Flash: How Wally West Struck Up a Friendship with… Fidel Castro?!

As the Fastest Man Alive in the DC Universe, Wally West has encountered many bizarre figures during his time as the Flash, but one of his strangest occurred shortly after he inherited the mantle from his mentor and best friend Barry Allen. In 1988, Wally teamed up with Cuban President Fidel Castro on a death-defying mission that would help reaffirm Castro’s control of the Caribbean country and give Wally a 21st birthday to remember.

In 1988, the DCU faced interstellar conquest in the comic book crossover event Invasion! by Keith Giffen, Bill Mantlo and Todd McFarlane. A consortium of extraterrestrial empires — including the Thanagarians, Khunds and Daxamites — was led by the fearsome Dominators and decided to conquer Earth after each race had their own respective run-ins with DC’s superheroes and villains. With nine empires forming the intergalactic alliance, each race was tasked with conquering a different portion of the planet, with the Khunds leading the charge through an all-out assault on Australia. However, the shape-shifting Durlans had much more insidious plans in mind for Cuba.

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Using their shape-shifting abilities, a group of Durlans impersonated Castro and his most trusted officials within the Cuban government in a plot that predated the Skrulls’ plans to similarly conquer the Marvel Universe in Secret Invasion by exactly 20 years. The Flash and his new superhero friend Chunk were dispatched to restore order and thwart the Durlans’ plot, and they discovered the real Castro hiding in the Cuban jungles as he had during the real-world Cuban Revolution of the 1950s. The Flash agreed to help Castro regain control of the government, with their plan involving Wally’s signature super-speed to turn the tables on the Durlans’ own scheme.

In the tie-in issue The Flash #21, by William Messner-Loebs and Greg LaRocque, Wally uses his speed to swap out Castro with his Durlan doppelgänger while the latter is addressing the country in a public speech while the heroic Manhunter secretly runs support for the Flash behind-the-scenes. Wally’s actions are so quick that even the Durlans in attendance are unable to detect the changes to their Castro double. The real Castro then urges the Durlans to reveal their true faces to the public with the overly confident invaders following his orders. Exposed, the Cubans rise up and fight against their interplanetary conquerors, and the Durlans retreat while a small detachment stays behind in the jungles to help resistance groups against Castro’s rule before deciding to leave the planet entirely.

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The unlikely team-up between the Scarlet Speedster and Cuban leader continues as both decide to celebrate Wally’s 21st birthday as a sign of gratitude to the Flash for restoring order to Cuba. With the Cuban government reinstalled and his birthday having been properly observed, the Flash returns to the United States to help the heroes continue to repel the wider invasion, leaving Wally West’s adventure in Cuba as one of his more memorably off-beat team-ups.

With several notable exceptions, the DCU has strayed away from depicting real-life politicians in its fictional continuity. Along with the Joker teaming up with the Iranian government in “Death in the Family” and Ronald Reagan’s appearance in The Dark Knight Returns, however, are some of the most glaring exceptions to this as DC attempted to reflect more of the real, contemporary world. However, with the Flash teaming up with Castro in the final stages of the Cold War certainly is among the DCU’s most bizarre instances of a real-life public figure meeting its colorful heroes.

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Near the end of the Cold War, an alien invasion brought the Flash and the Cuban leader together in one of DC's most unlikely team-ups.

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