Wallace Rudolph West
Wally West was the nephew of Iris West and Barry Allen's nephew by marriage, and was introduced in The Flash (1st series) #110 (1959). When West was about 10 years old, he was visiting his uncle's police laboratory, and the freak accident that gave Allen his powers repeated itself, bathing West in electrically-charged chemicals. Now possessing the same powers as his uncle, West donned a copy of his uncle's outfit and became the young crimefighter Kid Flash.
He soon adopted a slightly different, yellow-and-red outfit with his hair exposed, and became a founding member of the Teen Titans, along with fellow sidekicks Robin and Aqualad/10-1395/'>Aqualad. Always something of a straight-shooter from rural America, Kid Flash sometimes felt out of place alongside more flamboyant heroes such as Speedy/10-1015/'>Speedy and Wonder Girl.
As a young adult, West found his powers to be failing and even doing damage to his body, and he retired from crimefighting until a cure could be found. But he was called to action again by the Crisis on Infinite Earths, in which his uncle Barry was killed. As a side effect of the energies he was exposed to during that adventure, West's powers stabilized. However, he could no longer run at the extraordinary speeds of his uncle, but was limited to the speed of sound, and had to eat vast quantities of food to maintain his metabolism.
Despite these handicaps, West resumed his career, though he retired his own costume and adopted the costume and name of the Flash to honor his uncle. He did however make his identity public knowledge to keep from replacing Barry Allen in the minds of the public. A short time later, West won a lottery, bought a large mansion, and became something of a playboy. He joined Justice League Europe early in his career as Flash and also later joined the reformed Justice League. Like his powers at the time, West's finances and luck continued to ebb and wane until Flash (2nd series) #62, when his playboy ways also ended and his fortunes stabilized.
Over the next few years, West learned several things about his powers. First, it was suggested that Allen had not actually been human after gaining his own powers, but was a powerful energy force of which West used only a fraction. As Allen's career wound down and after he died, West had access to only a fraction of the energy. Later, West discovered that in fact Allen was a conduit to the Speed Force, an extradimensional energy force that West and other speedsters also tapped. West had been holding back from fully embracing the Speed Force again for fear of replacing his uncle in the minds of the public.
A difficult encounter with a particularly vicious foe, the first Reverse-Flash (Eobard Thwane), who was bent on destroying Allen's memory finally motivated West to use his abilities to their fullest potential. As a result, West gained even greater speeds than previously seen in his days as Kid Flash. After discovering and being absorbed by the Speed Force, returning to earth and battling the student/priest of speed, Savitar, West gained some additional powers from the Speed Force, and even more powers after meeting an alternate version of himself, Walter West (the Dark Flash), via Hypertime travel. Until West's accumulation of new powers circa issues #90 and up, some of his uncle's abilities continued to elude West; most notably, the power to precisely travel through time, especially with the ease which Allen accomplished these feats. More recently, West has on several occasions used his speed to break time and even dimensional barriers. The abilities that West has not been able to duplicate seem to coincide with Barry Allen's unique and complete control of his molecular structure.
West married journalist Linda Park. After an attack on Linda by a new Reverse-Flash, Zoom, caused a miscarriage, West regretted the public knowledge of his identity. The Spectre (Hal Jordan) wiped the knowledge of the Flash's secret identity from everyone's mind, including West's. He began working as a mechanic for the Keystone City Police, a job that reminded him of Barry Allen (whom he only remembered as a police scientist). Eventually, Batman deduced the truth and restored West's memory. The truth has also been revealed to West's friends in the heroic community, and to Linda Park, who found it difficult to deal with and took some time away from her husband. They are now back together. Due to another fight with Zoom, the events leading to Linda's miscarriage were altered, and the miscarriage was erased. Linda soon after delivered twins.
Like his predecessor before him, Wally has accumulated a Rogues' Gallery as well. Many of his uncle's old rogues are still around, except for Captain Boomerang I (who was killed during Identity Crisis) and Mirror Master I (who was killed during the Crisis on Infinite Earths.)
Powers & Abilities
All incarnations of the Flash can run and move their limbs at superhuman speeds, and possess superhuman reflexes. All possess an aura that prevents air friction from affecting their bodies and clothes while moving.
Barry Allen possessed several other abilities that Jay Garrick and Wally West have not always been able to duplicate. He could vibrate his molecules through solid matter, could run on thick snow clouds and could travel through time and to other dimensions with the help of a "cosmic treadmill". Most unusual was Allen's complete control of his molecules, allowing him to vibrate through solid matter and, on one occasion when transformed into a mirror, "melt" himself and reform as a human to defeat the Mirror Master.
Wally West has been shown to have a connection to the Speed Force, an extradimensional energy source, which provides his powers and gives him several other abilities. While all speedsters are powered by the force, West mainlines the power from the force itself and cannot be cut off from the source, unlike the others. Wally is believed to be the fastest of all known Flashes, and has on several occasions sped faster than light and entered and exited the speed force by his own volition. He can create his costume out of pure speed energy, and can either impart his high velocities to other people and objects already in motion or steal the velocity they possess. Jay Garrick also possesses this ability to some degree; he stole speed from Black Adam in order to defeat Johnny Sorrow, and he has threatened to steal Bart's speed on at least one occasion when he was misbehaving. West can vibrate through objects; in the past, West would cause whatever he vibrated through to explode, but has recently shown this to be a controlled ability as he can pass through objects without any ensuing explosion. Although not nearly as precise as Allen when he used his cosmic treadmill, West has shown to be able to traverse time and dimensions with his own powers, much like Allen in Showcase #4 in 1956.
Occasionally, the top speeds of the Flashes are lightspeed, although Wally has been shown to have sped faster than light (as shown above). In several instances, the Flash has been able to beat Superman himself in a race.
Speedsters may at times utilize the ability to speed-read at incredible rates and in doing so process vast amounts of information. Whatever knowledge they acquire in this manner is usually temporary, although the new Kid Flash seems to be the exception.