Spoilers ahead for this week's Flash Forward #6.
Jai and Iris West are back in the DCU. But as a result, Wally West is now not only devoid of human emotion and imbued with the powers of Dr. Manhattan, but he’s encountering a “kindred spirit” as he races toward DC’s next major event.
In this week's Flash Forward #6 by writer Scott Lobdell and artist Brett Booth, Wally freed his children by sitting in the Mobius Chair and giving up his emotional connection to them. But this act unexpectedly gave him the powers of Dr. Manhattan (who had apparently shared his power with the chair at the conclusion of Justice League's "Darkseid War").
This new version of Wally - an emotionless amalgamation of the Flash, the Mobius Chair, and Dr. Manhattan - has already been revealed by DC as a key character in one of the publisher’s summer events, which kicks off in May’s Free Comic Book Day issue, Generation Zero: Gods Among Us.
With Flash Forward #6, readers have learned that Wally might be teaming up with (or fighting against?) another super-powerful character. As the issue ended, Wally called this person a “kindred spirit,” whose mind was reaching “across the void.”
(Note: Readers of The Flash were recently introduced to a new villain called Paradox, who has similar powers to Dr. Manhattan. So it’s possible that Paradox is the “kindred spirit” of whom Wally speaks - although it isn’t confirmed in this story.)
DC’s summer event is exploring a new version of DC’s history that divides stories into several past, present and future eras (or “generations,” as they’re called in DC’s already-announced “Generation” one-shots).
The idea of exploring DC’s history and future makes sense with Wally having Dr. Manhattan’s powers, which allow him to simultaneously see the past, present and future.
Flash Forward #6 also seemed to alter current DC continuity around Jai and Iris upon their return. Their mother, Linda, not only remembered them, but the narration in Flash Forward #6 implied that continuity may have just transformed around the two children as if they had always been there. (DC has set a precedent for this sort of return, as seen - for example - with Young Justice characters.)
Before we get into the details of Flash Forward #6, it’s important to take a quick look back at the path that Wally and his family have taken to get here.
Jai and Iris West were twins born to Wally and Linda West in the post-Crisis era of the DCU, and both of them developed superpowers and fought crime with their father.
But the two characters were eliminated from continuity when DC rebooted its universe in 2011 and launched its “New 52” era. Years later, this reboot was blamed on the interference of Watchmen character Dr. Manhattan.
Wally himself was also eliminated by the "New 52" reboot, but he came back in 2016 in an act that was later described as “innate hope” fighting back against Dr. Manhattan’s meddling.
His character could remember his previous life, however, including his now-eliminated-from-existence children. The anguish about the loss of his family caused mental issues for Wally, which resulted in him unintentionally killing several people in DC’s Heroes in Crisis limited series.
DC advertised Flash Forward as Wally’s chance for redemption after the events of Heroes in Crisis. The story featured a character called Tempus Fuginaut, who enlisted Wally West to help him save worlds in the DC Multiverse that were being “devoured by dark matter.”
After adventures on several alternate worlds, Wally finally found out the real reason that dark matter was causing so much trouble: One world from the Dark Multiverse would not die.
To review, the Dark Multiverse is the realm where fears and hopes briefly materialize. If enough people fear or hope for the same thing, those worlds can materialize more firmly and even become part of the DCU. But most of the worlds are “doomed to rot apart and die, because they are wrong at their core” (to quote its description in Batman: The Red Death.)
In Flash Forward, Tempus Fuginaut reveals to Wally that one of those worlds has survived somehow, even though it was supposed to die. And if this dark world world isn’t destroyed, Tempus Fuginaut says, the Multiverse will be “consumed by dark matter.”
So what is this evil world?
It’s a world where Wally West’s children, Jai and Iris, are alive but disconnected from their own reality. It turns out that Wally West inadvertently created this world from his own darkest fear - that he would never see his children again.
Instead of dying like all the other worlds of the Dark Multiverse, the world that Wally created - where his children are now trapped - will not die. It keeps “self-correcting faster than it can be destroyed.”
Wally West must sit on the Mobius Chair, where he will gain knowledge but lose all capacity for human emotion and love.
“Sit in the chair and this world will fall,” Tempus Fuginaut explains. “The Multiverse will heal itself.”
This task is made even more difficult for Wally because he just spent a day on this planet with his children, a day filled with tender moments that are heartbreaking for the hero - and, presumably all his fans.
Wally wonders out loud if this is his punishment for causing the deaths of several superheroes in Heroes in Crisis - to no longer feel connection to his own children and his other loved ones.
Wally decides to do it, but he makes Tempus Fuginaut promise to get Jai and Iris “home.”
So yeah - when Wally finally sits on the Mobius Chair and destroys the Dark Multiverse world where his children were trapped, Tempus Fuginaut keeps his promise and sends them “home.”
They appear on the main DC Earth (Earth-0). And according to the story’s captions, “with their return, it is as if a light has been switched on.”
Their mother, Linda, mentions Wally, then she says the names of her children. She remembers them.
“Everything that was is now again,” the narration explains, as Iris, Linda and Jai embrace.
Wally Manhattan (or Watchman?)
Wally, however, has taken a new form. He’s shown sitting on the Mobius Chair, but he’s now wearing a blue and silver costume, his eyes aglow and Dr. Manhattan’s symbol on his forehead.
Wally - in captions depicting his thoughts - describes all the knowledge he has gained, including the history of the Mobius Chair and its inhabitants.
Describing the death of Metron and Owlman, who both sat in the chair, Wally says they are “obliterated by a man, the same man who touches the chair … shares his power with the chair. He is creation … he is doomsday … he is the clock ticking on the Multiverse. We share his vision.”
(The issue is implying that Dr. Manhattan shared his power with the Mobius Chair after he killed its former inhabitants, Metron and Owlman, at the end of Geoff Johns and Jason Fabok’s "Darkseid War" arc of Justice League.)
In the final pages of Flash Forward #6, Wally is shown “speeding across time and space,” and he calls himself “something new.” He is surrounded by blue lightning that strikes out at the planets around him as he goes by at super speed.
Tempus Fuginaut sees him speeding by, assumedly surprised by this turn of events.
Hearing from a Friend?
In captions, Wally’s thoughts reveal that “another mind” is reaching out to him.
“Kindred spirits,” Wally thinks.
As the issue ends, it’s clear that the combination of Wally’s speed, Dr. Manhattan’s powers and the chair’s knowledge have turned the hero into a serious threat.
“Since the creation of the Mobius Chair,” Wally says on the final page, “it has been content to observe. Today is a new day. A new vocation. A new me.”
According to a caption at the end of the issue, the “adventure continues in The Flash #750.” The 80-page prestige format book goes on sale March 4. It was solicited to feature a continuation of the current story in The Flash, which features the story Paradox.
DC has also announced that a story called “Flash Forward: Epilogue” will appear in Free Comic Book Day's Generation Zero: Gods Among Us. The cover of the comic (by Francis Manapul) features Wally West in his new Dr. Manhattan-inspired look.