Flash #1  to Flash #247 
Following the Crisis on Infinite Earths, DC Comics had been in the process of revitalizing their flagship heroes. First Batman, then Superman, then Wonder Woman. Next, the Flash became the latest hero to undergo a facelift. DC had found it possible to breath new life into established characters, even if these characters are fifty years old. A new Flash series began in 1987, with former sidekick Wally West now in the role of his mentor, the Flash.
When the time came to update the Flash, editor Mike Cold went to Wisconsin native Mike Baron, who had a reputation as one of the hippest writers in comics. Baron was also regarded as one of the best writers at the independent publishers. Gold added Jackson Guice as artist and the new Flash creative team was complete. During his just-over-a-year’s tenure on the book, Baron’s Flash had his powers reduced, won the lottery, I discovered his own father was a Manhunter, and began a controversial affair with a married woman.
To replace Baron, the new writer was Bill Loebs, of Journey and Jonny Quest fame, and the new artist was Greg LaRocque, known for his work on Legion of Super-Heroes. The book took on a new editorial look as well, under Barbara Randall – and later, Brian Augustyn. Loebs nudged Wally towards maturity – taking on more responsibility and taking the Flash mantle seriously. During his run, Wally lost his lottery winnings, became homeless, went missing, and received a snazzy new costume with Flash #50. Loebs pushed the title in areas; Wally didnt appear in his own book when he went missing, for example, and longtime Flash foe Pied Piper reformed and revealed he was gay. Also, Loebs introduced readers to a tenacious reporter named Linda Park – someone who would becomes very important to Wally West in the future.
Relatively unknown at the time, Mark Waid was named Loebs’ successor on the title with Flash #62. Waid’s first order of business was to establish Wally West as the Flash. First, Waid took a look back be retelling Wally’s first days as Kid Flash with his “Born To Run” arc in Flash #62-65. Next, Waid turned fandom on its ear when he seemingly brought back Barry Allen only to turn him evil in “The Return of Barry Allen” arc in Flash #73-79. The truth? “Barry” was actually longtime Flash nemesis Professor Zoom; In defeating Zoom, Wally became a rightful heir to the Flash legacy in his own eyes for the first time. “Terminal Velocity” (Flash #95-100) became the next major story arc. It solidified Linda Park and Wally’s romantic partner, introduced the concept of the Speed Force, and gave Wally greater powers than any speedster before him.
Intense, breakneck speed storylines became the book’s signature. Characters like Jay Garrick, Impulse, Max Mercury and Jesse Quick became integral parts of the Flash family. Meanwhile, Wally and Linda’s relationship deepened and marriage was on the horizon. But their wedding plans came to an abrupt end when Linda was erased from existence in Flash #142.
Linda’s disappearance was compounded by the arrival of Cobalt Blue, which jump-started the “Chain Lightning” Saga (Flash #143-150). During “Chain Lightning,” Wally West comes into conflict with Cobalt Blue, who is revealed to be Barry Allen’s twin brother. Cobalt Blue felt Barry had the life he should have had. He found a way to acquire super powers through black magic and sought to erase the Flash legacy. This meant killing various people who would carry on the Flash legacy through the 30th century! Super-speedsters past and present joined forces and eventually defeated Cobalt Blue. But Wally was left in the timestream only to be replaced by the enigmatic Walter West until Flash #159. In that issue, Wally is not only reunited with Linda at last – he also married her.
The marriage of Wally and Linda was the perfect farewell for Waid’s tenure on the book. The writer left the title with issue #62 and was replaced with up-and-coming writer, Geoff Johns. Johns began seasoning the Flash in his first story arc, a six-part thriller called “Wonderland” in Flash #164-#169. In it, Flash wakes up in a parallel universe where the Speed Force – the energy field that gives him his super-speed – doesn’t exist, so his powers are on the fritz. In this world, the Flash never existed. This storyline cemented Johns as a worthy and welcome successor to longtime Flash writer Mark Waid.
Geoff Johns brought a new voice to the book – focusing on the uniqueness of blue-collar Keystone City, introducing new Rogues to bedevil the Flash (Girder, Peekaboo, Murmer, a new Trickster) and refreshing some old ones (Magenta, The Thinker, Captain Cold, Mirror Master).
But Wally faced his greatest loss at the hands of the new Professor Zoom (Hunter Zolomon) during the “Blitz” story arc in Flash #196-200. Transformed by the cosmic treadmill, Zoom aimed to teach Wally how to become a better hero by challenging him. In doing so, Zoom caused Linda to miscarry their twin children. Devastated by this loss, Wally pleaded with the Spectre to make everyone forget that Wally West is the Flash. The request was granted and the Flash’s secret identity was secret once more.
During the “Rogue Wars,” Flash was caught in the crossfire between the reformed Rogues and the criminal Rogues in Flash #220–225. The battle sent Wally on a time jaunt with Professor Zoom, which enabled Wally to change the past and prevent Linda from losing their unborn children. When Wally returned to the present, Linda greeted him with their two newborn infants. This marked the end of Geoff Johns’ run on the book. The title lingered for one more storyline before its cancellation with Flash #230.
During the Infinite Crisis mini-series, Wally West disappeared with his wife and twin children after the Flashes defeated the rampaging alternate-earth Superboy. Bart Allen, who had just recently become Kid Flash, returned from the Speed Force four years older in Barry Allen’s old Flash costume in Infinite Crisis #6-7. Arriving just in time to help the heroes save the universe from the deranged Alexander Luthor, Bart retired from super-heroics, leaving the Golden Ager Jay Garrick to carry on the Flash tradition.
Looking to introduce Bart as the next-generation Flash, DC launched a new series titles Flash: The Fastest Man Alive in 2006, with 20 year old Bart as the newest Flash. The new series was written by Paul DeMeo and Danny Bilson, who were part of the production and writing team of The Flash television series that ran for a season in 1990. Although Bart found new challenges in harnessing the speed force, he accepted his destiny as the latest Flash in the Allen family tradition. In his efforts to tame the speed force inside him, Bart turned to S.T.A.R. Labs intern, Valerie Perez – and their relationship quickly blossomed into a full-blown romance.
DeMeo and Bilson left the title with #6 and were replaced with Marc Guggenheim, who reintroduced Iris Allen into the series. Bart’s grandmother had a dire warning for the young hero: He was destined to die at the hands of the Rogues Gallery of Flash’s villains. Inertia, in a plan to steal the speed force energy for himself, manipulated the Rogues into battle with Bart. As a depowered Bart fought valiantly against the combined might of the Rogues, he breathed his last breath as Valerie and Iris mourned him. Flash: The Fastest Man Alive #13 featured the brutal murder of Bart Allen – and also marked the last issue of the series.
DC Comics had plans underway to bring back Wally West as the Fastest Man Alive. Just as Bart was killed in Flash: The Fastest Man Alive #13, Wally returned in the shocking conclusion of the “Lightning Saga” story arc in Justice League of America #10, with Linda and the twins. Wally’s story continued in the All Flash Special, where he confronted Inertia about Bart’s death. That same special also introduced readers to Jai and Iris West, Wally’s twin children who had been hyper-aged to 10 and 12 years old, thanks to the Speed Force. Wally, now with a Flash family of his own, resumed his adventures in his own series, which continued its numbering with Flash #231. Famous Flash scribe Mark Waid was joined by artists Daniel Acuña and Freddie Williams III to chart a new course for the Fastest Man Alive.
After establishing Wally West’s new Flash family, Waid left the title in the hands of Tom Peyer, who wrote one story arc in Flash #238-243. By then, DC already had plan in motion to bring back Barry Allen as the Flash, returning from the speed force (and death) in a blaze of glory in the pages of Final Crisis. Wally West’s final story arc in his own series was aptly titled “This Was Your Life, Wally West.” Written by Alan Burnett, Wally’s last run was a coda to the series. The last page featured the West family, running headlong into their next adventure.
The Wally West Flash series reached the finish line with Flash #247. This paved the way for Barry Allen’s dramatic return in the 2009 mini-series, Flash: Rebirth, by Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Skiver.
Flash #0, 1-228
Flash Annual #1-13
The Flash Secret Files #1-3
Flash: The Fastest Man Alive #1-13
Specials & Mini-Series:
All Flash #1
The Flash 50th Anniversary Special
The Flash Plus Nightwing #1
Green Lantern/Flash: Faster Friends #1-2 (mini-series)
Speed Force #1
The Flash: Our Worlds at War #1
The Flash #1,000,000
The Flash: Iron Heights
The Flash Wizard #1/2
The Flash Annual #1 (1963 FASCIMILE EDITION)
Flash: Rebirth #1-6 (mini-series)
Green Lantern #30, 31: “Gorilla Warfare” Crossover.
Impulse #10, 11: “Dead Heat” Crossover.
Green Lantern #96, Green Arrow #130: “Three of a Kind” Crossover.
Justice League of America #10
New Teen Titans (second series) #20-21
New Teen Titans (second series) #28-31
New Titans #100
New Titans #112
New Titans #114
The Titans Secret Files #1
Titans (first series) #1-20
Titans (second series) #1-23
Key Issues and Storylines:
Flash #1-2: Wally West starts his Flash career and encounters Vandal Savage.
Flash #8: Wally learns his father is a Manhunter agent.
Flash #19: Wally West is cordially invited to a gathering of Barry Allen’s old Rogues Gallery.
Flash #28: The Flash meets Linda Park.
Flash #36-39: Linda starts a job as reporter in Central City; Wally is scammed by a cult secretly run by his father.
Flash #49-50: Flash fights Vandal Savage and gets a new costume.
Flash #53: Pied Piper reveals to Wally he is gay.
Flash #61: Mary West and Ernesto Valentino marry; Linda shows up as Wally’s date.
Flash #62-65: “Born To Run” – Wally recounts his first days as Kid Flash
Flash #73-79: “The Return of Barry Allen” – Wally faces the ultimate test when Barry seemingly returns from death, but is revealed as the deranged Professor Zoom; Wally finally feels confident to be Barry’s successor.
Flash #80–83: Nightwing and Starfire guest-star; Frances Kane returns with a vengeance.
Flash #92–94: “Reckless Youth” – Iris Allen returns from the future with Bart Allen, who becomes Impulse.
Flash #95–100: “Terminal Velocity” – Wally’s love for Linda is tested as he deals with Kobra; Wally discovers the Speed Force.
Flash #106: Frances Kane returns and targets Linda Park.
Flash #108-111, Impulse #10, 11: “Dead Heat” – The Flash Family face Savitar and lose one of their own: Jonny Quick.
Flash #127-129: “Hell To Pay” – The Rogues come back to life as Flash deals with Neron.
Flash #142: Wally & Linda’s wedding is ruined when Linda is erased from existence. Titans guest-star.
Flash #143-150: “Chain Lightning” – Malcolm Thawne – twisted twin brother of Flash’s predecessor, Barry Allen – hunts the speedsters through time.
Flash #151: Robin and Aqualad guest-star in this flashback issue.
Flash #159: Marriage of Wally West and Linda Park. Titans guest-star.
Flash #170-173: “Blood Will Run” Flash deals with the Cult of Cicada and a crazed Magenta.
Flash #184-188: “Crossfire” – Flash and Cyborg face the Thinker and the Rogues.
Flash #189: Cyborg learns he has reverted to his old cybernetic body; Wally learns that Linda is pregnant.
Flash #197-200: “Blitz” – Hunter Zolomon becomes the new Professor Zoom and aims to test Wally as a hero, which causes Linda to miscarry. Believing his public identity is a hazzard, Wally has the Spectre cause everyone to forget he is the Flash – making his identity secret once more.
Flash #214–216: “The Secret of Barry Allen” – Wally learns that Barry used the Top to violate some of the Rogues’ minds – causing them to reform.
Flash #220–225: “Rogue War” – Wally is caught in the middle of a war between the reformed Rogues and the criminal Rogues. The battle sends Wally on a time jaunt with Professor Zoom, which enables him to change the past and prevent Linda from losing their unborn children. Linda gives birth to twins. First Jai and Iris West.
Infinite Crisis #4, 6-7: Wally, Linda & the twins disappear; Bart returns from the Speed Force four years older.
Flash: The Fastest Man Alive #13: Bart Allen – as Flash – is killed by Inertia and the Rogues.
All Flash #1: Having returned with Linda and the (now hyper-aged) twins, Wally West confronts Inertia over Bart’s death.
Flash #231-237: Wally West returns to active duty as the Flash – with the addition of his two children.
Notable Creative Runs:
Mike Baron, Writer: Flash #1-14, Annual #1
William Messner-Loebs, Writer: Flash #15-61, Annual #2-3
Mark Waid, Writer: Flash #62-129, 142-162, Annual #4-12, 231-present
Grant Morrison & Mark Millar, Writers: Flash #130–141
Geoff Johns, Writer: Flash #164-225
Paul DeMeo and Danny Bilson, Writers: Flash: The Fastest Man Alive #1-6
Marc Guggenheim, Writer: Flash: The Fastest Man Alive #7-13
Tom Peyer, Writer: Flash #238-243
Alan Burnett, Writer: Flash #244-247
Jackson Guice, Artist: Flash #1-9
Greg LaRocque, Artist: Flash #15-79
Mike Weiringo, Artist: Flash #80-100
Oscar Jimenez, Artist: Flash #101-116
Paul Ryan, Artist: Flash #119-137
Pop Mahn, Artist: Flash #139-144
Paul Pelletier, Artist: Flash #145-162
Scott Kolins, Artist: Flash #170-200
Alberto Dose, Artist: Flash #201-206
Howard Porter, Artist: Flash #207-225
Daniel Acuña, Artist: Flash #231-232
Freddie Williams III, Artist: Flash #233-243
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.