As fans of the character will attest, DC Comics has not been kind to Wally West. He’s been erased from the timeline, brought back, then made into a killer. I’m not an avid Wally West fan, so there are probably a number of other unpleasant things done to the character that I’m not privy to. However, I can empathize with the feeling that your favorite character is getting the short end of the stick. Fortunately, The Flash #773 forgoes much of that messy history in favor of a lighter read that also serves as a decent jumping on point (you’ll still probably want to start with the previous issue first).
The Flash #773 continues where the previous issue left off: Wally is the de facto Flash of Central City, but he’s got a family to feed and the hero business just doesn’t pay well. However, thanks to his connections, Wally inadvertently lands a job as an engineer for Mister Terrific’s tech company, TerrificTech. Brewing in the background is Mick Rory, a.k.a. Heatwave, who’s just been informed he has next to no chance of surviving his cancer and to enjoy what he has left of his life. Of course, this means going on a firebug rampage that draws the attention of The Flash. Life is precious, and Heatwave is going to reinforce that notion for everyone in the most self-destructive way imaginable.
Plot-wise, The Flash is pretty thin, but it’s indicative of the kind of story that writer Jeremy Adams is going for. Heatwave is an iconic Flash villain, but he’s been dealt with many times before so he isn’t much of an obstacle. In any case, the showdown is still enjoyable thanks to artist Will Conrad’s portrayal of a classic Flash move, which also does the job of reinforcing Wally as a competent speedster. However, it’s the resulting aftermath that truly establishes Wally as a worthy guardian of Central City. Instead of quickly handing Heatwave off to the authorities, The Flash takes a minute to understand why Heatwave has suddenly returned to a life of crime. It’s a nice moment, reminiscent of Wally’s talk with Trickster in Justice League Unlimited (2004). Overall, this issue succeeds in reestablishing Wally West as The Flash of Central City. He is an incredibly likable everyman, and he hilariously looks like a fish out of water alongside the other tech engineers. He still has his secret identity too, which also offers some great levity when he carelessly refers to an experiment he conducted with a “treadmill,” much to the doubt and suspicion of the engineers.
The Flash #773 may be thin on plot, but it succeeds at its goal of establishing Wally West as the main Flash of the solo series. Again, I’m not familiar with Wally aside from the Justice League cartoons, and I don’t read many Flash comicbooks, but this issue did a lot to make me care about him. The light-hearted tone also feels well suited for a story with a character as quippy as Wally West. There’s a very out-of-place interlude that grinds the issue to a halt, and the comicbook that the editorial note refers to isn’t even released yet, but this is a minor thing in an overall great issue. Anyone interested in reading The Flash should definitely consider starting with this short two-issue story arc (issues #772-#773).