In 1990, Mark Waid’s legendary writing career began when he scripted his first issue of THE FLASH. Waid would continue to work on Wally West for nearly a decade, building a world that would keep the character running for years.
The Flash run by Mark Waid is the series that got me into comics. FLASH #82, by Waid and Wieringo, was my first comic book and kicked off my love of comics that has been going on for 27 years. This book is also the reason Flash is my favorite character, but more importantly Wally West. This run, starring Wally, took him from a guy who was cocky yet also unsure of himself and catapulted him to one of the strongest heroes in the DCU. Waid also added tons of characters (Linda Park, Impulse, Max Mercury, Savitar, etc.) and ideas that are till being used today. The biggest one is the Speed Force. He gave a reason for why and where all speedsters get their speed. While most fans are more familiar with Barry, it's Wally that will always be MY Flash, and It's all thanks to the awesome writing of Mark Waid.
Over the past couple years DC has, thankfully, been releasing this run in trade. While it's not yet complete, I know book 7 is coming out shortly, we still have 6 books that we can talk about. Luckily I've read Waid's entire run so I can also talk about the contents of book 7, which is also one of my favorite arcs. I'm gonna break down the best aspects of each volume.
While this starts of with a couple one shots and ends with an Aquaman team-up and a battle with Abra Kadabra, it's what's between those stories that really stands out. Waid took over the book with issue #62, in arguably one of his best Flash stories ever, "Born To Run". It was in this arc where he expanded on Wally's origins and really fleshed out his character and personality. Before this, all we really had was the compacted Silver Age origin, "he gets struck by lightning the same way Barry did and becomes the sidekick to his idol".
But Waid gives us so much more to love about Wally in this short 4 issue arc. He paints a picture of a kid who was ignored by his parents but had a special relationship with his aunt Iris, who was also his best friend. So when he got the chance to live with her his life took a turn for the better. From there we see him get his powers and develop the bond with Barry that we all knew and loved. We get to see him train and learn how to use his newfound powers. We see him deal with his powers potentially killing him and then overcoming all obstacles to stabilize his powers when he saves his father from a tornado.
This was the arc that tuned Wally from a cocky, egotistical jerk and onto the path to the hero we all know and love today. It's also the book where he meets his future wife Linda Park.
Arguably one the best arcs of Waid's run was "Return of Barry Allen". What starts out as one of the best cliffhangers ever, with Barry showing up at Jay Garrick's house, turned out be one of the most tryong moments of Wally's life. At first he was skeptical, I mean Barry died saving the Mutiverse so how could he be back. Bu then his skepticism turn to joy that he has his uncle/idol back. But with Barry not acting like himself and Wally questioning whether the world needs 2 Flashes.
The truth starts coming out and we learn that it's not Barry, it's Eobard Thawne aka Professor Zoom (The Reverse Flash). It was this arc that also introduced Max Mercury to the book, who would go on to be an integral part of the Flash mythos. We also see more of Jay Garrick and the beginning of the Flash Family that would soon grow in the upcoming months.
By the end of this arc along with Jay, Max and Johnny Quick, Wally is able to defeat Zoom and fully come into his own as the one, true Flash. He was able to finally put the ghost of Barry Allen to rest. The arc also ends with a revelation that his aunt Iris, who was previously thought dead, as actually alive. Setting us up for the inevitable reunion.
Waid was just warming up.