Review: Flash #247: “Incubation” (Final Issue)

Flash #247

Well, if Wally West’s series had to end — again — at least he got a decent send-off. Flash #247 concludes Alan Burnett’s four-part “This Was Your Life, Wally West”. This story wraps up threads from the current run of the series, looks back on Wally’s entire super-hero career, firmly establishes his roots in the Justice League and Titans, and sets up a few beats that can be picked up for future stories with the characters.

It picks up immediately after the previous issue’s cliffhanger, resolving the threat to Linda before rushing headlong into battle with the Queen Bee. This month does feature another flashback, this time to the West family’s time on the planet Savoth, but it’s only two pages. It ends with a conclusion that’s not quite an ending, but a place to stop. DC isn’t burning any bridges here the way they did with “Full Throttle” and the end of Bart’s series.

It’s also much better than “Finish Line,” the four-parter that wrapped up Wally’s series the last time it was canceled, from Flash #227–230. It was better written, better researched, and actually made an effort to tie together the rest of the series. The only thing “Finish Line” has over “This Was Your Life, Wally West” is consistent art.

While the first issue of the arc was penciled entirely by Paco Diaz, and the second and third were penciled entirely by Carlo Barberi, this issue was done by committee. Barberi gets the cover spot, but is joined by J. Calafiore and Andre Coelho. I’m not familiar with either of their work, so I couldn’t tell who did which pages, but the shifts in style were jarring. Normally changes in artist don’t bother me, especially if their styles are similar or if the change is done for thematic effect. (An example in The Flash would be Race Against Time, in which each issue used one art team for Wally’s storyline and another for John Fox’s.)

Brian Stelfreze’s cover, on the other hand, has got to be one of the best Flash covers since the relaunch. (I’d also include issues #243 and #246, both by Freddie Williams II) The starkness of it, with the plain white background, the shadow of the grim reaper, and the Flash standing barefoot with his boots off, says everything that needs to be said about what he’s up against. Honestly, I think it would work better without the “Wally West — Finished?” caption, or even the title logo.

Spoilers after the cut:

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SPOILERS AHEAD!

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I was glad to see that they resisted the urge to actually kill off Linda, Iris, or Jai. I figured they probably wouldn’t, since all indications are that Final Crisis takes place later and has them all still around and healthy, but DC has had some, shall we say, high-profile mix-ups in continuity lately. And of course, they could all die in Flash: Rebirth or the last two issues of Final Crisis for all I know.

Speaking of Linda and her death, taking the near-death experience to satisfy the Spectre’s proclamation from last year seemed a little easy (and made me think of the “Prophecy Girl” episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, not that it hasn’t been done a million times elsewhere), but they took it somewhere thematically appropriate, with her love for Wally guiding her back to life. It’s a nice counterpoint to the times that Wally has nearly died in the speed force, only to be guided back to this plane by his love for Linda.

I have to admit, as a long-term Titans reader (1984 through 2005, plus back issues all the way to the beginning), I got a kick out of seeing the Titans going up against the H.I.V.E. once again.

Structure-wise, it was good to see that the device the Queen Bee stole proved to be more than simply a MacGuffin, and was also (as I suspected) the solution to the “speed disease” problem. It seemed appropriate that Iris was the one who figured out how to use it to restore her father’s connection to the speed force, mirroring the conclusion of “Fast Money.”

The way Zazzala manipulated Iris was just plain creepy. Yes, she was hypnotized. But pretending to be her mother, and forcing her to kill people (assuming the HIVE drones were people) is seriously disturbing. It makes sense that she’d still be having nightmares. That, and Jai’s eagerness to fight, are themes I’d like to see explored in future stories, whether in Flash: Rebirth, subplots in the post-relaunch Flash series, or in the second Flash series I keep hoping will follow like Green Lantern Corps followed the relaunched Green Lantern.

It’s tough. I’m still not happy the series is ending. I’ve followed this character for twenty years, and while I’ve read every issue of Barry Allen’s series, he just doesn’t click with me the way Wally does. But at least he went out with a good story this time.

9 thoughts on “Review: Flash #247: “Incubation” (Final Issue)

  1. xinesi

    In examination of your comment; :”…It’s tough. I’m still not happy the series is ending. I’ve followed this character for twenty years, and while I’ve read every issue of Barry Allen’s series, he just doesn’t click with me the way Wally does. But at least he went out with a good story this time.”
    Well, the ending was weak. I mean, it REALLY was bad. As dedicated Wally was to his family, he continued to fight evil in every previous issue. Suddenly we’re expected to accept that it was not Zoom or Grodd or (ect) of his rogues.. but some bee-creature that punched his card so badly that he felthe needed to quit? MORE evidence that writting was weak from the start upon his return!!! At least Johns is returning to the helm and i’d follow his plotlines faithfully -because- even though Barry may have been a weakly developed charater in his day, Johns will be sure to bring some of the old thunder [sic] back! Remember, a character is only as good as his stories! Ie: Batman begins/ Dark Knight vs Superman returns! Dollar votes don’t lie!

    Reply
  2. Rob

    I’m with Kelson onthis one.
    DC better start a second Flash series starring Wally!
    Barry’s great, and I’m sure Geoff will do a stellar job, but Wally West is my favourite comic book character.
    For the last 3 years alone DC owes me BIGTIME as a reader.

    I’m holing out hope that they finally see the light and stop screwing around.

    Reply
  3. SteveJRogers

    I hope the ripoff of Amazing Spider-Man’s “One More Day” covers was unintentional.

    Oh, it is a great cover, but I’d rather not be reminded of how bad that particular story, and the stories that have come out of ASM since.

    Reply
  4. Brandan

    The ending was definitely lackluster and who knows if Geoff will even incorporate Wally’s retirement/vacation within Rebirth. Since his critical fame, Johns hasn’t written not one single issue that served as a character development. I don’t see him doing Wally ANY justice during Rebirth and the same could be said for Barry Allen. The last two covers though are definitely great ones. DC purposely destroyed the Flash book so everyone would be all happy and giddy for Barry’s return because the book has been so bad. Mark Waid never stood a chance to write a good story because he had to deal with the kids and not Wally. He should have been given the entire last run of Wally as the premiere Flash.

    Reply
  5. Chris Hall (also known as Theodore_Kord on Geoff Johns)

    Let me say this. I’m not happy about Wally’s backseat status now. I also don’t want a second title, because it won’t do any of the Flashes justice. It doesn’t work the same way that a GLC does, because they don’t live and work together. They’re not a “Flash Team.”

    I guess it would be OK seeing Wally as a part of the JLA. Put Barry in James Robinson’s book and keep Jay in JSA. Still, it’s not going to be good enough for me. I guess I’ll be able to accept it if Barry treats Wally like an equal adult and Wally, et al, aren’t forced to treat Barry like an infallible god.

    I’m glad Wally and his family aren’t dead. I guess that’s all I can take from this.

    Reply
  6. JDA190

    I admit that I was nervous going into the finish of the series. I thought for sure that they were going to kill Wally off. And then after reading it, I thought for sure that he was going to somehow save Linda by using his speedpowers which would render him powerless.

    I started reading comics because of The Flash. I’ve watched Wally grow from the ‘impulsive’ sidekick, to the arrogant replacement and into a full blown hero who finally stepped out of his mentor’s shadow. I never really read anything with Barry Allen, but I do admit that Johns has done a great job on the Flash in the past and I am actually looking forward to see what Rebirth will bring.

    Reply
    1. Kelson Post author

      One of the things that bugs me the most about this relaunch is that so many people seem to have it in their heads that Wally hasn’t come out of Barry’s shadow, and that somehow he’ll finally be able to do that…by being put in second place behind Barry. It just doesn’t make sense.

      Reply

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