After the Flash is sent speeding through time, Wally West finally learns what really happened at DC’s Sanctuary during Heroes in Crisis.
WARNING: The following contains spoilers for The Flash 2021 Annual #1 by Jeremy Adams, Fernando Pasarin, Brandon Peterson & Oclair Albert, on sale now.
After years as a major hero, the Flash ended up at the center of a massive tragedy in the DC Universe. Wally West’s actions during Heroes in Crisis left him with a massive number of crimes hanging over his head.
But now, that culpability has been almost entirely wiped clean in Flash Annual 2021. Wally West was just exonerated from his role in the events of Heroes in Crisis due to his powers overloading not by his own actions but because of the Speed Force itself, which alleviates much of his guilt in the deaths of multiple heroes during that event.
In 2018, Heroes in Crisis by Tom King and Clay Mann saw Wally West endure one of the worst tragedies of his life. After trying to come to terms with the loss of his family at the secret superhero mental facility Sanctuary, Wally was seemingly confronted with the full weight of the trauma at the heart of the superhero community. Overwhelmed, his powers seemingly struck out while he was surrounded by other heroes, killing all of them in a hail of energy. Shattered by the weight of his actions, Wally staged the scene as murder and even faked his own death. Wally’s role in the event was eventually revealed, and he was arrested. However, his own important role in Flash Forward and Dark Nights: Death Metal saw him escape custody quickly to play his part in saving and restoring the DC Multiverse.
Ever since the conclusion of Heroes in Crisis, DC has been slowly walking back Wally’s culpability in the crime. In The Flash #761, it was revealed that Reverse-Flash had been influencing the various speedster heroes in secret, and he was implied to be what convinced Wally to try and hide his involvement from the rest of the world.
And now, The Flash 2021 Annual completes that progression, revealing more to Wally about how the day in question played out. Flung throughout the time-stream by an overload of energy from the Speed Force, Wally has been jumping between bodies of speedsters from across time and increasing the amount of energy absorbed within him — with the potential to cause him to explode in a massive outburst of energy.
Arriving at the moment his powers overloaded and back in his own body (albeit his body from that point in the time-stream), Wally realizes the surge of energy that killed the other assorted patients at the facility wasn’t necessarily his fault. Instead, it was a byproduct of the Speed Force energy overloading and spreading throughout time. While Wally could still technically be blamed for being there near other heroes when his power source went out of control, it removes much of the guilt from Wally’s shoulders. Since the speedster Savitar was manipulating the Speed Force at the time, Wally no longer has an active part in causing the deaths of his fellow heroes and can cite the overload of energy caused by Savitar as the direct cause of the event. The Flash even gets the chance to speak with Roy Harper, who further argues with Wally (and by extension the rest of the heroes) that he shouldn’t be blamed for what happened.
As the deaths occur and time marches on around him, Wally is forced to return to his proper place in time to combat Savitar, ensuring the events of Heroes in Crisis still take place. But in one final conversation, Roy and Wally make peace with one another, and Roy gets to not only tell Wally to let go of his guilt over the event but even gets to send one final goodbye to Green Arrow through Wally’s communicator. When Wally finally returns to the present, he’s able to make peace with it and even finds closure with Green Arrow, who embraces Wally after initially hating him for his part in Roy’s death.
It’s a major development for Wally, allowing him to finally make peace with what happened to him during Heroes in Crisis. It also fully and finally seems to exonerate him in the eyes of his fellow heroes, with his outburst now being seen as a result of the Speed Force and Savitar’s manipulation, and not an act of genuine malice by Wally. This seems to close the door on the darkest chapter in Wally West’s life and should allow him to more freely move on with his life as the Flash.
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