Why do all speedsters come from the Midwest? Jay Garrick, Barry Allen, Wally West, and Fastback the Turtle all hail from the great middle of the country. It’s one of life’s mysteries, as great speed is not what one associates with the stereotypical way of life of that portion of the continent. Associating the Bats with a decaying East Coast city is much less of a stretch.
Still, if one does not associate the Midwest with speed, on does associate it with family, and that is what this issue of Convergence is all about. Family, and the links that make up family, has always defined Wally West, from his days as Kid Flash to his time on the Justice League. This story opens as he speeds toward Gotham to attend to a crisis, his children, Jai and Iris, quite literally in tow, bound to him by the power of the speed force that permeates them all. As a result, they all find themselves trapped under the dome when Braniac gathers Gotham for his collection.
That leads to a most unnatural creature, a guilty and angst-ridden Wally West. The key to his popularity among comics readers was long the positive nature of his personality. In all of the DCU, only Dick Grayson was a greater icon for optimism and cheerful bravery. But his bravery has led to endangering two of the people he loves most in the world, and separating them all from the third, his wife, Linda. He would not be human if that did not lead to pain and introspection.
But he would not be Wally if he turned from his bravery, or if he did not immediately run into action as soon as the dome opened. Others might accede to Telos’ demand for an arena of death, but Wally ‘s instinct is cooperation with other cities and defiance of their tormentor. So off he goes to explore their new world in a way only a speedster, or a Kryptonian, can.
But the speed force that gives him his powers still links him with his children, and to his chagrin even as they were dragged along to Gotham to begin with, now they are dragged with him on his exploration of Telos. Jai and Iris are his children, but they are, he knows, also heroes, and they must now use the skills he has taught them to defend themselves and others in this dire peril he so dearly wishes he had not brought them into.
Luckily, the first being they encounter is one such as themselves. It turns out that Fastback of the Zoo Crew, seeing them speed past, gets the same idea. And just in a nick of time, for Flashpoint Wonder Woman and her Amazons have arrived for battle. And so the war of optimism and terror is joined.
The triumph of this book is tone. Tony Bedard exactly captures Wally's voice and attitude, and makes believable his reaction to a depressing and guilt-inducing ordeal. Tom Grummett and Sean Parsons create images that are in a DC house style, but which nevertheless convey the dynamism so crucial to a story about speedsters. Rain Beredo understands that speed is above all about bright color, and delivers with the vivid reds and yellows that have always been the iconic hues of the Flash family. Nobody will read this and say this is a Flash story for the ages, at least not yet. But everyone should read it and say that this is Wally, and that is very pleasing indeed.