Kid Flash: Who is the Speedy Successor?

Titanic Speed

Kid Flash: “The Flash isn’t just me. It isn’t about Wally West, or even Barry Allen or Jay Garrick anymore. It is a symbol. An image for Keystone that helps these people fight to be something better. I’m proud to be a part of this. And I always have been.”

The Flash: The Secret of Barry Allen

A red and gold blur races through a city. It snatches a child who wandered into the street before she can be hit by a car. A man having a heart attack is rushed to a hospital in the blink of an eye. A sniper is knocked out, restrained, and dumped unceremoniously at a police station.

The blur speeds up. A dozen prefabricated houses seem to appear out of nowhere. A polluted beach becomes pristine instantly. A boy jumping from a roof is caught before he lands. The blur slows, revealing a teenager in a colorful costume. He coaxes the child into explaining why he jumped and listens to his story. Kid Flash will be late for school, but this is more important.

Kid Flash may be DC Comics’ fastest character. He began as a dime-a-dozen sidekick, but has taken over his mentor’s role and become one of DC’s best heroes. So who is he? How did he get his powers? Is Kid Flash faster than The Flash? Let’s find out.

Lightning Strikes Twice: Kid Flash’s Backstory

Jinx:Who are you?
Kid Flash:Kid Flash, the Fastest Boy Alive.
Jinx:You supposed to be some kind of good guy or something?
Kid Flash:One of the best.

Teen Titans “Lightspeed” (Season 5, Episode 8)

Kid Flash debuted in The Flash #110 in 1959. He was created by John Broome and Carmine Infantino.

Wally West was raised in an abusive home. He coped by idolizing The Flash, even starting a Flash fan club. While visiting his Aunt Iris, she introduced him to her boyfriend Barry Allen, who was secretly The Flash.

Barry showed Wally around his lab and told him The Flash had gotten his powers after being doused with chemicals and struck by lightning. Don’t tell me the odds, but Wally was then hit by lightning and covered in those same chemicals. Suddenly, Wally had super speed too. This backstory is so convenient that later writers implied Wally set up the events in a predestination paradox.

Wally learned Barry’s identity and became his sidekick, Kid Flash.  He originally wore a smaller version of his mentor’s suit, but switched to a yellow and red costume to differentiate from him. Kid Flash went on to create the Teen Titans alongside Robin, Aqualad, and Wonder Girl

Flashback: Kid Flash’s History

Flash Duplicate: “Slacker! Child! Clown! We have no place here among the world’s greatest heroes!
Wally: “Says you! I’ve got a seat at the big conference table. I’m gonna paint my logo on it!

Justice League: Unlimited “Divided We Fall” (Season 2, Episode 12)

Kid Flash hit the big leagues following the Crisis on Infinite Earths when Barry died saving the multiverse. Wally took up the Flash mantle in his honor and joined the Justice League. He struggled with survivor’s guilt and self doubt that he eventually overcame with help from the League.

The Flash married reporter Linda Park, and they had two children, Jai and Iris. His love for his family grounded him so that he didn’t disappear into the Speed Force when he ran too fast.

Wally’s life was turned upside down during the story Final Crisis. Wally found Barry Allen inexplicably alive again and fighting a battle to save the world. They agreed to share The Flash identity, but Wally’s self-doubt returned. Even worse, Barry rebooted the universe during Flashpoint, causing Wally and his family to disappear.

Hero in Crisis: Kid Flash’s Modern Stories

Wally: “I am the Flash! The fastest man in the multiverse! I belong on any Earth that needs me!”

Flash Forward

Kid Flash was a messy subject in the New 52 imprint. An African-American incarnation named Wallace West was introduced, but fans demanded that Wally be brought back. The writers eventually capitulated, bringing Wally back as Kid Flash to start DC’s Rebirth imprint.

In-story, writers revealed that Wally had been trapped in the Speed Force by a villain called Abra Kadabra. That’s why you don’t let him reach out and grab ya. The reboot caused Linda to forget who he was, so Wally couldn’t use her as a lightning rod to ground. He managed to remind The Flash that he existed and escaped the Speed Force with his help.

Kid Flash struggled to cope with the loss of his family and world. He was sent to a rehab facility called Sanctuary for help. It seemed to be working, but he became paranoid and “accidentally” killed the other patients. Kid Flash faked his death, framed Harley Quinn and Booster Gold for the massacre, and began a convoluted scheme to draw attention to superheroes’ mental health before attempting suicide himself. Yeah, he was not written well during Heroes in Crisis

Kid Flash was talked out of suicide, and DC immediately began fixing his character. His paranoia was explained as exposure to the Reverse Flash’s Negative Speed Force. Wally learned his children were alive but trapped in the Dark Multiverse in a convoluted story arc. Wally rescued his children, but remained behind to keep the Dark Multiverse from mixing with the normal multiverse. In the process, he was transformed into a new incarnation of Watchmen’s Doctor Manhattan. 

Anyone else’s head hurt trying to keep this straight?

Fastest Man Alive: Kid Flash’s Powers and Personality

Flash: “Here’s the deal, buddy. Tell me where those guys went, and I’ll come see you in the hospital. We’ll play darts! …The soft kind.”
Trickster: “Okay, they’re gonna ambush you at the Flash Museum.”
Flash: “See? That’s all we needed! Come on, we better get over there.
Orion: “What about your enemy?
Flash: “Oh, right! [looks back] Dude, soon as you finish your drink, turn yourself in!
Trickster: [raising his mug]Got me again, Flash!”

Justice League: Unlimited “Flash and Substance” (Season 3, Episode 5)

Kid Flash’s powers come from the Speed Force. His basic power set is super speed, agility, reflexes, and enhanced healing. Kid Flash eventually expanded his powers to include electrokinesis, vibrations, phasing, time dilation, time travel, and traveling to other universes.

Kid Flash was unable to use most of his speed because of a mental block caused by his fear of replacing Barry Allen. At full power, there isn’t anything in the multiverse that can catch him. For example, he once outran an incarnation of Death that targets speedsters and the Big Bang. To do that, he traveled at over 32 sexvigintillion times the speed of light. What’s a sexvigintillion? A one followed by eighty-one zeroes. Flash Fact.

You wouldn’t think Kid Flash needed an upgrade when he’s got the Speed Force on his side, but he got one anyway. During Flash Forward, he used an artifact called the Mobius Chair to become a new Doctor Manhattan. This has basically made him nigh-omnipotent at the cost of his humanity and sense of self.

Most of this Kid Flash backstory has talked about doom and gloom, but Wally West is often portrayed as the “Fun Flash.” He jokes with his teammates and enemies, is on a first-name basis with almost everyone in his hometown, and goes out of his way to try and redeem his rogues gallery. Barry focuses on the science of the Speed Force, but Wally prefers to go with the flow.

The Actors Who Play Kid Flash

Tommy Cook – The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure
Charlie Schlatter – Superman: The Animated Series
Michael Rosenbaum – Justice League, Justice League: Unlimited, Teen Titans
Hunter Parrish – Batman: the Brave and the Bold
Jason Spisak – Young Justice, Teen Titans: The Judas Contract
Seth Green – Robot Chicken
Josh Keaton – Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths
Keiynan Lonsdale – The Flash

Didya Get All That?

The Fastest Hero Alive

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