Not the best sketch.
Anyhoo, back in 1991, I had a friend… it was either James or Preston. I’m leaning toward Preston. We were talking about the brand new TV sensation called The Flash. You’ve heard of it. Lasted 14 seasons. John Wesley Shipp became the biggest star in America.
Anyway, James/Preston was schooling me and fueling me in a future hatred of Barry fucking Allen. He was telling me how even though Barry was The Flash on the TV show, the REAL Flash was Wally West, and all the best parts of Barry’s personality and powers on the show were actually cribbed from Wally. And you know what I’d say to 13 year old Eric? Hashtag Always Wally, motherfucker! And you know what 13 year old Eric would say to me? “What’s a hashtag? Why did we go bald? Why are you so mean?”
Life, kid. Life.
But I digress. Preston/James decided I needed to be initiated into the cult of Wally, and handed me a relatively recent issue of The Flash. It featured a Superman/Flash team-up and possible race, I think. But that’s not the part that stood out to me. No, the part that I still remember to this day was the opening scene of Wally hanging out with his friend, The Pied Piper – a former BarryFlash villain. Because, everyone should be Barry’s villain. He’s a terrible character. Fuck Barry.
So Wally & Pied Piper are just chillin’ on a rooftop, shootin’ the shit, as superheroes do. The conversation turns to potentially homosexual supervillains, and Piper outs himself to Wally. It’s quiet, it’s subtle, it’s also totally 1990s hamfisted & awkward. Wally behaves like an idiot, as most straight white dudes would at the time and also in the now, probably. But also through his adventure with Superman, learns (maybe) that the power of friendship is the most important power there is and accepts and loves Piper for who he is… a reformed villain.
So that was the first comic I ever read featuring Wally West, and also the first time I was aware of a gay character in a comic book (at least a non-cartoonish stereotype). And here I am 30 years later, still fondly remembering that comic except for the bulk of which featured that Superguy no one’s ever heard of or seen since.