WRITER: JEREMY ADAMS
ARTISTS: FERNANDO PASARIN AND BRANDON PETERSON
PUBLISHER: DC COMICS
RELEASE DATE: JULY 13, 2021
REVIEWER: ROLLO TOMASSI
The Flash 2021 Annual ties up the current storyline from the ongoing series by daring to look back at one of the most controversial periods of Wally West’s history. That being said, The Flash 2021 Annual is the conclusion of the ‘Blink of the Eye” storyline that was started in the Flash ongoing series. An old Flash villain returns while Wally must face the demons of his past. Let’s race into this issue and take a look!
Previously, this storyline had Wally trapped by the Speed force and bouncing to different periods of time while inhabiting the body of different speedsters. When in the future, he was in Bart “Impulse” Allen’s body. He went to the past and jumped into the body of the original Flash Jay Garrick. One amusing part had him jump into the body of the Reverse Flash in a world based on the old Super Friends cartoon. Now with the concluding issue, we go to a recent, and controversial, period in Flash history.
Launching from the end of the last issue, Wally has arrived in his own body. But that body is at the Sanctuary compound from the Heroes in Crisis mini-series. Some slight spoilers if you haven’t read that story. The short version is Sanctuary is a place Super Heroes can go to recover from trauma such as PTSD that may happen when someone is continuously fighting a never-ending battle with villains. In that story, a group of heroes is suddenly murdered. And by the end, it’s revealed Wally West did it while going through a mental breakdown. Now, it appears this annual would attempt to deal with those demons and try to move on.
Returning to such a controversial story such as Heroes in Crisis is a risky move. One wonders if this whole story was an attempt to redeem Wally from his actions in that story. The wound is still fresh as that story was only a couple of years ago. There is a bit of retconning here to make it seem like Wally wasn’t the culprit in Heroes in Crisis. I’m not sure if they totally pulled that off but if the point is to just move away from Heroes in Crisis I’m fine with that.
In the present Green Arrow, Barry Allen, and Mr. Terrific can still communicate with Wally. They can see whatever Wally sees. In a truly heartbreaking scene, Green Arrow is able to see his old sidekick Roy who was one of the victims in the Sanctuary massacre. There is a lot, and I mean A LOT, of exposition of what is happening with the timeline and what Wally needs to do.
It comes close to the 1980’s level dialogue. So, your enjoyment of the dialogue may vary. To summarize, there’s a time bubble that must be burst. However, doing so will doom Roy and the other Sanctuary victims to their fate. Green Arrow is trying to find a way to save Roy. In the end, Roy decides to be the one to burst the time bubble in order for things to return to normal. He at least is able to have a nice final goodbye with Green Arrow before dying again.
While all this is going on, the old Wally West Flash Villain Savitar returns. If you are not a long-time Flash follower, this might not have the impact it should have. Despite acting like he can take on all the Justice League, Wally really does takes Savitar down relatively easy. In a nice moment, we see a more confident Wally return that has some fun showing Savitar who is the much more powerful speedster.
In regards to the art, it’s gorgeous. There is often a tendency in these annual issues to not have an A-Team on the book. Yet, here the art team does a great job. It is very detailed and eye-catching. A close comparison would be former Flash and Green Lantern Rebirth artist Ethan Van Sciver. Which considering Savitar last appeared in the Flash Rebirth story is a nice connection. Moreover, the opening page has a nice 9-panel grid which is clearly a nod to Heroes in Crisis.
As a wrap-up to the overall story, The Flash 2021 Annual is fine. There were a lot of over-the-top discussions that go over my old comic fan brain. Mostly how Wally is able to get control of his powers and return to the present. That being said, the premise and discussions were kind of fun in a retro way.
There is however one sore spot that almost ruins the conclusion of the story. And, it’s not even in the story itself. SPOILER FOR UPCOMING DC UNIVERSE STORIES!!!!….. As stated earlier, Roy sacrifices himself so Wally can harness the power from the time bubble (I warned you about the exposition!). But in the ad that follows the story is a list of questions about the state of the DC Universe. One of those questions is “why is Roy Harper alive?”. So basically, the ad ruined the consequences of Roy’s actions in this story. I know heroes or villains never really die. But to throw that ad in right after this particular story seems like poor planning from the marketing department.
The Flash 2021 Annual brings a satisfying conclusion and a new starting point for Wally West as the Flash. Plus, it’s nice to have a great art team on an annual. The final pages feel like we as the readers are expected to move on from the baggage of recent years and just once again embrace Wally West as the Flash.