Since his return in the DC Universe: Rebirth one-shot over a year and a half ago, the original Wally West has been somewhat aimless. Sure, he’s a member of the Titans, and the first arc of that series was devoted to his return and an attempted reunion with his wife-from-another-timeline, Linda Park. But since then, very little has been done to integrate Wally back into the wider DCU. Most notably, aside from a few cameos, Wally has been absent from the world of The Flash. The Flash Annual #1 begins to rectify that situation, with an issue spotlighting Wally, and setting the stage for the upcoming “Flash War” storyline.
Series writer Joshua Williamson hasn’t written Original Recipe Wally West very often, but this annual demonstrates that he’s a natural for the character. His Wally is a little hot-headed, and maybe not the best decision-maker, though it’s understandable given the position he’s in here. It’s the latter trait that propels Wally’s story and reunites him with an old friend, to varying degrees of success. Williamson captures Wally’s voice and character traits so well here that this issue would fit right in next to any Flash comic from the ‘90s or early 2000s.
(On a personal level, the character Wally reunites with has always been a favorite of mine among his supporting cast, so seeing them again made me very happy.)
The Wally sequences of the issue are drawn by Christian Duce, who’s drawn not only a few issues of The Flash before, but also an issue of Nightwing that guest-starred Wally West. He’s a great fit for the story, with a style that captures the energy of a speedster in motion when necessary, and that’s expressive during quieter scenes of dialogue. If Wally is ever given his own series, Duce would be a great choice for series artist.
In addition to Wally’s story, there’s a framing sequence that finally picks up on some dangling pieces from the best story of the series thus far. “Running Scared” ended with Iris West killing Eobard Thawne while in the 25th Century. Very little was said after that – Iris had just found out Barry was The Flash and it was a whole thing – so it’s nice to see Williamson picking up on that again. The framing sequence is drawn by Howard Porter, who drew the majority of the “Running Scared” story arc. His scenes in the future Flash Museum are packed with Easter Eggs that’ll have any Flash fan poring over the pages. Porter and Duce’s styles are not exactly similar, but they do complement each other, and the coloring on the issue by HiFi helps to unify things.
With “Flash War” still a few months away, the big reveal on the final page of the issue will have some time to linger in the air before it begins to pay off. It’s an unexpected twist, but a welcome one that helps further integrate Wally’s time as The Flash into the series, and it provides a solid cap to what is an all-around great comic. If you’ve been waiting for Wally West to truly shine since his return, you’re going to love The Flash Annual #1.