Wally West was The Flash, and Heroes in Crisis changes what that means.

Wally West was The Flash.

That’s a true statement, but there are a few ways to look at it. Spoilers ahead.

Wally West as The Flash

Wally west was The Flash, but now he isn’t because he’s dead.

Grim, I know, but that’s the tone of Heroes in Crisis. Even in death, Wally has become one of the main characters in the book and is highlighted in issue #3.  After an absence from The New 52, Wally triumphantly returned in DC Universe Rebirth #1, further confirming that the previous version of the multiverse was out there somewhere. Wally’s return was a beacon of hope and made a lot of sense. If Barry and Flashpoint destroyed the DCU, Wally and Rebirth were ready to rebuild it. Heroes in Crisis plays with that now and reminds us that it never happened.

Grant Morrison and Howard Porter's JLA

Wally West was The Flash, but that was a long time ago.

Joshua Williamson has explored the devastation that Flashpoint caused in Wally’s life to such an extent that I began to theorize that perhaps Wally would be reinstated as THE Flash. With fervor for nineties properties at its zenith and constant reminders of Wally’s time in the spotlight, the character seemed primed to be in the center of the next big story line.

Well, I guess he is.

What I’m getting at is this: Wally seemed, for years, to be the key to unlocking the nostalgia of the DCU. This is not to say DC won’t be pursuing any of that (Did you see Conner’s new jacket?), but for many of us, Wally was The Flash we grew up with. Wally was the proof that sidekicks could truly succeed their mentors and grew to be one of the most complex heroes in comic book history. Oh, and even though he disappeared, he never really died. I’ve never been a big supporter of resurrecting dead superheroes outside of Superman, it just takes away from the gravity of it all. Superman’s death and return fit his messianic image, but that shouldn’t be stretched. While Hal Jordan’s return led to arguably the greatest era of Green Lantern comics, Barry’s resurrection struck me as unnecessary. Probably the best tale to come out of it was Flashpoint, wherein Barry’s irresponsible use of his powers put reality in real peril. Barry couldn’t even fix it, leading to the destruction of his friends and family.

And that’s what Tom King picked up on.

The Death of Wally West

Wally West was The Flash, but that world doesn’t exist anymore.

As I mentioned before, there was an implication that Wally and his family would be reunited. A tease of the older DCU returning and all being set right with the world. Heroes in Crisis is a story that assumes that these gifts are too far out of reach. What if, when someone damages reality, it stays damaged? What if the past really can’t come back? How would a husband and father deal with the fact that their family has ceased to exist? How does he deal when few even remember them and even fewer have tried to help? Wally arrives at Sanctuary because there is no one who can relate. His story ends with that reality.

“Crisis” has often meant a shift in reality, huge changes in the DC Universe and a clean slate. Heroes in Crisis is a story that goes the other way. The slate is not clean and the crisis is that no one can change what’s happened.

For now at least.

King took the most fantastic of comic book logic, the ability to change reality fluidly, and nailed it to the ground. Anything is possible in the DCU, but that doesn’t mean it’s always possible.

Wally West was The Flash and the past cannot be changed.