"The Once and Future Flash": Wally West recalls how his friend and mentor Barry Allen had apparently returned from death, and rejoined him as The Flash in Central City. Unfortunately, the happiness that came from his return turned sour w
Synopsis for "The Once and Future Flash"
Wally West recalls how his friend and mentor Barry Allen had apparently returned from death, and rejoined him as The Flash in Central City. Unfortunately, the happiness that came from his return turned sour when Barry seemed jealous and brutal in ways he had never been before. His depravity continued to a point where it was Barry versus all of the speedsters until Wally finally realized that it was not Barry at all who had returned, but Eobard Thawne - the Reverse Flash.
Wally demands to know how Thawne managed to return from death, since he watched Barry snap Thawne's neck in order to save an innocent woman's life. Thawne reveals that he is the same Thawne, but that he has not even met Barry yet. He explains that his home in the 25th Century is a cold and sterile place where superheroes are long forgotten because crime is kept in check by technology.
Thawne explains how he had followed Barry's story and idolized him to the point that he got plastic surgery to change his appearance to that of Barry, and studied Barry's biography until it seemed as real a life as his own. He then stole the Cosmic Treadmill, but to use it, he required super-speed. He painstakingly recreated the chemical bath which gave Barry his powers, at great cost to himself. He then used the treadmill to go back - but ended up in the wrong era.
Upon materializing in Central City, Thawne travelled to the Flash Museum where he decided to take up Barry's mantle, and continue his tradition. Of course, when he studied Flash's Rogues Gallery, he discovered Professor Zoom's monument, and was horrified to realize that he was destined to die at the hands of his hero. The shock of of the discovery and the rigors of time-travel caused Thawne to snap, and he believed that he was Barry Allen.
Having heard all this, Wally states that Thawne must return to his own time, but Thawne madly exclaims that as long as he stays hidden in the present, he will be safe from Barry Allen's murderous reach, believing his return to the future is one step closer to his death. Thawne plans to destroy the Cosmic Treadmill, and Wally tries to convince him not to by outlining all of the paradoxes that would be caused by the treadmill's destruction.
Thawne becomes angry and attacks Wally, but suddenly, Green Lantern bursts through the wall and captures him in a cage of green energy. Thawne is unimpressed, because he is well aware that Green Lantern is weak against the color yellow - which is the primary color of his suit. He takes out Green Lantern, and then shifts his attention to Johnny Quick and Max Mercury. After dealing with them, he vibrates through the wall and escapes, leaving a cryptic message, claiming that he has found a way to rub Jay Garrick out of the picture.
The heroes all visit Jay in the hospital, after learning of his injuries. His leg has been broken in six places, and it is unclear if he will ever run again. Despite the offers up help from his companions, Wally declares that this is his fight. Wally shares the biography of Barry Allen that he discovered, noting that its copyright date is from a few short years into the future. The author's credit disturbs and confuses them, and Wally declares that the name is the only god news to come out of the catastrophe, handing the book to Jay for safe-keeping.
Wally plans to take on Thawne one-on-one, and asks his friends to stand ready if he fails. Thawne must return to the 25th century with no memory of their battle, lest history change. They warn Wally that he has no chance of matching Thawne's speed, but Wally believes that he can outmatch Thawne's speed of thought. However, Max Mercury warns that without facing his fears about replacing Barry before facing Thawne, Wally has no prayer of survival.
Meanwhile, Linda Park interviews the mayor about the danger that Thawne poses to both Keystone City and Central City. However, their discussion is interrupted when Thawne appears, and vibrates his arm through the mayor's chest, causing a heart attack. He reveals his identity on-air and claims responsibility for all of the havoc he has caused. He then grabs Linda, and threatens to kill her.
Wally is already on his way, and arrives just in time to yank Linda from Thawne's grasp. Even so, Thawne is faster, and beats Wally into submission before he can land a single punch. Thawne mocks Wally's resolve, and angrily, Wally gathers his strength. He realizes that while he is afraid of replacing Barry, he is more afraid of letting Thawne do it. He rushes after Thawne, and lands a powerful blow. Now that Wally has realized that his powers were within him all along, he and Thawne are evenly matched. Wally comes at him with such contempt and disgust that Thawne is reduced to begging to be finished off. Wally refuses to kill him, if only to preserve the Timestream.
Wally drags Thawne to the Cosmic Treadmill, begins running, and then disappears. Resigned, Thawne does the same, and is sent back to the 25th century. Unbeknownst to Thawne, though, Wally hadn't time-travelled, but he had simply run away so fast that he couldn't be seen. Thawne returns to his own time with no memory of his fight with Wally - destined to return to the past, and be killed by Barry Allen.
Later, Wally and Linda visit the Flash Museum, where a new statue has been erected in Wally's image, to stand beside his uncle's. Wally glances at the biography of the Flash, hopeful that the fact that it was written by Iris Allen is a sign that at least his aunt will return. Even so, he decides not to keep it, worrying that it's best not to know his own future by reading it. Instead, he and Linda tear it up, and throw it into the river - reaffirming that the future and the role of the Flash now belong to Wally West in earnest.
Appearing in "The Once and Future Flash"
- Joan Williams
- Mayor Harold Lampert
- This issue is reprinted in the trade paperback Flash: Return of Barry Allen.