The Theory of Relativity (and Relatives) – Review of FLASH ANNUAL #3

Flash Annual 3This Annual gives us an intro to a very much alive Wally West…and it throws in another very familiar name as well…as Venditti and Jensen set the stage for the “Future Flash” arc with a shocking turn for Barry Allen.  Something is very wrong with the future Barry…


We meet Wally West as he tags a building with a sentiment that is unfortunately very popular among Gem Cities residents – spray painting a circle and slash over a Flash symbol.  After all, the citizens of Central City were hit especially hard by the Crime Syndicate at a time when their hero was nowhere to be found.  Barry stops him, and Wally is taken into the local police station, where Iris comes calling to get her nephew. As it turns out, Daniel is not Iris’ only sibling, and her older brother Rudy is Wally’s father.  But, Rudy ran off a long time ago and Wally’s mother disappeared when the Crime Syndicate hit town.  Add to that the fact that Wally had looked up to his Uncle Daniel (and is still mad at the Flash for sending Daniel to prison)…and we have a young man in desperate need of a positive influence.  Barry and Wally somehow manage to connect briefly…at least enough to keep Iris from learning just who caused Wally to be arrested.  But, Barry has a lot more on his mind, both now and in the future.

It seems that whenever Barry uses his powers, he loses time.  This actually fits with Einstein’s theory…and here, traveling at the Flash’s speed causes a surprising difference in time for the Barry and for everyone else.  We’re starting to see that play out now, and it has very dire omens for the Future Flash…speaking of which…

Future Flash and future Grodd have a battle with serious consequences…and interesting revelations as a name is thrown out that will be VERY familiar to Flash fans.  What happens next is a shocker…but for more you’ll need to grab the issue.

Wally fans will need to wait a bit more to see his full personality emerge – but he is very much alive here and hopefully will remain so at the end of this arc.  For those who are flashing back to Jason Todd stealing the tires off the Batmobile, I get it…but there is an important difference.  Wally isn’t a thief, and doesn’t appear to have a serious prior record.  He is (however inappropriately) expressing the same frustration that a lot of people in the Gem Cities have right now when it comes to the Flash.  And, his reaction to Barry at the police station gives some hope for what could lie ahead…if Barry can keep Wally alive, that is.

Robert Venditti and Van Jensen have some big plans for the Flash, and we’re starting to see just how far they are willing to take Barry.  There will be a bit of timey-wimey confusion here with the Future Flash coming back to prevent his own timeline…and in the end some of what we’ve seen in this issue (and in issue #30) may turn out to have never happened once things are set right.  Still, it is a daring start to this arc, and if nothing else I’m glad to see this team willing to take chances.  The art is divided by time lines, with Brett Booth and Norm Rapmund handling Future Flash, and Ron Frenz and Livesay taking on the present timeline – with Andrew Dalhouse handling colors all around.    There were a couple of panels for the present-day Flash that reminded me of Wally’s running style – no problem there, just a little nod to prior days.  And, the artwork for Future Flash is amazing in it’s detail and execution.

This is an issue that will definitely create a lot of discussion – but there is still much of the story that is yet to be told.  I’m hanging on for the ride here, to see what Venditti, Jensen, Booth and Rapmund have in store for us.  The final verdict on this annual will be told in the way the arc turns out…hopefully we will look back on this one as a must-have collectible.



31 thoughts on “The Theory of Relativity (and Relatives) – Review of FLASH ANNUAL #3

  1. johnnywellens

    I can’t do this anymore. No more Flash for this guy. I have dislike Flash since his New 52 debut and now they’ve ruined Wally for me. Everything has changed and I don’t like it. I’m done with Flash and they don’t get anymore chances from me. I’m out.

  2. Jesse

    Yeah … if someone has a different personality, a different age, a different race, and a different backstory than Wally West, then using the words “Wally West” does not a Wally West make.

    I could write about an elderly Russian computer programmer whose six kids help him start his own zoo, but if I called him “Sherlock Holmes” he would not suddenly be Sherlock Holmes.

    I was hoping that despite the random race change, Wally’s personality would be clear in this new character. But no, he seems to (intentionally? for shock value?) have as opposite a personality as possible. Wally is optimistic, bright, eager, idolizing, and in some versions that includes being a jokester and a ladies man. This new character is a sullen, chip-on-his-shoulder stereotypical bratty teenager.

  3. Steve

    Making the distinction between theft and vandalism doesn’t really seem to be a very significant one, since they’re both petty crimes. The biggest problem with Wally as a graffiti tagger is that it’s painting his character in very broad strokes. Which becomes problematic when he’s part African American. It’s a very cliche act of delinquency. Even theft would have been a more preferable crime if what he stole was something specific and meaningful, like one of his uncle Daniel’s belongings from the station’s evidence locker. It’s still very much like Jason Todd in that the writers are putting the emphasis on giving Wally “attitude” rather than giving him character. The interview with the writers who promised that this would not be the wholesome Wally from the 50’s seems to support this idea, but it’s still too early to tell. I think the reviewer’s right that Wally fans will have to wait to see if there is a solid character beneath the attitude, but 2 issues into his much hyped comeback, it’s safe to say that’s a bad thing. This is first impressions territory, after a character’s been gone for 4-5 years.

  4. Steve

    Glad that Rudy’s still a part of DC canon, though! The con artist father was a large part of what made Wally the person he was in the old continuity.

  5. Ed Garrett Post author

    I think Steve has made a good point regarding Wally’s tagging, and I wanted to add a little here. My take was influenced in part by the fact that tagging was rampant in Central City after the events of Forever Evil – just check out FLASH 30 and the Annual to see what I mean – and to me it appeared that this was something being done by a wide range of individuals. Wally was adding his own mark of frustration – not saying something about “scum pigs” but rather expressing his anger at a supposed hero who had put his favorite uncle (Daniel) in prison and who had not been there when the city needed him most. I didn’t have the sense that this was a regular action of Wally’s, but rather a one-off mistake, hence I didn’t see this as them setting up a Wally with “attitude”. Still, we didn’t see a lot of Wally in this issue and still need to see how this plays out over time. I do understand the concerns being expressed here from long-time Wally fans (I’m one too…I go back to having bought the very first issue of Teen Titans back in the 1960’s). Still, my general inclination when there are changes is to wait and see how things develop – and this is still very early in the process. I do understand those who have reservations, even serious ones, but hopefully this will play out well.

    1. steve

      I think you can argue that the anger against the Flash and the graffitti is a one-off mistake, but i don’t think you can make that same argument when Wally says “screw you!” and sprays a total stranger with graffiti. That kind of reads as a superficial attempt at “attitude” to me. bart simpson levels of it.

  6. Scott Timms

    It has been one story…ONE… and a time travel story (or a time travel element). I feel like the old guy trying to get the people to stay in Braveheart before William Wallace gives his speech…DO NOT FLEEEE!!!

    1. Nygma619

      Your asking people to have faith in this, after we’ve been burned HOW MANY TIMES by DC in these last few years? I’m not just talking about New 52. These sort of problems have been going on for years ever since Dan Didio took over.
      So no, your Braveheart scenario is not applicable to fans frustrations over this.

      1. Scott Timms

        I mean an old man trying to get people to stop and those people still leaving if applicable. Just no went Mel Gibson shows up. Downer… people are so freaking negative you won’t even give the story beyond a single issue. I’m not a huge fan of every cook every week, but tomorrow is a new day and wednesday always bring a chance of hope. What the current vision isn’t yours so you pout? I love flash going back to showcase #4. I have read every issue from then to now and own all but a handful. All i am saying is…RELAX go to your local comic store and grab a comic that doesnt make you a negative person.

        1. Jesse

          I get your frustration with us negative folks, but unfortunately it’s not a single issue … on the Wally West front, it’s a mistreatment or ignoring of the character for many years now, and on the DC front, it’s a series of overwhelmingly poor decisions and inane, repetitive comics for a long time now.

          I do weekly grab other comics that make me happy, but this is the site to talk about Flash, not other comics. And the number of other great comics is exactly what makes this frustrating. Two graphic novels in the past few weeks blew my mind they were so good (Digger and A Stray in the Woods). I honestly believe we’re in comics’ new Golden Age right now, but DC is being left behind, intentionally putting out schlock for some reason. It’s disheartening for a lifelong DC fan.

  7. FlashFan207

    I’m not sold on Wally’s new look, but the fact he’s back has me excited about comics again. After my first read through this issue, I felt a little underwhelmed. But after reading this review I’m going to go through it again with my eyes opened a bit wider (I went and read this issue before Flash #30 – but now that I’ve read that, I’ll see how I feel after the re-read). I also am taking a wait and see attitude with this arc, but I am undoubtedly STOKED to see where this all goes from here. Wally is back and I am very excited.

  8. Steve

    His characterization will probably get better after he stops being a plot device. I re-read 30 and the annual, and it’s kind of ridiculous how often people talk ABOUT him, and how much he is used as a tool to show a different side of Barry, but how little he actually says or does beyond the delinquency. I understand that the Flash title is all about keeping things in motion, but sometimes you really need to slow things down and show instead of tell. Especially when it comes to the very character being used to hype the annual. This arc was sold as the return of Wally West.

    I’m optimistic about the future for a variety of reasons (Wally’s wearing blue in his introduction. The Future Flash costume is blue and also has face shields that hide the ethnicity of the person underneath. All of Booth’s previous designs for a Wally West costume incorporated the color blue. Does this foreshadow a possible passing of the torch later on?) but as I said before, they really need to make Wally feel like a real person instead of a plot device, and they need to be specific rather than going broad. Infamous Second Son features a superhero who is also a street artist, and the specifics of that fact actually enhances his personality rather than making it seem cliche.

  9. Kyer

    Steve’s Posts:
    Bart Simpson. Thank you. I was trying to remember where I’d seen that “I’m being a jackass and getting away with it” ‘smarmy delinquent’ kid smirk. Bart Simpson indeed. Good Call.

    By ‘street artist’ I hope you mean someone who creates -removable- art in an allowed public place rather than a ‘tagger’ who creates permanent (save by expensive removal) “art” in a private place without permission by the owners. Huge dif. I’m all for artistry, but taggers are vandals who should imho be made to remove their ‘work’ via their tongues. (Don’t care how artistically it was done. A medicinal dandelion is still a weed if it grows in a plot meant solely for roses.)

    Scott, why should I or anyone else stick around the length of a bad 2 hours of video in the hopes of running into a possible one minute of goodness? Especially since in this scenario the movie making team (DC Editorial) have been churning out far more clunkers than gems? (I grew hoarse screaming over how many times Wally fans got dissed, what they’ve done to Nightwing, the sheer number of times Superman is evil since 2011. I mean, seriously. It’s got to be where you might as well list Superman in the Villains column rather than with the Heroes.)

    1. Scott Timms

      I’m not sold on the new look either. It is a new creative team tackling new characters, and we have Wally back ( give it time). Thats why Kyer. If ever a time to give a story a chance give this one a chance. You have waited this long. Lets atleast see what they do with it. On a side note I took my dog BarryAllen (one word no space) to free comic book day dressed as flash (the dog) it was awesome!!!

      1. Kyer

        I was going to answer Scott’s reply with the direct reply option, but johnnywellens rather said most of it. 🙂
        Whenever I view some change and am not certain about it, 99.9% of the time I know within two days whether I’ll like it or not and not once has my decision been changed by giving it additional time. For instance: It has been 2-1/2 years and while I still like the D52 Justice League collars and the lines, I’m as dead certain now as then that the lines only look good when kept muted and that the collar design should not have been given to the orgins of a Kryptonian, a Lantern Corps member, and an Atlantian. That was just imho stupid and lazy. What were the odds that all these different world cultures had the same neck fashion going at the same time? I also liked the original change of giving Wonder Woman pants rather than the returned to bikini. Also that I dislike the dissolving of the DC marriages (save for Animal Man’s….or is that still on?) Before the reveal of Not!Wally I was aghast at what they decided for Nightwing. (Dear god have they got it in for all the former Titans? Recall how the debut of Starfire was depicted!)
        ALL my original opinions after a couple of days debating DC%@ (…ha, I made a typo by holding down the shift key by mistake and it turned out to be serendipity! woo!…) DC%@ have remained unchanged since then. Given my much stronger feelings about Wally West over the rest of DC%@ Universe since 2008….well, ‘repulsed’ was an apt choice of words from johnnywellens.
        I’m waiting on the Multiverse now. Have a bad feeling I’m not going to like any twist they do with Wally in there either, but will take not liking a situation/setting a recognizable Wally is dumped into far, far more than having a familiar setting with a not!Wally in it. Would have been better if they’d left Wally completely MIA until the current Editorial regime was gone even if that didn’t take place in my remaining life time.

        Oh, two more things.
        I thought Batman Beyond (with it’s own black and also female speedster was a dif world than the DC%@? Just saw a preview BB cover that calls out the newest DC%@ event/fiasco. Is BB being dragged into the D%@ mess? Why didn’t they just use her as Kid Flash rather than ruin Wally and Bart’s legacies (and by legacies here I mean our memories of them as fun characters and not that they were Legacy characters.)

        Also: I’d love to see a picture of Flash Dog. Can I hope that your dog is an Irish Setter? 😀

        1. Kyer

          ??? (Okay, it looks like I did end up replying as a reply directly to Scott anyway. That’s what happens when I get riled. Good thing I’m not in charge of some big red button of nukes or anything…)

  10. johnnywellens

    We’re not talking about the first time Wally fans were burned and now we’re all acting like kids throwing a fit. We’re talking about years of neglect for a favorite character of many. What made Wally so much more unique for some is that we grew up with him. Seriously, some of us became adults when Wally became and adult. Some of us got married when Wally got married and some of us had kids when Wally had kids. He matured when he matured and that created this unseeable bond between a reader and a fictional character. Seeing what they’ve done to Wally, how many times he’s been shafted and we, as fans, have been neglected, it’s hurtful. It stings, and there’s only so much hydrogen peroxide we can pour on our wounds until it’s stop being effective and we get infected.

    This Wally that we’re introduced to, this is not Wally West. He doesn’t even appear to have the potential to become Wally West. One of the greatest things about Wally West was that he LOVED Flash. And when he gained Flash’s powers it was the greatest gift he could ever be given. This whole idea that Wally hates The Flash is like a swift kick in the crotch. Wally represented us when we were kids. Now he represents a degenerate.

    The race change? Entirely unnecessary, it serves absolutely no purpose except to have DC up on a high horse proud of how open-minded they are. Did you read the interview the new writers gave? DC were the ones who told the writers, “Okay bring Wally back but we want him to be biracial.” That was a prerequisite of the character returning. And it shows, they have to make up this stupid new backstory for Wally where, SHOCKER, we have another main character who has to overcome childhood tragedies in order to be a better person. Gone are the days were someone is a good person because they are just a GOOD PERSON.

    There are no words to describe how disappointed and repulsed I am with this new Wally West. It truly shows that A) DC doesn’t give two craps about Wally or his fans. And B) that DC doesn’t understand The Flash Legacy even the slightest. I have zero hope for the future.

    Also, anyone else felt like they were slapped in the face when Future Barry mentioned how that if it weren’t for him Wally would have been in his thirties, married and with kids? Ugh. Way to kick us when we’re down.

    1. Kyer

      ((hugs)) in total empathy save for the having ‘grown up’ with Wally bit.
      Third from last paragraph: It occurred to me while reading that…wonder if M&B were told that perquisite for Wally back when they solicited to bring Wally in and they had the gumption to refuse. If so, my respect for them skyrockets. DC? DC can’t even do worthy by the minority characters they had on hand save for (maybe) the last year with John Stewart and Cyborg. I’ve not been keeping up with any of it save Flash lately, but it seems those two are being given a fair shake. Where is *Vixen*!

      Second paragraph: I think DC MIS-understood that Wally was a threat to Barry as Dick was to Bruce, as Conner was to Kal-El/Clark Kent. Are they right on that? I don’t think so. Wally could have taken on a different costume. Dick did step down back to Nightwing (and Nightwing also had a lot of fans.) Why would Conner be a threat any more than Supergirl? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. DC shoots itself in the foot for lack of good imagination. Instead they use what imagination they have to warp the good things rather than to tweak the bad.

      Last Paragraph. Oh, (expletive) yes! YES! That bit had me growling even as in the back of my mind I’m fairly sure they didn’t mean to be malicious. It was just…unthinkingly tactless. “Gee, if Barry didn’t have this penchant for skipping around playing God then you guys would have had your Wally back pretty much intact in the most ways important! What a shame! And it’s all Barry’s (DC Editorial’s) fault…not ours. Tough luck.”

      1. johnnywellens

        ((hugs back)) I’ve followed a lot of what you’ve said Kyer and for the most part I’ve agreed with your opinions. I’ve kept myself in a the back of the classroom not saying much because I’ve had such a negative opinion of The Flash since the New 52 started but this mistreatment of Wally was it for me. I’m done with New 52 Flash. I’ll reread all my old Wally comics and bask in everything that ever made me love The Flash in the first place. A place where The Rogues didn’t need powers to be a threat. A place where Heat Wave knows that even if they don’t get along, Cold would always have his back. A place where Barry was a hero because it was the right thing and didn’t need a tragic back story. A place where Barry was inspired by Jay, then Jay inspired by Barry and Wally inspired by both. Where Max Mercury is considered the zen of the Speed Force. Where Eobard Thawne and Hunter Zolomon are the real Zoom’s and have actual personal ties to The Flash. Where Bart also had personal ties to The Flash and grew into his own from Impulse to Kid Flash. Sigh. Sorry for reminiscing =(

        1. Kyer

          I have never been a fan of villains. It’s always been about the heroes for me. That said…if I had to choose a set of villains as my ‘favorites’ it would have been the old Flash Rogues. Not the Batman insane ones. Not Superman’s. Flash’s. Flash’s Rogues were at least very honorable and they survived by their wits and sticking up for each other as a family might.
          I never -liked- the Rogues because they were villains, but I sure as heck respected those characters for fulfilling a needed niche in the books.
          Cut to DC52 Rogues and while I got the trade with them (got it as a free one in a B&N deal when I couldn’t come up with a third choice otherwise) it sits in a box still sealed in the original wrap. With Wally’s or Bart’s DCU books I couldn’t get those suckers opened fast enough. Even with Rebirth…and that’s where it all kind of started slipping downhill.
          See, I -was- more than willing to accept Barry. I was willing to accept him back before Rebirth even came out. I bought the first two Geoff Johns trades, for Pete’s sake. It wasn’t until Road to Flashpoint where I started having such misgivings on where they were going that I decided to hold off on the trades. So glad because from what little I saw in scans…all parts of Flashpoint would have ended up in the trash can on day one.

          *Sigh* Yeah. A land where Flash was Fun. All the Flashes were fun.
          Geez…I need to look up grief counseling on YouTube. This has been such a downer year….decade…century….whatever.
          Thank goodness for Daredevil, Sherlock Holmes, and Doctor Who or I might have tried seppuku using my Signature Wally West’s head antennae. (That was bad taste humor I know, but it’s been -that- kind of a day.) 🙂

          1. johnnywellens

            I love the role villains play in the comics and wholeheartedly believe that a hero is only as good as his/her villain. The Rogues were such a unique group of villains and one of the big reasons I was drawn to The Flash’s universe.

            One of the things I loved most about The Flash was that Jay, Barry, Wally and even Bart were heroes because it was just the right thing to do. They received these amazing powers and instinctively knew that saving people was what needed to done. They also loved being The Flash. Wally more than the others. He loved being Flash and it showed in his comics. Barry always bored me a bit. However, I accepted it when he returned in Rebirth. Even welcomed the new dynamic to Wally having his hero back. Though personally I still think Barry did more good for the world by dying than by living. I could have accepted a book focused on Barry and still having Wally exist. But then…New 52.

            I feel your pain Kyer, I took solace in other books but nothing DC anymore. DC is dead to me. Their movies, their books, even their animated movies are going too far now. I wish everyday that DC would reboot back to before New 52. Until that day comes out, I will sharpen my Flash earpiece along with you =(

            1. Kory Stephens

              My sentiments exactly. The only thing that keeps me tied to DC is the Constantine TV show. If that gets cancelled, I’m off; no more DC for me until the four headed kraken that is DiDio, Johns, Lee, and Harras are gone for good

  11. Savitar

    I can understand your frustrations. If they were going to alter Wally, they should have altered more of his background too. (I mean, they killed Nora for Barry, so it’s not like they don’t have any precedent here).

    The whole time I reading Iris’ dialogue about her (new to NU52) brother Rudy and such, I kept thinking, “Why isn’t this our ginger-haired Wally?” It’s like they plugged a new shocking character into the role instead. It felt odd and disturbing.

    But I do agree with Steve, right now, Wally is nothing more than a plot device, a focus. Maybe his attitude will change, maybe some of the old Wally will leak through in this New52 version, but right now, I’m having a hard time seeing this Wally wanting anything to do with Flash…….

    1. Kyer

      Then you might be able to take heart in their begging fans to stick with the book for awhile because some of the characterization will change. For me, it’s too much. This kid is a changeling baby left in the crib after the original was kidnapped. I want nothing to do with *him* as long as he has usurped the name Wally West.
      But in my mind DC (even the animated) has become so gory (see scans of the new advertising ‘event’) that I can’t bear to look at it. Obsidian Age was hard enough for me to get through and it only had a couple of ‘bad’ scenes I had to bookmark as ‘Avoid In All Future Reads’. This new DC52 is riddled with maimings…even The Flash has them now. It turns my stomach both because of the content and because in my eye the book has sunk so low as to go with shock value rather than good storytelling. It’s the reason I never got into Batman…the stories were too *graphically* gruesome. Now I’m not against violence in and of itself. You kind of need it in order to tell a Good vs Evil story and I’m partial to those. But there used to be a limit to the level it would go and they’ve more than surpassed my limit.

      So it’s not just this latest insult to Wally fans that has made me turn elsewhere, it’s the whole general direction of comics, movies, and TV. Makes me want to go watch reruns of George’s Superman saving Lucille Ball in order to cleanse mine abused eyes then start again with classic ages comics up to when it all started going to heck. Or stick with a few good (and free!) webcomics I’ve since found. 🙁

  12. Steve

    I will say this, the blue Flash costume is a lot cooler than the New 52 Flash costume. If the new 52 Wally somehow becomes the blue Flash and can throw together some kind of sympathetic characterization, I’ll probably latch onto him as I would a new character.

    1. Kyer

      I’ll quite happily agree that the blue costume beats the DC52 costume, while the DC52 costume beats all the previous. But my favorite parts of many a story was when the hero was unmasked/and or doing common daily stuff. Cool costumes are not enough to cut it for me.


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