Linda Park West
Related Links: Flash (Wally West) • Jai and Iris West
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A second generation Korean, Linda Park was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. As an adult, she landed a job as a reporter in Keystone City. At a young age, Linda married Rick Shavers, a chemist for Royal Industries. Linda soon realized it was an impulsive and foolhardy decision. The union only lasted two weeks and the marriage was later annulled.
Year later, Linda was assigned to cover the mysterious sightings of a “Porcupine Man” in New Mexico. The Porcupine Man was actually the Flash himself, temporarily transformed in a botched lab experiment. It was during this incident that Linda met Wally West, and was initially turned off by his arrogance. Wally, on the other hand, saw Linda as a sensation-seeking media hound.
Serious friction initially erupted between
Wally West and Linda Park – as seen in FLASH #31 .
The electricity between them was immediate, but it would take some time before Wally and Linda would see through each other’s facades. Linda started to see Wally’s heroic side when he rescued her from the Celestial Enlightenment Ranch, a so-called church which scammed its own followers. And Wally was delightfully surprised when Linda showed up as his date at his mother’s second marriage.
As love blossomed, the couple faced their greatest challenge when Wally’s super-speed started to transform him into something less than human. Meanwhile, Linda’s newest assignment uncovered a plot by the terrorist organization known as Kobra. And when Wally learned that his own future may be in jeopardy, he rallied the efforts of a combined super-speed team – including Jay Garrick, Max Mercury, Jesse Quick and Impulse.
Linda Park, Ace Reporter
Linda aided the speedsters and Iris Allen in defeating Kobra, as Wally disappeared in a bolt of lightning. Linda believed Wally was lost forever, only to witness his dramatic return mere moments later. The couple’s darkest fears were ultimately unfounded, as this experience was actually Wally’s first brush with the Speed Force, a mystical source of energy from which all super-speedsters drew power. Wally was the first speedster to ever enter the Speed Force and return from it – using his love for Linda Park as a beacon back to reality.
Race To The Altar
After a near-death encounter with the Black Flash, Wally proposed marriage to Linda and she readily accepted. At the wedding, however, Linda was abducted by Abra Kadabra, who sought revenge on Wally for a past defeat. Kadabra was able to erase Linda from everyone’s memory, with the sole exception of Bart Allen, whose time-traveling made him impervious to Kadabra’s spell.
At the same time, the sinister speedster known as Cobalt Blue sought to erase the Flash legacy by slaying the various people who would carry on the proud Flash tradition through the 31st century. Super-speedsters past and present joined forces – including a time-displaced Barry Allen – and eventually defeated Cobalt Blue.
Eventually, the speedsters deduced Abra Kadabra was behind Linda’s abduction. Wally was able to rescue Linda and restored everyone’s memories of her as a result. Wally and Linda resumed their aborted wedding plans, finally marrying in a beautiful ceremony celebrated by friends and family.
Wally and Linda wed in FLASH #159 .
Linda later found her job as a reporter was beginning to present a conflict of interest, since she was married to a super-hero. Linda decided to give up her career as a telejournalist and started to attend medical school, with the intention of becoming a pediatrician.
Wally and Linda also welcomed another big change in their lives, as Linda discovered she was pregnant.
When Wally’s friend Hunter Zolomon became the new Professor Zoom, he sought to teach Wally a lesson about loss and responsibility. Although Zoom was defeated, Wally’s public identity made Linda a target, resulting in the deaths of Wally’s unborn twins at the hands of Zoom. Following that tragedy, the Spectre granted Wally’s request for everyone to forget Wally West was ever the Flash. The wish had unforeseen results; His Flash identity remained a secret to even Wally himself. And by pulling this temporal thread, Wally’s past was changed as well. He now worked for the Keystone Police Force in the auto repair division. Upon discovering his Flash identity, Wally once again learned to be a hero.
Later, a war among the Flash Rogues Gallery erupted, and Wally was catapulted through time by Professor Zoom. With the aid of Barry Allen, The Flash prevented the tragedy of Linda’s miscarriage. And when Wally returned to the present, he was greeted by Linda – and their newborn twin children, Jai and Iris “Irey” West.
Wally and Linda dote over their newborn twins in INFINITE CRISIS #3 .
When Superboy from Earth Prime ran amok during the Infinite Crisis, Flash and the super-speedsters raced to stop his rampage. While running to subdue the deranged Teen of Steel, Wally felt a calling to keep racing “someplace else.” Linda refused to let Wally face this unknown challenge alone, insisting she and the twins would travel with him. In a burst of lightning, the West family left this earthly plane for parts unknown.
The Wests found themselves on an alien world that revered the Flash legacy. While there, Linda and Wally discovered the twins’ hyper-accelerated metabolism was causing them to age in quick growth spurts. Fearing for their health, Linda called upon her medical training and took a crash-course in hyper-speed biology. Linda discovered their super-speed powers were in a constant state of flux, but learned to temper the effects through advanced technology.
Wally West was later pulled back to earth by the Legion of Super-Heroes, along with Linda and the twins. Resuming his Flash identity, Wally West was now surrounded by his own Flash Family. Irey, aged to 10 years old, found she could harness super-vibrational powers; Jai, aged to 8 years old, learned he could temporarily hyper-accelerate his muscle growth for quick bursts of super-strength. Although their super-speed powers manifest in different ways, the twins were allowed to take part in their father’s adventures with their mother’s guidance.
Jai and Iris West age at an accelerated rate – as detailed in FLASH #231 .
Flash #28 : It is revealed that a transformed Wally West has been contributing to the increased sightings of the mythical Porcupine Man. It seems the experiment to restore his speed, along with Wally’s unique physiology, resulted in Wally’s current physical state. Reporter Linda Park is on scene to report the ‘Porcupine Man Incident’. First appearance of Linda Park in issue #28.
Flash #36 : Linda Park starts a new job as television anchorwoman in Central City.
Flash #61 : It’s the wedding of Mary West and Ernesto Valentino – and it’s up to the fastest man alive to get the preacher to church on time. And just when Wally is feeling all alone, Linda Park shows up to the reception late – without a date.
Flash (second series) #0, 95-100 [1994-1995] “Terminal Velocity” Storyline: Shortly after Iris’s arrival, the evil organization Kobra threatened Keystone City. Bart, Iris and Linda Park aided Wally in defeating Kobra, with the help of other fellow speedsters, including Jay Garrick, Max Mercury and Jesse Quick. It was also during the battle with Kobra that Wally learned of the Speed Force. Wally was the first speedster to ever enter the Speed Force and return. Wally was able to use his love for Linda as a beacon to draw him out of the Speed Force. When he emerged, he had enhanced super-speed powers, including the ability to lend super-speed to other objects.
Flash (second series) #101-104 : The mystery and mayhem continue as Wally and Linda delve deeper into the weird secrets of both Harriston, Massachusetts and the lovely Ms. Park’s romantic past. Flash and Linda battle mystical were-beasts conjured by Fontaine, the head of Royal Industries. As the mystical mystery unravels, Flash learns that Linda’s ex-husband Rick Shavers was trying to find scientific means to stop Fontaine from conjuring a powerful demon using ancient arcane arts.
Flash (second series) #142 : Wally West and Linda Park make preparations for their wedding. As the ceremony is coming to a close, a flash of light changes reality – and Linda Park is seemingly erased from existence! Dick Grayson [best man], Donna Troy, Roy Harper, and Garth [Tempest] appear.
Flash (second series) #159 : The “Dark Flash” saga concludes! Angela Margolin has fallen for our grim hero, but does she have what it takes to spend the rest of her life with him? Plus, Wally, once reunited with Linda Park, resumes their aborted wedding plans. Wally and Linda wed, with best man Dick Grayson and Titans teammates as guests. Marriage of Wally West [Flash] and Linda Park.
Flash (second series) #197-200 : “Blitz” Professor Zoom returns in a story that reveals the secrets behind his origin! His new goal: Make the Flash a better hero by experiencing tragedy. Wally West and Linda suffer their greatest loss when Reverse Flash causes Linda to lose her unborn twins. The Spectre grants Wally’s wish for his identity to become secret.
Flash(second series) #224–225 : “Rogue War, Chapters 5–6″ Barry Allen helps Wally West alter the timeline in his fateful battle with Reverse Flash. They successfully save Wally’s children; In the present, Linda gives birth to twins. First appearance of Jai & Iris West; not named until All Flash #1.
Infinite Crisis #4 : Superboy-Prime attacks Superboy. Superboy calls on his Titans allies to subdue his Kryptonian doppelganger. The misguided Superboy-Prime inadvertently decapitates Pantha and slaughters Baby Wildebeest and Bushido; He then freezes Red Star into crystal ice and rips off Risk’s right arm before being pulled into the Speed Force by the combined might of the super-speedsters. Death of Pantha, Baby Wildebeest and Bushido. Flash, Linda and the twins race to parts unknown.
Justice League of America #10 : Wally West is pulled back from the brink of the Speed Force by the Legion of Super-Heroes, along with his wife and hyper-aged twins.
Flash (second series) #231-236 [2007-2008]: The unstable powers of Wally West’s growing children reach a terrifying new level as Wally West deals with an alien invasion. A back-up feature “The Fast Life,” tells the compelling tale of Wally’s family’s life on a Flash-friendly alien world during their missing year.
Linda Park: Beacon of Love
A Mark Waid interview with John Wells [from The Flash Companion, 2008]
WELLS: During the Loebs’ run, Linda Park was introduced as a foil for Wally and there was a certain romantic tension, but it never really came to anything. After not appearing for a year, she showed up on the last page of Bill’s last issue. Was that his idea or was it done on your behalf?
WAID: It was his idea. I didn’t know that I really wanted to do much with Linda, but she was there and at that point, it made more sense for me to just pick up a character that had existed rather than try to create a brand-new love interest for Flash.
“I don’t think I literally meant Linda was his lightning rod, but boy, it works.”
WELLS: Well, several months in, you finally forced the issue of “are they or aren’t they?” by having her accept an offer in Midway City. And that finally prodded Wally into chasing after her and declaring his love. So at this point, how important were your plans for her?
WAID: They’d become very important. I found I enjoy writing romance. And Wally, he’s just so screwed up and damaged with his relationships with women in general, anyway, [mutual chuckling] that I couldn’t resist the temptation of giving him a girlfriend who wasn’t in his immediate line of work.
Look, the reason I never gave Wally a day job, the reason I never gave him a secret identity or focused much on the “personal life” of Wally West was because his personal life is being the Flash. Again, the parallel: Wally grew up wanting nothing more than to be the Flash and he got his wish, so that became his entire sense of identity. I grew up wanting to be a comic book professional and I got my wish and, right or wrong, that’s my entire sense of identity. For me and for Wally, there is no division between your hobby and your job, what you do and who you are. Geez, why, if you could be The Flash all the time, would you do anything else? Why would you even take a day job?
Anyway, back to the Linda question. At that time in my life, I was wisely dating a series of women who didn’t know the first thing about comics. I’m plenty okay dating a woman who has no idea who The Red Skull is because it brings a perspective to my life that I desperately need and it gets me out of my little comic book shell. So why not give that gift to Wally as well?
WELLS: I understand completely.
WELLS: Toward the end of “Terminal Velocity,” you set up a detail about Linda being Wally’s “lightning rod” and used that to good effect throughout your run. So how did that come about?
WAID: Brian and I had, about halfway through the plotting of “Terminal Velocity,” decided that it would end with Wally having to choose between Heaven or Linda and that there would be no choice. I don’t think I literally meant Linda was his lightning rod, but boy, it works—that there’s something about her that keeps the lightning in him grounded in the best possible sense.
Wally, Linda, Jai and Iris West
The Wild Wests: A New Flash Family
A Mark Waid interview with John Wells [from The Flash Companion, 2008]
WELLS: In 2006, a new Flash series was launched with Bart Allen. Unbeknownst to pretty much everyone, though, you’d secretly been offered a shot at the book again. So how did that come about?
WAID: It wasn’t the first time. I’d been asked to re-launch the book when they crammed Bart into the suit, and I came up with some ideas that editorial didn’t like, but it’s probably just as well—my heart probably wasn’t in it. So they went with someone else. Then, a while later, once DC realized their relaunch was a catastrophic failure and they decided to course-correct by killing Bart, they asked again, “Do you want to write Flash?” More specifically, did I want to write Wally, who they’d already decided they were bringing back? And I said yes for exactly the wrong reason, which is I didn’t want anybody else to screw it up. [John laughs]
When last we saw Wally, he had a beautiful wife Linda and two lovely twin infant children and I was utterly terrified that the first guy who came along and wrote a brand-new Wally West Flash, the first thing he’d do is he’d drop a safe on Linda and have the kids raped by Dr. Light or something. [John laughs again] So I took the book to block, thinking, “All right, well, maybe I can do something with this.”
Right off, I said, “I can’t get rid of the kids. That’s just wrong.” I didn’t relish having to write around them—I knew from writing Fantastic Four that having to account for kid characters is a pain in the ass—but I didn’t want to take them away from Wally. And it was Dan DiDio, I think, who said, “Why don’t you do The Incredibles?” I thought about it for a while and I concluded, rightly or wrongly—time will tell—“Well, that’s not a bad idea.” I rationalized that the twins could have leapt forward in age the same way that Bart did, but not necessarily at the same rate.
So my idea is that even though they’re born as twins, the girl is about 10 and the boy’s about 8 now, physically. And I got excited by the notion that these kids could have speed-related powers without them being running powers. Iris could constantly be vibrating through things, and Jay could Hulk up at the spur of the moment at superspeed, and five or six issues in, if I wanted, we could have those powers change on a dime because the kids are still developing and they’re still in pre-puberty and their bodies are changing. I liked the air of unpredictability it gives the book.
I also loved the idea of Wally being a dad to an eight and a ten-year old. He had a hard enough time learning to be a dad to two infants, but there was the implicit understanding that he’d have time to learn. Not now. Now he has an eight and a ten-year old and Wally is a quick study, but he had no time to prepare. Suddenly, his kids are almost smarter than he is. He doesn’t have a real job, he doesn’t know how to support his family, he doesn’t know how to be a dad, and that’s the engine that I thought could drive that series.
WELLS: I gather things didn’t work out as well as you hoped on this revival.
WAID: That’s an understatement. I just couldn’t make it work. Without getting too much into the behind-the-scenes politics of it, I said I’d do six and I’m doing six and I’m out, and I regret leaving, but I regret coming back in the first place…eh. It just didn’t gel. We were constantly behind the eight ball schedule-wise, which is why we have that four-part Doug Braithwaite back-up to try to make up for time we lost right out of the gate. We had a different artist—and I won’t mention his name—but we had a guy who committed to doing the series and then literally, with about five weeks before deadline, just pulled out to take another gig at another company, and it had us scrambling, spending energy figuring out how to overcome scheduling cataclysms that could instead have been spent on, you know, the actual scripting. That was a hardship. Couple that with the fan response, which has been, to put it kindly, lukewarm, and I just hit the wall early on. In retrospect, if I were going to go back and do Flash, I should have waited until the stars were in better alignment. But everyone has 20/20 hindsight. I can’t imagine our paths, Wally’s and mine, won’t cross again.
WELLS: Well, I think you’re going too hard on yourself.
WAID: Thank you. I hope so. Again, time will tell.
Sources for this entry: DC Universe Role-Playing Games: Sourcebooks and Manuals [ West End Games], DC Secret Files, supplemented by titanstower.com
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Bill Walko is an author and artist and the man behind titanstower.com. He's been reading and drawing comics since he was 5 years old and hasn't stopped since. Read more from this author