Spoilers ahead for Heroes in Crisis #8.
If you just finished reading Heroes in Crisis #8, you’ve probably got two thoughts right now.
If you’re a DC fan, the first thought, is “no, please, not Wally West.”
But the next one is, why didn’t I figure this out?
Of course, it should be clarified (in case you didn’t read the issue), the deaths at Sanctuary were an accident.
The power of the Speed Force came crashing out of Wally’s body and killed all those people at Sanctuary. Wally didn’t mean for it to happen. It was the result of a mental breakdown he was experiencing. He lost control of the Speed Force at the wrong time - just as he was being surrounded by caring patients at Sanctuary who were trying to help him.
In a flash of lightning, they were dead.
However, Wally’s legacy has taken a turn for the worse because not only was his breakdown predicated by his decision to hack into the Sanctuary computers, but Wally diabolically covered up his role in the tragedy and framed two innocent people. (Granted, he framed two people, so he probably assumed neither could be convicted. But he was pretty damned clever about how he did it.)
Heroes in Crisis #8 explains the “murder” scene at Sanctuary, piece-by-piece:
- Harley and Booster experienced two different versions of the deaths because they were each actually in a virtual reality chamber at Sanctuary. They were placed there by a speedster, so they were unaware they’d been moved.
- Each of the murders Harley and Booster viewed were V.R. programs. One saw a program where Harley committed the crime, the other where Booster was the murderer. Then they were placed, one by one, into the Sanctuary lawn, none the wiser.
- Batman and Barry were fooled into suspecting Harley and Booster because the culprit had time to stage the murder scene and had experience with their crime scene investigations, knowing what assumptions each detective would make. He left clues that pointed toward Booster and Harley.
- The reason Booster’s shield wasn’t working was that it was disabled by a speedster, without Booster’s knowledge. Why was it disabled? So Wally could steal Booster’s time travel tech.
- Wally’s dead body was from five days in the future because Wally stole Booster’s tech to travel ahead and kill his future self. Then he used his own body to stage the “murder” scene, making himself a victim instead of a suspect.
- The high-tech A.I. at Sanctuary was hacked by someone who had time to access all the data, because he was a speedster.
But there are still some questions. Just a few of them:
- Was the five days merely to bring Poison Ivy back to life?
- How did Wally West know how to revive Poison Ivy in the first place?
- Why would Wally West potentially expose his friends to the public by sending their confessions to The Daily Planet?
- And lastly (you know you’re thinking it)… if Wally had time travel tech, why not just travel back a few minutes and prevent the accident from happening in the first place?
Despite these remaining questions, this issue answers a lot of the mysteries from the last seven issues of Heroes in Crisis. Let’s take a look at spoilers for issue #8 to trace each step of Wally’s story.
Wally West’s confession kicks off the issue, but there are splashes of blood on the Sanctuary emblem hanging on the wall behind him. This was recorded after the deaths at Sanctuary.
The entire issue is Wally’s confession, and readers are given an explanation for how he accidentally killed everyone at Sanctuary, then decided to cover his own tracks and frame other people.
On the first page, Wally says that after three weeks of treatment at Sanctuary, he realized there was a problem.
“I was alone, and Sanctuary kept telling me I wasn’t,” he said. “That whatever I was going through, a lot of others go through, and it’s no big deal. It’s everyday. It’s everyone. It’s just your turn now. We’re all heroes. We’re all struggling. We’re all in this together.”
But Wally didn’t believe it: “I was the crazy one. Everyone else was cool and I was messed up.”
He began to believe Sanctuary was fake. He started to think it was a big set-up, meant to make him feel better because he was labeled as their “symbol of hope.” He couldn’t see the other patients (because Sanctuary protects anonymity). He didn’t believe they were actually mental health patients.
Maybe, he thought, it was all a facade.
Hit and Run
Sanctuary’s A.I. told Wally that he couldn’t even see the confessions of the other heroes. The A.I. explained to Wally that every piece of data on every hero is deleted — “cracked up into billions of bits and scattered in a billion places.”
Wally wanted to see those confessions. He needed to see if Sanctuary was a set-up, or if it was really a trauma facility, as he’d been told. So he used his superspeed to collect the data and view the confessions.
Wally explained that he was “weak for an instant.”
But in that instant, he experienced dozens (maybe hundreds?) of confessions — the words of heroes who were suffering.
“And for an instant, I wasn’t alone. It broke me,” he said.
Wally ran outside the Sanctuary front door as he experienced a mental breakdown. After watching all those confessions, it was too much. He wanted to be alone. He fell to his knees on the lawn in front of the Sanctuary house.
Wally’s actions against the Sanctuary A.I., however, triggered an emergency alarm. All the heroes came outside, walking across the lawn toward Wally to help him.
But because of his mental state, Wally couldn’t contain the Speed Force. It burst out from him as he screamed, “No.”
And it killed all the heroes around him.
OK, so it was an accident. Right?
Buuut … what Wally did next was pretty conniving.
Wally ran back into Sanctuary, discovering that Booster and Harley Quinn hadn’t emerged yet. Using his superspeed, Wally moved each of the two survivors into one of Sanctuary’s virtual reality chambers and programmed the A.I. to show them a mass-murder. They didn’t even realize they had been moved. Each of them was shown a scene where the other committed the crime, and each of them watched a virtual Wally West die.
Wally decided to steal Booster Gold’s back-up time-traveling tech, disabling Booster’s shield to get to it.
Then Wally traveled five days into the future to find his future self. (And the five-days-ahead Wally was standing next to the newly resurrected Poison Ivy, as seen last issue).
Future Wally told his five-days-younger self: “There’s a flower floating in Gotham River. Find it. Plant it. It’s one more thing.”
Wally killed his future self, brought the body back to the past, then placed it next to Roy. “It seemed right,” he said.
Then he staged the murder scene in a way where it could’ve been done by either Harley or Booster, knowing how to fool both Batman and Barry into believing the clues.
After Booster watched the V.R. program of the murder, Wally set him back on the lawn at Sanctuary. He was so shaken, he left immediately.
Then Wally set Harley onto the lawn. She found Booster’s tracks and followed him.
Wally’s the Puddler
Next, Wally destroyed the Sanctuary A.I. and hid his work there. He wrote the “Puddlers” message on the wall, remembering a story Barry had told him about what puddlers were.
So why did Wally use the term “Puddlers?”
It turns out “puddlers” is a sort of metaphor for superheroes. The puddlers of history would remove the flaws from iron, making it strong. But over time, the puddlers would get sick and die, because the process killed them.
So Wally West is the one who killed all the dead characters at Sanctuary. And he staged it to make it seem like it was a murder so that he would have five days to accomplish something good - “something as good as what I’d done bad.”
At the end of the issue, the narration reveals that Wally’s confession is actually being recorded to send to Lois Lane. Five days after the deaths at Sanctuary, Wally is telling the truth to the world.
Is the Trinity culpable, having isolated Wally? Will Wally’s time loop stay part of DC history? And what comes next for Poison Ivy?
The story ends with May 22's Heroes in Crisis #9.