wally. As the Flash, he knows Wally is Kid Flash. Iris knows Wally is Kid Flash. Neither of them know Barry is the Flash. Wally, being a tenacious and stubborn teenager, keeps reminding the Flash he doesn't know who he is under the mask. Wally pins it as a trust issue. "How can I try [insert crazy Speed Force thing here] when you don't trust me with your real identity?" The kid finds an impressive number of ways to broach the subject.
I don't blame him. The Flash is acting as his teacher in a bizarre and dangerous world. They're facing super-villains, and the Speed Force isn't completely predictable. Wally/Kid Flash is putting his life and special abilities in Barry's hands. I'd want to know who I was giving such a high level of trust to as well, and I wouldn't relent until I got an answer.
The Flash's reason for not sharing the information doesn't fly for me. He says the secret is a burden. Anyone who knows he's Barry Allen is automatically in more danger. I can sort of rationalize why an excuse like that applies to, say, Iris. She's more of a civilian, so to speak. But for Wally, who is also a speedster? He's already carrying a burden. He's young, but I bet he can handle knowing the truth.
We've discussed secrets, now let's move onto silly rogues. In one of my favorite sequences in Speed of Darkness, Barry and Kid Flash encounter Papercut. I'm not even kidding with that name. Papercut's mere existence on the page pokes fun at some of the more ridiculous villains in the character bank. Papercut comes into play because the Rogues hightailed it out of Central City when all the speedsters appeared in Vol. 1. It's a natural reaction to being confronted with more citizens who can stop you and throw you in Iron Heights. Jokers like Papercut are stepping in to fill the void and to try to be the next big thing.
Like me, Wally discounts Papercut. This is a dude who tried to rob people with origami he just folded into shape. But! It's razor sharp origami. Wally got cocky, but he soon found out Papercut could control all things made of wood. Oops. As far as powers go, it's rather specific and quirky, but the idea of Papercut controlling a sharp branch and using it to pierce skin makes me stop laughing.
When the Flash eventually shows up and scolds Kid Flash, he told him: "No rogue, no matter how silly or colorful, can be taken lightly."
It's solid advice and not only applicable to rogues (unless you're out there fighting the Papercuts of the world). The nugget of wisdom also translates to not judging a book by its cover. And think about it from the rogue's point of view. He wants to be the next Captain Cold, a Central City household name that inspires fear. Instead, he's not taken seriously. To be honest, I'm still chuckling a tiny bit about Papercut throwing origami stars at people.
Let me know what you thought of the second Flash: Rebirth collection in the comments below. Also, who’s your favorite goofy DC villain? Condiment King, anyone?