For a lot of long-running comic books, it’s common to have an Annual come out, usually in the summer. This is usually some special story by a different creative team than the main book, and highlights something in the various characters’ lives that, for whatever reason, doesn’t fit in the main book. This year’s Flash Annual focuses on Linda Park-West’s novel, which we’ve been hearing about, and Wally finally making time to read it.
The story is a lot of fun. Linda takes a lot of the experiences of their lives and weaves them into a sci-fi tale. It’s a good action story peopled with familiar faces in new roles, and gives a lot of insight into Linda’s perspective on things. I enjoyed the main story, but there were pieces along the way that I though were really great touches. Both Linda and Wally comment at one point about things they’ve meant to do, and they just haven’t been able to because of “life.” That may be the single most relatable thing I’ve read in years.
What they touch on several times, but don’t make too blatant, is the strength of the relationship between Wally and Linda. There are so many dumb cliches they could have done with Wally reading Linda’s book, and they avoid all of them. Before Wally starts to read, he sort of chants to himself, “Please don’t be bad.” Anyone who is honest with themselves has probably had some kind of similar reaction when asked to look at a creative project by a loved one. Both in the main story and the story-within-a-story, what comes across again and again is how much these two care for each other. The Wally/Linda relationship is one of the reasons I tend to prefer stories about the Wally West Flash to the Barry Allen iteration of the character.
“Best-Laid Plans” is written by Jeremy Adams, with art by Serg Acuna, colors by Matt Hearms, and lettering by Aw’s Justin Birch. The frame sequences touch on a few events from the current storylines in the main Flash title, and the last page is a possible setup for a really big change for the speedster couple. It was a highly enjoyable read, and a chance to look at Wally and Linda’s lives through a very different lens.
What I Liked: The writing and characterizations were great. The different spins on familiar characters worked well and was really enjoyable. There were a few times the story stopped to show Wally’s reactions, and those bits were really well done. I was highly amused that, in the scenes from their main lives, Linda was wearing a superhero t-shirt, and it wasn’t a Flash one.
What I Didn’t: Really, not much. They’re sort of recycling an old story in the frame sequence, but that’s the peril of so many reboots. They bring back a character we’ve seen before where we already know their dark secret and, as far as I can tell, head down roughly the same path again.
I’m giving this a 4.5 out of 5. It was a lot of fun to read, and I bet it was fun to write, too. I always enjoy Wally and Linda stories, and it’s nice to see the heroes doing things that don’t involve the potential end of the world. Or worlds.