On September 22, DC Comics releases Dark Nights Death Metal: Speed Metal #1. The Dark Nights Death Metal tie-in is written by Flash scribe Joshua Williamson, with penciler Eddy Barrows, inker Eber Ferreira, colorist Adriano Lucas, and letterer Steve Wands.
Since returning in DC Rebirth #1, the DC universe has not been a kind place to Wally West. Initially heralded as the return of hope to an increasingly bleak universe, Wally’s journey has been one of increasing directionlessness and disappointment.
Friends and family forgot him. Disrespected and distrusted by the Justice League and tricked by Hunter Zolomon. Then, covering up the deaths of his fellow heroes in Sanctuary under the manipulation of Eobard Thawne. He was thrown into the multiverse to be reunited with his children only to lose them again, given the power to fix the DC timeline only to be foiled by the Batman Who Laughs.
Some of Wally’s problems spring from the change of editorial direction in 2018, but Wally’s troubles really began back in 2008’s Final Crisis with the return of Barry Allen. After Barry’s return, Wally receded into the background, playing second fiddle to the returned Silver Age Flash. Wally was the Flash for an entire generation of comics readers, whether we’re talking about Mark Waid’s seminal run on the character or the Bruce Timm Justice League cartoon, and this issue does a good job addressing Wally’s second fiddle status.
Perhaps the biggest “holy cow!” moment of this issue comes in its second half, courtesy of the art team, as Wally outruns the Darkest Knight, who mocks him for trying to succeed where his mentor failed.
Wally, whose status as the Flash was all but forgotten. Wally, who has been looked down upon by his colleagues and not afforded the respect of his mentor.
Begins. To. Transform!
Wally West is the Flash, and this sequence drives that point home! This is Wally West redeemed, and by the end of the issue, fully restored. Barrows and Ferreira do some of their best work in this sequence, particularly in that first image of Wally, with the design and shading. At the same time, Luca’s colors pop, particularly Wally’s distinctive eye lenses. Seeing Wally in his Mark Waid Flash suit is a joy for fans of the character, and signals that Wally’s dark night (pardon the pun) is over.
The art team is joined by Wands on the letters, which serve as a perfect complement to this image. Wally was supposed to represent hope returning to the DC universe, but as Wally points out on the previous page to the beings chasing him, “try to hold me back just like so much in my life the last few years.They want me scared, to focus on my setbacks and struggles.”
But it doesn’t end there: “But I’m done with that…”
Then to turn the page and see “…I’m thinking about what gives me hope,” caused the fanboy in me to tear up a little. This was a wonderfully constructed scene from the whole creative team!
After so many years, Williamson is able to give Wally, and the entire Flash family, the happy ending we’ve wanted to see since DC Rebirth #1, and even though there is a lot of Death Metal to go, I think fans who have felt like Wally has gotten cheated over the past years will enjoy seeing him emerge triumphant in this issue, no matter what else DC may have in store for him.
What did you think of Dark Nights Death Metal: Speed Metal #1? Are you happy with the conclusion of Wally’s long Rebirth journey? Tell us in the comments below!