Monday, May 11, 2020

Flash: It's too late

Most decent superhero comics have the moment when the hero realises they can't save everybody, and have to make some hard choices about who they rescue from crime and disaster.

For Wally West - the one, true Flash - that moment came in Flash #91 in 1994, by Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo. Wally is trying to outrun some recent failures, and pushes his speed to new levels by reciting Johnny Quick's speed formula, only to push himself so fast the whole world comes to a stop.

He's joined in this still and silent world by Max Mercury, who gives him a typical Max Mercury lesson, and shows that no matter how fast Wally pushes himself, he can't be everywhere at once. It's nicely illustrated when Max shows Wally the victim of a car crash still frozen in the impact, but already lost. It doesn't matter how fast he is, Wally can't be everywhere at once.

Superheroes always have their limitations, and have to learn to live with them, or they'll be useless - or even worse, become totalitarian monsters. Under Waid's direction, Wally West was always learning, always pushing himself to become better, and this moment of hubris-bursting is one of the best.

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