Warning: SPOILERS For The Flash #51
The Flash #51 serves as a tribute to the character of Wally West and his special status in the DC Comics multiverse. Despite having been largely sidelined over the past decade, particularly in media apart from comic books, there is a generation of superhero fans for whom Wally West has always been The Flash. It's a fact that writer Joshua Williamson acknowledged in the conclusion of the Flash War event, as writer Iris West pondered the aftermath of the recent event and her nephew's unusual life.
Wally spends most of The Flash #51 attempting to build up the speed needed to break through reality again. This proves a futile gesture, given that his actions have destroyed the connection between The Speed Force and Hypertime - the near-infinite nexus between realities speedsters once used to travel in time. As he does so, Iris West reflects upon Wally's life and the time now forgotten in the world of Earth Prime, where Wally West was the one and only Flash.
When DC Comics decided to tweak the new reality with DC Comics Rebirth, Wally West became the central character of a saga that revealed just how badly outside forces had begun to alter the timeline of the Multiverse. Wally's story of how he had been trapped in The Speed Force for several years only to emerge into a world in which he never existed has informed much of the past two years of stories in both The Flash and Titans.
This culminated in Flash War, where Wally learned that he had two children who were also trapped outside of reality and his efforts to break them free resulted in cataclysmic changes to the cosmic order.
"He looks up to Barry," Iris writes. "Barry was his Flash. But for a whole generation, even if they've now forgotten, he was theirs." This is a neat bit of metatextual commentary on the part of Joshua Williamson, drawing a parallel to Wally's status in the real world. Thanks to his appearance in the Justice League movie and the television series on The CW, Barry Allen is now The Flash in the minds of most superhero fans.
The first young man to bear the Kid Flash title, Wally West also became the first teen sidekick in superhero history to take up his mentor's title and costume following the apparent death of Barry Allen in Crisis on Infinite Earths. For over two decades, until Barry Allen's resurrection in the mini-series Final Crisis, Wally West was the one and only Fastest Man Alive.
That changed in the wake of The New 52 reboot of the DC Comics Multiverse, which reset the timeline to an earlier point where Barry Allen had not yet sacrificed himself to save the world. The New 52 inspired many complaints from readers, chief among them that DC Comics had abandoned the sense of legacy that made it unique, with most of the first generation of teen sidekicks no longer existing in the new reality.
Thankfully, whatever may have happened to cause Wally to be forgotten in our world, Barry Allen is determined that no one on his Earth will forget his nephew, even if they do not remember what he once was. The issue concludes with Barry overseeing the construction of the long-prophecized Flash Museum and looking down upon the two golden statues of two different men called The Flash flanking the entrance.
The Flash #51 is now available from DC Comics.