Warning: SPOILERS and GRAPHIC content from Heroes in Crisis #1
DC Comics warned that a Flash would be killed in their upcoming event, and in Heroes in Crisis #1, they followed through. But the most beloved speedster of the Flash Family wasn't the only victim.
The latest Crisis from DC begins like none before, with a mass shooting erupting at Sanctuary, a facility intended to help heroes in need of psychiatric counseling and treatment. A place where heroes were supposed to feel safe, if they couldn't anywhere else. And while the death toll is high, and each death as tragic as the next, DC fans will likely remember this as the day that Wally West was killed... with his friend Roy Harper next to him.
The recent Flash War already delivered a crushing blow to Wally West and his fans, watching him as he remembered the children he lost during DC's New 52 reboot, and drove himself to an emotional breakdown trying to pull them back into existence. So when Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman escorted him to Sanctuary for counseling, fans who knew how violently Heroes in Crisis would begin feared the worst. And sadly, those fears have come true - as Wally and Roy are among the first heroes confirmed dead.
It feels almost distasteful to single out Flash and Arsenal's death, given the tone of Tom King, Clay Mann, and Tomeu Morey's first issue, revealing the scene from Superman's perspective. Having arrived with a sonic boom, even the Man of Steel is too late. He can only survey the bodies scattered outside of Sanctuary's surface-level farmhouse, punctuated with a telescopic view of Hot Spot, Lagoon Boy, Citizen Steel, and others already gone. And when he opens the door, Superman can't bring himself to call Wally by name--the kid who grew from sidekick, to hero, to husband, to father, all in front of DC's Justice League heroes.
When Tom King asked the crowd at San Diego Comic Con to cheer for their favorite Flash - Barry Allen or Wally West - the roar for the former 'Kid' Flash seemed to seal Wally's fate. As if Geoff Johns hadn't proven the permanent affection by resurrecting Wally to launch DC's Rebirth, it showed that few heroes are as admired, revered, and beloved as the ginger speedster. Roy Harper falling beside him is the unexpected blow of this first issue, little comfort as their proximity in their finale moments may be. Wally was there to grapple with reality, Roy to grapple with addiction. But their deaths prove the same thing to Batman.
As Heroes in Crisis is intended to tell the often ignored truth of heroes, and the damage and scars their crusades leave behind, Batman voices the often-restrained truth many believe in today's world. That it doesn't matter if heroes need a place to feel safe, cared for, and vulnerable, or whether they have earned one for their selfless heroism. The time to be safe is over, and it's not coming back. And by believing that it could still be possible - the motivation behind the construction of Sanctuary by DC's Trinity - all they've done is allow heroes to be caught off-guard, murdered, and left dead in the Nebraska dirt along with the hope that brought them there.
The first issue of Tom King's deeply personal "crisis" ends by seeming to confirm who killed Wally West and the rest of Sanctuary, but offers no real clarity on what happened, or why. But it isn't a murder mystery, by any means. It's fitting that when the final page is turned, readers will likely be too stunned to grasp the loss of Roy, Wally, Nate, Isaiah, or the other dead heroes yet to be confirmed.
The DC Universe has been blindsided by a tragedy as American as the pie Harley Quinn consumes after the shooting. So, what comes next? We can't help thinking that asking that question is the very point of King and Mann's story, and a question that can only be answered when Heroes in Crisis #2 arrives.
Heroes in Crisis #1 is available now from DC Comics.