[10 June 2009]
PopMatters Comics Editor
Even though bearing the mantle of the Scarlet Speedster, Wally West was always reluctant to associate himself with the Flash Museum. For Wally the Museum was a debt of honor, paid to his uncle, mentor and Flash before him, Barry Allen who died saving the universe. The Flash Museum, at least to Wally, was a shrine he would forever remain distanced from. Struggling to keep his own achievements from rivaling those of Barry’s (and to Wally’s mind, thereby replacing his mentor), Wally would continually fail to appreciate the full legacy of the Flash and his role as icon for a new generation of Central City residents.
Memories never die
But with the destruction of the Flash Museum, Wally turns a corner. The physical objects that connected him with both his youth and his mentor have now been decimated. Palpably, a connection with Wally’s legacy has been severed. It is in his state of distress that Golden Age Flash Jay Garrick (whose boots and tin helmet are modeled on the Roman god of swiftness, Mercury) offers Wally some comfort. “Memories never die”, he reminds Wally, “They were just statutes”.
Jay’s words will prove prescient. By the end of events detailed in Blitz, Wally will confront possibly his greatest mistake; revealing his secret identity to the world. It was this decision that would ultimately cost him the lives’ of his unborn twins, at the hands of supervillain Professor Zoom. In an attempt to protect his family, Wally will forego his alter ego as the Flash. It is at this point that Barry Allen returns from the distant future. Here to offer Wally one last piece of advice, Barry will then travel back even farther in time to sacrifice himself while saving the universe. “But that’s ok, my race is run”, he admits to Wally, underlining his own heroism.
There should always be a Flash, Barry reminds Wally. The Flash stands as a symbol that people are worth saving, time and again. And with the Spectre at his side, Barry offers Wally a way to continue being the Flash, yet reclaim his secret identity. The world will forget the identity of the Flash. And along with it, forget the heroism of Barry Allen. In his final moments, Barry Allen makes an impassioned plea for the ideals of heroism. Geoff Johns writes a single panel that offers Barry Allen a final act of heroism, one perhaps even greater than saving the whole world.