As Newsarama has argued in the past, Wally West (the first one) has been used as something of a punching bag at DC the last decade, which is why writer Scott Snyder choosing Wally to serve as the everyman who gets the rundown on the new status quo of the DC universe in the final pages of January 5's Dark Nights: Death Metal #7 stands out.
"Because I think he's a character who a lot of people love, I love as well, as a Flash," Snyder told Newsarama when asked why he selected Wally to serve that role. "And yet he's been really elastically pulled in different directions over the last year to try and make him something darker and almost more substantive in a cosmic way than he was originally intended."
"I think those are great risks to take, but we really felt at this point that he's a character that we wanted to return to his roots because it's something different than you've seen him. You haven't seen him in that iteration in a while, and we have really big plans for him that I can't reveal yet, but that are in Infinite Frontier that deposit him as the kind of restorative character of the story."
"Elastically pulled in different directions" is a little kinder than 'punching bag,' but it seems like Snyder is observing some of the same things we are.
Despite his place in DC history as of the most prominent teen sidekicks and co-founder of the iconic Teen Titans and then star turn in the '90s and '00s as the Flash in the monthly series and as a member of Grant Morrison's revered 'pantheon' JLA line-up, Wally was erased from DC continuity in 2011's Flashpoint and subsequent 'The New 52' reboot of the DC Universe.
Former DC co-publisher Dan DiDio even spoke about his perceived hatred of Wally in an expansive interview.
Wally returned, however, in 2016's 'Rebirth' revamp, and was utilized by writer Geoff Johns as the narrative centerpiece of the DC Universe: Rebirth special, or as the "restorative character of the story," the role Snyder says he'll play in Infinite Frontier #0.
It was all very meta-textual, but it seemed like Barry Allen and Wally's tearful remembrance-reunion as the climax of the Rebirth special signaled a coming new golden age for the character.
And for a short time, things were peachy. He got a new costume and new lease on life as part of a post-Rebirth Titans title uniting him with his friends-family, but things quickly started to turn sour for Wally again.
Wally began experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder due to the loss and the fact that no one but him even remembered his family-family - wife Linda Park and twins Iris and Jai - who did not return from the 'New 52' whiteout. The hero became a central figure in Tom King's 2018 PTSD-centric limited event series Heroes in Crisis, appearing along with his longtime friend/teammate Roy Harper as murder victims in the first issue.
For Wally fans who felt that was a gut-punch just two years after getting him back after a five-year limbo, it arguably got worse.
It was eventually revealed in the series that Wally wasn't just a victim, but the murderer too, albeit partly accidentally, although killing himself from five days in the future wasn't an accident.
Since then Wally has continued to be put through the wringer, most recently becoming a sort of omnipotent-aware Doctor Manhattan/Metron hybrid, a condition apparently wholly removed by the reset machinations of Death Metal #7.
Enthusiastically playing percussion for an all-star hero band in the final pages of the Death Metal finale, Wally seems both cured of his emotionless omnipotence and his post-Rebirth PTSD.
And as Snyder hints at, DC has really big plans for him.
The publisher has already revealed the return of The Flash monthly series in March will begin "The redemption of Wally West!" and new series writer Jeremy Adams' first story arc will deal with who will carry the Flash mantle - Wally or Barry.
But if things look all very rosy for Wally in Infinite Frontier, let's just say DC still isn't done 'elastically pulling' Wally in different directions, as readers of this week's Future State: The Flash #1 can attest.
This story is a good of a jumping-off point as any to check out the best Teen Titans stories of all time.