The Flash’s Barry Allen is a Silver and Small Screen Fraud
With the Flash nabbing the most "cheer-worthy" moment at the Oscars, plus a renewed ninth season at the CW, it's fair to argue Barry Allen is the definitive Flash. Is he the greatest of the speedsters in the realm of DC like the movies and TV shows make him seem? Or did he just steal from his predecessor, Wally West’s playbook?
The question of who is the faster speedster, Wally West or Barry Allen has been raging since the 80s. While the pages of DC comics has shown Wally to be the Faster of the two (most recently in Flash Wars), the popularity of Grant Gustin in the Arrowverse, and a Flash movie headed to theaters, Barry has been given an edge in many debates. Who was the first speedster to phase through objects? Wally. The first to throw the infamous infinite mass punch? Wally. Travel through time unassisted? Wally. Ever since DC put Barry back into the spotlight after Flash: Rebirth, producers, screenwriters, and directors have all been picking through Wally’s extraordinary feats of speed and willpower as a way to shock audiences while leaving Wally in the dust. Ironically enough, the first speedster to gift his speed to someone else? Wally.
The late Brian Augustine, famed editor at DC who worked with Mark Wade on the books that saw Wally take over the Flash mantle after Crisis on Infinite Earth, said he couldn’t help be feel disappointed while watching The Flash on the CW. Brain lamented that it would annoy him whenever an episode would focus on a power he helped create, only to be given to a character that he didn’t. It would be like judging the quality of McDonald's by giving the taste testers Shake shack in the wrong wrapper.
Now don’t get me wrong, Barry Allen is one of the most important characters to ever be printed. Who started the Silver Age of comics? Barry. The first to experience the multiverse? Barry. During the Rebirth Jeff John’s run, who creates the Speed Force that gives the Flash family their powers… including Wally? Barry. While he’s not the first Flash (a title held by Jay Garrik), he is undoubtedly the most influential - but he’s not the fastest.
Wally deserves more from Hollywood. He has never been more than the utility belt to Barry’s Batman. When Wally was finally introduced on CW’s Flash show his reception was lackluster and was eventually written out with minor cameos here and there on some of the CW shows like Legends of Tomorrow.
Barry and Wally are both important to the world of comics for very different reasons, but only one is continuing to get love from the Hollywood powers that be. Wally has been in some amazing cartoons and animated movies, but if the characters from Doom Patrol can get four seasons, why not Wally?