Spoilers ahead for Episode 23 of Young Justice Season 3, called “Terminus."
The death of Wally West as Kid Flash is arguably the biggest game-changer in the history of Young Justice, despite the fact that the show ended its original run in the same episode that saw him die. Not only has it been an undercurrent in the arcs of Dick Grayson and Artemis Crock in Season 3, but it has also fueled the speculation of fans ever since the Season 2 finale aired back in 2013.
Everybody on Young Justice thought Wally was dead, but was that really the case? If so, did that mean dead for good? And are the latest developments in Season 3 hinting at a return sooner rather than later?
Let’s break it down.
How Did Wally West Die?
Wally died in the Season 2 finale when it became clear that the united efforts of the speedsters were all that would be able to stop the vortex caused by the Magnetic Field Disruptor, creating a kind of tornado that had to be stopped at all cost. The Flash and Impulse were able to weaken the vortex, but it wasn’t until Kid Flash showed up that they began to stop it.
Unfortunately, Kid Flash was slower than Impulse and The Flash, and he absorbed energy that would cause him to “cease” unless they all slowed down to siphon it. Wally refused, sacrificing himself for the greater good. He dissolved as he ran, seemingly gone for good.
The Season 2 finale certainly treated Wally’s death as permanent. Artemis was devastated at his loss, and Dick took a break from the team that Season 3 revealed had not ended even after several years. Instead, he was primarily working with Oracle. Impulse became Kid Flash, and Wally’s hologram joined the likes of Jason Todd (who, perhaps not entirely coincidentally, almost certainly isn’t really dead either thanks to a Season 3 development) where the fallen heroes were honored.
Wally has appeared in Season 3, but only via hallucination, even if he is still on the minds of his teammates. If Young Justice didn’t introduce Wally earlier in the season, before the conflict between Vandal Savage and Darkseid, before the Anti-Life Equation, would it really try to cram his return into the season finale?
I wouldn’t rule it out.
Is Wally West Really Dead?
If what has happened on screen on Young Justice so far is to be taken as the final say on the matter, then yes. Wally has been remembered, but there have been no signs that he’s actually returning. So why then is it possible that he’ll be back in the three-part finale coming up on August 27?
Let’s turn to the comics for help on this one.
In the “Terminal Velocity” arc of the Flash comics (which ran from November 1994 - April 1995), Wally West disappeared into the Speed Force as part of a desperate race to save girlfriend Linda Park from being killed. He seemingly died himself, but returned after it was revealed that his love for Linda was a tether between the Speed Force and the real world. While Wally didn’t fall in love with Linda on Young Justice, one of his last thoughts before disappearing in Season 2 was about Artemis.
The latest episode was called “Terminus,” and Artemis clearly hasn’t forgotten Wally, even if she is kinda sorta leaning toward a relationship with her brother-in-law by this point. But really, who doesn’t think Artemis would drop her kinda sorta feelings for Will like a hot potato if Wally came back?
In the 2005 comics arc “Infinite Crisis,” Wally disappeared into the Speed Force again, although he took Linda and their newborn twins with him. Wally eventually became a speedster superhero again after he returned from the Speed Force, taking over as The Flash after the death of his own successor, Bart Allen.
It would be a shame if this went down on Young Justice, if only because it would mean the death of another Kid Flash. Even if Wally is more popular than Bart, killing off Bart to bring back Wally would just be unfair.
Then there’s what happened to The Flash in “Crisis on Infinite Earths,” which ran from April 1985 - March1986 and will soon be adapted into a mega-crossover in the Arrow-verse. In that arc, Barry Allen is the only who seemingly died and disappeared into the Speed Force, leaving Wally West to take up his mantle and become The Flash. His death ended with a loophole that could have brought him back, and he did return after some good old-fashioned DC Comics reboots.
While Season 2 of Young Justice wasn’t an adaptation of “Crisis on Infinite Earths” and Barry was the speedster to seemingly “die” in “Crisis,” it’s possible that Young Justice could take what happened to Barry in that arc and turn it into what happened to Wally on the show.
Could Wally West Come Back In Season 3?
There are some big reasons to suspect that Wally could return, not the least of which is that his voice actor, Jason Spisak, is still part of the cast, as he voices Fred Bugg/Forager. Also, Wally’s first appearance in Season 3 came via a hallucination of Garfield Logan, and it replayed the events of his death, reminding viewers what happened and what they were missing without Wally in the mix.
Wally turned up again in a prolonged hallucination of Dick Grayson’s in “Terminus,” brought on by a fever. In the hallucination, the original Young Justice team was aged down to their appearances from Season 1, and Dick and Wally as Robin and Kid Flash laughingly defeated the bad guys like it was a video game.
On the surface, it was a means to show how deeply Dick was still affected by Wally’s death and unite the original team in the memory of him, as they all shared Dick’s hallucination due to the telepathic bond. Dick and Artemis shared a hug over their pain of missing him.
Could this have been another reminder of Wally, in the last episode release before the three-part finale? Or even a reminder that some people love and miss Wally desperately, and perhaps would go to great lengths to get him back? And wouldn’t the return of Wally make for a great cliffhanger? Young Justice has been renewed for Season 4, after all.
Why It Might Not Be Possible
Unfortunately, the strongest fan theories surrounding Wally’s return involve Wally emerging from the Speed Force, and executive producer Greg Weisman is on the record with some discouraging comments about the Speed Force on Earth-16, where Young Justice is set. In fact, going all the way back to 2011, when Season 1 was still airing, Weisman said this about the Speed Force (via Ask Greg on Gargoyles):
I guess I just don't understand the "Speed-Force" concept. Where does Superboy "draw his strength from?" Where does Miss Martian "draw her shape-shifting ability from?" Why does Kid Flash or ANY Flash require some external source for speed - as opposed to giving credit to the lab accident that first turned Jay Garrick into the Golden Age Flash, the recreation of that accident under laboratory conditions that granted speed to the current Flash and the nearly-botched attempt to re-recreate the accident that gave Kid Flash his powers? They're mutates. They were mutated by the experiments/accidents. What more do you need? In any case, if the Speed-Force does exist, no one on Earth-16 has heard of it or knows anything about it.
Basically, these comments from the executive producer aren’t exactly encouraging about the odds of Wally surviving his apparent “death” and simply disappearing into the Speed Force. Still, there are reasons to hope. Greg Weisman shared his thoughts on the Speed Force back in 2011, almost ten years ago, during Season 1, and well before anybody could have even imagined a Young Justice reboot on a DC Comics streaming service. Could he have changed his tune?
Greg Weisman didn’t definitively say that there isn’t a Speed Force on Earth-16, but rather than nobody there “has heard of it” or “knows anything about it.” I would say that Wally popping out of it years after he disappeared into it would be a way of guaranteeing that Earth-16 heard of it!
At this point, I’m of the mindset that we shouldn’t rule anything out. Young Justice has three episodes next week to either tie off a lot of loose ends or set up another hiatus with big questions that could be answered. Admittedly, the show has a lot to deal with thanks to Darkseid, Vandal Savage, the nefarious Granny Goodness, the Anti-Life Equation, and more without introducing the Speed Force and bringing back Wally, but anything could still be on the table.
The three-part Young Justice Season 3 finale releases on Tuesday, August 27 on DC Universe. The good news is that the end of Young Justice Season 3 doesn't mean the end of fresh superhero action on the streaming service, as Season 2 of Titans picks up shortly thereafter. There will even be some "Judas Contract" elements, just like Young Justice!