Picking up six months after the season finale ended last year, “The Man Who Saved Central City” gets the second season of The Flash off to a solid start.
The episode had to do a bit of heavy lifting by not only resolving last year’s massive cliffhanger but also putting the pieces into play for season two. It’s interesting to note that the show doesn’t pick up right away and tell us how Barry stopped the vortex over Central City last year. Instead, we see flashbacks to it while getting a look at where everyone is now — both physically and emotionally. Continue reading
Today’s Comic Book Friday is also part of my 20 Books of Summer Challenge.
I’m a bit a novice when it comes to The Flash. My knowledge of the character comes from his portrayal in various television programs — both live action and animated. But I’m interested enough by what I’ve seen in those portrayals to want to go back to the source material and learn more.
This second collection of the New 52 Flash is an interesting one. While many of the characters are familiar, I don’t know enough about their history to definitively say whether what happens here is good, bad or somewhere in between. Back in Central City, the Flash faces overwhelming anti-Flash public sentiment, whipped up by one of his old friends. Couple that with several adversaries coming back into town, all with a new take on their old weapons and you’ve got a very interesting dilemma for the Scarlet Speedster.
I find it interesting that a comic book series would spend a run of issues delving into the minds and psyche of our heroes various foes as this one does. Most of these faces are familiar from the just completed first season of the show and I’ll admit I found myself having to separate what we saw there from what we get here.
I also found it a bit confusing to come across a massive cliffhanger and then go into a storyline that gave us the capsule history of the Flash and had no ties to said cliffhanger. I understand these collected editions are meant to put together a couple of months worth of continuity, but a little more explanation might have left me not scratching my head as I wondered just how and when the flashback to our hero’s origin was going to come into play. I guess this is my Marvel bias showing through because it feels like Stan Lee used to give us a reminder of everyone’s origin every two to three years as a way to welcome in new readers.
Overall, this was an interesting little story. I’m sure to pick up the next installment simply because the cliffhanger left me curious as to where things might go next.
Watching The Flash‘s brilliant first season has piqued my interest in the original source material for the Scarlet Speedster. So, I was pleasantly surprised to see the five-part mini-series Flashpoint sitting in a collected edition on my library’s shelf. I’d heard good things about it from the animated version (which I haven’t seen yet) and from a bookmark my library was giving away with a listing of essential DC graphic novels (or collected comics, if you prefer that term).
Barry Allen wakes up one day to find the world has entirely changed. Superman isn’t on the scene, Wonder Woman and Aquaman are leading their respective peoples in a battle for dominance of the Earth and Batman isn’t Batman. Add to all this that Barry doesn’t have his powers, but he has memories of having them. Turns out Barry went back in time to save his mother from dying and sent the entire world as we know it on an entirely different time line. Of course, there is a nefarious force at work behind all of this, manipulating Barry into doing this but that reveal doesn’t come until the end of the fourth issue.
The real highlights of this issue are the first and the last one. The first one creates a sense of paranoia and the “something ain’t right feeling” that permeates many of the best episode of modern Trek. The cliffhanger to end part one is a thing of beauty and one of those moments that really make you take a step back and look at just how different this world that Barry has created is. The other moment comes at the end when Barry has “put right what once went wrong” and made the leap back to his DC universe and his delivery of a note from a father to a son. It’s a moment that is completely and totally moving and one that’s earned by much of the story and history that has come before. Continue reading
After “The Man in the Yellow Suit,” my expectations meter for The Flash was extremely high. So much so that I fully expected whatever episode led things off after a six week hiatus to disappoint me simply because I’d had so long to look forward to it.
So, imagine my surprise when mid-way through “Revenge of the Rogues” I found myself feeling like the show hadn’t missed a beat. Yes, this isn’t the same type of level of mythology episode that we got with “Yellow Suit,” but it’s an episode that is just as important to the mythology of the series and the DC television universe. In order for The Flash to work, there are going to have to be some recurring bad guys and “Revenge of the Rogues” was a nice step in establishing two recurring villains for Barry and company to face off against as the show runs its course.
Now, I wasn’t a huge Prison Break fan (I think I stopped after season one) so seeing Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell sharing screen time again wasn’t as much a hook for me as it may have been for some. What was the hook was watching how these two played off each other, with Miller chewing every bit of scenery that he could at Captain Cold and Purcell’s work as Heat Wave. One of many great scenes was the torching of the priceless painting so that our two villains could go after the Flash and take him out once and for all. It’s at that point that these two went from thorns in the Flash’s side to out and out super villains (for lack of a better term). Continue reading
Strong Female Protagonist
One of the best aspects of NetGalley is that I get to try things that are a bit outside of my wheelhouse or that I wasn’t previously aware of until I skimmed the latest offerings. It led me to discover the sublime Sex Criminals, Volume I last year and now I’ve come across another gem with Strong Female Protagonist.
This web-comic takes ingredients from some of the main-stream comic publishing events (Marvel’s Civil War springs to mind) and the sensibility of Buffy and other Whedon-verse shows to offer us the story of Alex Green. Once known as Mega Girl and part of an elite fighting force of superheroes, Alex publicly unmasked and is trying to live a normal life. As a freshman in college, Alex struggles with the remnants of her fame, including a professor who holds an obvious grudge against her (and when it’s revealed why, it’s one of the most heartbreaking and moving moments in a story filled with them) and the fact that she can’t stop at fast food place to enjoy a burger and fries without being recognized.
As a deconstruction of super hero stories, Strong Female Protagonist works extremely well. But more than that, the story is a compelling, fascinating character examination of not only Alex but also others affected by the realization that they have super powers. It’s a world where these powers have consequences, both negative and positive. One haunting aspect is a former super villain who has come up with an interesting way to use her powers to atone for her sins. There’s also the fourth chapter of the book that fills in details of Alex growing up and her relationship with his family and the family’s favorite pet. The fourth chapter alone is worth the price of admission for this book, but I’d say it’s far more affecting having spent the first three chapters getting to know Alex and her world. Continue reading
I don’t know what Arrow or Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD have up their sleeve, but it’s going to be VERY hard for them to top The Flash‘s mid-season finale.
“The Man in the Yellow Suit” hit just about every button of what has made The Flash my favorite new show of the season. And I couldn’t help but thinking as I watched the hour unfold that whoever is in charge of the DC movie empire might want to call up the writers from The Flash for some pointers on how to do a DC superhero movie right. Quite frankly, this single hour of The Flash was far more entertaining and compelling that the last couple of DC related superhero movies I’ve seen (really much of anything outside the Nolan-verse Batman films) — especially Green Lantern and Man of Steel. I’ll also have to admit it makes me less enthusiastic to see the big-screen version of The Flash simply because I’m loving what this show is doing with the character and universe here.
Call me a fan-boy if you want, but I love this show.
And “The Man in the Yellow Suit” delivered on just about every level, answering just enough questions while raising a few more. Continue reading
Getting ready for tonight’s epic (or so the promos tell me) crossover event of The Flash and Arrow, I realized I hadn’t written up my thoughts on the last two installments of my favorite new series.
Both installments show the Flash comfortably growing into itself and hitting an early season stride that, quite frankly, it took Arrow half a season or so to find. One of the elements of this show that I’ve really been enjoying is how much Barry enjoys being the Flash and how much he enjoys helping people. This was nicely underscored in “Power Outage” with Barry having his powers removed and his growing frustration that he can’t help the team in the lab nor race to Iris and Joe’s rescue at the hands of the Clock King.*
* And given that it was a high-profile guest star in the role and that the character didn’t die in the end, I fully expect to see him return before season’s end. Continue reading
I’m not quite sure why The Flash took a week off only four weeks into the season, but I have to admit I missed seeing it last week. But the short hiatus allowed me to catch-up on some other super-hero themed shows (hoping to do a big round-up of those soon, but don’t hold me to it). That said, I was still happy to return to the world of Barry Allen this week and see how things were developing.
On the whole, I liked “Plastique,” but I will admit that there were a few details that didn’t quite all add up in the end. As I said last time, the sheer wonder that Barry has in discovering just what his new-found abilities can do (running up a building, walking on water) is one of the factors that makes this show really work for me. Cisco and Wells’ computations of just how fast Barry would have to run to complete both tasks was nicely done. It also dovetailed nicely into the theme of the episode — how Barry is lucky to have found this team and what he could be if he hadn’t. With Plastique, we see someone impacted by the explosion who doesn’t necessarily want to be a psycho killer, but who doesn’t quite know what to do with her powers. I kept thinking it might have been interesting to see her around for a couple of episodes in a recurring way as she came to grips with her powers and their implications for her. It might have been nice to see her trying to fit in as part of the team and further underscore the theme of friendship from this episode. (And maybe it would have been a way to fit Iris into the episode a bit more naturally is she because jealous of the bond that Barry and Plastique shared).
It would also have given a bit more time for the whole military pursuit of Plastique plotline to unfold and not feel quite as rushed. Continue reading
The first two installments of The Flash were focused on establishing Barry and his newly found super powers. With the third episode, the series expands the focus a bit and begins to give us some development of the other characters who are part of the Flash’s crusade against meta-humans.
In this case, we get a bit of expansion of Caitlin’s character, including a well done use of flashbacks to the night that everything went wrong at Star Labs. As displeased as I was last week with the flashbacks, feeling them to be the weakest part of another wise solid outing of the show, this week I felt like the flashbacks were better connected to the character and storyline. I also like the concept that the flashbacks don’t necessarily have to center on Barry’s past each week, but can instead be used like the ones on Lost were — to give us some details and insights into the character.
In this case, it’s Caitlin and her fiance Ronnie, who wasn’t supposed to be at the start-up of the particle accelerator the night it went up. An engineer she met working on the project, Ronnie throws himself into the fray when things start to go sideways and ends up apparently getting killed in the process. I say apparently here because given what we’ve seen about Wells and his ulterior agenda (more on that later) and that we never see a body for Ronnie, I fully expect him to be back at some point, quite possibly as the biggest meta-human the Flash has faced up to that point. In fact, I can fully see him returning for the mid-season or possibly season-ending cliffhanger to the show. Continue reading
Marvel may be crushing it at the movie theaters these days, but when it comes to super heroes on TV, DC is more than holding its own.*
* If you count cartoon franchises, DC wins by a mile. The best Marvel animated series of the past decade was cancelled after two seasons (that series being The Spectacular Spider-Man).
As much as I liked the post-Captain America 2 run of Agents of SHIELD last year, I have to admit it had to do a lot of heavy lifting to get there. If you’re a fan who tuned out, I suggest you check out the last two DVDs from the set, catch-up and come back in. And while SHIELD came into its own late last year, it was Arrow that consistently delivered the best live-action comic book stories last season.
One of the many threads from Arrow last year was the set-up for a potential spin-off centering on The Flash. Now, I was a fan of the late 80’s CBS version, mainly because we got a preview of Mark Hammill’s genius work to come as the definitive Joker in Batman: The Animated Series. But I’ll admit that it’s been a while since I watched the show, so my memory could be cheating a bit.
Of the new fall shows, I’d have to say it was The Flash I was most looking forward to. So much so that I passed on the chance to obtain a copy of the pilot when it leaked on-line earlier this summer and instead made myself wait to see it actually unfold on its premiere date. One reason is that I didn’t want to have to wait two months for the next installment if the show was good and the other was I wanted to enjoy the show in all its HD glory.
So, I’m a bit behind some of my fellow geeks out there when it comes to enjoying this pilot. But I’m glad that I waited to see it because it gave me something to look forward to during the fall premiere season.