Save the Speed Force

Today’s guest post is by Shawn Coots, a.k.a. @BitterWallyWest.

I don’t need to tell you what an amazing character Wally West is. If you’re reading this article, I assume that you, too, witnessed the most organic evolution of a comic-book character first-hand. Thanks to Mike Baron, Bill Messner-Loebs, Mark Waid, Geoff Johns and several others, we have 247 issues of an amazing book that I’ll always cherish. You’ve read the news by now; those days are gone. So, what are WE going to do about it?

I attended a DC panel at SDCC this year, asking the question so many others have asked before. Where is Wally West? Between @speedstersite and myself, we finally solicited the painful answer. Wally has been shelved indefinitely, in order to make the character of Barry Allen unique. Here’s the part of the story where I’ll avoid pointing out the many contradictions behind this strategy and simply say, there are no bad characters, only bad (or limited) writing decisions.

Unfortunately, the rampant fanboy-ism of posting long-winded and bitchy complaints on message boards solves nothing. As fans, we don’t own or curate these characters, DC Comics does. I can’t stress this enough. So how do we get what we want (which is Wally West in his own series, by the way)? I’m getting there.

After Infinite Crisis, DC promoted Bart Allen to his own Flash book, while Wally and family disappeared. This was a terrible decision for many reasons. The writers of the initial arc had little regard for continuity or established character traits. DC canceled it after 13 issues, returning Wally to the title, even bringing back Mark Waid. Rumor has it that the editors stressed that Flash be a family oriented book, thus alienating fans who were clamoring for Wally to return. In my opinion, Mark got the shaft, which is a shame, since he’s done so much amazing work for DC.

It was clear that the title was merely in a holding pattern until Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver could get started on Flash:Rebirth. Once it did arrive, I was very excited by the idea of a large Flash family. Unfortunately, the series didn’t live up to many people’s expectations. The following Barry-Flash title appeared to be one big build up for a summer event, leaving the Flash family to just a few cameo appearances. I also feel it failed to make most of us care about Barry as the Flash. Just being honest, but to each their own.

Where Do We Go From Here?

Now we know what fate has befallen Jay and Wally. Let us examine the five stages of loss/grief. Yes, I’m going to go there.

Stage 1: Denial & Isolation

For months we were assured (or blindly hoping) that DC would eventually announce a Speed Force title. They hinted at it several times, as well as promised that we’d eventually see the scrapped Wally backup stories. I went through a period where I didn’t read the news sites in order to not be let down. I’m glad DC has finally stopped denying it, but it doesn’t make it easier to accept.

Stage 2: Anger

After months of my favorite character being gone, I started a fake twitter profile (@BitterWallyWest) in order to have a bit of fun. I wanted to write sarcastic jokes in the voice of the character, similar to @God_Damn_Batman and the like. The account was never meant to ruffle any feathers, only make people laugh. It’s certainly not meant to be taken seriously, and I’ve met a lot of like-minded friends with it. I only let my anger out at the DC panel at SDCC. That anger was pointless and did nothing to get my point across. So, no more anger or bitterness, whatever happens, both are hollow emotions with horrible repercussions.

Stage 3: Bargaining

I’ll make you a deal. You probably want Wally back in action as much as I do, so I’m going to help. I’ve created an online petition at this address:

Petition: Create a new Flash series featuring Wally West and other speedster characters.

I’m not sure how much DC is willing to pay attention, but attract enough people and surely they’ll notice. If you read this article, share the link with everyone you know, and post it wherever you can, along with the petition. Spread the word far and wide as fast as possible! By signing it, we can show DC how much interest there is, how much money is on the table waiting to be made. This is still a business and it’s smart to remember that.

I’m not going to stop there. I’m also asking that you give the new Flash series a try. Pick it up. Get your friends to buy it. Some would say we should call a boycott. Hurt their wallet and then they’ll listen. That’s ludicrous. DC isn’t going to add a second Flash series if the first one isn’t selling. You know the art will be amazing! Besides that, Brian Buccellato and Francis Manapul are really awesome guys who just want to tell a good story. Let’s give them more characters to do that.

Stage 4 & 5: Depression & Acceptance

I’m skipping these two because I have faith in you. We don’t have to accept our character is gone. Comics are ever-changing and evolving. Eventually, Wally will be back, and the sooner the better. So let your voice be heard! Shout from the rooftops that you’d like to read new adventures with Wally in them. I’d even volunteer to write it (I’ve plotted the first twelve issues already)! I, for one, am not interested in being depressed. There are much larger problems in the world, but I’d like to try to solve this one, with your help. I’m passionate about this because DC published something that made me feel that strongly. I know they can do it again.

If I may back-track a moment, I’m not opposed to Barry Allen being the Flash, the main one, even. I was excited when he came back. At the time, I was lucky enough to encounter Geoff Johns himself after a convention, where he assured me that the Flash universe would be one happy, ever-expanding family.

Well, Geoff (and DC editorial), myself and several others are still waiting…

With utmost sincerity,
Shawn Coots

» View the Petition

36 thoughts on “Save the Speed Force

  1. Dylan

    250 issues. 0, 1/2, 1-247, 1,000,000.

    Also, by buying the new series, DC will not think “Oh, gee, people like the Flash family. Let’s put out another book to expand the character list and create a wider range of storytelling.” They’ll think “Oh, gee, people really love the bastardized Barry Allen we’ve been pushing now. I knew they’d come around. Good job, everybody. High-fives all around. Who is this “Willy” person that readers keep talking about? Crazy.”

    Reply
  2. Dylan

    Oh, and do you actually think Johns is on our side? Do you have blinders on? Have you been in a coma for the past 6 years?

    Reply
  3. Mr Maczaps

    yeah, i’d sign that buuuuut i’m not putting all my personal info on there… and its kind of moot as Batpeople sell and as long as the old guys are in office, Wally is collecting nothing more than dust.

    Reply
  4. Jesse

    Thanks for making the petition.

    I just realized, if Barry is single in the new series, that means that Wally isn’t even his nephew anymore.

    Reply
    1. JonQCitizen

      Plus, if Barry IS the SpeedForce, he could just decide not to strike Lightning on Wally or any of the other Flashes….thus, he is “the one”. That means Wally is just a mechanic for the Keystone Police….where Barry can jeer at him everyday from his CSI office…..really quite sinister.

      Reply
  5. juan c sanchez

    Wally was the best but because barry was dead and he had to live and take care of his legacy which made him the best hero and flash.dc will not bring wally back and that sucks i hope we wally fans make noise and bring him back because i now barry fans dint bring him back it was dc trying another hal jordan

    Reply
  6. Angel

    I signed your petition and I’d just like to add that Flash is off my pull list until Wally is back. Thats another way of supporting the cause. I love Barry, loved the last story, loved Rebirth and DC decided to ruin the direction with their hard-on for Barry. Thanks DC. They seem worried that if they bring back Wally we won’t think Barry is as pretty as he is. Of course if he(Wally) had his own book they’d have 2 flash book’s worth of sales instead of 0.

    Reply
  7. Kyer

    Contrary to what a lot might think…I hate being depressed. My favorite genre has always been comedy. However, I just can’t get past the anger. They lied to us so many times and now they’ve even removed Iris West from the picture. What with the goings on of the past few years I can’t help but think that this move was just as much to keep Wally *totally* out of the picture (even as a teen) as it was to broaden Barry Allen’s romantic entanglements.

    Time and time again we were told to just wait…Wally was going to return and be awesome. Time and time again I was told that ‘no, Johns and Didio really do like Wally’ while being shown no evidence to support this other than that Geoff wrote Wally *back when his only option was Wally since Barry was ‘dead’.

    I am now almost totally convinced that ‘Wally Who’ was not a joke at all, but wishful thinking on the part of DC Editorial to get rid of the ‘upstart’ asap from fans minds so that only the true Flash would recalled. The fact of Young Justice DCAU does not negate this sentiment for me seeing as Wally is likely to remain Kid Flash in that…if he isn’t one of the foretold ‘killed off characters’. Anyway, that Wally is a far cry from Wally West The Fastest Man Alive. (Held the toy in my hand today and put it back. Decided I didn’t want any of it.)

    Honestly, at best I think they’d take those names and sell them to spammers. That’s how much I now trust DC.

    Sorry, man, I get what you are trying to do and I like your gumption. Just…someone show me *evidence* that the current people in charge over there give a rat’s ass about Wally West.

    Reply
    1. Savitar

      I don’t believe they care about Wally either. For some mysterious reason, they’ve put their entire effort towards promoting and having Barry as the Flash.

      What I want is a reason WHY. A stated, creative reason from Dido, Johns, or anyone from DC Editoral as to why Wally can no longer be the Flash, a reason beyond some smug coy answer such as “Wally who?”

      You also have Manapul’s former & equally vague response of how too many Flashes are confusing for readers. DC is seriously underestimating the intelligence and dedication of us fans. If they want our dollars, they need to put forth some cold hard truth on this matters.

      Reply
      1. Lee H

        They’ve already said why they’re not using Wally at the moment. They still want to wait until Barry Allen is more firmly re-established. The Flash is a solo title after all. DiDio also said the first generation of sidekicks are awkward to deal with because of their ages, especially given that their main heroes are now younger and the Justice League formed five years ago. Wally’s kids make things even more awkward.

        As an adult, Wally West has never had his own code name, his own set of powers, or his own costume that wasn’t just a tweak on the standard Flash design. He doesn’t have the unique factor that Nightwing, or even Arsenal and Tempest do.

        At this point, for him to be viable he’d need to be rebuilt from scratch. And I doubt they’ll release a Flash spin-off until the main Flash series has proven itself in sales.

        Think of it this way – when he DOES return (and he will) it will be a BIG DEAL.

        Reply
        1. Kelson

          “We’re waiting until Barry’s established” made sense two years ago. I’m not sure it makes sense today, after Barry’s been back for more then three years, has been the Flash for 2 1/2 years, and has starred in two major events (people keep telling me Blackest Night is a Green Lantern/Flash book).

          How much time does he need?

          Reply
          1. Lee H

            2 1/2 years SHOULD have been enough time, but they dropped the ball again with all of the delays, and now a line wide relaunch and new writing team to build up. Two steps forward, one step back.

            Reply
  8. JonQCitizen

    I’ve collected Flash since “Blood will Run”, and have loved the Wally West Character. That said, I understood why they brought Barry Allen back in “Rebirth”….numbers. Wally’s Flash series hadn’t been selling well for years, far below Johns’ sub-par Barry Allen-Flash series.

    One of things I’ve always disliked about the Flash was the “family”. I like just ONE Flash!!….and although I think it should be Wally, I understand why it’s Barry.

    I am hopeful the new Flash series will be Great! In Retrospect, Flash fans should have supported the Wally series more…but past is past. Easily the best writing that Geoff Johns’ has ever done, and sure to be collector’s items in the future.

    Reply
  9. Aaron

    It’s pretty obvious that the only real reason why Wally was shelved was because Geoff and Dan don’t like him as a character. They got rid of him because of his family? Please. If Wally’s family makes him, somehow, not “relatable” enough, then here’s an idea: GET RID OF HIS FAMILY. They seemed to have no problem undoing Barry’s marriage to Iris, or Clark’s marriage to Lois. It would have been damn easy to keep Wally around if their only true concern was Wally’s wife and kids. Then they say that “well..um…we want to focus on the uniqueness of the flash! He has to be the only one! Yeah, that’s the ticket!” Really? If you want to focus on how Barry is the only one who thinks and moves at light-speed, then why the HELL is Bart still around? Answer: Because that, too, is a complete crock. Geoff and Dan don’t like Wally, so they got rid of him. And writing stories that THEY want to hear, without any sort of regard to what the FANS of said books think isn’t writing comics. It’s writing fan fiction. Dan and Geoff? They work for us. We buy their comics. Without us, they’d be out of a job. And yet they make decisions that are CLEARLY based on nothing more than their own personal fanboy wishes.

    Honestly, Wally IS my Flash. For literally my entire life, Wally had been the only Flash I’d ever known. His story of being the second generation, the sidekick, trying to live up to his Mentor’s reputation, trying to step out of his mentor’s shadow and become his own hero…That resonated with me. It’s the reason why I fell in love with the character. And I KNOW that I’m not alone.

    And yet Geoff and Dan still did what they did because they weren’t trying to make stories for their readers, for the people keeping them employed. They made stories for themselves. As if the riens of DC comics were given to a member of FanFiction.net.

    UGH. Buying Barry’s book will only seal Wally’s fate further. BOYCOTT BARRY’S BOOK. Don’t buy a single damn copy. If you agree with me (and I know a lot of you do) in not giving a rat’s behind about Barry Freaking Allen, then DO NOT buy the New 52 Flash book. Horrible sales on that book will send a strong message to Didio that his decision to push Barry into the hearts and minds of fandom who just don’t care about him was a TERRIBLE one.

    BOYCOTT BARRY. It’s the only REAL way to show them how we feel. Wasting your money on Barry’s book and signing some petition won’t do a damn thing. They were pretty quick to completely dismiss anyone questioning them in person at SDCC, so I doubt questioning them online will do a damn bit of good.

    The only way to do good is by hitting them where it hurts: their wallets.

    Reply
    1. JonQCitizen

      Unfortunately, Barry MUST be the Flash in the current make-up of the DCU…..Superman as the “first” Hero, then the Justice League. If Wally is the Flash, then Barry would have only been the Flash for about 3-5 years before dying and “passing the mantle” to Wally.

      I think Johns awesome job writing Wally all these years proves that he has a “love” for the character….buy Wally just didn’t fit in with the plans for Rebirth-Flashpoint-DCnU.

      It’s possible they were trying to find a way to keep him around; and although this sounds incredibly naive, there just wasn’t an “outlet” to fit him in…like, for example, Kyle Raynor. There is no Flash Corps.

      I’m sure he’s on the bench for now with the JSA and perhaps he will find a place in Morrison’s Multiverse (or whatever they end up calling it) as a Flash from another Earth.

      Reply
      1. Perplexio

        I don’t buy that at all! Saying that DC had no way of making space for Wally is either an insult to their imaginations & creativity or it’s the truth and that makes it even more depressing.

        Maybe I was just giving the editorial and writing staff at DC too much credit. If there’s enough room for Dick Grayson & Bruce Wayne in the DCU there’s enough room for Barry Allen & Wally West.

        Also by ditching Wally they’re killing some story potential for Nightwing… Wally & Dick were best friends after all.

        Reply
        1. Kyer

          No. The thing with speedsters is that they can travel through time and dimensions…so you could have had Wally there…just like with Bart.

          No…Johns wrote The Flash and more specifically The Rogues. I don’t think he wrote *Wally* more than he absolutely had to.

          Yes…the sales for the last years of Wally as Flash were going down. Has anyone asked *why*? I mean, why were there so many bad *stories* being written. Just who had creative control back then after Bart was killed? Who was behind the scenes okaying what would and would not make it as a published Flash story? Was it Didio? Didio, who couldn’t put Barry back into the book just then (I’ve heard a few reasons as to why) so possibly wanted to make Wally’s books as unappealing as possible by making him angsty and depressed, and mainlining the kids rather than Wally/Iris/Jay/Max…and…in other words, was this a plot by Didio to have his last years alive spent with his childhood memory?

          I am asking.

          Reply
          1. Lee H

            I’m pretty sure Dan DiDio didn’t want to make any of his books as unappealing as possible.

            Waid, Peyer and Burnett have all been interviewed on their Flash runs, and none of them mentioned any plan to purposely make the book bad.

            I don’t think DC operates the way you think it does.

            Reply
        2. JonQCitizen

          But West & Grayson aren’t in the same “category”….why? Because Dick Grayson is Nightwing. Remember when he was Batman? Not anymore…why? Because Bruce Wayne IS Batman. But Grayson can be Nightwing…..who can Wally be?

          If there is only one Flash, like only one Batman….then Wally West needs (or needed) a “name” of his own. He never had one, he was The Flash.

          I’m hoping that Wally gets another chance in the future, and hopefully Wally-Fan’s patience & persistance pays off!

          Reply
    2. Kory

      “And yet Geoff and Dan still did what they did because they weren’t trying to make stories for their readers, for the people keeping them employed. They made stories for themselves. As if the riens of DC comics were given to a member of FanFiction.net.”

      THANK YOU! I am soo glad I’m not alone in thinking this. Same with Marvel regarding a certain web-head.

      Reply
      1. Lee H

        The Flash has been selling better and getting more critical claim and attention since Rebirth.

        Spider-Man is Marvel’s best selling solo hero title, and both issues (it comes out twice a month) have consistently placed in the monthly top 10 since Dan Slott’s Big Time run.

        They must be doing something right.

        Reply
    3. Kate

      UGH. Buying Barry’s book will only seal Wally’s fate further. BOYCOTT BARRY’S BOOK. Don’t buy a single damn copy. If you agree with me (and I know a lot of you do) in not giving a rat’s behind about Barry Freaking Allen, then DO NOT buy the New 52 Flash book.

      Nah, I won’t be boycotting Barry’s book. I’ll be buying it and I’ll probably be enjoying it.

      But fans like you? Have made damn sure I will never buy another product with Wally in it.

      P.S. Yeah, comments like the one I’m replying to don’t alienate half the fanbase at all, Kelson. Not at all.

      Reply
      1. Kelson

        He’s angry, and if I’d been following the comments on this post more carefully, I would’ve probably said something…

        …but I don’t see where he’s telling people that their opinions aren’t valid, or claiming that his favorite Flash is superior to other Flashes in every way and anyone who disagrees is an idiot, or actively insulting anyone (with the possible exception of Geoff Johns and Dan Didio, depending on your opinions on fan fiction), or telling people who disagree with him to keep their mouths shut and stop whining.

        The most questionable aspect is in assuming that most fans agree with him. I’m not sure how many prefer Wally, Barry, or the fast guy in red.

        There is a difference between “I don’t care about X, and if you agree with me, you should do Y” and “I don’t care about X, and you shouldn’t either.”

        Reply
  10. Josh

    The saddest thing about all of this is the divide it has caused among Flash fans. I happen to be one of the folks who likes both Barry and Wally. As long as we’re getting well written stories, and the guy behind that mask is interesting, I’ll keep reading.

    And that’s where my problem is. I understand they needed to perform CPR on the Flash book after Waid’s last run which was a disaster, but there’s simply nothing going on with Barry. All those retcons and burying Wally, and Geoff and Co. still haven’t made Barry’s stories any more interesting than they ever were. He’s still Hal Jordan with a different power.

    Rebooting the DC Universe with Wally as the Flash would have been simple. Why not go the DC Animated Universe route, and amalgamate the two characters (The Flash is Wally, but Wally has Barry’s job and patrols Central City.)? Why not put Barry in the Obi-Wan Kenobi role, which suits the character perfectly?

    I tend to believe Didio when he says that these were changes that he wanted to implement for the past five years. That doesn’t necessarily mean that he was alone in his desires, and I would tend to agree with those that say Geoff didn’t prefer Wally. Johns wrote some incredible Flash stories during his run, but I know I’m not the only one who noticed and was bothered by Geoff’s insistence on saddling Wally with Barry’s personality traits. After The Secret of Barry Allen, it became rather unbearable.

    As for petitions, and whether or not the book should be boycotted, I’ll say that everyone should do whatever they feel. I’ll check the book out on the stands when I see it, but if the first two or three pages don’t grab me after reading them, on the stands is where it will stay. At this point, with everything that’s gone on over the last couple of years, those first couple of pages better be bloody brilliant.

    If you really are that unhappy, or you want to send a message, a real message, to DC, the do not, under any circumstances, buy the new #1. Buy the two Wally Retroactive’s that are coming out (maybe even two of each), watch Young Justice, and ignore the new book completely. The whole reason any of this is happening is because of DC’s slumping sales. They WILL get the message. It may take a while, but they will. I would say give the book a chance, keep an open mind… But I’m not here to change people’s minds. Your feelings are just as valid as others. I grew up on Wally like most of you, and while I have no problem with Barry, I too have been horrified with the treatment of Wally, who I feel became the definitive Flash a while ago.

    Reply
    1. JonQCitizen

      If we all boycotted Flash #1, DiDio, Lee, & Johns still wouldn’t bring Wally back….they would blame it on Manapul (which would be unfair), and get another writer.

      Then if the boycott continued, they would cancel The Flash, and just keep Barry in the Justice League.

      A boycott of The Flash may actually hurt the chances of Wally West ever returning as The Flash.

      Reply
  11. Savitar

    DC screwed up by showing Wally as the Flash in Rebirth. They should have either de-powered him, given him a new identity or killed him.

    Instead hey set up this problem and let it languish. They have no clue as to how to resolve it other than ignoring the fans’ requests and questions concerning Wally.

    Reply
  12. Realitätsprüfung

    I think several of you may have clouded your love of these great fictional characters with a base reality:

    The Flash isn’t some big comics franchise that can support multiple books and multiple iterations of a character. So until then, it’s one, ONE guy in a red suit that runs real fast.

    I don’t have a strong preference for which version they use, be it Barry or Wally. But whichever one you have, the others are almost entirely redundant. Unimportant.

    Sad to say, but it’s true.

    Reply
  13. Mike W

    Wow! To say that makes it sound likecyou have never read a comic book before!? It isn’t about base reality etc. It is about the direction a character has been taken. In this case an entire generation backwards. Well, actually two if you include the whole Bart thing for a year? But that is something all that more confusing.

    And if you don’t care who is in the uniform then you have NEVER read both series. Two different personalities. Barry Allen = Square Wally West = Cool and upbeat

    I just don’t ohhhhh… I was all about getting on board the new series now with a post like this… now I hate Barry Allen that much more.

    Reply
    1. Kelson

      Mike, Realitätsprüfung’s point was about economics and whether the market will sustain two Flash books. He’s obviously read comics before. And I don’t think you can really boil Barry’s and Wally’s personalities down that simply.

      Realitätsprüfung, I don’t think that issue is far from anyone’s minds here — after all, the thrust of this thread is basically “Here’s what we want to buy from DC” — but I’m not sure it’s quite so cut and dried as you suggest. The market supported both Flash and Impulse ongoing series for 7 years from 1995-2002, so I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of two speedster-themed books if they can be designed around sufficiently different hooks.

      Reply
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  15. Mike W.

    Hmmm.. I think the point most people are missing about this whole Wally vs. Barry thing is asking themselves when did they start liking the Flash. For me it was way back in the Superfriends days. Back then I wasn’t more than 5 or 6 definitely younger than I am now. Then it was obvious who the Flash was. Fast forward about eleven or twelve years and suddenly there is a moderately well done tv show starring again Barry Allen. That one season television series got me into reading Flash. Lo and behold though it isn’t Barry Allen but some other guy named Wally West. Great I like the character and had to figure out by buying about four years worth of back issues plus an entire previous series to find out what happened to Barry Allen. Cause yeah, I had no clue.

    That said, yeah I am disappointed in the whole change up. However like Kelson put it, and I am paraphrasing a bit here, do we like the guy named X or named Y or do we like the buy who runs fast in the red suit. And I would be willing to bet my collection, yeah I said it my collection, that a majority when they think about it and I mean really think about it. The answer isn’t going to be X or Y but instead the guy in the red suit who runs at ludicrous speed! Long live the Flash.

    Reply

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