DC fans are still coming to terms with Wally West being killed in a mass shooting, along with countless other heroes yet to be confirmed in the fallout from Heroes in Crisis #1. But the fear not, fans of The Flash: they may have already explained how Wally will be returned to the land of the living.
Before any naysayers scoff at the idea, taking it as vindication for their quick criticism that "no superhero stays dead forever" - a fact known by every comic reader - that doesn't mean Heroes in Crisis, or Wally's murder will be undone, or otherwise erased. In fact, the death of Wally West and the other victims of Sanctuary may forever change the course of the DC Universe... whether their deaths are permanent or not.
They may be the tragedy that forces Barry Allen to do the one thing he swore he would never do again.
We're not looking to any clues in the issue itself, as much any story involving The Flash forever carries the risk of being changed through time travel. Instead, we're going by the words of The Flash comic writer Josh Williamson directly, who we spoke to months ago about the future of Wally West. Since the ginger-haired hero was in the midst of Flash War at the time, Williamson didn't spoil Wally's death... but he didn't keep silent, either.
The Flash War was enough of a gut-punch for Wally West fans, returning his memories of not just his wife Linda, but their children, similarly "erased" in DC's New 52 reboot. Driven to defy even his mentor, Barry Allen, Williamson confirmed to us that a happy ending was still a long, long way off for Wally:
I think with Wally, it's going to be a rough time. It's definitely going to be hurtful for him, and an emotional rollercoaster ride... So I don't want to get too much into it, but there's a lot of stuff that's going to be happening in the DCU. Those bits and pieces with Wally was really me getting him over to those areas so people could continue to tell that big story with him.
In hindsight, the true weight of Williamson's words can be felt, since the "big story" required Wally suffer a complete emotional breakdown in trying to free his forgotten children. A breakdown so serious, that Barry and Iris supported his visit to Sanctuary, a superhero health facility constructed in secret. The place where Wally would be killed by Booster Gold a short time later.
But Williamson also gave a small tease of what Barry would be faced with next, which has massive implications on Wally's possible resurrection. As Flash War readers know, Wally's panic broke The Flash's ability to time travel at all - which should stop any theory about traveling back in time to prevent the Sanctuary massacre. Back then, it seemed like a good thing that Wally was prevented from creating a new Flashpoint, like Barry knew wasn't worth the risk... yet.
Like you said, nothing is forever in comics. That is the status quo for right now. The question you have to ask next is... what would have to happen for Barry to realize he has to get time travel back? So that will be part of the question over the next year, and parts of the story with the Flash Family. Right now they can't travel through time, which is okay because Barry doesn't like to, he doesn't want to. But eventually something is going to happen and he's going to have to travel through time. That'll be part of the story that we tell in the book over the next year or so.
It's impossible to be sure that Williamson's description of the story coming in DC's Flash book refers to Wally and the other heroes' death specifically. But the issue that set Wally on his way to Sanctuary made it clear that Barry sees Wally as a true hero and role model for a generation. If the fallout of Heroes in Crisis gets even worse, then Barry Allen could begin his journey to reconnect the Speed Force to the timestream, and travel back to prevent it - to Hell with the risks.
That would mean a happier outcome for Wally West, Roy Harper, and the other heroes lost at Sanctuary... but would open the door for a second Flashpoint. Perhaps the return of Dr. Manhattan, creator of DC's latest reality isn't a coincidence at all...
Heroes in Crisis #1 is available now from DC Comics.