WARNING! This article contains SPOILERS for The Flash #40!
The original Wally West version of The Flash is once again The Fastest Man Alive! This follows a recent battle between West’s mentor, Barry Allen, and the telepathic Gorilla Grodd, which destroyed the elder Flash’s connection to The Speed Force – the energy field that empowers most of DC Comics‘ speedsters.
The first Wally West, who took up Barry Allen’s mantle as The Flash following Barry’s apparent death in Crisis On Infinite Earths, was recently reintroduced into the DC Comics Universe in the opening chapter of DC Comics Rebirth after having been forcibly removed from reality by some outside force. Briefly reunited with his uncle, Wally soon discovered that every sign of his existence had been erased from Earth Prime but that he could restore the memories of his closest friends by touching them. This led to Wally and his childhood friends from The Teen Titans establishing a new Titans team, which was recently disbanded by The Justice League. Left feeling more alone than ever, Wally sought out his old girlfriend, Frankie Kane, accidentally restoring her powers and her evil super-villain persona of Magenta along with her memories. Thankfully, Wally was able to talk Frankie into asserting control and was last seen setting up an apartment in Keystone City, the sister-city of Central City where Barry Allen operates as The Flash, in The Flash Annual #1.
While Wally was rebuilding his life, Barry Allen was contending with the machinations of The Black Hole – a secretive group of sinister scientists who had begun trying to tap The Speed Force for their own dark ends. One of The Black Hole’s projects saw numerous people around Central City develop super-speed powers, including student Avery Ho (now The Flash of The Justice League of China) and the second Wally West, who became the new Kid Flash. The Flash #40 saw all three speedsters fighting against The Black Hole, who were all revealed to be under the mental control of Gorilla Grodd, who established the group as a means of developing the technology needed to steal The Speed Force from Barry Allen.
Grodd’s efforts proved successful and he left a powerless Barry Allen to fall to his death in the issue’s climax. Barry was saved only by the 11th Hour arrival of the original Wally West, who caught Barry in the middle of a heroic, high-speed leap. Reunited with the younger Wally and Avery, Barry declared that Grodd hadn’t beaten The Flash yet. When Wally agreed and asked Barry to tell them what to do next, Barry clarified – “No, Wally. You don’t understand. I’m… I’m not The Flash of Central City anymore…. you are.”
It remains to be seen what Grodd’s empowerment and Barry’s retirement may mean in the wake of the upcoming Flash War event. It’s entirely possible, given that The Flash #40 is only the second part of the “Perfect Storm” storyline that Barry could have his powers back in time for Flash War. It’s also possible that this is the first step that triggers the promised conflict between every hero who uses the name of The Flash.
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