Monday, September 11, 2006

Old Flash, New Flash

Tom Bondurant, the Grumpy Old Fan with a Newsarama Blog, has posted an interesting sort of historical overview that recounts the various replacement characters that DC Comics has tried to introduce over the last ten years or so, from the Jean-Paul Valley Batman to the Reign of the Supermen. Wally West, of course, makes the list. Bondurant counts at least five times that the hero was killed and temporarily replaced as the scarlet speedster in his own title. (And I can think of at least a few others.) Considering the nature and extent of the Flash legacy, however, I suppose that's not as gratuitous and shocking as some of these replacements were. And no, Wally certainly hasn't been forgotten.

Perhaps because Wally West took over the Flash mantle from his late uncle, his creators were fond of the old “is he gone?” bait-and-switch. Mike Baron took away Wally’s powers, gave a thug super-speed and a Flash costume, and had said thug beat up Wally. Under Bill Messner-Loebs, Vandal Savage killed Wally and the Kilg%re revived him; but in the meantime Savage dubbed a Soviet speedster “Lady Flash.” Mark Waid toyed with Wally’s demise a few times, first in connection with Zero Hour, and then a few issues later in the lead-up to Flash #100. (That storyline established Jesse as Wally’s successor — but no, it was all a trick to motivate the real heir apparent, Impulse. Jesse was not amused.) Fifty issues later, Waid had Wally disappear again, this time replaced by gritty Hypertime counterpart Walter West. Now Wally’s gone again, but still not forgotten...

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