- "Funny Aneurysm" Moment:
- Everything in this story exists to definitely present Wally as a worthy successor to the Flash name. After overcoming his own misgivings about replacing his uncle, Wally defeats Zoom, one of the deadliest villains in the Flash's rogues gallery while preventing him from tarnishing Barry's memory further. Hal Jordan proceeds to compliment him as the greatest hero he's ever known. All this development and care that was taken to make fans accept that Wally was now the Flash and that it was the best course of action for the franchise ended up being thrown to the wayside when they did bring Barry back, long after most fans had accepted the lessons presented here. How could they go back to Barry when Mark Waid had explained Wally was his superior in every respect, and arguably proven it? This version of Wally would return after decades of lost time and being replaced by a character also called Wallace West, and it's difficult not to see the parallels, even if, unlike Zoom, Wallace didn't do it on purpose.
- In a tie-in to this story, Hal Jordan faced the now-crazed "Barry", not knowing he was actually Zoom. Hal tries as hard as he can to help his friend who appears to have gone insane. Hal himself would later suffer a mental breakdown and become Parallax, and it was similarly retconned as not really him (in this case, Demonic Possession by a personification of fear).
- Thawne was finally defeated when he was bluffed into thinking Wally used the Cosmic Treadmill to travel through time and kill Thawne as a baby. Thawne would later try the same tactic himself years down the line as part of his sick game to ruin Barry Allen's life, and then indirectly causing Flashpoint.
- Heartwarming Moments:
- Wally learning that his Aunt Iris is the author of Barry's biography, and that its publication date is a few years from now. He says that this is the one bright spot in their Darkest Hour, because it means someday Iris will return to them.
- Hal Jordan seeing Wally West as a worthy successor to Barry, after previous issues of him doubting Wally's ability to carry on the Flash legacy.
- When the crisis is over and the Flash Museum is reopened, two statues now decorate the outside, instead of just one: of Barry Allen and Wally West running side by side.
- It Was His Sled: Eobard Thawne is pretending to be Barry. This story is one of the most iconic Flash stories of all time, so these days, everyone knows the twist going in.
- Moment of Awesome: Wally defeating several years worth of mental blocks and overcoming his fear of replacing his uncle to become the fastest man alive, defeat Eobard Thawne, and to deliver the best line in the entire Flash comics...Wally West: YOU'RE NO BARRY ALLEN!
- This scene is so awesome that it is the trope image for The Flash Moment of Awesome page.
- Never Live It Down: Due to the acclaim of this story, it tends to outshine the rest of Waid's run (if not Wally's entire tenure), with some even claiming it was the best point in both and they never exceeded it. However, as the story is also presented as Wally suffering massive Heroic Self-Deprecation next to the memory of Barry and presents him as struggling to live up to his legacy, some Barry fans consider it to be his only defining trait, and write off his character as being obsessed with Barry's legacy. Not helping matters, largely well-received Wally stories in the DC Rebirth-onward period have presented Wally as still having these issues, leading to the illusion he never got over it, despite the fact Wally would rarely bring Barry up for the rest of Waid's run (which was another decade of stories), and even Johns' run didn't dwell on it too much outside of reflecting Johns' own admiration for Barry.
- Tear Jerker:
- Wally's Hope Spot. After months of mourning for his uncle and believing that he will come back, he is overjoyed when Barry comes back — well, not at first. He believes Barry is an impostor, but when he sees him at his aunt's grave, then he believes that Barry really is his uncle — only to find his hopes dashed when he learns the man he thought was his uncle is actually Eobard Thawne, his aunt's killer disguised as Barry Allen. While Wally does eventually come to terms with it, it is heartbreaking to see him relive the grieving process.
- Before The Reveal of who "Barry" really is, Wally goes through a brutal Despair Event Horizon when "Barry" leaves him to die in a deathtrap. That alone would be bad enough, but "Barry" makes it abundantly clear that he's doing it out of hatred for Wally for replacing him and is going to take revenge on the city for "forgetting" him. Not only does this give Wally a massive Broken Pedestal, but it's later revealed that the the idea of replacing Barry has always been something Wally is deeply, subconsciously terrified of doing. The entire experience is so devastating for Wally that he doesn't even bother telling anyone other than Linda that he's still alive while spending several days sitting despondently in his home. The cover of the issue dealing with all of this even refers to these events as "the most tragic day in the life of Wally West."
YMMV / The Return of Barry Allen