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  1. #1
    Extraordinary Member Lightning Rider's Avatar
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    Default Comparing and Contrasting Barry Allen & Wally West's Personalities

    I've seen this discussed several times in different forms, so I thought I'd try and visually recreate the concept to spur discussion.

    The best thing about our beloved comic book characters is that they feel like real people. They have distinct voices, but also have different sides to them that can be accentuated at different times and in different contexts. I find that sometimes, it's hard to pinpoint and easily explain personalities as human and well-rounded as Barry and Wally's. This leads to some misconceptions, misunderstandings, and disagreements as to when certain behavior is associated with one or the other. So I made this graphic:



    What do you guys think? Accurate or not? What would you add or change?

    One I couldn't easily fit in between them is a very straight-forward right and wrong morality. That one's debatable and worth exploring more but I think of all the main heroes on the League, the Flashes are the ones who probably spent the least amount of time mulling over what the right thing to do is or the "bigger picture". They just do what they feel is right fairly instinctually. Would love to hear people's opinions on that as well.

  2. #2
    The Fastest Post Alive! Buried Alien's Avatar
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    Cool graphic.

    I feel that Barry embraced the mentor role more enthusiastically and wholeheartedly than Wally usually did. Barry was enthusiastic about mentoring young heroes. Wally could do it well, but did not always embrace it. Recall how Wally initially responded to Bart when Bart first arrived in present times.

    Additionally, while Barry and Wally were both scientifically aware, Barry was more scientifically-inclined. For Barry, science was his job, hobby, and healthy obsession. Wally had a decent background in science (thanks to his association with Barry) and was resourceful in using it to his advantage, but didn't make it a part of his daily life to the extent that Barry did.

    Finally, while it's not often focused upon, both Barry and Wally were socially and politically conservative. Neither was a hardcore right winger, but they did lean conservatively on social and political issues.

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  3. #3
    Mighty Member Waterfall's Avatar
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    Wally isn't a mentor imho. You can see Barry becoming a teacher at university or high school but Wally at best is your classmate who helps you about a topic you missed out in class.

  4. #4
    Extraordinary Member Lightning Rider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buried Alien View Post
    Cool graphic.

    I feel that Barry embraced the mentor role more enthusiastically and wholeheartedly than Wally usually did. Barry was enthusiastic about mentoring young heroes. Wally could do it well, but did not always embrace it. Recall how Wally initially responded to Bart when Bart first arrived in present times.

    Additionally, while Barry and Wally were both scientifically aware, Barry was more scientifically-inclined. For Barry, science was his job, hobby, and healthy obsession. Wally had a decent background in science (thanks to his association with Barry) and was resourceful in using it to his advantage, but didn't make it a part of his daily life to the extent that Barry did.

    Finally, while it's not often focused upon, both Barry and Wally were socially and politically conservative. Neither was a hardcore right winger, but they did lean conservatively on social and political issues.

    Buried Alien (The Fastest Post Alive!)
    Great points. Wally is definitely a "begrudging" mentor, but I think he still qualifies for the title. Bart is his main protege, but he's also been an important figure for Jesse as well.

    Totally agreed on the scientific aspect as well. Barry's speed tricks totally trump Wally's, Wally by contrast is less creative but faster, but I thought it would be unfair to put science in only Barry's column since Wally does often describe the physics and chemistry involved in what he's doing. He's just not the straight up scientist Barry is.

    On the last point, I would characterize Barry as slightly conservative with regards to a pro-police bias and reluctance to embrace affirmative action. The two examples that stand out to me are his characterization opposite GA in Waid's Brave and the Bold, and one other instance I can't pinpoint where he says "that's not how we do things" when GA suggests a black Green Lantern is exactly what they need. Wally however I see more as a modern blue collar "white working class" guy due to the industrial nature of Keystone. Jobs and his community come first. I'm reminded of Geoff Johns' intro to "The Secret of Barry Allen" where he says people and their belongings are more important than the natural environment, but that he's apolitical in the grand scheme of things.

    Quote Originally Posted by Moon View Post
    Wally isn't a mentor imho. You can see Barry becoming a teacher at university or high school but Wally at best is your classmate who helps you about a topic you missed out in class.
    I see him more as the grumpy professor who'd rather be doing research than dealing with these naive imperfect students. But gives a heart to heart when really needed.

  5. #5
    Moderator Frontier's Avatar
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    That chart about sums up how I view the similarities and differences between Barry and Wally, more or less .

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bogotazo View Post

    Totally agreed on the scientific aspect as well. Barry's speed tricks totally trump Wally's, Wally by contrast is less creative but faster
    I have to disagree here on both sides. As of right now we don't know who is faster. The negative Speed Force is back which brings back another aspect of the mythos. In Final Crisis neither was shown to be faster. Plus Wally can still do things with the speed force that Barry hasn't shown yet. I think a lot of things from Manapul and Venditti's run are going away. Venditti's Zoom had nothing to do with the Negative Speed Force.

    Otherwise... great graphic.
    Last edited by FlashEarthOne; 04-29-2017 at 09:59 AM.

  7. #7
    The Fastest Post Alive! Buried Alien's Avatar
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    In terms of powers, traditionally, here's how it broke down (Pre-FLASHPOINT):

    Barry Allen

    1. Mastery of molecular vibration (allowing him to easily traverse the Multiverse)

    2. Time-travel (yeah, I know it's become a bit of a joke lately due to the fallout created whenever Barry has time traveled since FLASHPOINT, in the comics, the live-action show, AND in animation, but Pre-FLASHPOINT, Barry was a master time-traveler)

    Wally West

    Wally was traditionally averse to both molecular vibration (Wally was never quite comfortable with this, and tended to blow things up when he vibrated through them) and time travel (Wally could do it, but never liked to), but he had some abilities that Barry had never imagined during his lifetime:

    1. Lending/stealing speed.

    2. Mainlining Speed Force, enabling Wally to attain speeds beyond what Barry, Jay, etc., were able to reach.

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  8. #8
    The Fastest Post Alive! Buried Alien's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bogotazo View Post
    Wally however I see more as a modern blue collar "white working class" guy due to the industrial nature of Keystone. Jobs and his community come first. I'm reminded of Geoff Johns' intro to "The Secret of Barry Allen" where he says people and their belongings are more important than the natural environment, but that he's apolitical in the grand scheme of things.
    During the late-Cold War 1980s, Marv Wolfman sometimes characterized Wally as vocally distrustful of anybody who might harbor Communist leanings. That portrayal never rang true for me: Wally doesn't strike me as somebody who would hate on others for ideological differences.

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  9. #9
    Mighty Member Waterfall's Avatar
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    On mentorship thing, I would give the credit to Jay and Max as far as Bart and Jesse are concerned. Wally can be helpful, but he's simply not a teacher type. That's mostly because of his temper though.

  10. #10
    The Fastest Post Alive! Buried Alien's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Moon View Post
    On mentorship thing, I would give the credit to Jay and Max as far as Bart and Jesse are concerned. Wally can be helpful, but he's simply not a teacher type. That's mostly because of his temper though.
    Yes, and his natural impatience, which Wally himself would likely acknowledge. Being an effective mentor/teacher requires patience, and patience was never Wally's wheelhouse. Then again, Wally is young: I do wonder if he'd be more patient and a better mentor when he gets older. During the final phase of his Flash career, when Wally had kids, he seemed to be headed in that direction (HAD to, because he was a parent).

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  11. #11
    Astonishing Member JackDaw's Avatar
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    Looking at Barry's claimed attributes, the one I might query is "socially aloof".

    My gut reaction is that I disagree with it, but I may be mis-understanding the meaning of it...can't see on surface how it fits with "mentor" and "accessible to people".

  12. #12
    The Fastest Post Alive! Buried Alien's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JackDaw View Post
    Looking at Barry's claimed attributes, the one I might query is "socially aloof".

    My gut reaction is that I disagree with it, but I may be mis-understanding the meaning of it...can't see on surface how it fits with "mentor" and "accessible to people".
    "Socially aloof" might be grouped together with "shy." Barry isn't gregarious when it comes to seeking socialization with his adult peers, but if he senses that a youth needs guidance, he'll definitely reach out.

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  13. #13
    Mighty Member Waterfall's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JackDaw View Post
    Looking at Barry's claimed attributes, the one I might query is "socially aloof".

    My gut reaction is that I disagree with it, but I may be mis-understanding the meaning of it...can't see on surface how it fits with "mentor" and "accessible to people".
    Because that's a mistake too. Recent Rebirth run established him being hard to approach (in issue #9 to boot)

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buried Alien View Post
    During the late-Cold War 1980s, Marv Wolfman sometimes characterized Wally as vocally distrustful of anybody who might harbor Communist leanings. That portrayal never rang true for me: Wally doesn't strike me as somebody who would hate on others for ideological differences.

    Buried Alien (The Fastest Post Alive!)
    I think Wally would be skeptical, particularly when it came to government matters, but, yes, that vocal disdain was over the top.

    As someone from flyover country, he might have been initially be skeptical of social innovations (I think his initial discomfort with Pied Piper's sexuality rings true), but I think he's learned to be more accepting...and he KNOWS that he's going to learn when he's exposed to new things (i.e., he'd be initially distrustful of Islam, but he'd quickly drop it as he learned more about it. He'd have to, given the wide exposure he's gained as a superhero).

  15. #15
    Jesus Christ, redeemer! The Whovian's Avatar
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    Barry = boring

    Wally = exciting, happy, fun loving and family guy who inspires his friends.
    One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.--Psalm 27:4

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