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The Flash: “Born to Run” (DC Comics, 1987; #62-65)

DC has been reprinting a lot of Flash lately. They’re three volumes deep into Geoff Johns’s run, with a fourth coming out later this year. Grant Morrison and Mark Millar’s time with the character has its own collection. And with a second Mark Waid trade coming out next week, I figured it was time to put a dent into the first book of his work.

Waid’s first arc with the Scarlet Speedster returns to Wally West’s origin story. While visiting his grandfather Ira, Wally find a box of his aunt Iris’s old Flash journals. Missing Barry and Iris after their deaths, he begins to reminisce about his first summer with Iris, when he gained his powers and began training with Barry. It’s a well-executed retelling of his origin. Because of when I started reading monthly comics, I have never spent time with the specifics of Wally’s early days.  Waid's take was to the point, focused on character, and never felt over-long or self-indulgent.

Waid keeps the story itself pretty simple, grounding it emotionally in Wally’s uncomfortable relationship with his parents. Flash and Iris become surrogates, of sorts, but before he can grow into his powers, he has to begin to resolve his feelings about his mother and father. He must grow up if he wants to be a hero. By the same token, present-day Wally has to work through the loss of his heroes and mentors, Iris and Barry.

LaRocque, Marzan, and Whitmore’s art is clean and playful. Even outside of the flashback scenes, it has an old-school feel. Aside from some well-defined abs for a ten-year old, the excesses of the ‘90s haven’t touched this Flash. And that cleanness is to its benefit—it keeps the art lively and gives Barry and Wally room to move.

With Wally taking a more active role in Rebirth-era DC continuity, it’s a good time to brush up on his history. And since it’s Post-Crisis, Pre-Flashpoint Wally making rounds, Waid’s* stories are the current Wally’s past. If you’re interested in doing so, “Born to Run” is one of the easiest, earliest points to jump in, and it’s an enjoyable read.

*And Morrison's, Millar's, and Johns's, but those are subjects for other days.

Collected in

  • The Flash: Born to Run (#62-65, Speed Force, Special #1)
  • The Flash by Mark Waid, Vol. 1 (#62-68, Annual #4-5, Special #1)


Writer: Mark Waid | Penciller: Greg LaRocque | Inker: Jose Marzan, Jr. | Letterer: Tim Harkins | Colorist: Glenn Whitmore | Assistant Editor: Frank Pittarese | Editor: Brian Augustyn

Vengeance of the Moon Knight: “Shock and Awe” (Marvel Comics, 2009; #1-6)

Scooter Girl (Image Comics, 2003; #1-6)