WARNING! LOTS OF SPOILERS AHEAD!
Release Date: August 1988
Title: Hitting Bottom
Writer: William Messner-Loebs
Penciller: Greg LaRocque
Inker: Larry Mahlstedt
Guest Stars: Tina McGee, Mary West, the Kapitalist Kouriers
Bad Guys: Velocity 9 junkies
The Cover: George Perez
"Wally West trashed by Flash". Surrounded by red speed lines and whirlwind effects, Flash is grinning an evil and sinister grin while he lays a big super speed punch on the jaw of Wally West, who is staggering from the blow. Hang on... aren't Wally West and the Flash the same person? Something's not right here...
The story so far
Vandal Savage had developed a new drug, Velocity 9, that gave its users super speed for a short time, but left them wasted, emaciated and addicted. Savage injected Flash with it, and after a short burst of speed it appears to have left Flash powerless. Savage was going to inject Flash again, but got injected himself, after which he escaped at super speed, possibly now addicted himself. As if being powerless wasn't bad enough for Wally, he's now broke as well, his lottery winnings wiped out in a stock market crash.
Now on with the story!
But first, a warning: this issue has not much action, but a lot of soap opera-type character development.
Velocity 9 users are getting desperate, as it appears the source of the drug has dried up. Some are taking all they have left and going on final, suicidal, runs. Kapitalist Kouriers are saving as many as they can and taking them to hospital.
Meanwhile, Wally is powerless and broke, and moving out of his mansion, helping his mum with the packing. He tells his mum (Mary West) that things aren't going so well with Tina (which Mary is pretty happy about, actually) but then Tina shows up and he's all lovey dovey and pretending there's nothing wrong. Tina and Wally do some time trials, and confirm that Wally is a healthy, average human being.
Later, after they all finish packing, Tina and Mary get stuck into each other about who's worse for Wally, and Wally, declaring that there's one too many people there and it's about time he did something about it, leaves them to fight it out. They exchange a few more barbs, and then Tina leaves to see how Jerry is going (eliciting one final "yeah, go check on your husband you tramp" comment from Mary).
Wally, meanwhile, is heading over to his new home, an apartment in a run-down inner city block, musing as he goes about how he'll be able to survive financially. He finds Chunk waiting for him there. Chunk has heard that Wally is down on his luck, and as he's now making a fortune making garbage disappear, he wants to help Wally out, leaving him with a cheque for enough money to clear his debts and survive for a month or two.
Wally then heads inside and meets his neighbours, one a friendly older man named Mason Trollbridge, the other a silent unfriendly woman. Then, he wanders outside and meets his landlord, who turns out to be the same Mr Gilchrist who ran the city council and tried to boot him off Long Island (way back in issue 5). He's just come round to gloat, basically, and tell Wally he'll have him evicted if he gets half a chance.
We then cut to Tina visiting her husband, Jerry, in hospital. He's been there recovering from the damage his body took when he was Speed Demon, and he's still pretty weak. He's assisting Dr Bortz with the Velocity 9 junkies, helping them recover from the effects of the drug. Jerry and Tina seem to be getting on much better now that Jerry isn't in a permanent 'roid rage.
Back to Wally, and he's wandering around his new neighbourhood thinking about what a jerk Gilchrist is when a Velocity 9 junky races up to him, talking so fast Wally can barely understand him. Donning a Flash costume, the junkie (talking slowly now) explains that Vandal Savage sent him as a warning not to interfere. Beating Wally like a red-headed powerless superhero, the junky further explains that Savage can "have" Wally whenever he wants - he can "kill you or rip of all you fingers or just do this again - anything he wants". With the beating properly administered, the junky speeds off, leaving Wally to stagger, bleeding, into his apartment building. He collapses in the hallway, where the silent unfriendly woman he saw earlier helps him into her flat. There, he sits and bleeds while watching a tv report on the happy, rich and fully powered Kapitalist Kouriers, and probably feels pretty crappy.
There's a great opening scene where we see one of the Velocity 9 junkies one her last run...
Her name is Lila Kaplin, and her Velocity 9 ran out today.
The drug made her faster than anyone, made her feel like a god. And now it's gone. Vandal Savage ran away and took it with him.
She took almost thirty thousand dollars from her investment firm and spent it on the drug. She can never pay it back. And no one will ever trust her again.
So this morning she took the last of her stash and went out for a little run. She feels wonderful and she will until the vomiting and burning pain start and they catch her and put her in jail.
These are the last good moments she will ever have and she is running at nearly four hundred miles and hour trying to find a way to make them last forever.
She thinks she just found a way.
Her run ends in a bloody splat as she runs straight into a road sign.
Powerless, Flash is now no faster than any other fairly fit guy.
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