Flash (vol.2) #0 (October, 1994)
Story – Mark Waid
Pencils – Mike Wieringo
Inks – Jose Marzan, Jr.
Letterer – Gaspar
Colorist – Gina Going
Assistant Editor – Ruben Diaz
Editor – Brian Augustyn
Cover Price: $1.50
Here’s a synergy post to coincide with the latest episode of The Cosmic Treadmill. That’s Episode #27 for (fellow) time travelers. So feel free to give it a read… and a listen below! Though, be warned… to do both at the same time will open multiple rifts of entropy in and around your computer!
Picking up from an early scene in Zero Hour: Crisis in Time #4, Wally has bolted into a rift of entropy in hopes of saving all of time. Well, we already know how that worked out! That’s why we’re here… After outrunning his very costume, Wally finds himself somewhere… familiar. Too familiar to be death… in fact, he’s home in Keystone City! The year is (still) 1994, but it would seem that he’s traveled back in time a few weeks.
He looks on, in a sort of incorporeal state, as the Flash tackles Team Turmoil. It’s a quick and easy fight, after which Wally-from-the-past gives a statement to one very special news reporter, Linda Park.
From around the corner, a sniper takes aim at Wally’s turbaned friend… and so, the Flash catches all of the bullets… and causes a shockwave to down the baddie. It is interesting that (current) Wally (we’ll call him ZH-Wally… like Zero Hour Wally, for clarity’s sake) is narrating the entire event. It gives a pretty neat perspective on the goings on.
He talks about how much he enjoys what he does… and flashes back (nyuk nyuk) to a day during his youth where he was visited by a mystery man, and a promise that man made… more on that in a bit. In the present, Wally leers on as the Flash, that is to say he… makes out with the lovely Ms. Park.
Out of the corner of his eye, ZH-Wally sees speedster Max Mercury acting creepy in an alley between two buildings. Being as though ZH-Wally is still quite incorporeal, Max cannot see him. Wally approaches anyway… though is whisked away back into the timestream pretty quick.
In the timestream, we find ourselves privy to a quick and dirty history of Wallace West. We see him holding Barry Allen’s costume at the end of Crisis on Infinite Earths, as well as him hanging around with the Teen Titans.
After our trip, we arrive on a very fateful night. ZH-Wally appears in Barry Allen’s back room… and there be a thunderstorm rumbling outside. Barry and (a very young) Wally West enter the room… and we get a front-row seat for the super-convenient origin of Kid Flash. For a brief but fleeting moment, ZH-Wally becomes tangible… and wonders if perhaps there might have been something more to that bolt of lightning. Hmm…
Next up is a montage of Barry and Wally running… which bleeds into another montage, this one is about how rough Wally’s childhood was. I gotta say, I preferred Wally’s pre-Crisis parents… the ones who supported him. These folks are the cliche dysfunctional mates who are constantly at each other’s throats. Wally himself appears to be an afterthought, except for one bit where Mrs. West throws a Flash comic (vol.1 #163!) into the garbage. He continues to reflect on the promise the man made to him that day, as that was the only thing that kept him going.
We make our final (for now) stop in time… some ten years ago we check in on a West Family Reunion at Wally’s childhood home in Blue Valley, Nebraska… sa-a-al-ute. We’ve got some good news too… ZH-Wally is now completely tangible! He swipes a pair’a dungarees and sets to “fitting in”.
If it wasn’t already clear, young Wally and his Pop didn’t quite get along. We get a scene in which young Wally gets… distracted by a bunny while pouring soda. He gets a whomp on the butt for spilling. Never let it be said that the punishment doesn’t fit the crime, right?
Young Wally runs crying back into the house. ZH-Wally decides to follow… your “mystery man” sense tingling yet? ZH-Wally enters his old bedroom, and sees his younger self laying on Flash bed sheets drawing pictures… of the Flash, natch. After ZH-Wally realizes that he is his own mystery man, the two have a bit of a heart to heart.
They talk about the future. Young Wally says when he grows up he might be able to work at the plant. When ZH-Wally asks if that’s what he wants to do, the youngster kind of clams up. He says what he wants to do is “silly stuff”, and hands the elder the picture he was drawing.
ZH-Wally starts doodling himself, and expresses to his younger self how important it is to dream. He promises the boy that if he sticks to it, all of his dreams will come true. He hands the drawing back to the boy… now with a sketch of Kid Flash on the page.
The pep talk appears to have worked… as now the ZH-Wally has the confidence to jump back into and control the Speedforce in order to return to the proper time.
Not a bad little issue. I feel like perhaps I missed a bit of its poignancy, but definitely a good read.
I feel like the strength of this issue is that it answered a few questions about the past, however, introduced more for the future. We get ourselves a taste of resolution… however, we don’t really get all that long to bask in it. There are too many questions still left unanswered. Why is Max Mercury leering like a creeper? Was Wally’s bolt of lightning fated for him?
Let’s start by discussing the bedroom chat. When we covered this on the show, I totally thought that young Wally’s drawing was of the Flash. Reggie suggested that it was Wally himself as a Kid version of the Flash. That makes so much more sense to me… especially in light of the elder-Wally’s Kid Flash mk.2 illustration.
We joked on the show about how weird it was for a kid to be totally okay with a strange man loitering in his bedroom. This feels like something right out of the Silver Age… mostly due to how much more innocent the times were. Today if we were to read a sentence that started with “The stranger entered the young boy’s bedroom…” it would surely raise an eyebrow or two. Back then, however, maybe not so much.
Now the conversation they have is predicated on a situation that I don’t really dig. Young Wally needs that push… that hope… because his parents are somewhere between absentee and abusive. That kinda bugs me… not only due to how cliche that is, but how different it is to Wally’s pre-Crisis folks. I remember back last Summer when we covered The Life and Times of Tara Markov, we discussed a scene in which Wally was contemplating his future… should he remain a Teen Titan? Should he quit the hero biz and concentrate on college? That scene was quite special as it illustrated just how happy the West family was. If I’m remembering right, it ends with Wally’s father telling him that he’s proud of him either way, and he should trust his instincts. He even lets Wally do the ceremonial turkey carving during that nights dinner. Those are the Wests to me… not, these folks. I suppose that’s neither here nor there, though.
The scene where Wally first gets his powers is interesting, as it… might (?) add a new wrinkle to Wally’s all-too-convenient and all-too-deja-vuey origin. Older Wally gets a front row seat to his very own heroic coronation… and is able to see things he wasn’t initially paying any mind to. Very nice story beat here.
Mark Waid is… ya know, pretty good at the dialogue, so this was pretty much a treat to read. Zero-Wally’s narration throughout was all very well done. Mike Wieringo’s art is great… but definitely not as great as he would become. His work is clean as ever, but missing the polish he would eventually get. But, ya know… even Ringo’s worst page would be candy for the eyes.
Overall… yeah, check this one out. This little issue here opened us up to a whole bunch of research we hadn’t otherwise planned. We’ve been about armpit deep in Zero Hour these past few weeks… and, I gotta tell ya… it’s been a lot of fun. Such a strange and interesting time to be reading comics. If you’re a fan of DC Comics history, it is most definitely worth your time.