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!
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!
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.