The Flash, of all the characters in DC’s stable, was perhaps the one to be most hurt by the New 52 reboot. The Flash had this brief Golden Age in the late 1990s, where Wally West presided over a whole family of Flash characters: the young protégé in Jesse Quick, the brash youngster in Impulse/Kid Flash, the wise elder statesman in Jay Garrick, and the wizened mentor, Max Mercury. They were later joined by Wally’s children, Jai and Irey, and Impulse’s cousin, Xs.
Years afterwards, Barry Allen returned from the dead, and stood at the top of this veritable Flash dynasty. There was a feeling of legacy, of importance, that was a unique part of the DC universe. It wasn’t just that Wally West, and Barry Allen, were heroes in their own right – there was a sense that The Flash was the inspiration of a larger, more important heroic pattern that was greater than himself.
And then, the New 52. It wasn’t just that there was no more Wally West, or that Barry Allen was the person who had, after all, caused this apocalyptic reboot of the DC Universe. It was that Barry Allen was alone. It wasn’t just that there was no Wally West, it was that there was no Jay Garrick, either, and no Johnny Quick or Max Mercury. The sense of legacy was gone.
To DC’s, and particularly Josh Williamson’s, credit, they have methodically undone this over the last several years. Both of the Wally Wests joined Barry as the Flash, and as Kid Flash, and Brian Michael Bendis introduced Bart Allen back to the DC Universe, while Geoff Johns and Scott Snyder, in various different books, brought back Jay Garrick. Williamson introduced a new set of speed heroes, including the mostly malevolent Godspeed, and the Flash of China, Avery Ho.
The Flash #760, however, finally returns the Flash to that pre-New 52 status quo, bringing back the Flash Family. Eobard Thawne and his Legion of Zoom (and that is a fantastic name) has possessed Barry Allen, trapping him in the Speed Force, while Thawne rampages in Barry’s body. The surviving speedsters – Wally and Bart, Avery and Jay – have to fight off the progenitor of their whole dynasty. But Barry, trapped in the Speed Force, find new friends and foes – Thad Thawne, Inertia, and Max Mercury and Jesse Quick. And when Barry returns to the real world, he brings those friends with him.
With the exception of Wally West – still stuck scavenging from the corpse of Alan Moore’s opus – that late ’90s Flash Family is back, and better than ever. It’s not just a grand return to form, but it’s the starting point for a fantastic new status quo that I’m excited to see explored.
Josh Williamson and the artistic team of Chrstian Duce, Scott Kolins, Luis Guerrero, and Hi-Fi have written a book that is well worth the time of any Flash fan.
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