Surprising Flash Fact: Wally West has More Experience than Barry Allen

I had an odd thought while reading The Flash #2* last week. Francis Manapul draws Barry and Iris in a way that makes them look fairly young, and I remembered someone’s remark that the cowl on Wally West’s new costume makes him look older than Barry, even though Wally used to be Barry’s younger sidekick.

Then it hit me: No, Wally isn’t older than Barry Allen (even with time travel) but when you factor in his earlier Kid Flash career, he actually has more experience than Barry at this point!

No, Really!

Wally West became Kid Flash very early in Barry Allen’s Flash career — only six issues into his solo series! Flash vol.1 started with #105, picking up from where the Golden Age Flash Comics left off, and Wally was struck by lightning in Flash #110, back in 1959. He didn’t retire as Kid Flash until very late in Barry’s career, in New Teen Titans #39 — just one year before Barry vanished in 1985.**

So Wally West has been running around for most of Barry’s career plus his own!

Team Player

During his JLA run, Grant Morrison is one of the few writers I can remember really building on the fact that the original Titans grew up as super-heroes. I don’t recall it being a plot point, but Morrison mentioned it in an interview, or possibly one of the Secret Files books, and it clearly factored into his characterization of Wally West. He might not have been as old as Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman, but he’d been working with a team longer than they had, and he was a consummate professional.

Wally wasn’t the rookie on the team by any stretch. That honor went to Green Lantern Kyle Rayner.

Of course, neither Wally nor Barry can hold a candle to Jay Garrick, who has been speeding since 1940!

*Yes, I do still plan on reviewing it. It was just a busy week, and for some reason, it’s been hard to sit down and write it.

**These are of course the real-world publishing dates. The fictional DC Universe would use a vague “X years ago” timeline that always seems to change, but usually compresses everything from the dawn of the Silver Age onward into a 10-15–year period.

27 thoughts on “Surprising Flash Fact: Wally West has More Experience than Barry Allen

  1. YraniGami

    Very true! Wally’s experience in dealing with the unknown certainly surpasses Barry’s. I started collecting the Flash near the end of Barry’s run and Wally’s run as the Flash, by comparison, does seem more fantastic and better written than Barry’s exploits were. However, now that Barry is THE Flash again, I’m sure we can expect really good stories that will feature Barry coming to terms with a world and population very different from before he “died.” Also, perhaps as a result from Wally’s greater experience with the Speedforce we can expect a type of “flash evolution” in Wally. Having mastered the use of his superpowers, Wally may become a different superpowered hero altogether! Maybe the writers can then explore the full extent of Wally’s abilities as a Quantum Being, of which superspeed is only one of many by-products, as suggested in the novel STOP MOTION by Mark Schultz. What do you think?

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  2. Mbish

    Ah Math at work…
    I don’t think enough writers touch on the fact that a lot of these ‘young’ heros have the same if not more experience than the older superheroes.

    It makes sense that Wally has more experience, However I do wonder what effect Barry’s time in the Speedforce will have on him (And on Max who has been in there for a bit from what I know). I know Rebirth explored this but I am also interested in the long term effects.

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    1. Kyer

      I would love to see a subtheme where Barry’s physiology was affected enough by the SF that it was causing problems of some sort. Max could act as doctor with Wally being needed to stablize Barry—something like how he helped Bart early on, but at a deeper level.

      Chances of anything like that happening? Next to nil. Barry is the Supreme Being of the Speedsters right now as far as the DC head honchos are concerned. Wally can’t be allowed to reach his full potential lest it make Barry look less than THE Flash. (Up until the Barry as SF thing, I had loved his return. That concept of being THE SOLE generator ruined it for me.)

      The problem with Wally becoming a Quantum Being is his family. How would you work Linda and the kids into that? Especially Linda who is his anchor. Maybe he can work on ‘lending’ her his aura ability like he can lend speed? The only thing keeping Linda from moving really fast is the lack of that aura.

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      1. Mbish

        True. Barry may well become the Superman of speedsters. Getting powers whenever it suits and so on.
        However (if you are into that sort of thing) We have fanfiction to explore such concepts (It’s not all porn as some would have you believe, LOL)

        The concept SHOULD be explored though. The Speedforce would have had an effect on those trapped within it.

        On this subject did anyone notice that it said Max was going to be in the 21st century… for now?
        Maybe they are alluding to something like this concept happening

        Linda and Iris have their coffee for speeding. 🙂

        Reply
        1. Kyer

          Fanfic is a godsend for those of us to impatient with DC’s dribbling out Flash stories. I’d take this on if I wasn’t already knee-deep in trying to finish two Flash fics. (And no…they’re not porn. 🙂 )

          Perhaps the effect would be being prone towards wanting to go ‘full throttle’ too easily? Would play heck with maintaining a secret identity if you had to constantly keep rein on your power. One little slip and your morning jog to work would only pay off if you worked in another continent.

          Max…they stated why Max ping-ponged around history so much, but I forgot why. Something to do with Barry. I think it was supposed to be due to his being drawn to “The Generator” like a moth to a flame or some such mundaneness.

          Btw, if YOU write as well, stay away from slang. I just read the first ever story (Showcase) where Barry and Hal meet. *Gosh golly*, but times have changed! lol

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          1. Mbish

            Golly Kyer! I’ll keep that in mind *snort*
            I’d love to see your fanfic’s when you finish them. Do you have a blog or something that I could look at if you have other works (the world needs more flash fanfiction, if only to explore Ideas that DC probably never will themselves)

            I like your idea with that. Even if barry has not been effected especially I think having superspeed would be hard (I can totally see Bart ending up in South Africa when he was heading to Keystone or something)

            They explained Max somewhat in Rebirth but I sort of want more of his character. I did not read comics when Impulse came out (I was only 2 when it started), because of this I really want Bart and Max explored now that they are both back. Also cause given how much Bart has changed (and how little in some areas) I want to see what their relationship would be like now (and I want to see what they do with Carol, Preston and Helen too)
            From what I know the Manchester gang just sort of disappeared one day, I want to see them come back.

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          2. Kyer

            MBish: I write not-quite slapstick comedy and angst with comedy. Click on the one with Plastered on the title to get an idea of the type of comedy. search engine Kyer Wally West. You’ll spot the link. I leave Anonymous reviews open so feel free to tear into them.

            If you know of any *active* JL sites besides FFN (not porn) I’d love to know of them.

            Reply
      2. IranyGami

        When I mentioned that Wally is a Q-Being, I didn’t mean that his physiology would change, rather, that his power source could be explained/explored in a different manner from Barry’s. Before you answer to the obvious implications of that statement, keep in mind that whether you agree or not, the SF, intagibility, time-travel, multi-dimensional travel and even Bart’s “ghost scouts”, ARE all examples of possible quantum-related phenomena as scientifically defined. Linda and the kids would not necessarily be affected.

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        1. Kyer

          Now see…Wally Q has me thinking Star Trek:TNG/Flash xover. 🙂

          I can’t think right now how Wally could actually have a seperate power source from Barry as he was struck by ‘Barry’ lightning in order to become a speedster.

          On the other hand, Wally DID have many more exploits than Barry and some of those involved other dimensions…so I suppose it’s possible he ‘picked something up’ like a virus while ‘elsewhere’. (No, not the Elsewhere titles.) Plus…minds are different, so it’s also possible that the SF affected Wally’s ‘soul’ in some minute fashion than it did Barry’s—and also the other way around. In fact, all the speedsters may be subtly different from each other in what they are capable of. That would certainly add more spice to the SF pie.

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          1. YraniGami

            Kyer, you misunderstood what I wrote. I said that Wally’s power source could be explained or explored in a different manner from Barry’s. Meaning; it is still the same power source, just viewed from another perspective. By the way, Quantum Physics, theory and numbers did not originate with TNG or w/Quantum Leap. It is simply a branch of mathemaital/scientific study. (Sorry, I know you were kidding, but this explanation is more for those who are not aware of what it is or how it works in theory.) Also, I agree that it may seem that at different times Barry, Wally and Bart seemed to have unique alternative powers. However, if they are all powered by the SF, then should it not logically follow that perhaps they’ve each accidentally tapped into further “quantum” abilities? Would this not, then, make them Quantum beings? Mind that this does not mean that their bodies are COMPOSED of “quantum matter”, whatever that may be.

            Reply
    1. Mbish

      Why do you say that?
      I guess timetravel and years in the speedforce count for something but still…

      I would like to know why you say this, it sound like it would be an interesting theory

      Reply
    2. Kyer

      Mbish, check the link provided (next to the reply to this link) It’s truly fascinating.

      Weird that from this perspective, Wally and Barry share something in common with Vandal Savage: they’ve (subjectively) lived for an incredible amount of time…so many memories…no wonder they forget any information they cram into their brains! 😛

      Reply
      1. Mbish

        I’m sorry I can’t seem to see the link?
        Could you post it in your reply please?

        Oh wait I get it… subjective and objective time right? Like that little story in ‘secret origins’ in which the speedsters have a moment and it only takes one minute to have it.

        I love the concept of subjective time regardless.
        Speedsters are the most patient people on earth. especially Bart I would think, given his speed is natural (I would think)

        Reply
  3. West3man

    Dunno if it has been mentioned, above, but it kind of bugs me when people/creators act like people like Captain America and the JSA’ers (that almost sounds like a Golden Age title), have been jerking from their first appearances, straight through until the present day. That may be partially because I do not fully understand some of their histories. They were actually out of action for a huge chunk of time. (Were the JSA’ers fighting that whole time in Limbo? I woukd expect that to drive a person insane so I considered their time to have been compressed such that keep them relatively young and kept them from gaining all that experience, as well. Then there is something about Central City as well, right? Bah.)

    Sorry for the big block o text.
    .-= West3man’s latest blog post: Octopussy =-.

    Reply
    1. Kyer

      I’d take it that the JSA’s time sense was ‘normal’ from their view point. Otherwise that would truly have been hellish.

      Central City was out of sync with everyone for years…is that what you mean? I believe it was a Barry Allen story where it reappeared. (I get confused on the two now because it’s *Keystone* that’s supposed to be economically behind yet CC was the one caught in time?)

      Reply
      1. Mbish

        I believe it was Keystone that was out of sync. They Barry came in and it was all cool.

        I may be wrong though but that is what I can recall from Rebirth

        Reply
        1. Kelson Post author

          Yes, it was Keystone City that was phased out of reality. It was set up in a Grant Morrison story in Secret Origins #50 (1990) that updated “Flash of Two Worlds” to fit with the post-Crisis everything-in-one-universe cosmology.

          Instead of Barry crossing over to another dimension to find Keystone, and helping Jay fight a crime wave by the Fiddler, Thinker and Shade, he crossed into a Keystone that had been shifted out of phase so that the three villains could plunder it at will.

          DC couldn’t make up its mind about whether it was months, years or even decades, or whether the population was held in suspended animation (so they wouldn’t age) or simply sleepwalking through their lives.

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    2. Omar Karindu

      The JSAers only spent a year or so in Limbo in-continuity; they truly were alive and largely active from the 40s through the present.

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  4. DeadManMoe

    Hey there Kelson; I was the one who said that Wally looked older than Barry (I believe it was a comment about “Rebirth 06” `s cover, over at comic bloc).

    The “experience” thing was something I had thought about already, along with the power levels stuff.

    The way I see it, in DC time, there´s about seven to eight years post-COIE; Wally got his powers originally one year after Bary and was M.I.A. for another year (either in Savoth, in the Speed Force or in an alternate Keystone, who knows!) so his experience amounts somwhere in four to six years longer than Barry`s.

    HOWEVER, he was heavilly depowered in Mike Baron`s run and only achieved “full” potential by the end of Waid`s run, so, if we`re talking “Class A speedster”, it would be about, I don`t know, 2 or three years longer than Barry`s?

    Still, when I heard that Barry was comming back and was gonna be THE Flash again, I was expecting a more elegant solution to the fact that he was one of the last experienced/powerfull chars than making him the Speed Force and the mandated disapearence of all the others characters in the franchise. This “Barry Allen pure and simple” thing just threw me off of the franchise completelly….

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  5. stewart

    Even in a fictional time line, Wally & Barry’s overlapping careers and Barry’s long absence (a huge amount of revision would be needed to erase those 20 years altogether) do make Wally the more experienced Flash. (And the “real” one for a generation of readers.)

    Reply
  6. Sandor_Clegane

    So it breaks down as:

    Barry has been a speedster longer than Wally, but Wally has been an *active* speedster longer than Barry? (For now, anyway.)

    I thought that was rather obvious. Or was this notation really just another way to promote Wally to “super-important” status over Barry somehow…and maybe kill some free time in the process?

    Reply
    1. Kelson Post author

      Wow, and people accuse Wally’s fans of being oversensitive. (As if Wally having one advantage over Barry — one shared with Jay and Max, no less — somehow threatens the status DC has given him over the last two years.) But since you asked so nicely…

      No, it was simply an attempt to highlight an interesting paradox. What’s obvious to one person isn’t always obvious to everyone, and an awful lot of the Flash History posts are going to be obvious to some readers, but not others, depending on how long they’ve been reading the book and how well they remember it.

      Reply
  7. matt

    of course you need to consider that wally and jay didn’t have adventures on a regular basis for large chunks of time, so who actually has been in the most published stories? barry? wally? not jay, for sure.

    Reply

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