The Speed Force can be a great friend to have during these fast-paced times, but like any power source, it should be used with caution. If the Speed Force isn’t used properly, it can destroy your life. Just ask Wally West, the speedster known as the Flash. It’s been an interesting few years for Wally, across all media. His Arrowverse counterpart (more on him later) has mastered the Speed Force and found inner peace, while over on the Young Justice animated series, Wally’s friends (and viewers like me) have struggled dealing with his apparent death. As for Wally’s comic book counterpart, it would be an understatement to say that things have been rocky.
In the past few years, Wally has been erased from reality, returned to Earth only to find a world that didn’t remember him, and when he went to therapy to help him deal with some of this, he accidentally wound up killing a bunch of his friends. Yeah, it’s been a rough decade for a hero who was running strong for so long prior to that.
Thankfully there’s a new beginning ahead, or so we hope. If you read the Flash Forward limited series and Flash #750, you’d know that Wally now has godlike powers, and he’s set his sights on fixing the DC Universe’s fractured timeline. While looking through the history of the DC Universe, Wally noticed that there was some continuity hiccups between the New 52 and the current Rebirth timeline. Wally thinks it’s his job to fix the discrepancies, and that’s quite a hefty goal for someone who couldn’t control his powers last year.
Time is broken, but if there’s one thing we’ve learned from…well…any Flash comic or television episode, it’s that nothing good ever comes out of a speedster messing with the timeline. Will trying to fix things cause more damage? Wally needs a win, and although I have my doubts, I think he could land this plane. It’s been a crazy few years for the Scarlet Speedster and restoring the DC Universe would be a satisfying redemption arc. If anybody could pull this off, Wally West can.
This brings us to the small screen version of Wally West. Did anyone else love his return in the episode “Death of the Speed Force”? It’s been too long since we’ve seen Keiynan Lonsdale don the Kid Flash uniform, and it was glorious. Our precious Wally has done so much growing, and he’s no longer the rebellious street-racer we met back in season two. Wally seems happy now, and it’s refreshing.
Think about it, how often do we get to see our Arrowverse friends happy? Like his comic book counterpart, Wally has embraced his relationship with the Speed Force. While he fortunately hasn’t had to contend with the same tragedy as the Wally from the comics, TV Wally’s mastery of the Speed Force puts him ahead of Barry. And you know what? That’s appropriate.
During Mark Waid’s legendary run on The Flash in the 1990’s, the concept of the Speed Force was introduced, and Wally used it to power up and push the limit of his abilities. Wally’s speedster abilities surpassed Barry’s for a time, and he was able to understand things about his power that Barry had never even fathomed.
The CW's version of Wally seems to be following that model. How unusual was it to see Wally teaching Barry about the Speed Force? The student has become the master! I wish he had stuck around longer. With his Zen attitude and connection to the Speed Force, he might have been able to realize that his sister Iris was trapped in the mirror dimension. Barry needs Wally’s guidance, especially since he keeps on making questionable decisions with his powers. I hope Keiynan Lonsdale can make a few more return appearances, because his Wally seems to have his s**t together, which is rare for young people like us in this generation. Maybe he can counsel me next?
The Young Justice version of Wally seems to be gone, the Arrowverse version of Wally has mastered the Speed Force, while the comics version of Wally might destroy it. Wally West’s destiny continues to be written, and the pages can’t turn fast enough.
Joshua Lapin-Bertone writes about TV, movies and comics for DCComics.com and DCUniverse.com, is a regular contributor to the Couch Club and writes our monthly Batman column, "Gotham Gazette." Follow him on Twitter at @TBUJosh.