Miscalibrated Internet Receptor Stalks

What to Do With Wally West

Illustration: Heroes in Crisis #9, artwork by Clay Mann

The last issue of Heroes in Crisis came out last week and with it came some pretty significant revelations and twists. Let’s talk about what happened with Wally West and where to go from here.

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For those who haven’t been reading it or know what it’s about, Heroes in Crisis is a nine-issue mini-series by Tom King and Clay Mann. It’s set at Sanctuary, a facility that Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman set up to help superhumans deal with various mental and emotional issues. Before the first issue, references to Sanctuary were littered throughout DC’s books, with Poison Ivy, Booster Gold, and Wally West being some of the characters who went their for their own emotional issues. Wally, especially, was distraught over the fact that his wife no longer knew who he was and his children had disappeared.

However, while Heroes in Crisis ostensibly was set up as a book about superhuman mental health, the book actually turned out to be a murder mystery when it’s shown that someone has killed everyone at Sanctuary aside from Booster Gold and Harley Quinn. Even Wally West himself was dead.

Now, I’m going to go into the logistics of the rest of the book, which has become incredibly divisive and controversial due not just to the subject matter, but also for King’s writing style and for the overall fact that the book was supposed to be about dealing with emotional health and instead went for a “Whodunnit?” plot with mental health trappings that were never really explored well.

Instead, let’s skip to the end, where the killer is revealed to be Wally West. Yes, I know I said Wally was one of the victims, but that’s part of the twist. So here goes: when Wally was at Sanctuary, he felt all alone, but then one night he broke into Sanctuary’s files and saw all every else’s problems and their pain and realized that he wasn’t alone. And in that moment, he let his emotions loose and somehow lost control of the Speed Force within him...which then proceeded to erupt from him and kill everyone in the vicinity. In an attempt to make amends, he re-staged the scene, threw in some evidence that pointed to both Booster Gold and Harley Quinn, leaked Sanctuary’s files to the public, and then travels five days into the future to kill his future self. Oh and he also left a taped confession, just so Harley and Booster wouldn’t actually be arrested.

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Yeah.

So...that’s kind of a lot. Wally was clearly having emotional issues, but to this extent was...quite more than what had been shown already. (Tom King has explained that he didn’t actually pick the characters for the book, he just wrote a synopsis of the plot and his editors told him the main characters would be Wally, Booster, and Harley. This...isn’t a good way to write stories.)

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In the end of the book, Wally is only able to bring back one of the people he killed (Poison Ivy, of course), but Booster and the others are able to talk him down from killing himself (replacing the dead body they found of him with a quick-grown clone from Booster’s future).

So Wally West is still alive. But also is responsible for killing a bunch of fellow heroes, including [checks notes] Arsenal, Blue Jay, Commander Steel, Gnarrk, Gunfire, Hot Spot, Lagoon Boy, Nemesis, Protector, Red Devil, Solstice, and the Tattooed Man.

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So where does Wally go from here? The book ended with Wally arrested, but they can’t leave him like that. Tom King has already stated that Heroes in Crisis has primed Wally for bigger things. But what things? What should happen with Wally?

Is this Wally’s Emerald Twilight? After Emerald Twilight, it took years to redeem Hal Jordan, with Geoff Johns eventually resorting to a retcon absolving him of all the bad things he did in order to get him back to be a Green Lantern. But should that happen to Wally?

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Clearly, something has to happen. There have been rumors that Wally will either join the Suicide Squad or get his own book about him trying to redeem himself.

Here are some ideas I have about Wally’s future:

  • While I don’t think he should be a part of the Suicide Squad (the Squad does morally gray stuff for the government and I think we would want to have Wally avoid doing that), I do think having him become a member of a new team would be interesting. The team I think would be: a new version of the Forgotten Heroes. Since Wally was literally forgotten by everybody, he could find himself on a team made up of people left over from prior timelines or those who fell through the cracks of reality and nobody remembers them any longer. (This could also be a fun way to reintroduce some pre-Flashpoint and pre-Crisis characters.)
  • If he gets his own book, I would have him working towards redemption by trying to find ways to bring back every single person he killed. And not just that — but also by making sure what happens to him doesn’t happen again, by working through his issues in a safe place. (The safe place would be Mars, by the way. No inhabitants — nobody that might die if he loses control again.) And his new mission would also entail helping those in need — not just fighting villains, but helping people overcome problems and issues they face. A proactive hero, rather than a reactive one. (I also imagine this somewhat like Angel, a redemption story that also looks at how small we are in the face of everything and how the only thing we can do is help each other.)
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What I would not like to see is: a retcon about how the Negative Speed Force (or something) was really interfering with Wally and caused him to kill and everything. Even with how controversial people think Heroes in Crisis was (and boy, do they — the last issue has reviews ranging from 10/10 to 2/10), I think that would be a cop out and avoid the work of not only really redeeming Wally, but also giving us a great story about Wally himself.

Because there was a moment when Hal Jordan died saving the Earth and then came back as the Spectre and tried to figure out how it all worked — how he could possibly redeem himself and control God’s Vengeance and how perhaps the world didn’t need vengeance, it needed someone fearless enough to forgive. That Hal Jordan, in my mind, was much more interesting than Geoff Johns’ “Parallax Made Me Do It!” Hal Jordan.

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