The Flash by Mark Waid Finale
Includes The Flash #142-159, 162, 1 Million, Speed Force #1, The Flash 80-Page Giant #1
Written by Mark Waid & Brian Augustyn, Michael Jan Friedman
Art by Pop Mhan, Josh Hood, Paul Pelletier, and Jim Aparo
Two years ago, I started reading through and reviewing Mark Waid’s run on The Flash. When I decided to wrap up my George Perez/Wonder Woman run, I also chose to do the same with this series. Because there isn’t an omnibus out, I used the DC Universe app’s comics library to find the remaining couple years of issues that brought Waid’s landmark run to an end. I found myself enjoying these last three arcs a lot more than some of the previous storylines; however, Waid signs off in such an anti-climactic fashion. The story just sort of ends, he jumps on four months later for a last go, and then it’s over.
Wally West is getting married. His longtime love Linda Park accepted his proposal, and they are on their wedding day rushing to the chapel. However, a strange figure from West’s past when he worked alongside Barry Allen, the deceased Flash, has returned. Cobalt Blue emerges from the past, wielding a blade of blue fire that siphons the speed force off of others. Linda is shunted to a pocket universe, and all memories of her are erased, West not realizing his fiancee is gone at all.
West learns that the curse of Cobalt Blue is destined to plague the Flash legacy for a thousand years with two Flashes being consumed by his power and ultimately changing history by killing Barry Allen himself. West gathers his fellow speedsters the Golden Age Flash, Max Mercury, Jesse Quick, and Impulse to set off a tour of the future where Flash after Flash must face down the lineage of Cobalt Blue.
The Dark Flash, a scarred enigmatic figure from another place and time, comes out the other end. Dark Flash declares the recently rejoined twin cities of Central City and Keystone his and sends all of West’s allies into confusion about who he is. In the background, Linda Park fights for survival against one of The Flash’s great rogues who has plans to erase the hero’s history for eternity.
I absolutely loved the peeks we had at the Flash’s future, an opportunity to imagine possible inheritors of the mantle. Waid and his co-creators come up with a variety of designs and characters that go through all types of futures from utopian to dystopian and some wild, otherworldly evolutionary paths. Additionally, The Dark Flash is a really interesting character, and his ultimate identity reveal isn’t a letdown and makes him more interesting. I would love to have seen Dark Flash continue in some manner. The one awkward bits here are the mentions of Hypertime, which was DC’s attempt at explaining continuity errors and light reboot to bring back the Multiverse. It never worked well despite DC editorial really pushing the concept across its titles.
There is no denying the power of Mark Waid’s run on The Flash. Every writer who has come after this landmark chunk of books has been directly influenced by the history Waid created and the character development he gave to Wally West. One day I might go back to the pre-Waid books to explore how they stumbled and struggled to shape him into his own unique Flash but tried to ignore important backstory. Waid embraced the memory of Barry Allen and used that to look to the future. He intentionally avoided the Rogues’ Gallery to keep his sights purely on Wally West and make him into the three-dimensional character he became. He was so effective that the CW series The Flash may have Barry Allen as its lead, but the stories and mythos are purely out of Waid’s run. This is not the end of our journey with the Flash. Starting next month (July 2020), we begin looking at Geoff Johns’ long take on the character, a very different style than Waid’s, and one that brought the villains the great prominence.