Flash (vol.2) #154 (1999)

Flash (vol.2) #154 (November, 1999)
“Dimensionally Challenged”
Story – Mark Waid & Brian Augustyn
Pencils – Paul Pelletier
Inks – Jose Marzan, Jr.
Colors – Tom McCraw
Letters – Gaspar
Editor – Joey Cavalieri
Cover Price: $1.99

Alrighty, we’ve had two issues of build… what say we unmask this nuFlash and figure out whose face he’s got?

Spoiler Alert: You now know this issue’s cliffhanger image!

Also: Today marks our NINE-HUNDRED SEVENTY-FIFTH daily discussion here at the site!  Four-Digits are on the horizon!

We open with nuFlash looking out into the real world from the Fourth Dimension.  He can see Angela Whatsherface and Jerkface Bridges being taunted by the Folding Man… while he himself is powerless to do anything to stop him.  Angela fires off a few “warning shots” (at point blank range).  Bridges pulls her back, and explains that while Gauss is in 2-D, his touch will do to her… whatever it did to that secretary last issue.  I’m still not sure what happened to her.  Anyhoo, they run.

Finally, nuFlash is able to vibrate from out of the Fourth Dimension and back into the real world.  While “inside” however, it would appear that he’s learned a thing or two about the situation.  Firstly, that Bridges might’ve ordered Gauss to be killed!

Before we can get any answers there, we hop over to the Flash Museum, where Max, Jesse and Bart are still trying to get to the bottom of nuFlash’s identity.  After staring at the lightning bolt Obelisk for a few minutes, and wondering if this Dark Flash uses it to travel interdimensionally, Impulse figures the whole thing out.  It’s just a distraction… NuFlash just hangs out in a tunnel under the Flash Museum!  While in the “down under”, the Speedsters discover Barry and Wally’s personal effects.  Bart is bothered by the fact that there seem to be no pictures of… Linda.

Speaking of Linda, we rejoin her in the “other place”.  “Wally” is still fighting off those bubble-masked cops.  After the fight, he sweeps her into his arms and goes to run away.  She tries pushing him off, as she knows that this isn’t her Wally.  Before getting too far, “Wally” is zapped by an ultra-sonic pistol of Pied Piper.  He tells Linda that she isn’t safe with Wally… as he has “changed”.

Wally and Piper start going at it, and Linda runs off.  She happens across a memorial statue… her memorial statue!  It would seem that she sacrificed her life to stop Kobra from kayoing Keystone City.

Back in the real world, nuFlash drops Bridges and Angela off at the construction site for the Central City Memorial Hospital.  There, the two civvies argue about everything that’s going down, while nuFlash pays particular attention to the vibrations around them.  Turns out, Gauss is there too!

After a bit of fighting (and terrorizing construction workers), Gauss finally spills the beans on the conflict.  Turns out, he had a very sick daughter.  Bridges promised her treatment in exchange for Gauss’ help in creating the suit.  Once the suit was complete, however, Bridges dropped the ball on the treatment, and Gauss’ daughter passed on.  Bridges pushes the blame off on a “clerical error”, which isn’t what the Folding Man wants to hear.

Gauss lets loose, and is just about to strike Bridges down… when nuFlash vibrates a whole bunch’a rebar through him to “hold him” in the third dimension.  Gauss is collected and brought over to Bridges’ lab… but, there ain’t much hope of separating him from the Folding Man suit.

Later on, back in the Forensics Lab, nuFlash and Angela chat… and kiss a bit.  Their make-out session is interrupted by the ultimate buzzkill… Max Mercury.  The Flash Family has grown tired of the questions… and is ready for some answers.

But first… back to the “other place”.  Linda is running through the streets… she sees more memorials to herself, as well as Wanted Posters featuring the Flash.  She drops into an alley, and falls to her knees.  Just then, “Wally” catches up to her, and he isn’t pleased that she seems not to want anything to do with him.  Just then… a bolt of lightning!

As some strange Flash-y stuff start popping up in the “other place”, nuFlash has decided to come clean and unmask in the “real world”.  When the dust settles…

… we’re left with three Wallys?

Well, well, well… twenty-years later, and… yeah, the big reveal is still kind of a letdown.  There’s that thought that anytime you introduce alternate versions of a character, you’re kind of lowering the overall stakes of a story.  I can definitely feel that here.  We’re left with not one… not even two… but three Wally Wests (hey, couldja send one of ’em to live in late 2018?!).  Let’s break it down.

We have Wally the “Dark Flash”.  An older Wally, who’s “seen some stuff”, and also claims to bear the responsibility for the death of a Speedster.  He’s living in “a present” where the only person who remembers that Linda Park ever existed is… bubble-head Bart.

In the “other place”, we have a crazed Wally, fueled by revenge.  After Linda sacrificed herself to save Keystone City, he kinda went off the deep-end.  He’s a wanted man, and even old pals like Piper regard him as a danger.

Then… we have the third Wally.  We don’t know much about him at this point, other than that he’s probably the “real” one.  How (and why) he got to the “other place”, we don’t yet know.  How the “other place” diverged from the “real” timeline… well, we don’t know that yet either.

So, about the rest of the story?  I dunno, you guys… I don’t think I could care less about the Folding Man if I had to.  This felt kinda meaningless, in that “villain of the month” sort of way.  I understand that we probably needed something/someone kinda “throwaway” for Dark Flash’s first story… but, man… this was dullsville.  I just kept hoping for it to be over, so we could get to the “meat” of the issue.

As for the “reveal”… like I said, I found it pretty underwhelming.  We go from all of these option… sorta risky options, at that… and we settle on the safest one, that brings with it the lowest-stakes.  I was hoping that in reading this one back two-decades later I might “receive” it differently… but, nope.  Still kinda deflated!

Overall… yeah, kind of a letdown.  Art is still top-notch, but I’m definitely not all that jazzed about what’s to come.  I’m kinda of two-minds here… I almost wish they kept up the ruse for a few more issues, while at the same time… I could only imagine how deflated I’d feel if this mystery was left to bubble for a few more months!

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