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Anonymous writes...

I think the problem that quite a few people have, myself included, with Wally's character/story on Young Justice might stem from the fact that he was the 'normal' one amongst the members of the original team. And on a show that at it's core is built around angst and drama, the normal characters tend to get lost in the shuffle since they don't come with built-in storylines like a character with a criminal family/background (Artemis and Kaldur), leadership issues (Kaldur and Dick), an inferior clone made by the enemy (Superboy), or a Martian used to discrimination living on Earth. They're just harder to fit into the story of the show. So it's much more important to their characters for the show to create an emotional connection to the audience and develop some meaningful relationships for that character to make them relevant to the show at large. And that's where I think the show failed as far as Wally was concerned.

For instance, you've said that Wally was a very insecure person during the first season and one of the big reasons why you paired him with Artemis. But out of all the members of the team, he always struck me as being the only one that wasn't insecure about who he was, or his role on the team. He was never shown to be bothered by his inferiority to Barry in season one, and even a good portion of the fandom didn't even know Barry was faster until BLOODLINES in season two. In fact, it was Conner who got the inferiority to the mentor storyline fleshed out in season one. And it was never said that Barry didn't originally want him to be his sidekick on the show. Plus the only insecurity he showed with girls was with Artemis. But that was more of a by product of him thinking she hated him because he was a jerk to her when she joined the team, not because he was insecure about who he was. So the show never really established him as an insecure character during the first season. He just came across as an idiot and an occasional selfish jerk simply because he was an idiot and an occasional selfish jerk; not because he was trying to overcompensate for his insecurity because of that.

And it's more of the same in the second season. Wally had became a completely different character between seasons and the only explanation the show gives is basically time-skip happened. I mean, Wally nearly killed himself just to become a hero and absolutely loved being one throughout the first season despite everything that happened. He also was pretty much supportive of his friends no matter what during that season, too. But during season two, Wally wanted absolutely nothing to do with being a hero and was accusing friends of being traitors and blaming them for trying to stop an alien invasion that he couldn't care less about for the majority of the season. It's like the show tossed away whatever previous characterization he had to justify his retirement and get him out of the way before reverting him back to something much closer to his previous characterization in the final two episodes. Which is why I found it a little hard to use Wally's previous characterization during the first season to defend his character in season two when he's not even close to being the same character. And I don't mean to say it's impossible that he could change that much over the gap, but it's such a drastic change that I think it deserved some sort of in-universe explanation.

Another thing I'd like to mention is that you said that Wally's 'humanity' was what you liked most about his character, but I'd say that that was the biggest flaw that this version of Wally West had. I mean, one of the things I've always loved about Wally in the comics and on other shows is that he would normally do the right thing simply because it was the right thing to do. That was missing with the Wally on Young Justice to me. Everything was always about him and what he wanted. Sure, he'd say some nice things to his friends on occasion, but he was the guy that would basically throw an inner-fit at the thought of saving a little girl's life instead of working on another mission with the League. And whatever development he was suppose to get from COLDHEARTED didn't seem to stick or didn't happen as he was practically thrilled that someone got kidnapped simply because he was bored at the beginning of the Young Justice video game. And Wally sitting out the majority of an alien invasion where things get worse and worse goes against everything I've ever loved about him over the years, and the scene at the end of DARKEST pretty much destroyed the character for me. The only times he was shown to help out was when the situation suited his interest, such as retrieving Artemis in SUMMIT, or helping out his family in BLOODLINES and ENDGAME. If the situation didn't have something directly to do with him, he couldn't be bothered to help and that's just not Wally West in my opinion.

As for his relationships, I think the issue for me was how unbalanced they seemed to be. I mean, I can appreciate the slow build and subtlety the show did with building up Artemis' side of their relationship; though I did think the show relied a little too heavily on telling us that they were going to get together in an effort to make her small moments such as asking about his parents in MISPLACED or making the sling for his arm to mean more than they really did. The problem is that the show basically punched me in the face with Wally's side of the relationship in contrast. The show pretty much shouted that he should get together with Artemis in DENIAL, he had an entire episode in FAILSAFE where she's almost all he could think about, was basically her number one fan for the majority of INSECURITY, and was shown to do nothing but worry about her in season two. Artemis never had anything remotely close to those type of things during the two seasons while he was alive. That's because Artemis had a lot going on besides Wally, as she had her family/trust issues, being a mole suspect, and the undercover mission. Where as with Wally being the normal one, the show made Artemis his thing and smashed us over the head with it. That's why I always preferred the M'gann/Conner relationship despite never being big fans of their characters since neither side dominated their relationship. It was balanced. It never felt like one of them was way more committed to the other like it did with Wally and Artemis. And like a previous poster before me mentioned, I think his friendship with Dick was handled in a similar way. It's why their reactions to his death fell completely flat and contrived to me because Wally wasn't really ever shown to be as important to them as they made him out to be after he died. And as a character, Wally got very little out of those relationships himself.

And like most of the 'normal' characters, Wally was killed off because there's only so much a show feels they can do with them. You guys milked about as much drama/angst you could get out of his relationship with Artemis over the two seasons and because of that, Wally was no longer useful to the show because he didn't bring any drama/angst as his own character. In essence, as a standalone character he had no real story of his own and that made him an expendable character.

Unfortunately, it just seemed like the majority of the things that made Wally tick and were important to his character would seem to have been left out of the show for the most part. And I'd say that he's the only one out of the main cast of either season that was handled that way. It's why while I normally enjoy Wally in the comics and other shows (I loved him and Jay/Barry in the episode "Requiem for a Scarlet Speedster!" that you wrote for Batman: The Brave and the Bold, by the way), I had a hard time getting invested into his character on Young Justice. And the Wally you talk about here and the Wally that was on the show just seem like two completely different characters to me.

Greg responds...

Well, to some extent, I'll grant that there were things about Wally we didn't spell out as clearly as we might have in the series, though if you were also reading our companion comics, Wally's insecurity about his relationship to Barry would be hard to miss. But I'll also grant that you shouldn't have to read the comics to enjoy the series.

But I think we painted Wally consistently. His insecurity is there to see, certainly in "Infiltrator" and other episodes. We might not have stated it, hammered the nail on the head, so to speak, but I'm confident it's there. If you chose to see him as an idiot and selfish jerk, I can't stop you. But Brandon and I thought the insecurity was pretty clear. Clear enough that we were afraid we overdid it. Perhaps we were wrong. But I still don't think so, and the fact that a handful of fans disagree with me isn't exactly changing my mind. That's neither meant as a criticism of you or any other fans. Nor am I simply being defensive. In the end, all I can do is trust my own creative judgement (and that of my partners in crime - in this case Brandon Vietti), for better or for worse. If that judgement is faulty - and again, I'll grant that it could very well be - that doesn't change anything. Because if I start second-guessing myself all the time, the work, I'm sure, would suffer. In general, I think my instincts are decent, and the proof of that, I believe, is that most fans seem to respond positively - both to Wally and to the show in general. Doesn't make me right, of course, but what other recourse do I have?

As for some of your analysis, I believe you are choosing to interpret Wally in the most negative light possible, and that's certainly not how we saw him, and given the extremely vocal love for our version of the character expressed by a vast majority of fans, I will once again suggest that we simply agree to disagree. I'm not going to convince you. You're not going to convince me.

Having said all of the above, I still appreciate your post and your point of view. And who knows? Everything I read gets absorbed into my brain and tossed around into the mix. Maybe a Star Wars Rebels character will benefit from your words.

Response recorded on February 21, 2014