"Flash War" is a 2018 storyline in the pages of The Flash (Rebirth), written by Joshua Williamson, with art by Howard Porter, Christian Duce and Scott Kolins. The story takes place in The Flash (2016) #46-51, with a prelude also contained in the series' first annual, although issue #45 also leads into the story in a big way.
Since his return to the DC Universe in DC Universe: Rebirth #1, Wally West has struggled to adjust to a new world that isn't the one he remembers. While he has been able to awaken pre-Flashpoint memories within Barry Allen, he hasn't been able to do this with anyone else, including his former wife, Linda Park, and decides to keep his existence a secret from his aunt, Iris West, for fear of another rejection. Wally's own memories began adjusting to fit the new timeline not long after his return.
Meanwhile, Barry Allen has been remembering some strange things as well, and even encountered Jay Garrick, the original Flash who had been removed from the DC Universe's timeline, although he couldn't remember him. Afterwards, Barry and Iris West travelled to the future and fought Eobard Thawne/Professor Zoom, Barry Allen's Reverse-Flash. The confrontation ended with Iris killing Eobard, before she and Barry returned to their own time. Wally and Iris did eventually reunite, and he restores some of her pre-Flashpoint memories. However, this is also followed by all of Wally's pre-Flashpoint memories solidifying in his mind, and they now threaten to overwhelm him.
Now, to make things worse, both Barry and Wally will be brought into a conflict orchestrated by an enemy theyd forgotten they even had — Hunter Zolomon, the second Zoom and Wallys own Reverse-Flash. Hunter also remembers the pre-Flashpoint timeline, and with his powers restored and having studied the history of the Flashes thoroughly, he plans to use his knowledge to bring the Flashes to war.
The story is a sort-of follow-up to 2009's The Flash: Rebirth.
In addition to usual Flash tropes, "Flash War" provides examples of:
- A House Divided: Promotion for the series heavily pushes that Barry and Wally will fight, and the first page of the story proper has Wally seething with rage and threatening Barry. Turns out that this is because Hunter told Wally that he could save his kids by breaking the Speed Force, which he believes. Barry doesn't and thinks that they should find a different way.
- The Ace:
- The story settles who is the Ace of the Flash Family and the fastest Flash: Wally West.
- It also addresses the Flash/Superman rivalry again. During Wally and Barry's argument, Big Blue does his best to catch up but he isn't able to get close enough for the two speedsters to even notice him.
- Author Appeal: Joshua Williamson has said that his second-favourite Flash story is "Blitz", the story where Hunter became Zoom. He's said that he asked if he could use Zoom because he just really loves the character.
- Avenging the Villain: Witnessing Eobard's repeated deaths is what causes Hunter to abandon his plans to "improve" Wally and Barry and just wage war on them.
- Arc Welding: The Time Judge that appeared in The Flash (2010) is revealed to have been Hunter.
- Big Bad: Hunter Zolomon is orchestrating the events of the series. It's revealed that he's been setting things up for quite some time.
- Bittersweet Ending: Not for nothing does Wally think after Zoom is stopped that he still won. On the bitter side the Speed force has been damaged, which prevents any time travel at all and will preclude any efforts at restoring things to how they were pre-Flashpoint; Wally has become obsessed with saving all of the missing speedsters and leaves to find Zoom on his own and Wallace is so hurt by Barry's various mistakes that he also takes off on his own and may be going down a darker path because of Damian Wayne's influence, plus Hunter has gone from an unwilling antagonist who was still a good man inside to a full-on villain. The biggest downer here is that Zoom's manipulation may have led the Flashes to releasing the Anti-Monitor who intends to attack The Multiverse once more. On the sweet side Zoom's plan is thwarted while Barry and Wally wind up on better terms with the implication that Barry is going to work on some of the personal issues that led to things getting as bad as they did in the first place. The brightest spot however would be a pre-Flashpoint Bart Allen escaping the Speed Force because of Zoom's actions.
- Blatant Lies: Hunter tells Wally that he hasn't regained his powers. We saw him regain them earlier in the story, and he even still has the red eyes that come with them.
- Blessed with Suck: When Wally restores Frankie's pre-Flashpoint memories, he also restores her Magenta persona and powers. She is not amused.
- The Bus Came Back:
- Hunter Zolomon returns after about a decade since his last appearance.
- Magenta too, for that matter.
- The Renegades last appeared in one arc in 2010.
- In issue #50, Bart Allen returns.
- The Chessmaster: Hunter has been manipulating the Time Police as a Time Judge, and is planning to bring the Flashes to war. He's also the one who reminds Wally about Irey and Jai, his kids from before Flashpoint, and the rest of the Flash Family still missing, which is what sets events in motion.
- Conflict Ball: Even before Zoom gets involved, in issue 47, Barry and Wally are already pissed at each other... over basically nothing but difference of opinion. Over really minor things.
- Continuity Nod:
- The Renegades reference their last encounter with Barry from the 2010 Flash series, though Barry has forgotten.
- In issue 47, Wally remembers The Return of Barry Allen as well as his time on the JLA.
- Costume Evolution: In issue #46, Barry has his original belt back. Whether or not this will stick remains to be seen.
- A Day in the Limelight:
- The annual is the first story in the 2016 series where Wally takes the lead and is the narrator. It also sets up his status quo.
- While issue #46 focuses on Wally, it focuses more on Hunter and his new status quo.
- Evil Counterpart: the story re-positions Hunter as one for Wally, in addition to being one for Barry. He explicitly mentions his similarities to Barry, in that both have dead mothers and have been haunted by their mistakes, but he also wants to recreate the world and restore the life lost to him, like how Wally wants his family back and is the oen who warned Barry about someone altering the DCU.
- FaceHeel Turn: Without his Time Master powers clouding his mind, Hunter was always a good person in the Johns comics. After his time in the future, however, he's gone full villain.
- Flash Forward: Pun aside, the first scene of issue 47 takes place about an hour into the future, and has Wally willing to break the Speed Force and demanding that Barry come with him.
- Foreshadowing: The first page of the story is a picture of Barry as the Flash and Wally as Kid Flash, broken in half to separate the two.
- Good Counterpart: The Renegades are future cops given the technology of the Rogues, in order to mock the latter by Hunter, plus the fact that the Rogues are the only civilians to regularly battle the Flashes with anything nearing success makes them perfect as an anti-Flash police force.
- Hard Light: Golden Guardian, while having the motif of Golden Glider, actually uses a Sinestro Corps ring. She uses it to create constructs of the three Reverse-Flashes.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
Iris West: He looks up to Barry. Barry was HIS Flash. But for an entire generation, even if they've now forgotten... he was theirs.
- Issue 47 mentions that Wally and Barry always get in each other's way. This is clearly a reference to the politics of DC — taken at face value, this line is just false; the two work extremely well together when they're both Flashes.
- Issue 51 has Iris write about Wally, and the issue is essentially a love letter from Joshua Williamson to Wally West. Most notable is when Iris talks about those who grew up with Wally West, and how he's their Flash, a notion that has been repeatedly brought up when DC has said that Barry Allen is the one true Flash.
- Let's You and Him Fight: Flash once again tangles with the 25th Century Anti-Reverse-Flash Task Force, aka the Renegades, despite both being on the side of justice, due to Hunter Zolomon's machinations.
- Downplayed between Wally and Barry, despite the title. While the two of them do become VERY cross with each other, they never really come to blows.
- Mythology Gag:
- The Flash Museum in the 25th Century is basically a gigantic one, as it contains:
- A Bart Allen statue and costume, a character who hasn't appeared for close to a decade.
- John Fox's costume is on display
- Flash villains who haven't appeared since Flashpoint, including Savitar and Black Flash.
- Wally's memories include are also their own can of worms, including:
- Cyborg's Omegadrome suit.
- The Grant Morrison JLA team.
- His first time meeting Bart Allen.
- His and Linda Park's wedding.
- When Wally sees a vision of the Flash Museum in modern times, there's a metal plaque that features certain years that correspond with when a new Flash took over, as well as the corresponding Age of comics at the time.
- In Issue 47, Wallace asks if there's a Reverse-Kid Flash after meeting the Renegades. There is, he just doesn't know it.
- The Flash Museum in the 25th Century is basically a gigantic one, as it contains:
- The Power of Love: Wally uses his love and memories of the Flash Family to fight Hunter.
- Ripple Effect-Proof Memory:
- Hunter remembers the pre-Flashpoint timeline almost exactly. The only discrepancy seems to be him not remembering Jay Garrick. Word of God even says that this is the pre-Flashpoint Hunter Zolomon, who bypassed Flashpoint.
- Bart Allen is revealed to have been in a similar situation to Jay Garrick, and remembers his past with Wally.
- Sequel Hook:
- Wally is determined to track down Hunter Zolomon, to learn the whereabouts of the missing speedsters.
- Bart Allen has returned and has his pre-Flashpoint memories.
- The mysterious prisoner that Eobard Thawne imprisoned has escaped, and is out to start a new crisis even bigger than the Crisis on Infinite Earths.
- Sequel Series: We finally see what happened after Hunter told Eobard that he could make the two "better" at the end of The Flash: Rebirth.
- The Smurfette Principle: The Renegades now contain a heroic version of Golden Glider called the Golden Guardian, who previously wasn't on the team.
- Villainous Friendship: While the two Reverse-Flashes had previously worked together, it was a working relationship. In this story, it's revealed that, after Eobard broke Hunter out of Iron Heights and took him to the future to restore his ability to walk, the two became friends.
- Villainous Legacy: The story's events basically happen because Iris killed Eobard, who had brought Hunter into the future and restored his ability to walk.
- Villain Respect: Zoom actually respects Barry because in his view Barry understands loss and tragedy in ways that Wally never has.
- Wham Line: When Hunter appears to Wally in the first issue, he says, "Together we are going to save your children!"