[New to DCU] Flash War Review (Flash Annual #1 and #46-51)

Superhero fighting always has two parts. First, the heroes fight against each other. Then, they team up. Superheroes have always done this since the beginning of time. Well, now we have another fight/team-up story. This time Barry vs. Wally with Hunter Zolomon (Zoom) as the villain. So when analyzing a team up story, we have to look at a couple things: the conflict and the villain. Also because this arc considers itself an event, we also have to look at the consequences.

Minimal Spoilers:

When Rebirth started with DC Universe #1, the most heartfelt moment of the entire issue is Barry remembering Wally's name, and the two of them hugging, while Barry cries about how he forgot him. As Rebirth continued though, Barry and Wally's friendship has taken a rough turn. Wally has felt more and more out of touch, as a result of people he used to know, not knowing who he is. Especially following his inability to reconnect with Linda, Wally has been looking for any way to connect to others. His sense of desperation is what fuels conflict. Throughout Williamson's The Flash, Barry's selfishness has strained their relationship even more. When Wally, feeling alone and desperate, gets one last chance to change everything he takes it, leading to a fight.

Of course, the events of Flash War have Hunter Zolomon as the true villain and while Hunter Zolomon doesn’t differentiate himself enough from Eobard Thawne, he does have moments where you question if he is truly the villain. Zolomon allows Williamson to look at the idea of knowledge or ignorance. The philosophical ideas t in the matrix have some standing here. Is it better for Wally to know the truth and everything about his former life or not. This theme is especially complex as it creates a sadness and melancholy which feel especially poignant in the epilogue. In many ways, future events make more sense in the context of Flash War and the pain Wally feels internally. Zolomon breaks Wally in a surprisingly nuanced way which makes the story more enjoyable, but also more tragic.

Spoiler Part:

Any event comic needs consequences which create stakes. Flash War does not disappoint, revealing new forces to the Flash mythology: the Sage Force and the Strength Force. While we don't know what those forces really are or how they work. Flash War's Epilogue sets up that they will be a big focus for this upcoming year. The only frustration is that there was no clarity about the still force. Did Barry know about the still force before or after Flash War. That slight confusion, though a step back, ultimately doesn't impact the story too much, because most of the focus in the final chapter is on Wally. Wally's brokenness is well portrayed. Hearing that he's running for days in anger and watching it happen makes it clear that Wally is running from his problems, but his problems always catch up. His broken state leads to an important set up for Heroes in Crisis. The other big set up in the epilogue is the other Wally. Wally II complains about being a mistake and feeling like he shouldn't exist. He's angry and Barry and runs off. While it feels like Wally II has been pouting and running away for a while. It was nice to get one last moment which makes it clear to Barry that Barry makes lots of mistakes. This set up along with the others has finally justified Wally II's inclusion in the new edgy Teen Titans. The biggest consequence of this story though is fittingly the Speed Force is broken. That means no more time travel which is probably a good thing. There are too many Flash stories with time travel so it's nice to have a break.

Flash War is a dense story which continually creates tragedy and tension. The ability to keep the comic fresh with fresh reveals and expanding consequences along with some fun guest appearances really create a fun story which should be on everyone’s reading list.


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