This post originally appeared on Panels, which is now Book Riot Comics
To celebrate the debut of the latest televised version of The Flash, DC Comics this week launched a giant digital sale on comiXology featuring almost every single issue of the Flash’s various titles from 1987 to today. While the sale includes many stories from after Barry Allen returned to the role in 2008, the sale includes almost the entirety of the time Wally West was Flash.
Wally West took on the mantel of the Flash shortly after Barry Allen was killed during the Crisis on Infinite Earths. Formerly operating under the moniker “Kid Flash”, Wally had most of Barry’s speed powers but very little of his maturity. With his mentor dead, Wally finally fulfilled the unspoken promise of every sidekick and took on the role of the man who trained him. His growth from selfish early-20-something to full fledged hero and family man was one that took over 225 issues to tell and a small army of artists and writers to bring to life. Here are five places to start on this daunting run.
1. The Flash #1 – 14 by Mike Baron, Butch Guice, Mike Collins, and Larry Mahlstedt
With Barry dead, Wally strikes out on his own in these early issues. His secret identity is known to the world and Wally isn’t above using his status as a super hero to get what he wants. He’s selfish, a womanizer, and much slower than he used to be. Still, Wally is the Fastest Man Alive and does his best to help the people of Central City however he can. Filled with references to the Cold War, a villain who is tens of thousands of years old, a drug that gives people super speed, and an unexpected lottery win, this run set Wally firmly on his way as the DCU’s new Flash.
2. The Flash #53 by William Messner-Loebs, Greg Larocque, and Jose Marzan Jr.
After setting Wally’s new life up, Mike Baron left writing the title after issue 14. William Messner-Loebs took over afterwards. His run was fine superheroing but it wasn’t incredibly memorable aside from this issue. In it, not only does Wally have a meeting with the Man of Steel, but the two of them save Jimmy Olsen. Also in this issue is a major status quo change for the Pied Piper, a villain who battled against Barry for years but who had struck up a friendship with Wally after the former sidekick took on the Flash mantle. He revealed to Wally that he was gay. For a comic published by a major company in 1991, it was a pretty big deal. Come for the superheroics, stay for the human drama.
3. The Flash #74 – 79 by Mark Waid, Greg Larocque, and Roy Richardson
While Mark Waid’s legendary run on The Flash started at issue #62, it’s these issues that began the important theme of legacy in the life of Wally West. In “The Return of Barry Allen”, Wally’s dead mentor appears to return. While smiles and handshakes start the story, things quickly begin to slide sideways when Barry starts acting a bit unusual. Only by getting help from some experienced speedsters does Wally have a chance to figure out what’s really going on. It’s this examination about where the Flash has been and what the name truly means to Wally that showcases the growing maturity in the former arrogant, selfish hero. It’s real change for the character and one many readers were excited to see.
4. The Flash #92 – 100 by Mark Waid, Mike Wieringo, and Jose Marzan
Not only do these issues introduce Bart Allen, then known as Impulse and later the second Kid Flash, they also introduce the idea of the Speed Force. Hinted at in earlier issues, the Speed Force is the source of every speedster’s power. But aside from this cosmic concept, the story of Wally having to again mature up quickly is as compelling as ever. This time, instead of having to deal with the past, Wally has to come to grips with his future in the form of Bart. It’s again all about legacy, the cornerstone of Waid’s run. This digital run is missing issue 0, which should go between issues 94 and 95. Hopefully, that error will be fixed soon.
5. The Flash #182 – 188 by Geoff Johns, Scott Kolins, Doug Hazelwood, and Dan Panosian
While the various villains of the Flash collectively known as the Rogues had been a part of the Flash story since the Silver Age, they became the linchpin of Geoff Johns’ run. Previous writers had several of them pop up here and there to help or torment Wally, but under Johns’ tenure, they organized. Lead by the newly fleshed-out Captain Cold, the Rogues participated in several battles that raged across both Central and Keystone Cities. These issues showcase the first such cross-city battle, though several others followed. The Rogues were never worse, or more humanized, than during this run.
Those are five places to start getting into the story of Wally West. With this huge sale going on, there are a little under 200 other places to get started. Find the one that looks best to you and jump on in.