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Real Name:  Wally West

Voiced by Michael Rosenbaum

The chance victim of a freak electro-chemical accident, Wally West awoke to discover that the combination of lightning and chemicals had given him an accelerated molecular composition; one of the benefits being the power of super-speed.  Now able to run at speeds approaching the speed of light, West donned the scarlet costume of the Flash to protect his hometown of Central City from any rogues who would consider causing it harm.

Regarded as a people’s hero for his charity work and non-secretive modus operandi, the Fastest Man Alive never hesitates to help anyone in need, whether alone or with his teammates in the Justice League.  And although they may sometimes roll their eyes during his moments of immaturity, they have come to value his unique talents and his friendly, easy-going personality.  Overall, they are glad to have him as a League member, and take pride in seeing him mature as a hero.

Cartoon Network on the Flash:  “Young, brash and impulsive, Wally West gained the power of super-speed during a freak electro-chemical accident.  Now the fastest man alive, he can run at velocities approaching the speed of light.  Even Superman has a hard time keeping up with him.  Because of his super-fast metabolism, Wally is constantly hungry.

”Also blessed with a quick wit, Wally takes a light-hearted view of saving the universe.  He is the comedian of the group, a wisecracking, easy-going slacker who relies on speed, not brains, to get him out of trouble.  Unfortunately, this doesn’t always work, and his flippant attitude annoys his teammates who take their jobs far more seriously.  Often, this over-reliance on speed will get him in over his head, and his teammates will have to catch up to rescue him.  For them, there is one thing the Flash cannot do fast enough—grow up (courtesy of Cartoon Network press materials).

Alan Burnett on the Flash (circa 1998):  "I've always wanted to do the Flash, so we decided to incorporate him into [the Superman episode 'Speed Demons'].  We didn't identify which Flash he was, although I think he's probably the Wally West Flash.  He was identified as coming from Central City, so some fans said, 'He must be Barry Allen!,' but, y'know, Wally goes back quite a few years, so it's very natural for him to have been from Central City himself (courtesy of Wizard Magazine)."

Grant Morrison on the Flash (circa 1999):  “The Flash is a big celebrity.  The Flash is like a movie star—a real good guy—the way we would look at a Tom Cruise or whatever.  He has that role—he’s a public superhero.  I think people like him.  He’s friendly; he smiles a lot.  The Flash tends to be like everyone’s favorite pop star (courtesy of Wizard Magazine).”

Geoff Johns on the Flash (circa 2004):  “The Flash, for me, falls into that same category as Superman—bright, shiny, positive—but his villains fall more into Batman's category—as far as the number of them and the array of personalities and abilities.  It's the best of both worlds, in my opinion, because it makes for a good contrast (courtesy of The Pulse).”

Geoff Johns on the Flash (circa 2005):  “I always admired Wally because he's not a genius or the most important guy in the world.  He's just an honest guy trying to do what he thinks is right (courtesy of Wizard Magazine)."

Excerpts from the Justice League Panel at the 2001 San Diego Comic Con:

Bruce Timm:  Flash is Wally West—he’s the Wally West Flash.  The way we’re playing him…I don’t want to say that he’s the comedy relief of the gang, but he kind of is.  He’s young.  He’s pretty much immature.  He’s just out of puberty and ready to go.

Rich Fogel:  He thinks [that] he’s a ladies’ man, but he doesn’t really have a clue.

Bruce Timm:  He’s really great for the other characters to bounce off of.  He’s such a wild card, and our version of the Green Lantern is such a straight arrow that we have to team them up as often as possible.  Cause it’s just oil and water.

Courtesy of Revolution Science Fiction and Comics2Film.

Michael Rosenbaum on the Flash #1:  “Bruce Timm and Andrea Romano [the voice director] gave me a chance because I was doing a lot of voice over work on Batman Beyond, Return of the Joker, Static Shock, and The Zeta Project.  They said, ‘Hey, do you want to do the Flash?’  I never really knew too much about the Flash, but I read it and gave my own take on it and again, you go with your instincts, and it’s usually the right way.  So I got that, and it’s been the best of both worlds.

“I think [that] he’s a fun guy.  ‘So, Hawkgirl, where do you come from?’  She’s just looking at him, and he’s like, ‘Seriously, I really care.’  He’s such a fun guy, and he tries to make light of the situations.  With all these horrible situations and everybody’s so serious, you need that guy around (courtesy of [website name removed]).”

Michael Rosenbaum on the Flash #2:  "It fell in my lap.  I was doing [voice work on] Batman Beyond...you know, like guest stars and stuff...and Bruce Timm and Andre Armano auditioned [me] and said, 'Do you wanna be the Flash?' and I said, 'Sure.'  I wasn't really familiar with the Justice League, and now it's like people come up to me and go, 'I know you,' and I go, 'Yeah, I'm from [Smallville],' and they go, 'No, you're the Flash,' and that's cool.  I mean, it's something different (courtesy of Comics2Film).”

Bruce Timm on the Flash #1:  “Flash is real close to what he looked like before.  We redid the design, but it’s very close to what he looked like on the Superman show.  It’s Wally West, but one of the things about the show is that we hardly ever refer to the characters in their alter egos—they’re almost never out of their costumes, so there’s not a lot of secret identity stuff.  I don’t think—not yet—that we’ve ever referred to him as Wally West (courtesy of [website name removed]).”

Bruce Timm on the Flash’s design:  “Flash was kind of a no-brainer designing him.  We knew pretty much off the bat that we pretty much needed to stick to the comic version of his character.  And it’s a great costume; you know—red and yellow, you can’t beat it.  The one note we did get from DC Comics is that they had, in recent years, they had tried to go a little darker with his character and with his design; to try and make him look a little bit more fresh and more modern.  We adapted that by giving him kind of a velour-kind of look to his costume, so that he’s always rimlit […and] the main body of his costume is a dark, shadowed character and he’s got a little bit of the brighter red on the outside of his costume to kind of keep him a little bit more dynamic-looking, so that he’s not just a real big, y’know, tomato (courtesy of Justice League:  Justice on Trial DVD).”

Bruce Timm on the Flash and Batman:  “Batman and Flash’s relationship is much more like Batman and Guy Gardner’s relationship in the Keith Giffen, Kevin Maguire, and J.M. DeMatteis days of Justice League.  Flash is kind of cocky and rude and Batman…well, he’s Batman (courtesy of Wizard Magazine).”

Dwayne McDuffie on the Flash and Green Lantern:  “You’ll see a lot of Flash and Green Lantern on Justice League.  Flash and Green Lantern are hysterical together—they work so well off each other.  I think they’re so much better than even the originals because now they actually have personalities (courtesy of [website name removed]).”

Dwayne McDuffie on the Flash (circa 2005):  “Flash just doesn’t make any kind of logical sense.  If he can run that fast without hurting himself, he’s invulnerable…but he’s not.  He should be able to throw near-light speed jabs with almost infinite moment of impact (courtesy of DwayneMcDuffie.com).”

Bruce Timm on the Flash #2 (2004):  “The Flash…I wish we could kill him off!  He's so fast [that], if he was just a little bit smarter, he wouldn't need a Justice League.  Anytime anyone fired a gun at him, he could run across town to the police station, pick up a Kevlar vest, come back, and let the bullet bounce off his chest.  He's that fast; he could take down Galactus if he wanted to.

“You've got to figure out a way [to make him work].  He's got to be fast, but you've got to be able to see him.  You can't make him so fast that he doesn't need the Justice league.  He's difficult to write action scenes for [but], otherwise, he's a fun character to play with.  All the characters have their own strengths and weaknesses that can be difficult to work into a story (courtesy of The Pulse).”

Bruce Timm on the Flash #3 (2005):  “Just trying [...] to come up with a way of staging the Flash so he doesn't come off looking like a total moron is really difficult, because he can be everywhere at once.  We know that really doesn't work in any kind of filmic medium.  Nobody should ever be able to get the drop on the Flash; his reflexes should be so fast that nobody should be able to land a punch on him or shoot him with a ray gun.

"I think as Season Two went on, we started showing [...] different sides [of the Flash] than we had in Season One.  He's still the young, kind of goofball guy, but what was great about that is that because, for the most part, we played him fast and loose, when he would show a more caring or mature side, it would take you by surprise.  It had more strength.

"Even in Season One's 'The Savage Time,' there's the great scene where he chews Hawkgirl out for leaving Green Lantern behind on the battlefield.  You've never seen Flash act like that before.  There was actual depth and strong feelings for his buddy Green Lantern expressed as he took it out on Hawkgirl, and it was really neat to see him do that (courtesy of RetroVision CD-ROM Magazine).”

 

Images

The Flash Model Design Sheet #1 | The Flash Model Design Sheet #2 | The Flash Model Design Sheet #3

The Flash Image #1 (STAS Design) | The Flash Image #2 (JL Design)

The Flash Image #3 | The Flash Image #4 | The Flash Image #5 | The Flash Image #6 | The Flash Image #7

The Flash Image #8 | The Flash Image #9 | The Flash Image #10

 

Commentary

“Could it hurt them to show me just a little respect?

“Tell me about it.  I've been at this longer than you have; they still treat me like comic relief.”

"Better than being treated like a teenage sidekick!  I mean, I was one of the original seven!  Tell me the truth, Ralph, do I seem immature to you?"

"Not in the least."

"Ha!  I bopped your block off!"

"That—that's not fair; the green guy's arms are longer."

"Are not!"

An exchange between the Flash and Elongated Man from "The Ties That Bind"

In terms of his introduction to the DCAU, the Flash is unique:  while he did not have his own animated series (as Batman and Superman did), he was still already familiar to viewers through his appearance in the Superman episode "Speed Demons" (where Charlie Schlatter provided the voice).  This gave him a head start in terms of characterization over the newer members, and provided a third established character to anchor the series.  However, in terms of developing this Superman guest star into a fully-realized character, the creative team had to make some difficult decisions regarding his background and origins.

Fundamentally the Flash is a difficult character to adapt, as his history from the comic books draws heavily from what has become known as the “Flash Legacy,” a mythos that has become both a blessing and a curse for the character.  Here, Wally West is the third man to take up the mantle of the Flash, with Jay Garrick (the Golden Age Flash) and Barry Allen (the Silver Age Flash) coming before himand this doesn’t even take into account the presence of Johnny Quick, Max Mercury, Jesse Quick, Impulse—a literal army of speedsters that spans hundreds of years, with each of them connected to the Speed Force, a fundamental energy source that all speed-related individuals tap into.  While it is true that this mythos does provide a rich tapestry for writers to draw upon, it also holds the character back, as most modern-day Flash stories seem to be mired in it (in the comics, Wally West fights crime as the Flash in memoriam of Barry Allen, who died in 1985's Crisis on Infinite Earths series, and is constantly in his shadow).  As a result, readers often see the current Flash as nothing more than an extension of the mythos and not as an individual character; as he races through the pages of his monthly comic he drags his back-story behind him.

To combat this, the creative team took a big risk by severing Wally West’s ties to the Flash Legacy.  On Justice League Wally is the only superhero to ever bear the identity of the Flash, and this distance from the mythos allows the character the chance to be something that he has never been able to be in his previous incarnations:  unique.  He doesn’t have to operate in the shadow of two prior incarnations; he is free to live his life without being compared to another hero.  And while comic fans have complained about the absence of Jay Garrick and Barry Allen, their omission provides Wally the opportunity to be his own man.

In keeping with the concept of Wally West being the only Flash, it should come as no surprise that, without a mentor in Barry Allen or the presence of the Teen Titans to hone his skills with, the creative team decided to make his character fill the category of “the rookie” in the team’s dynamic.  Portrayed as still learning the full range of his abilities and being inexperienced in terms of sacrifice (his bewilderment over Wonder Woman’s banishment in "Paradise Lost," his inability to comprehend leaving a teammate behind in "The Savage Time" or in "Hearts and Minds"), the Flash provides an interesting contrast when compared to his more seasoned teammates, who have been doing the job for years (and, in some cases, for centuries).  In truth, the character is more Kid Flash than regular Flash, and the opportunity to see his evolution as a hero sans Barry is a new wrinkle for an old, Silver Age character.  In addition, his lack of a mentor provides Wally with a measure of uncertainty when it comes to what his powers are actually capable of—as shown in "Only a Dream," the thought that his powers may one day lock him into super-speed mode permanently is one that will keep him awake at night for years to come.

On Justice League, the Flash is frequently portrayed as being an everyman, a people’s superhero—unlike the others, the Flash is the one that the public is most likely to run into on the streets and interact regularly with (whereas Batman is more likely to stick to the shadows, and the others can fly).  He’s also more approachable, spending his spare time flirting with women in diners and visiting children in orphanages.  These attributes make him indispensable to the team, as he provides a vital link between the Justice League and the community they serve (although it can also be a detriment, as he learned when he tried marketing his persona in "Eclipsed").

As for his relationship to the team itself, the Flash shares a vital symbiotic relationship with the Justice League.  On one hand, his friendly and easy-going personality serves as the glue that holds the organization together.  Over the series’ duration, he’s managed to befriend every member of the team on some level; from his Oscar-and-Felix friendship with Green Lantern to the sarcastic remarks that he regularly trades with Hawkgirl.  Through these relationships the Flash becomes a window with which we can get to know the other characters; in truth, he’s a better peripheral character than Batman is because his extraverted personality.  On the other hand, in exchange for these benefits, the Flash is unconsciously forced to become a better hero by his association with the others.  Consider the evolution of his character’s abilities:  in Season One, the Flash was frequently seen being taken down by debris or by a slower target or simply doing something that undermined his status as a hero (one of the worst being his inability to pilot the Javelin-7 in "In Blackest Night"); while, in Season Two, he appears to have improved in his overall performance, piloting the Javelin-7 successfully in "Maid of Honor" and using his speed-related abilities in new ways (such as tricking the Justice Lords’ Batman into believing his heart had stopped in "A Better World").  Overall, he is, literally, the heart of the League (as it was alluded to in "A Better World"), as his presence provides levity to the team’s mindset, as well as a measure of pride in his development.

 

Images courtesy of Nickel Animation Art eBay Store, Cartoon NetworkDC Cartoon Archives, the New Batman / Superman Adventures Homepage, bat313, [website name removed], the Superman Homepage, Warner Bros. Online UK, Toon Zone, Warner Bros. Entertainment, and The World's Finest.

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