Book Review – The Flash Season Zero

  • Title: The Flash Season Zero
  • Author: Andrew Kreisberg
  • Artist: Phil Hester, Marcus To
  • Line: CW DC Verse
  • Characters: Barry Allen (The Flash), Caitlin Snow, Felicity Smoak, Suicide Squad, Capt. Cold (Leonard Snart), Heatwave (Mick Rory)
  • Publication Date: 2015
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 04/23/2017

Based on the CW TV Series, The Flash Season Zero is a series of short stories set during Season 1 of The Flash. The first story takes place only nine months after Barry gets his powers, and has Barry and his friends at S.T.A.R. Labs facing off against a defunct circus who’s performers have been turned into Metas by the Particle Accelerator accident. The story of the performers: a strong man, a snake wrangling girl, and the ringmaster, is a good story. The powers – related to their places in the circus – are interesting, and the way that Barry and Caitlin work with the performers, especially the snake girl, works. This isn’t a black-and-white, us-verses-them, good guy/bad guy story. These “bad guys” have their own point-of-view and they were given a raw deal before the particle accelerator exploded. The only issue with this first story is that it’s set so early, it’s hard to remember things like who knows Barry is the Flash, and it’s weird to see Iris with Eddie. (Talk about your doomed relationships.)

In the second story, “Smoak Signals”, a mysterious Nemesis comes after Felicity. Barry rescues her from certain death, then helps her out, but the story just ends without revealing who is after Felicity or why. I’m thinking it might have been Bree (Bug-Eyed Bandit) but I wasn’t sure. Still, it’s great to see Felicity and she and Barry have great chemistry.

“King Shark”, a crossover with the Suicide Squad (Cap’t. Boomerang, DeadShot, Cupid) and a more traditional Amanda Walker, is a surprisingly sympathetic view of the character. It’s definitely a different story, but if you ever wanted to get an idea of what Jaws would be like from the POV of the shark, then this story is for you.

“Black Star” gives us a lot more background on Caitlin (as does the final story, “Melting Point”) and another, in the end, sympathetic “villain”. Caitlin’s involved in a secret military project that goes horribly wrong. The particle accelerator explosion doesn’t help matters at all. It’s also an interesting SF story of a human combined with machine that doesn’t fall into a lot of the known tropes.

After the darkness of the previous story, “A Day in the Life”, shows Barry trying to have a relaxing day off, when he ends-up rescuing people instead. However, Barry inspires a young boy that he rescued to rescue someone else. It’s a light and happy story that is perfectly placed in the collection.

“Ice and Fire” is background about Leonard Snart (Capt. Cold) and Mick Rory (Heatwave). I could hear Wentworth Miller as Snart. This shows how the two met, their opposing views on how to commit heists, and their friendship. It also shows Detective Joe West coming up against the two again and again and being unable to get enough evidence for an arrest and conviction of the two. It’s a character-driven piece that works.

The final story, returns us to character background on Caitlin, as we meet a professor and mentor of hers, as well as some of her classmates. It’s a classic “mad scientist” story, or science without compassion or consideration of consequences story. Not my favorite genre, to say the least, but it’s good to see Caitlin and Cisco together for the story and to get an idea of what makes Caitlin tick.

This is the second time I read this collection, and I really enjoyed it. The characters are in character especially considering the book is set before and during Season 1 of the The Flash. The stories are a bit longer than the ones in Season 1 of the similar Arrow TV Show tie-in. This allows them to develop plot and character more. I also felt the characterizations were more spot-on with the television series than the Arrow tie-in, and accurately portraying the characters is essential for a good tie-in. Recommended to fans of the TV show.

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Book Review – Doctor Who: The Stealers from Saiph

  • Title: The Stealers from Saiph
  • Series: Doctor Who Companion Chronicles
  • Author: Nigel Robinson
  • Director: Lisa Bowerman
  • Characters: Romana I, Fourth Doctor
  • Cast: Mary Tamm
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 12/22/2016

Doctor Who the Stealers from Saiph is part of Big Finish’s Companion Chronicles series – so it is read/performed by Mary Tamm, and unusually it is not a two-hander, only Mary performs it. However, this isn’t a negative – she, as Romana, does a wonderful job and the story is told entirely from Romana’s point of view. Also, this story has no framing story (so it runs a bit short). But without a secondary cast member to tell the story to – it’s all Romana I – and I enjoyed that.

The story starts off as a Agatha Christie-style story with Romana and the Fourth Doctor (as played by Tom Baker), staying in a luxury hotel on the French Riveria in 1929. The other guests are wealthy holiday-goers. Soon it becomes apparent there’s a thief at work in the hotel, and some sort of mysterious goings on regarding one of the guests. And then there’s the inevitable murder.

But the second half of the story makes a sharp left and resembles an H.P. Lovecraft story. And that sharp change moves this story from being fun, light, and typical, to an interesting, unusual, and unique Doctor Who story both in tone and substance.

I enjoyed the story very much and I recommend it. Don’t let the first part put you off, though I enjoyed the 1920s historical glamour. The second half makes this a fun listen.

Find out more about Big Finish audios at their website: www.bigfinish.com

Click this link to order The Stealers from Saiph on CD or Download.

Note: No promotional consideration was paid for this review. I review because I enjoy it!