There are countless characters that have helped the Flash become the superhero fan-favorite that he is today. And without a doubt, Wally West is one of the most important parts of the Flash's overall legacy. Think about it: As superhero fans, we all have our favorite version of Wally.
Whether you're a fan of the traditional comic book character, the Justice League iteration, Young Justice's Kid Flash or Keiynan Lonsdale's live-action portrayal of Wally on CW's The Flash, it's undeniable that the character has had a significant impact on the legacy of the Scarlet Speedster.
With the recent announcement that Lonsdale's Wally will indeed become Kid Flash on The Flash, let's take a look at how Wally became such a pivotal character and why he has remained that way over the years.
Wally West made his DC Comics debut in The Flash Issue 110 in December 1959. The young nephew of Iris West visited Barry Allen's lab at the Central City Police Department and fell victim to a freak accident eerily reminiscent of the one that turned Barry into The Flash.
Much like Barry himself, Wally is gifted with super speed and ultimately becomes a superhero. Barry took the young man under his wing and trained him, giving him a much smaller Flash suit. However, he soon trades in the red for the yellow, donning a much cooler outfit that has become synonymous with the character. And with that, Kid Flash was born.
Kid Flash has since gone on to become one of the most beloved superheroes of all time. Not only did he fight alongside the Scarlet Speedster in many of the Flash's iconic storylines, he also became a founding member of the Teen Titans and would become incredibly close friends with Dick Grayson — Robin/Nightwing.
Wally's loud personality and likable attitude made him a hit with fans, so it's no surprise that many prefer to see him remain as the ultra-cool young sidekick. But alas, he would soon have to adapt in order to further his legacy. And that's exactly what he did.
Wally As The Flash
As much as we all love Kid Flash, the moment that Wally West really solidified his importance to the Flash's legacy was when he took up the mantle of the Scarlet Speedster after Barry Allen's death in Crisis On Infinite Earths. It was an iconic moment when the boy became a man and was perhaps the only silver lining to come out of a very dark day for the comic book world.
As the Flash, Wally blazed a trail through the comic books, speeding his way into our hearts. He would go up against some formidable foes, including the Reverse-Flash as both of them battled for supremacy and the right to hold the title of Barry Allen's true successor.
Wally went on an emotional journey, never allowing himself to reach the speeds of his mentor as he never wanted to replace Barry. However, when Thawne threatened to become the next Flash, Wally managed to rid himself of the mental block and eventually matched Barry's speed before he eventually surpassing it. Although there were some of Barry's abilities that Wally couldn't replicate — such as phasing through objects — he could share and steal speed as well being able to use his speed to heal others.
Wally West was entrusted with one of the most sacred superhero mantles in comic book history. He not only did the Flash justice, he wrote his own legacy — one so strong that it rivals Barry Allen's. Wally West didn't just mimic the Flash, he was the Flash.
Perhaps the most important reason why Wally West is an important part of the Flash's legacy is his involvement with the Speed Force. It was during his run as the Scarlet Speedster when writer Mark Waid introduced the Speed Force — the energy source used as the explanation for all of the speedsters' speed.
Wally was used to introduce the Speed Force and thus was able to tap into it in order to lend his speed to others as well as being able to expand upon his own abilities. Thanks to the Speed Force, Wally could now phase through objects — one Barry Allen trait that he had previously been unable to replicate.
Wally's involvement with the Speed Force put it on the map. Now, almost all adaptations of the Flash character feature the Speed Force prominently. It currently appears in the comics, The Flash TV series as well as previously appearing in Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox and the animated series Young Justice.
Whether you prefer him as Kid Flash, the Flash or just as Wally West, there's no question that the character has had an enormous impact on the legacy of the Flash. Starting out as a badass sidekick, Wally would go on to become an incredible hero. He brought with him some of the most iconic comic book storylines and battled some of the most evil comic book supervillains.
The character is so popular that he has been immortalized in various ways. IGN voted the character as the 8th Greatest Superhero of All Time, ahead of any other speedsters (including Barry Allen). Furthermore, he has featured prominently in many DC adaptations, including the animated series' Justice League and Justice League Unlimited, in both of which he is the Flash, not to mention appearing as Kid Flash in Young Justice. With Keiynan Lonsdale set to don the iconic yellow and red Kid Flash outfit, we will see the character come to life once again, and I can't wait.
Wally West isn't just a big part of the Flash's legacy, he is responsible for a big part of the Flash's legacy.
Are you a fan of Wally West? Do you prefer him as The Flash or Kid Flash? Let us know in the comments below!