Last weekend at Comic Con International in San Diego, Batman writer Tom King revealed that he planned to kill a member of the Flash family as part of his upcoming Heroes in Crisis event. Today in The Flash, it seems as though the identity of the character marked for death has been revealed.
Spoilers ahead for The Flash #51, in stores today.
In the wake of "Flash War," Wally West is committed to never stop running -- which of course is not something that one can do long-term.
"Number 51 is the immediate epilogue of Wally trying to find his family, and he's just running," writer Joshua Williamson told ComicBook.com. "He said at the end of #50, 'I'll never stop running,' but you know that's not real. You can't do that; eventually he'll have to stop running. So #51 is a lot about that, of him running and Barry and Iris both saying that he has to stop running at some point. It's an emotional, character-driven issue...it's an emotional issue for Wally and Barry and Iris's relationships, and it will definitely tease some of the other stories that we're doing at DC in the fall."
That story in the fall is almost certainly Heroes in Crisis, which ships its first issue in late September.
Near the end of The Flash #51, Wally is convinced to stop running by Barry, along with an assist from Superman and Wonder Woman. Superman and Wonder Woman offer to get him help, and promise that some time at Sanctuary will help him.
Sanctuary is a mental health facility, built for the heroes and villains of the DC Universe. It uses Kryptonian technology, modified by Batman and embracing Amazonian philosophies, so that its AI nurses can provide therapy for the super-beings who find themselves embroiled in violent conflicts on a daily basis.
And the premise for Heroes in Crisis is that there is a "slaughter" at Sanctuary, leaving a number of heroes and villains dead, and two heroes who were on site getting help are the prime suspects.
The heroes are Booster Gold and Harley Quinn, which means that when The Flash #51 features an editorial note that Wally's story will continue in Heroes in Crisis #1, it seems likely he will be a victim of this mass killing.
Combining that editorial note with King's tease of a dead Flash and the cover copy on The Flash #51 that calls the issue "Wally West's last run" is...well, pretty damning evidence.
Wally had been largely absent from the DC Universe since shortly after Barry Allen returned from the dead to reclaim the Flash mantle in Final Crisis. His role marginalized almost to non-existence, he was explicitly removed from continuity following the events of Flashpoint. His return in DC Universe: Rebirth teased a future of hope for the DCU, and seemed in keeping with the Rebirth era's "greatest hits" philosophy: all of your favorite stories "count" and the characters are the best versions of themselves.
As writers and editors have teased another major event on the horizon a year or two from now, drawing in plot threads from Superman, Justice League, The Flash, and more, one has to wonder whether Wally's apparently- forthcoming death might mean the end of the Rebirth era in a tangible way.