Art by Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato
Yes, it’s another Flash villain, and, yes, it’s another evil inverse speedster rogue of the Flash. I promise you, this is the last of either that will be on this list. Bear with me.
The brother of reporter Iris West, Daniel’s mother died giving birth to him. His alcoholic father hated him for this, and he frequently and physically abused both Daniel and Iris while they were growing up. While Iris stayed straight, Daniel fell into a life of crime in his young adulthood. When he first attempted a score, the Flash stopped him. Daniel was imprisoned for five years. He was released during Gorilla Grodd’s invasion of Central City. He was captured by Grodd’s soldiers but saved by the Rogues. He was subsequently caught in the crash of Dr. Elias’ monorail, Elias being a scientist studying the Speed Force. This bathed Daniel in Speed Force energy. Imbued with super speed, Daniel West became the Reverse-Flash!
Daniel always blamed his father for what he turned into. He felt, if his dad had not treated him so badly, he could have become a good person. He also loved his sister dearly, and watching the man dole out so much misery to her only intensified his hatred of him. This had developed into a complex for Daniel West, and he wanted to change his childhood more than anything. With the power of the Speed Force, he could now do this. However, he needed more power. To this end, he began hunting down and killing people who had been in the Speed Force dimension to drain their power. A recent accident during the Gorilla Invasion had sent a number of individuals there, so he had many lesser powered people to choose from.
This, of course, garnered the attention of the Flash. He tracked down the Reverse-Flash and the two battled it out, eventually leading to Dr. Elias’ lab. Daniel managed to drain some of the Flash’s Speed Force energy and was, at last, able to travel back in time. He arrived in his father’s house and was about to kill him when the younger versions of himself and Iris arrived home to see this. The Flash arrived shortly after. Daniel was readying himself to kill his father when he realized the further trauma he would cause Iris. He surrendered to the Flash and gave up his powers. He was sent to Iron Heights. Iris visited him, and he told her how he had no regrets for what he had done. This caused her to abandon her brother for good.
He had apparently been able to regain his abilities by the time the Suicide Squad recruited him. He was not as fast as he once was, and he began injuring himself during missions through his own overexertion. During one mission in which they discovered a time bomb in a small village, Daniel resolved to save everyone in the village by running the bomb into the ocean. He tripped on the return and was apparently caught in the explosion. It is unknown if he managed to survive.
Daniel West is a man defined by a single period in his life, and he would do anything to change that. While he is, in reality, just as culpable for his own actions as his father, he cannot accept that. He is not a career criminal like Captain Cold, and he is not as malicious as Eobard Thawne. He genuinely thinks what he did was the best thing for his sister and himself. He loved her and hated his father so much that he was willing to bend the rules of time to fix their lives.
This makes Daniel West a really interesting character study to me; it’s cool to see a character so driven to change his life who is at the same time so deluded. I sympathize with Daniel West, even if he is a murderer in denial. Plus, his costume is one of the coolest designs to come out of the past 20 years of comics. I liked the addition of the metal shards which he could launch with his electric charge. He is one of my favorite characters to come out of DC’s New 52. His relative lack of time in comic books has not detracted from how awesome this character is to me. I sincerely hope that his last appearance in the New Suicide Squad Annual is not the end of Daniel West, my 8th Favorite DC Villain of all time.