The Flash Vol. 6The following may contain spoilers. You have been warned. 

It is the beginning of a new era for the fastest man alive. In this volume, we are introduced to the future Flash who is a broken man. Time and again, his powers have failed him at an enormous cost to himself and the city he loves and has sworn to protect. Future Flash concludes that the his powers are weakening the more he travels through time. In order to remedy this problem, he goes back to the current, present-day time to stop the one event that starts it all.

The story comes from writer Robert Venditti, Van Jensen, and artist Brett Booth, collecting The Flash #30-35, The Flash Annual #3, and The Flash: Futures End #1. The main troubling element of this graphic novel is the story in the present. For the most part it isn’t all that interesting. There are pieces that are repetitive, and some things are overly explained. The pattern is established – someone is using weapons from previous villains to enact random acts of violence. Once the act has been committed, the Flash/Barry is the only one who knows that the villain who owned the weapon is not who they are looking for. The investigation continues until he figures out who is behind it all.

We are, however, introduced for the first time in the 52 universe to Wally West. And this  . . . this is good. Wally is Iris West’s nephew. Wally we know becomes Barry’s sidekick, Kid Flash. The introduction and addition of Wally is what makes this collection. Daniel West (Wally’s uncle) is the Reserve Flash whose actions broke the Speed Force (the key piece to this whole storyline). I have to agree with Anne who blogs that time travel is good, when used sparingly.

Flash and Future Flash

One of the things that has always made the Flash a great character was Barry’s humanity. Filled with a sense of justice and compassion, Barry rarely ever became unhinged. But here, in this collection, the Future Flash values revenge over justice. Where previously the Flash would never kill, Future Flash does. He is willing – and planning on it – to sacrifice himself in order to redeem the Speed Force and all the consequences of breaking it.

However, it is not Barry’s place to sacrifice.

As the Flash and Future Flash battle it out, Wally appears in his Flash costume, much to the surprise of both Flashes. Wally knows why Future Flash is there – to kill present-day Flash. However, Wally knows that Future Flash is trying to fix things: “I know what you’re trying to undo . . but the way you’re going about it is all wrong,” he tells Future Flash.

When Future Flash does Barry in, Wally realizes that because he absorbed speed force energy in order to receive his powers, he could do the same to save Barry. Wally’s final words to Barry may provide the healing Barry needs for his future brokenness. Wally says: “Just don’t give up on me. . .I’m only a hero . . because I learned  . . from you.”

It is Wally’s “Remember Me.” Wally gives Barry hope and encouragement. Wally becomes who he becomes because of Barry, and hopefully that is enough to ground Barry in the future. Perhaps as Barry continues his mission, he will remember the sacrifice that Wally made so that the Central City, and the world, would have a hero.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for a digital review copy.