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The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Character
previously known as "Kid Flash"; member of the Teen Titans and the Justice League of America
Wally West is the third superhero known as "The Flash." With regards to his religious affiliation, Wally West appears to be a Protestant, but only nominally so.
Although not usually regarded as a religion, the Speed Force is the "religion" this has the most meaning and import in Wally West's life. Wally West never overtly articulated his devotion to the Speed Force as his religion as did Savitar (and, to a lesser extent, Max Mercury and Bart Allen). But the Speed Force has strong mystical, metaphysical, spiritual elements that make it more than simply an aspect of "physics" or the material universe (which, really, it isn't). For Wally West, the Speed Force is more accurately identified as his religion than Protestantism or any other traditionally recognized system of beliefs, ethics and values.
From: "The Unofficial Flash Biography" on "The Unofficial Guide to the DC Universe" website (http://www.dcuguide.com/who.php?name=Flash3; viewed 25 May 2007):
FLASH III [Wallace Rudolph 'Wally' West]
Wally West is the fastest man alive and possibly the fastest man ever. He is the third Flash, having grown up in the embrace of superspeed. He is one of the most experienced members of the Justice League and years ahead of other heroes his age.
The Flash has a direct line to the extra-dimensional energy source called the Speed Force, it is a form of speedster Valhalla. Time and time again Wally has brushed up against it, feeling it call him into its eternal embrace as it claimed his uncle Barry Allen. Yet Wally is linked to our world by an emotional bond with girlfriend Linda Park, and due to this link he always returns where other cannot or would not.
Beyond human understanding exists an elemental essence known as the Speed Force, it the source of power that lets those superhumans with the ability to superspeed to move at velocities that far exceeds anything the human body can or should be able to do. To join with the Speed Force is to go beyond the limits of physically known speed and to enter a realm that is more a metaphysical afterlife rather than a normal dimension.
To those that have attained the ability of superspeed the Speed Force is literally the Creator, and at times it can seem to be an intelligence that guides the fates and destinies of any that are fortunate enough to be part of it. Those that do for what ever reason become connected with the Speed Force are destined to became heroes or in the rarer case villains. One name that has become synonymous with the ability is the name of the Flash and the three generations of heroes who have carried the mantel...
Wally West grew up with a strained family life, but for all intents and purposes he was a normal child. Except for three events in his childhood. One was being the head of the Flash Fan club at school, the second was the words of a stranger to never let go of his dreams (that stranger was later to be revealed to be Wally himself on a roller coaster ride through his own life via the Speed Force), the third was the fact that Wally was the nephew of Barry Allen (a.k.a. the second Flash).
Barry actually arranged for Wally to met the Flash and while at the lab where the original accident had transformed Barry into the Flash, Wally asked if the same thing could happen to him. As if fate needed to no more promoting a second lightning bolt hit the building and this time transformed Wally West into the Kid Flash, junior side kick of the Flash.
At almost every stage Wally was somehow reminded of Barry and he grew tired of the comparisons... as part of the Zero-hour Wally had to push his speed to the limit in an effort of close an Entropy rift, in the process he was catapulted into the timestream and was plunged into the Speed Force as Barry once had in his final moments.
Wally was different, the Speed Force transformed Wally to the point that he now has a "direct line" to the heart of the force that grants all the speedsters their speed. It has transformed his abilities and he may now well be the fasted man that has ever lived. It has also galvanised Wally as never before and forced him to examine his humanity. At last Wally West is the Flash in his own right and is only now taking his rightful place among the statesmen of the superhero community.
Wally faced perhaps his greatest challenge in the form of Savitar, who had joined with the Speed Force sometime after the retirement of the original Flash and the emergence of the second. He had devoted his life to the study of the speed force and had turned it into his religion. During the course of the battle Johnny Quick lost his life and Wally finally realised that he had to give Savitar what he wanted. Wally used his speed to boost Savitar to such a velocity that he was propelled into the Valhalla of the Speed Force.
From: "There Are No Lions Here", posted 15 October 2006 on "Pretty, Fizzy Paradise" blog website (http://kalinara.blogspot.com/2006/10/there-are-no-lions-here.html; viewed 30 May 2007):
At 7:48 PM, david brothers said:
...I don't think that I'm coming at this from a victimized point of view. Christianity in comics is something I only think about when it's brought up by someone else. If I don't like a portrayal, I put it down and leave the book alone instead of getting all up in the internet's face about it. I do believe that there is a lack of balance shown in presenting good-guy Christians, such as Wally West etc, and the bad-guy Christians, however. I don't even mean that we need to see these guys in church every Sunday or preaching. Some kind of sign would be nice, be it a whispered prayer before going up against Darkseid or just a nervous fingering of a cross during a tense scene...
From: "What religion do superhero's belong to? [sic]" forum discussion started 18 July 2002 on "Toon Zone" website (http://forums.toonzone.net/showthread.php?t=41332; viewed 21 May 2007):
From: "Any Christian Superheroes?" thread began 22 April 2004 on rec.arts.comics.dc.universe newsgroup (http://groups.google.com/group/rec.arts.comics.dc.universe/browse_thread/thread/4e5839f075fecf76/8821b5db671e7ce1; viewed 20 June 2006):
07-18-2002, 01:02 PM
What religion do superhero's [sic] belong to?
I'd like to discuss what religious beliefs are favorite costumed hero's belong to. Everyone knows Daredevil is Catholic. But beyond that, what do we know of superhero's beliefs? I'm thinking of mostly the Marvel Universe, but you DC fans feel free to contribute as well...
07-20-2002, 11:39 AM
Flash: guessing all three Flashes were Protestants... though I doubt Wally's exactly an active church-goer.
From: Gustavo Wombat
Date: Thurs, Apr 22 2004 12:03 pm
I can't think of any major superheroes that strongly believe in any real faith, and that surprises me. Certainly not in the DC Universe. I think there are more minority superheroes than religious ones.
Not that I want to see "The Teen Titans" become "The Christian Crusaders, with their Happy Hindu friend and wacky Orthodox Jew sidekick", but seems unrealistic that there would be none...
From: Brian Doyle
Date: Thurs, Apr 22 2004 12:36 pm
The Titans discuss their faith in the first Brother Blood arc. IIRC Dick [i.e., Dick Grayson, a.k.a. Nightwing] states he believes but doesn't attend a church, and Wally [i.e., Wally West, a.k.a. Kid Flash, later known as The Flash] is in much the same situation, but is less certain.
From: John Adcox
Date: Fri, Apr 23 2004 1:22 pm
I also remember in the Wolfman/Perez era Titans that Wally West was a "believer," even though he didn't go to church often. It was in one of the Brother Blood issues.
From: "What Religion is Your Favorite Superhero?" discussion board started 20 April 2006 on official website of DC Comics (http://dcboards.warnerbros.com/web/thread.jspa?threadID=2000072337&start=15&tstart=0; viewed 8 May 2006):
Posted: Apr 23, 2006 2:15 AM
Statistically speaking, since he was raised in Nebraska, Wally West was probably raised a Methodist. Although, given how dysfunctional his family was, he may have decided their choices could be questioned, at the very least. Given that he knew Hal during the Spectre period, and has met Azrael, he wouldn't question the existence of God, but he might be on the fence as to which denomination he would belong to.
And, now that he has children, the thought of how to raise his kids has almost certainly crossed his mind. I am sure that Linda's input would be important, but I can't remember how she was raised; remember, although Korean, she was raised in the States.
Posted: Apr 23, 2006 1:45 PM
re: "Statistically speaking..."
Here's the problem. Unless that character has been shown to be a particular religion (Colossal Boy used to be Jewish, for example) you can't know. Statistics might be useful sometimes, but not here. They won't tell you what religion a person IS. Nor will their actions.
Excerpts from: "Superman Wedding -- why a Christian ceremony?" newsgroup discussion started 11 October 1996 in rec.arts.comics.dc.universe (http://groups.google.com/group/rec.arts.comics.dc.universe/browse_thread/thread/4d17a1ff0ee9c715/d141c36005b90ea4; viewed 5 June 2006):
From: Douglas Ethington
Date: Fri, Oct 11 1996 12:00 am
Email: Douglas Ethington
I always thought that Clark was most likely a Christian...
Anyway, this thread got me thinking about the other DC heroes and what their religious beliefs might be, so here are some of my thoughts (most of this MHO [My Humble Opinion]):
...Wonder Woman worships the Greek gods. Captain Marvel is probably a Christian... I'd mention the Flashes and the Speed Force, but that thread has been done to death on this newsgroup...
From: "Banned for using this nic" thread began 4 Apri 1999 in rec.arts.comics.dc.universe newsgroup (http://groups.google.com/group/rec.arts.comics.dc.universe/browse_thread/thread/f38288dc4e56542/8a873a0a53da3d0d; viewed 12 June 2006)
Date: Tues, Apr 6 1999 12:00 am
[Religious affliations of] Others...
Flash's (Wally West) wedding was also pseudo-Christian [like Clark Kent's], but much less so (outside, no church, I'm not even sure if it was a priest or a justice of the peace).
From: "Religion in the Batman comics" thread began 7 June 2001 in alt.comics.batman newsgroup (http://groups.google.com/group/alt.comics.batman/browse_thread/thread/93368626bdebcd58/4b93b3a1e10210c6; viewed 12 June 2006):
Date: Thurs, Jun 7 2001 6:48 pm
We all know Catwoman/Selina Kyle is Catholic (and a bad one at that). The Huntress is probably Catholic too... Any other characters have religious convictions?
From: Brian Doyle
Date: Fri, Jun 8 2001 3:05 am
...Years ago Dick had a discussion with Wally West about religion in which he stated that he believes in God but doesn't attend church regularly. No demonination was mentioned.
From: Mark J. Reed
Date: Thurs, Apr 22 2004 1:07 pm
That would be before Wally discovered that God is really the Speed Force, and Uncle Barry was the Messiah! Oh, wait, that never happened. Moving on . . .
From: "Barry Allen - Why?" forum discussion started 26 February 2007 on "Comic Book Resources" website (http://forums.comicbookresources.com/archive/index.php/t-165569.html; viewed 25 May 2007):
02-27-2007, 05:52 AM
To get back on topic though. I always found the whole Speed Force thing a bit hokey, it always seems like an instant answer to any Flash question. Oh Barry's not really dead, he's in the Speed Force with the rest of the Flashes. Where's Wally? Oh he's in the Speed Force. Though it gave reason for Speed Ninjas, the whole Speed Force thing thought up by Waid, I... I just never felt like it was right, the whole thing felt forced.
In point of fact though, wasn't it written that Bart took the whole Speed Force into himself, and now the actual parallel universe that was the Speed Force no longer exists, except within him. Another thing, didn't you have to be dead to actually be one with the Speed Force, or rather let the Speed Force consume you. Wally I don't think would ever willingly be consumed by the Speed Force because of his kids and Linda, whats more he'd never let Linda and the kids be consumed by the Speed Force so he could join with the Speed Force without any reservations. Then again I could be totally wrong on my thinking. Somebody correct me if I am off base here.
02-27-2007, 11:34 AM
I don't think Wally had a choice. Of course he had "reservations". But it was literally impossible for him to avoid being sucked in this time. He asked Linda to come with him because he couldn't break lose and she agreed and agreed to bring the kids with her.
From: "Superheroes/villains and their religions" forum discussion, started 16 March 2006 on "Animation Insider" website (http://www.animationinsider.net/forums/archive/index.php?t-17835.html; viewed 28 June 2008):
03-16-2006, 05:16 AM
Someone pointed this out at another forum. I found it to be quite amusing that someone would actually have enough time on their hands to ponder about this.
03-17-2006, 06:22 AM
...The only TT [Teen Titans] member the mentioned that I saw was Aqualad. And of course he's Atlantean.
03-17-2006, 03:03 PM
Well, as far as the Titans go, Raven is obvious. Superboy is the same as Superman. Wonder Girl is the same as Wonder Woman. Kid Flash is the same as Barry Allen... Starfire follows the Tamaranian religion.
From: "Superhero Religious Views?" forum discussion, started 9 June 2007 on Newsarama website (http://forum.newsarama.com/archive/index.php/t-116001.html; viewed 13 July 2007):
06-13-2007, 01:43 AM
...Wally West is a Christian. Went to church shortly after the twins were born...
From: "Increasing comic circulation through different perspectives" forum discussion, started 30 November 2005 on "Comic Bloc" website (http://www.comicbloc.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-15542.html; viewed 20 July 2007):
November 30th, 2005, 03:34 AM
In the last few days, since the thread on "Liberality for all" I have been pondering a number of seperate, yet to me, related issues affecting the comic industry in the USA. Among these are the long term trend of declining sales among mainstream comics, the ideologicall monopoly that liberals hold on the comics industry on the creative side, and the severe lack of credible, and more to the point admirable comics characters with a more conservative outlook. While I don't subscribe to the idea of a "vast leftwing conspiracy" in comics it is impossible to deny that most of those involved in the business of comics on the creative side are firmly and proudly liberal, and that while for the most part, politics comes up only tangentially in comics most Superheroes do seem to be of a liberal mindset.
I think that in the interest of honesty, we must at least examine the idea that perhaps the overwhelming presence of more liberal creators, when contrasted with the fact that the majority of Americans fall slightly more to the right of the political spectrum than left may be in some way related to the long term trend of declining sales... So could the creation or emphasis of charcters as conservatives, open the industry to new readers?
Heatwave the Rogue
November 30th, 2005, 08:50 AM
I consider myself an independant with strong liberal leanings. I love the state of the comic industry and the characters and writer's leanings to this direction.
That all being said, I would gladly read characters with a more accurate conservative viewpoint. Ultimate Captain America is a character that so far I have considered a very traditional conservative. Old school 1940's conservatism might be a more accurate description of the character and he's one of my favorite characters to read about. I'd love to see this character get into a political debate with Ollie (Green Arrow) and watch the sparks fly on in both the dialogue and on panel drawings. My favorite characters, the Flash family, tend to lean more conservative and I openly embrace this as part of their philosophies and mannerisms...
From: "Question for other atheists" forum discussion, started 6 March 2006 on "Comic Boards" website (http://www.comicboards.com/dcb/view.php?trd=060306051129; viewed 23 July 2007):
Posted by Hellstone on Monday, March 06 2006 at 11:26:30 GMT
re: "Are there any?"
Hoo boy, yeah.
re: "How do you relate to the characters in comics, DC especially, who are characterised as atheistic/agnostic?"
Well, being a bit self-centered, I guess I consider all (or most) characters atheists until they have explicitly stated otherwise.
Other than that, I don't relate to atheistic and religious characters in any different ways. As long as they aren't fundamentalist nutjobs (but those exist among atheists as well).
re: "Would you still be an atheist if you'd had the experiences Mr Terrific and co have had?"
Impossible to answer. But I can easily see Mr. Terrific's point. In a world of cosmic energy beings and larger-than-life superheroes, why would we believe that the so-called "gods" are any different in nature. Maybe it's even easier to be an atheist in the DCU because of that.
Posted by Icon on Monday, March 06 2006 at 11:55:58 GMT
As noted in other discussions over the years, they [DC Comics] seem to bend over backwards to NOT assign denominations or faith statements to characters, due in part to a fear of alienating readers who might find it too much of a disassociation. Heroes should be relatable, and there are few things more divisive than religion.
I recall a discussion in an old New Teen Titans where Dick and Wally are infiltrating Brother Blood's base and have a discussion about their repsective viewpoints. IIRC [If I recall correctly], Wally definitely had a denomination, though I can't recall if mentions it by name (Baptist?), and Dick says that he believes in God, but doesn't go to church regularly. That struck me as an interesting commentary, but certainly didn't feel it changed my opinion of them as characters.
I am not an atheist, and am happy in my religious beliefs, but even if I WERE an atheist, I'd probably join a church just to annoy the likes of Richard Dawkins (A particularly irritating, "evangelical" atheist here in the UK who views anyone who has a faith as being, essentially, a misguided fool) :-)
...There's a nice discussion in an old New Mutants where the Catholic Empath and the Roman pantheon worshipping Magma (I think that technically makes her a Pagan, but I'm never sure whether that's a suitable word to use) discuss their respective faiths after Magma relates a story wherein she met Hercules. Is her faith stronger because she's met one of her Gods, or is his, because he still believes even though he HASN'T met his God. Appropriately, it doesn't give an answer.
Posted by Hellstone on Monday, March 06 2006 at 14:20:26 GMT
re: "As noted in other discussions over the years they seem to bend over backwards to NOT assign denominations or faith statements to characters..."
Well, I think that goes for the "big 3" [Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman], for example. But many denizens of the DCU have expressed their religion explicitly, and I'm not just talking Wonder Woman and Kobra and Zauriel here. Huntress (Catholic Christian), Nightwing (Christian, don't know what kind), Flash (Christian), Doctor Mid-Nite (Catholic), Ragman (Jewish), Janissary (Muslim), Seraph (Jewish), Maya (Hindu), Judomaster (Buddhist), Father Craemer (Catholic) and many more, have all stated their explicit beliefs...
re: "I recall a discussion in an old New Teen Titans where Dick and Wally... have a discussion about their repsective viewpoints. Wally definitely had a denomination... Dick says that he believes in God, but doesn't go to church regularly..."
I recall Wally as being religious and Dick as being agnostic here.
But that's a pretty moot point, since Dick has subsequently expressed his Christian beliefs.
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