The Flash is one of the most popular heroes at DC comics and has been a staple for many years. Throughout that time there have been several to hold the mantle of the Flash with the most well known being Barry Allen and Wally West. Who is the better Flash though? Both were in the mantle for at least 20 years and both have had big parts to play in the DC universe. We will examine the two and decide who was the best. Also, for those Jay Garrick fans out there sorry, while he is an important character in the Flash history, we will keep it to Barry and Wally. Without further ado, lets end the debate.
While not the original Flash, Barry is the one that took the mantle and made it popular. He helped found the Justice League, mentored a young Wally West when he was Kid Flash, and made the ultimate sacrifice when the time came. Let’s look at Barry’s key aspects that would make him the best Flash.
Hope & Compassion
While there are many heroes out there not all of them are known as being great people. Barry is not only a good hero, but a great man. He genuinely cares about the people he is trying to save. Much like Superman, he is a beacon of hope to the city and the world. When he fights the bad guys he wants to try and help them and get then to turn over a new leaf. Barry is also an optimist, and wants to see the good in people and situations. He is widely respected in the superhero community by his peers because of these things. Barry even was given the power of the Blue Lantern Corps during the Blackest Night event further showing the kind of person he is.
With all that he has went through in his life, whether it be his mothers death or when he thought Iris was dead, he has always been the guy trying to make the world a better place.
Death and Legacy
As many know, during the Crisis on Infinite Earths comic, Barry died fighting the Anti-Monitor and unlike most deaths, stayed that way for many years. This made the impact greater than what many deaths are nowadays. He left a legacy that impacted the DC universe and especially Wally, which we will get to in a moment.
When he comes back in Final Crisis he gets to see what impact that he had on the world. The story that best encompasses Barry Allen and his legacy is Flash: Rebirth, which I highly recommend, and it is what made me like the character of Barry Allen in the first place, since to that point I was only familiar with Wally.
Barry is just an all around great hero and he that set an example for others to follow. Now I will say in recent years I don’t think he has gotten the same treatment with the movie, TV show, and recent comic versions. He doesn’t quite feel like the Barry of old and it has been that way since Flashpoint in my opinion. Don’t get me wrong, I have enjoyed his comics of late, but it just isn’t quite the same guy I’m use to.
Wally West is Barry’s nephew, who in a similar way got his speedster powers. For many years he was the Kid Flash, a partner to Flash and member of the Teen Titans. When Barry died, he took up the mantle of the Flash and became a great hero in his own right. Many would say he was even better than his mentor. Wally was the first big “mantle hero” and I would say the best. He is a good blueprint to follow whenever someone is taking over for a long established character.
Unique and Different
One of the things that sets Wally apart from Barry is that they are different types of people. Barry was level headed guy who didn’t show a lot of emotion. Whereas Wally, was a jokester, more flamboyant, and had a bigger personality than his predecessor. Despite this, Wally still had a big heart and had a great family that he loved, just like Barry.
Wally gave way for new stories and adventures that might not have been done with Barry. He gave a new dynamic with the Justice League and I especially liked his comrodery with Green Lantern Kyle Rainer in the JLA series with them being the young guys in the League.
A criteria that is a big factor in deciding who was the best is how powerful they are. The Flash in general is a very powerful character if you think about it and I believe that Wally is the most powerful of the Flashes. In comic lore I believe it has been established that Wally is the fastest Flash as well and has preformed other feats that Barry never did. Things like the Infinite Mass Punch, time travel, and a strong connection to the Speed Force were all explored with Wally. Not that Barry can’t or hasn’t done some of these things, but it started with Wally as the Flash.
Wally became his own hero and definitely made Barry proud as the Flash. He always tried to live up to Barry’s legacy and he felt pressured to be better. That never stopped him and made him into an even better person. As we saw in DC Rebirth. Wally is one of the characters at the heart of DC. He has connections with characters all across the universe and earned the right be the Flash.
So who is the best Flash? To be honest as I wrote this I was still deciding. Wally was the Flash I grew up with. He was in the Justice League series which is what made me like the Flash in the first place. On the other hand once I got to read Barry’s stories, I found that he was also a great Flash. For most people it probably comes down to what era you grew up in and what you read.
After thinking it over I would say that Wally is the best Flash. The only mantle character I would ever put over the original, but Wally definitely earned the right to be Flash and he continued to prove it over the years. This takes nothing away from Barry who is also a great Flash and one of my favorite characters, but Wally ends the debate for me.