After months of waiting, The CW’s new series, The Flash, finally streaked across the small screen last night. For those not familiar with Barry Allen, AKA The Flash, he is a forensics scientist in Central City. He has obsessively been trying to prove his father’s innocence of his mother’s murder, and Detective West, who had taken Allen in after the tragedy, thinks that what Barry saw the night his mother died was a hallucination. After the success of Arrow, and the positive reception Allen (Grant Gustin) received from his cameo in Arrow‘s Season 2 episode, “The Scientist,” CW quickly green-lit a solo series for the Fastest Man Alive.
Rest assured, that was a really, really good idea. Like Oliver Queen before him, choosing a hero that everybody knows of, but that not many know intimately, has become the secret formula that nobody but The CW has seemed to figure out yet. From the get-go, we’re introduced to The Flash with the promo clip we saw months ago in a way that is completely reminiscent of Andrew Garfield’s voiceover in Amazing Spider-Man. The more I thought about it, and the more we get to know Barry Allen, the more I realize that he is the Peter Parker of the DC world: he jokes all the time, he’s a goofy science kid, tragedy has left him with surrogate parents (although that doesn’t exactly narrow it down in the comic book world) and his heart of gold is his most endearing quality.
Fanboys will be instantly drawn to The Flash, as there are a profusion of Easter Eggs. And I mean real Easter Eggs, not the crap we get in Gotham. The tidbits we get in the pilot episode here are not shoved down our throat and they don’t take anything away from the enjoyment of the show – whether you’ve read Flash books or not. I will list out some of the more subtle ones we think are important (warning: there may be spoilers) after the reflection. Easter Eggs aside, this is one show that you can watch with absolutely no precursor. The events of the last Arrow episode Allen appeared in are fully explained here, so there is no need to catch up on Starling City’s happenings to understand what going on in Central City – although Steven Amell makes a much-anticipated cameo here to give Allen the proverbial thumbs-up. The particle accelerator that genius physicist Harrison Wells put into motion underwent catastrophic failure, causing Barry’s accident – being struck by lightening. Barry goes into a coma and wakes up nine months later in S.T.A.R. Labs with superpowers and super-abs. Count me in!
The Flash is why people come to the show, but they will stay for the supporting characters. There was not a single character that I felt was: out of place, over-acting or ridiculous in nature – and for a CW show, that says a lot. Arrow has fallen victim to the patented “Laurel gaping stare” far too many times to count, yet the swooning love interest here, Iris West, is a strong and rational character that makes decisions based on merit, and she is not a damsel in distress. Meanwhile, the S.T.A.R. Labs assistants, Cisco Ramon and Caitlin Snow, add both comedic relief and a staunch sense of tragedy – and Harrison Wells (played by Tom Cavanagh, or as I called him throughout the episode, “J.D.’s brother in Scrubs“) adds a bit of flavor to the show as well. Everything seems amazing at first, but there are stones left unturned, sideways glances between the S.T.A.R. Labs guys, and thanks to an insane reveal at the end, a lot of withheld information.
As it turns out, the storm caused by the particle accelerators explosion gave not only Barry Allen his powers, but what turns out to be scores of unknowns, as well. Among them is Clyde Mardon, known in the comics books as the deceased brother of the Weather Wizard. We can still tell, by the reaction of the news station and Detective West, that “meta-humans” are not of mainstream knowledge yet, so it will be interesting to see how the rest of The Flash’s rogues gallery pans out. Mardon is a great villain, who is callous in action and has a piercing hate stare that was convincingly frightening.
Cinematically, The Flash owns up to the source material and then some. Barry is not just a forensics assistant, but a damn good one. Thanks to some sweet effects, we are able to see inside the cogs turning inside the mind of a forensics scientist – C.S.I, eat my shorts. There are also some great Jesse Pinkman “Yeah! Science!” moments of the episode that assure me that I did not spend $80k on an engineering degree for nothing. Speaking of Breaking Bad, it seems that the idea of adding a filter to flashbacks has been adopted for The Flash, as well; as far as we are concerned, any show whose cinematography is inspired from the greatest show in history is alright in my book. From the slow-motion effects to the camera angle when Mardon robs the bank, it’s evident early on that CW is willing to put their money where their mouth is about making this show work.
The show borrows elements from its predecessors without feeling like a carbon copy; it actually helps connect the viewers to a show that they are already familiar with. For example, Iris’ position in the coffee shop is warmly nostalgic of Lana Lang’s job in Smallville. And Cisco’s extremely nerdy yet adorable demeanor (check out his awesome collection of t-shirts. Bazinga!) make you think he and Felicity from Arrow would make the cutest couple ever. Going back to the Spider-Man comparisons, there’s even a bit of a Captain Stacy thing going on with Detective West (doom ahead for West?). As much as the show combines different elements, it stands alone as a show about The Flash. Barry Allen is charming and funny, and the story is as true to the spirit of the character as I’ve seen on any television show so far. Now, that could have a lot to do with the fact that DC Comics legend Geoff Johns is credited as the series co-creator and executive producer. Johns has written some classic Flash material, and has been a contributor to almost a decade of DC/WB television. With him at the helm, there is absolutely no reason to worry about substance in the story going forward.
Hush Comics gives The Flash pilot, “City of Heroes” an A for its refreshing and accurate portrayal of one of the funnest characters in the DC Universe. While it was packed with little secrets for DC fanboys, it only slightly pulls back the curtain on the world of the man who is saving people in a flash. The pilot gives us plenty to look forward to in Season 1, and even though The Flash has one of the weaker rogues gallery in the DCU, we are looking forward to him and his band of merry misfits to thwart any danger that comes their way.
Easter Egg Hunt
Where is CSI?: You may recognize Jesse Martin, who plays Detective Joe West on The Flash, as Detective Ed Green from Law & Order. Martin played Green for almost ten years before leaving to tour with RENT as Tom Collins.
Grodd dammit!: While touring the remains of the S.T.A.R. Labs facility, Harrison Wells and Barry Allen pass a cage that has been broken open from the inside with the label “Grodd,” presumed to belong to Gorilla Grodd, a savage ape with far-superior intellect. That could probably come back to haunt them.
Who is the real Weather Wizard?: In the comic books, Clyde Mardon was a scientist that had discovered a way to control the weather, only to suffer a “heart attack” in his home. His brother Mark, who had escaped from prison, “found” Clyde’s notes and decided to use them to become the Weather Wizard. In the show, Clyde, who has seen Allen’s face, was conveniently shot and killed by West at the end of the episode. I’m predicting that Clyde could not have been the only Weather Wizard, who is a prominent villain of Flash’s. Who was flying the plane that Clyde escaped in? I wouldn’t be surprised if it was his brother, Mark.
Ferris Air: Green Lantern Hal Jordan got his not-so-humble beginnings as an ace pilot for Ferris Air. The appearance of this could mean that the Emerald Guardian is due to make an appearance on the show sooner or later. Allen and Jordan have always shared a great relationship (as have Jordan and Green Arrow, Oliver Queen), but I’m willing to bet that this was more of a shout-out to Geoff Johns, whose tenure on Green Lantern made him one of DC’s most popular heroes.
DC’s Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon: Oh yeah, that exists. Google that shit. DC is somewhat obsessed with the number 52. Listen and watch carefully, because this episode is littered with references to the magic number 52.
The Thawne Song: Thawne-Th-Thawne-Thawne-Thawne: Perhaps one of The Flash’s most formidable foes, Eobard Thawne is a time-traveling anti-Flash. There’s a big secret about him that you can find out by reading Flashpoint (one of my favorite graphic novels!), but just know that his guy is bad news. It would seem that his TV alter ego is Eddie Thawne, who has managed to steal Iris away from Barry, reads Barry’s blog on the regular and manages to know everything about Barry as it happens. There’s gotta be something to this “new guy” than meets the eyes.
Trying to resist the Impulse for puns… and failing: Before letting Allen test his full speed, he straps on two lightning-studded earpieces to his helmet to help resist sonic booms, or “battlefield impulse noise.” Kid Flash, Barry’s grandson from the future, has also gone by the name Impulse.
Don’t piss off the help: Allen’s companions at S.T.A.R. Labs correlate to fellow “meta-humans” in the DCU. In the comics, Cisco Ramon is Vibe, part-time breakdancer and full-time ass-kicker with the ability to emit shock waves. And Caitlin Snow is Killer Frost (there have been several Killer Frosts, but Snow is the most recent one), a not so nice villain that absorbs heat and spits it back out as cold. Caitlin already looks to be on the path to permanent piseed-offedness, so we might see her turn even more of a cold shoulder to S.T.A.R. Labs.
Just where is Starling City?: Luckily for us, almost every damn state in the country has a Central City. In the comics, it is referred to being in the middle of the country, from Ohio to Chicago to Missouri. However, when Allen takes a trip to Starling City in the show, Arrow says that it is just 600 miles away (lol “only”). We have previously thought Starling to be a West coast city (San Fran, Seattle) or an East coast city (Connecticut, Massachutesetts), but from this reference it looks like the most fitting location for Starling City must be something like Minneapolis. As many times as I’ve traveled there in the books, I realize that I have no idea where I’m going.
Legacy: The man that plays Henyr Allen, Barry’s father, was the star of the 1990’s Flash series. John Wesley Shipp does a great job here, which we can only assume was due to 25 years of practice.
Heroes raining from the sky: It looks as though the particle accelerator’s failure caused meta-humans to pop up left and right across the city, and that is the logical approach they will take to explain all these super-heroes and villains to emerge. It is an approach that reminds me of how the video-game DC Universe Online was explained, where nanobots were dropped around the world that gave people random powers all over the globe to help combat Brainiac’s invasion.
The “FUTURE”: Oh man, wasn’t that knowledge bomb at the end just spectacular? Just who the heck is this Harrison Wells guy and what horror does the future (spooky voice) hold? There are a few theories floating around, and thanks to the inclusion of time travel, the possibilities are endless:
Theory 1: Either Eddie Thawne is a smoke screen and Wells (who is not a real character on his own) is the real Reverse Flash, or Wells is related to Reverse Flash somehow. In the books, Eobard’s son, Thaddeus, becomes the villain Inertia. This is unlikely in the show since Wells looks considerably too old to be Eddie’s son, but with time travel, there are no rules.
Theory 2: Another DC magic word, “CRISIS,” insinuates that there will be some event relating to the book Crisis on Infinite Earths, where Barry Allen sacrifices himself to save the universe. As epic as this would be to see on TV, I feel that DC would want to avoid something as spoilerific as that.
My theory: Perhaps… Harrison Wells IS Barry Allen. The headline reads that The Flash has disappeared; this could be a literal translation, implying that he has traveled back in time. His insistence on testing Barry’s reaction early on in the goal of “unlocking mysteries,” his attempts to keep Barry from crime-fighting and his eventual encouragement suggests a personal investment in Barry; his hopeful glances at the paper ten years from now to see if circumstances have change further reinforce the theory that he is a good guy, contrary to the eerie music playing.
All photos belong to DC Entertainment.
4 thoughts on “The Flash Review – “City of Heroes” S1E1”
LOVED your easter egg mentions. Detective Martin did say that Clyde and his brother died on the plane, so that possibility that his bro. is the real weather wizard is certainly alive. Loved your theory that Wells IS Barry Allen as well, although I personally took that all to simply mean that Wells can see into the future, that is his “meta-ability”. Did you catch the bottom headline in that future newspaper? “Wayne Tech/Queen Industries merge” or something like that? Possibilities abound!
I personally wasn’t super impressed with this pilot. The last 10-15 minutes were good, but I felt like they tried cramming WAY too much into this episode. I would’ve been fine with a lot more character building and ending the pilot with Barry getting his powers or waking up from the coma or something. Now I feel like we’re going to get a ton of foundation laying in the form of flashbacks. Not terrible if placed well within the show, but I’d just personally prefer to have all that work done beforehand.
I do think Grant Gustin makes a great Flash, and I liked your comparison to Peter Parker. Barry is like a cooler Peter Parker stuck in a more reality based Smallville (metahumans = meteor freaks). Can’t wait for more reviews!
Gene! Thans for sharing your thoughts! I’m honestly at a loss with how to explain Harrison Wells without it being full of holes or lame writing. Hopefully we will get a better idea of what we’re looking at, but the time travel aspect makes all the continuity iffy at best. And I can definitely relate to feeling like there is too much going on, but I really like the challenge of figuring out where all the subtle references come from. My hope is that they utilize something like the effect that the flashbacks in Arrow have to be able to explain background knowledge without compromising the flow of the current day events. We really look forward to your input on tomorrow’s episode!