Arrow Season 5 Review

  • Series: Arrow
  • Season: 5
  • Episodes: 23
  • Discs: 5
  • Cast: Stephen Amell, David Ramsey, Emily Bett Rickards, Willa Holland, Echo Kellum, John Barrowman, David Nykl, Paul Blackthorne, Josh Segarra
  • Network:  CW (Warner Brothers Productions)
  • DVD Format: Color, Widescreen

When I watched Season 5 of Arrow last year, for much of the season I really didn’t like what I saw. The flashbacks, guest-starring David Nykl (Stargate: Atlantis) were much more interesting than anything going on in the present-day for Oliver and company. In the present-day, the series opens with Oliver now mayor of Star City, Thea as his chief-of-staff, Felicity still working as “Overwatch” to help Oliver as the Green Arrow, and after a bit of wrangling, Quentin Lance as deputy mayor. Felicity pressures Oliver to form a new team of recruits, especially after a number of new vigilantes start showing up in Star City. Curtis, now “Mr. Terrific”, helps Felicity as tech support for the Green Arrow and has a comics-accurate, but looks somewhat silly on camera, costume that he wears in the field. Oliver initially resists Felicity’s plan to form  a new team, but eventually he agrees. Wild Dog, Evelyn (using the name, “Artemis”), and Ragman join the team.

This new team is part of the problem for Season 5 of Arrow. It does not work – at all. Wild Dog (Rene Rameriez) is a character I didn’t like from the beginning. He’s rude, arrogant, refuses to follow orders, isn’t a cool team-mate, and he’s too violent. Towards the end of the season they try to make him more sympathetic by adding a sub-plot involving his daughter, but it plays like a sympathy-ploy rather than anything organic. And in the comics, at least in Rebirth, Wild Dog is a villain – a mercenary who’s against the Green Arrow and Black Canary.

Evelyn Sharp, very quickly becomes a double agent working for the season’s Big Bad, Prometheus. However, her betrayal of the team is very unrealistic, because her reasons make no sense. Evelyn, and the rest of the team, discover that during his first year as the Hood – Oliver was killing the people named as enemies of Star City in his father’s book. Disgusted that Oliver would kill people, Evelyn throws in with Prometheus – who’s killing people. And not only is Prometheus a serial killer (initially known as the “throwing star killer”) but he kills innocent people simply because their names can spell out a message to the Green Arrow. Does this make sense? No. Although in the last few episodes of the season, Evelyn proves to be just as much of a psychopath as Prometheus.

Ragman is the only new character that, as a superhero and new member of Oliver’s team, I actually liked – and he disappears in episode 12, “Bratva”, and we never see him again. Ragman’s purpose, when all is said and done, seems to be simply to help Felicity work through her guilt for dropping a nuke on Havenrock (to spare Monument Point). But Rory was a far more interesting character than Rene, whom they kept.

The season also opens with Felicity in an intimate relationship with Billy Malone, a SCPD detective and member of the Anti-Crime Unit elite force. He’s fridged. Many commentators on comics have complained that the girlfriends/wives of superheroes only exist to be kidnapped, tortured, and even killed – and condemn the idea as making women victims. Yet, this is precisely what happens to Billy – he’s staged to look like Prometheus, by Prometheus, including a speaker that the actual Prometheus uses to taunt Oliver. So Oliver, who had vowed four years ago (at the end of season 1) to never kill, kills him – when a arrow the the leg would have been more effective. Felicity accepts this almost immediately.

At the end of the previous season, John Diggle had left the team to re-join the army. This doesn’t go well. He’s in Afghanistan (or wherever) and his general steals a WMD, kills Diggle’s squad, and blames Diggle. Diggle, still overcome with guilt at killing his brother, Andy, last season, decides to just roll with it. He’ll accept the punishment for a crime he didn’t do as retribution for a crime he did. Lyla gets Oliver and his team to break him out. It works, but John is mad. Later in the season, John is baited and captured again. This time, Oliver gets Star City’s DA, Adrian Chase, to clear John. This works, and with information that Felicity gets from the Hacker group, Helix, they have evidence to put the general away. John re-joins team Arrow.

Meanwhile, as mayor, Oliver keeps having to weather political crisises – often made worse by Susan Williams, a reporter. Oliver starts dating the reporter, convincing her to give him a chance. Thea proves to be more effective at running the mayor’s office than Oliver, though she’s willing to play dirty pool to get what her brother needs and to protect him. Oliver complains about her ruthless tactics, especially when she makes it look like Susan plagiarized her stories, which discredits the reporter, gets her fired, and means she can’t get a new job as a reporter. This, however, is rather quickly reversed.

Meanwhile, the flashbacks tell, in chronological order, the story of Oliver’s time in Russia – and how he became a captain in the Bratva (the Russian mafia). He and Anatoly Knyazev (David Nykl) become good friends. I liked the flashback story more than the present-day one for much of the season. Oliver, as a result of his promise to Katiana from last season, is determined to kill Konstantin Kovar. Since Kovar is corrupt, and would leave a power vacuum, Anatoly agrees with this – but he’s also a lot more realistic about how things work in Russia and in the Bratva. When Oliver undercovers Kovar’s plot to stage a new Russian coup, killing government officials, generals, and Bratva captains alike, Anatoly, Oliver, and Anatoly’s faction in the Bratva have to stop him. They succeed, barely, and not without losses. And Kovar proves to be, like Prometheus, a villain who is very hard to kill.

Prometheus proves to be Adrian Chase, Star City’s DA, who manages to capture Oliver and torture him. Adrian, also, by now, is a proven to be quite the psychopath. And he’s creepy, manipulative, and smart. He’s also a chess master who is not only always ten steps ahead of Oliver, but manipulates him to do exactly what he wants. Oliver and company even realize that Chase is manipulating Oliver – but that doesn’t help him to not get manipulated. Chase finally kidnaps Oliver, and tortures him, getting Oliver to admit “he likes killing people”. There’s a major, major, flaw in this. First, Oliver doesn’t like killing, even in the first season, where he does a lot of it. Second, in Season 2, Oliver vows, on Tommy’s grave to never kill again. When he does – it’s a big deal. Third, Adrian’s insistence that Oliver likes to kill seems to be a pure case of projection and no one picks up on it. Adrian, after all had killed a single mother because her name would help him spell out a message to the Green Arrow. Once he’s in protective custody of the Federal marshals, and they get the message that he’s the serial killer not an innocent victim and witness – he kills both men, violently, and grins. Adrian clearly likes killing. Yet, Adrian convinces Oliver, by use of torture, that it’s Oliver who enjoys killing. After this admission, Oliver is broken. Stockholm Syndrome, anyone?

Oliver attempts to disband his team and calls in Anatoly and the Bratva to do his dirty work and get rid of Chase. Oliver will pay Anatoly in diabetes drugs. However, Rene (Wild Dog) and Dinah (the new Black Canary) overhear a conversation between Anatoly and other Bratva members that leads them to believe that Anatoly is taking the drugs to make and sell an extremely addictive street drug. Again, this doesn’t seem to make sense, given what we’ve seen about Anatoly in the season’s worth of flashbacks. Oliver continues to tell his team to stand down and let the Bratva do their thing. Oliver’s team doesn’t listen. In the end, this breaks the deal between Oliver and Anatoly and Chase escapes.

This was disappointing to say the least, and a horrible way to end the arc of nothing but friendship between Oliver and Anatoly. For once, I wanted to see Oliver actually thinking and telling off his team, not simply for disobeying orders, which they did, but for messing up. It would have been cool if Ollie had pointed out they have diabetics in Russia too. Or, at least, that Anatoly was playing a game with other Bratva captains, and he was going to use the drugs to help his people, but he couldn’t let the captains who merely wanted money know that. Or that simply, as usual, Rene totally misunderstood what he overheard in the first place. But no, Rene even claims the drug manufacturer is “barely holding on” and “can’t afford to lose stock”. Yeah, sure. In what universe?

So with the deal with the Bratva now completely broken, Chase is in the wind. Oliver does manage to send him to prison. Thea and Felicity throw Oliver a surprise birthday party, but Rene and Dinah are missing. Oliver quickly learns that Chase has had them kidnapped. Oliver swears he won’t free Chase – then Chase shows him a picture of his son, William, also kidnapped. At that point, Oliver, as Green Arrow, helps Chase escape during the prisoner transfer. This gets Oliver absolutely nothing.

In the two-part finale, pretty much everyone is kidnapped by Chase.  Oliver realizes Chase has taken his team to Lian Yu. Malcolm Merlyn arrives because he cares deeply for his daughter, Thea, and convinces Oliver he’s there to help.  Oliver also calls in Nyssa al’Ghul because he suspects Talia is helping Chase. They arrive in Lian Yu and Oliver breaks into the Argus prison. He frees Slade Wilson (Deathstroke) and Digger Harkness (Captain Boomerang). Deathstroke proves to be an actual ally, though at one point he pretends to betray Oliver. Digger Harkness, not so much, first chance he gets he falls in with Chase.

Oliver quickly finds and frees Felicity, Curtis, Thea, Captain Lance, John, and Samantha, but is still looking for William. He has Malcolm stay with the first group to get them to a plane to escape the island. Deathstroke’s fake betrayal gets Oliver to Dinah and Rene where he gives her the sonic scream focus device (that also cancels the sonic dampeners in her cell) and she gets them free. Oliver asks her to find the others and escape.

It turns into Oliver and his team verses Chase and his girl groupies (Talia, Evelyn, Black Siren (aka Evil Laurel)) as Oliver tries to find Samantha and William. Meanwhile, Malcolm is in charge of getting everyone off the island. The plane they get to is sabotaged – so they must find another way off the island. Since the plane is gone, Malcolm leads the group to the other side of the island to escape. As they are tramping through the forest, Thea steps on a landmine. Malcolm sacrifices himself to save her. Though his death is off stage and very suspiciously so – he may have survived. Felicity and Curtis also discover another problem – the entire island has been wired with bombs – it will blow. They actually tell Oliver this – so they know the danger before he does.

Oliver follows Chase to a boat and uses a very convenient dock, that Chase pilots the boat conveniently close to, to run and jump on the boat. Also, extremely conveniently, William – the only one that Oliver hasn’t found so far, is being held on the boat. Chase holds a gun to William’s head, threatening Oliver that “it’s your son or everyone else you care about”. Oliver, finally, shows some sense – and shoots Chase in the leg with an arrow, freeing William without killing Chase. Unfortunately, Chase cares more about winning than living. He kills himself setting off the deadman switch and blowing up Lian Yu. Oliver is safe with William, on a boat, but doesn’t know if all his friends and relations have survived or died on the island.

The finale also is intercut with flashbacks to Anatoly taking Oliver to the island. He provides Ollie with a costume, including a wig of long, ash blond hair. Unfortunately, Kovar, an unkillable villain, shows up and fights Oliver before he can get into the costume and light the signal fire. Kovar shoots up Oliver with a torture drug, then locks him in a cell with a gun with one bullet. Oliver, of course, uses the gun to shoot out the lock and escape. He gets in his costume, lights the fire, is rescued by a Chinese fishing boat, and calls his mother. The intercutting between the present and the flashbacks, as the flashbacks themselves intercut between Oliver facing off against Kovar one last time and winning, and what we saw in the pilot way back in season 1 as Oliver gets rescued are brilliant! And destroying Lian Yu, now that it has been Five Years, symbolically “kills off” the flashbacks. It marks an end and a beginning. We now know, exactly, what Oliver did for his “five years in hell”.

Overall, all the way through Season 5, I just wasn’t impressed. I didn’t like the new team, other than Curtis, who was introduced last season. And characters who could have been cool – Evelyn and Rory (Ragman) left. Evelyn joined Adrian Chase – and Rory simply left. Evelyn’s betrayal makes no sense at all. She, along with the rest of the new team, discovers Oliver killed during his first year as a vigilante – so she betrays him to a serial killer? Uh huh – and how does this make sense? I mean, they could have at least given lip service to a reason – like someone she cared for was collateral damage in Oliver’s Green Arrow campaign – something. But no. Evelyn betrays Oliver to a serial killer because Oliver’s a killer. OK, then.

Second, this season includes, “Spectre of the Gun”, an episode that has the same title as one of the worst original classic Star Trek episodes (not in the top three but definitely top five worst). It’s not a good omen. The episode is about gun control/”gun rights” with Rene very vocally pro-gun. Curtis is more logically and intelligently pro gun control – not that he EVER gets to say anything. The minute Curtis ever tries to point out the facts, or quote statistics, he’s interrupted by Rene or even Felicity. And Felicity, a woman who lost the use of her legs when she was hit by a stray bullet, keeps insisting she has no opinion and doesn’t want to hear the arguments. Meanwhile, Rene comes up with right-wing sayings like “guns make you safe” – and no one challenges him. Oliver attempts to pass a sensible gun registry law in Star City, part of his campaign as mayor, and a female city official also goes on with right-wing propaganda which is presented as fact rather than incorrect and not backed by facts – such as a registry “limits gun owners rights” – no it doesn’t, or that the registry is “government interference” – no, it isn’t. In the end – instead of the gun registry, Oliver pushes through the “gun owners freedom act” (yep, that’s what they call it), which Oliver and Thea both insist is about “sensible gun control”. No doubt, yet another law that allows anyone, even criminals, even the insane, even people who have restraining orders against them or who have made credible threats the right to buy as many guns, assault rifles, and military weapons as they want. Oh, and Rene’s “reasons’ for being so pro-gun? He walked in on a confrontation between his wife and her drug dealer. Rene insists if he had his gun he could have saved his wife. If you watch what happens – that’s just not something he could have done. From the second he gets in the apartment – he tries to get to his gun in a safe, rather than try anything else (like, say, calling the cops). He even sends his daughter, Zoe, to her room, which he hasn’t even bothered to check when it’s obvious someone broke into the apartment, rather than to a neighbor’s or anywhere safe. Rene gets the gun – shoots the dealer, but when he falls he fires his gun – which kills Rene’s wife. If Rene wasn’t so dumb he’d realize his wife’s death was his own fault and that if he hadn’t shot the dealer in the first place she’d still be alive. But Rene can’t face that.  The episode is also a place holder episode – it has no flashbacks, and other than introducing Zoe who is in foster care, doesn’t add anything to the season.

Chase/Prometheus is a psychopath – he enjoys killing, he’s obsessed with destroying Oliver, who he blames for his father’s death, and even tries to destroy the reputation of Oliver and Thea’s father, Robert Queen. But for most of the season, the flashbacks are much more interesting and  much better story than the present-day story. Oliver takes on the actions of his team as being his own fault, especially when they make mistakes or disobey orders. He’s still, though trying to lead, and at times, taking responsibility as a leader, like he should, but also refusing to back people. Felicity ends up joining Helix, a hacker group, and when re-watching the season, it’s clear they will betray her. Yet, when Felicity does take a risk, Oliver doesn’t back her – and even uses the team to help Argus against Helix (it doesn’t go well). Oliver trusts Anatoly in Russia, invites him to Star City, only to not stop his team and have Anatoly believe he betrayed him. Chase manipulates Oliver throughout the entire season, and Oliver lets him. It’s a mess. Oliver also is back to not really trusting his team or working with them to meet his goals.

But, having said that – the two-part finale was really good. I’d missed it when it originally aired, due to poor weather conditions blocking Dish Network, but when I saw it – I liked it. Malcolm actually did a better job of leading Oliver’s team than Oliver does at times – though all they had to do was get off the island. Malcolm sacrificing himself to save Thea showed how much he really loves her. Even Thea was strongly affected by this. Talia and Nyssa get to fight each other – and it’s not the stereotypical cat fight. Chase, in the end, proves to be the killer that doesn’t want to be simply caught, but to die – though Oliver basically “wins” because Chase kills himself. Also, Oliver does rescue William. And I loved the symbolism of blowing-up Lian Yu.

For more on Arrow, please read:

My Arrow Season 4 Review

My Arrow Season 3 Review

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Doctor Who References in the Arrowverse

Since the beginning of the television series, Arrow, the CW’s DC shows have referenced the long-running BBC television show, Doctor Who on a fairly regular basis. These are references from the 2016-2017 seasons of Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow, and The Flash.

Casting

Arrow and the rest of the CW’s Arrowverse has featured many former Doctor Who actors, including Colin Salmon as Walter Steele in Arrow, Arthur Darvill as Rip Hunter in Legends of Tomorrow, Arrow and The Flash, John Barrowman as Malcolm Merlyn in Arrow, Legends of Tomorrow and The Flash, and Alex Kingston as Dinah Lance in Arrow. The most amusing of these is, of course, Arthur Darvill who played the companion Rory Williams to Matt Smith’s Doctor, and who now leads his own merry band of time travelers in Legends.

Legends of Tomorrow References

Corrupt Time Masters and Villainous Time Lords

The first season of Legends of Tomorrow featured the Time Masters, a group who are supposed to be guardians of time, but as the season progresses are shown to be corrupt. On Doctor Who, the Doctor is a Time Lord who escaped his own planet, Gallifrey. In the Classic series, when the Doctor met other Time Lords, such as the Meddling Monk, the Master, the Rani, or the War Chief, they were often villains. When the Doctor returned to Gallifrey, he, more often than not uncovered corruption at the heart of his own society. Even when the Doctor was put on trial by his own people, the Doctor ended up uncovering corruption and conspiracy and challenging it. When the new series started, Gallifrey was simply no more, destroyed in the Time War. Over the ten-plus years of the New Series, we have learned more about that conflict, but the tendency for corruption of power on Gallifrey certainly hasn’t stopped. There is, then, a certain resemblance between the corruption Rip Hunter uncovers at the heart of the Time Masters and the corruption the Doctor faces on Gallifrey every so often.

Where have We Seen This Before?

In the second season of Legends of Tomorrow, the Waverider has a new computer console. This six-sided console looks very similar to the TARDIS console.

This is especially true when you consider the TARDIS console room is redesigned on a regular basis on Doctor Who.

Lily – Second Doctor Cosplayer?

In the second season of Legends of Tomorrow due to Martin Stein meeting his younger self, when he returns to the present he meets his daughter – Lily Stein. Previously, Martin and his wife, Clarice had no children. Now, they have a brilliant daughter, a physicist named, Lily. Lily, though with her black string ties, white shirts, and black jackets or cardigans dresses more like the Second Doctor than she dresses like the other intelligent women on the CW shows, such as Caitlin, Felicity, Kara, or Sara.

Rip Hunter – Missing in Time with an Personality Over-Write

In the second season of Legends of Tomorrow, Rip Hunter is missing in time. When the Legends find him, his personality has been hidden and over-written as a form of protection. Because of this he doesn’t know who he really is (he thinks he’s a film student), nor does he recognize the Legends.

This is eerily similar to the final three episodes of Series 3 of Doctor Who, in which the Master as played by Sir Derek Jacobi has hidden his personality inside a pocket watch to hide himself from the Time Lords. With his personality hidden – he doesn’t remember being the Master or even being a Time Lord – he thinks he is a scientist. When the watch is opened, not only does he remember being the Master, he regenerates into John Simm.

Rip Hunter also remembers but is immediately captured by the Legion of Doom and re-programmed to do their bidding.

Legends of Tomorrow – Curiously American Doctor Who?

Of course, the entire premise of Legends of Tomorrow, that of a group of Time Travelers out to preserve history and prevent or reverse aberrations in the timeline, does in many ways remind one of Doctor Who. Now, for much of it’s history the Doctor and his companions have treated history as a prime vacation spot – but also as the “foreign country that’s a nice place to visit but you wouldn’t want to live there”. In other words, the Doctor and his companions neither set out to change history nor set out specifically as a goal to stop others from changing history. Nevertheless, a frequent plot in Doctor Who is that someone or something is out, deliberately or merely by their presence, to change history and the Doctor must stop it. Certainly, Daleks invading London in the 1980s would have an effect on history for example. So the ability to interfere, to change history, or in some cases to not change history, are frequent plot threads in Doctor Who.

Supergirl References

Starry Night

In the Supergirl episode, “Star-Crossed”, Winn’s alien girlfriend frames him for stealing the painting, Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh. Starry Night also featured heavily in the Doctor Who episode, “Vincent and the Doctor”. Although Vincent Van Gogh and Starry Night are both famous, so it is perhaps not surprising that on Supergirl, Winn would be framed for stealing that particular painting. But the show could have had any Old Masters painting stolen for plot purposes or it could have been a modern painting as well (and in many ways, modern art would have suited the plot better). That “Starry Night” was chosen seems like a deliberate reference.

Single Combat for the Planet

In the two-part season 2 finale of Supergirl, she challenges Rhea “for the planet” as a way of stopping the Queen of Daxam from conquering Earth. In David Tennant’s first episode, “The Christmas Invasion”, the Doctor (David Tennant), having discovered the invading force are using “blood control” to control and threaten a fourth of the population of Earth, challenges the aliens to single combat – “for the planet”. The Doctor wins his fight against the aliens. Supergirl eventually defeats Rhea, despite Rhea using Kryptonite against Kara. However, Rhea doesn’t accept defeat and calls in her guards.

The Doctor Who plot point of “blood control”, is very similar to the way Myriad is used in the first season of Supergirl to control National City citizens.

The Flash References

“It’s like one of those scientific romances by that Wells, chappie”

The claim to fame for HR Wells in Season 3 of The Flash is that he is a writer of “scientific romances”. This is the exact term used for HG Wells’ writing in “Pyramids of Mars” and “Time Lash”. HG Wells is mentioned fairly often on Classic Doctor Who. Also, having a character named HR Wells – just saying.

Savitar’s Back-up Plan

After HR Wells sacrifices himself to save Iris West, Savitar has another brief plan that he describes to Barry: he will split himself across all time and these splinters will rule time and incidentally destroy Barry’s life. In the classic Tom Baker episode, “City of Death”, Scaroth – last of the Jagaroth, has been split across time after his spaceship crash lands. Because these different versions of Scaroth are in contact with each other mentally they make money by having copies of priceless cultural works made back in time and hidden to sell later. For example, he has Leonardo Da Vinci paint six copies of the Mona Lisa. Although Savitar isn’t able to attempt his back-up plan – it sounds like it was inspired by Scaroth.

When All Else Fails – Reverse the Polarity of the Neutron Flow

In the season finale, as Cisco is trying to get the satellite and computer systems working after an explosion at Star Labs, he says, “Hey Wally, Can you reverse the polarity on the neutron flow?” This references the Third Doctor catch phrase to “reverse the polarity of the neutron flow”. It is a brilliant nod.

Paradoxes Take Time to Set

In The Flash, once Iris is saved, Cisco and Barry discuss that it will take time for the change to catch-up to them. This plot point gives Savitar a little bit of last-minute time to try and save himself. None of Savitar’s last-ditch efforts succeed, and he disappears from existence. In Doctor Who, especially during Matt Smith’s time as the Doctor – time continues to be malleable for a short period before becoming fixed. On the other hand, important details in time are often referred to as “fixed points” especially by David Tennat’s Doctor. This fluidity of time, where time paradoxes act more like a wave taking time to reach the shore rather than being instantaneous, is also seen in Legends of Tomorrow Season 2.

Doctor Who references in Arrow, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow, and The Flash are pretty common and range from actors from the British series appearing on the Arrowverse shows, to quotes, to plotlines. But I do not feel the Arrowverse is copying Doctor Who, rather, it adds to the fun.

The Flash Season 3 Review

  • Series: The Flash
  • Season: 3
  • Episodes: 23
  • Discs: 6
  • Cast: Grant Gustin, Candice Patton, Danielle Panabaker, Carlos Valdes, Tom Cavanagh, Jesse L. Martin, Keiynan Lonsdale, Tom Felton
  • Network:  CW (Warner Brothers Productions)
  • DVD Format: Color, Widescreen

The third season of The Flash begins with Flashpoint, after his father is killed, Barry Allen travels back in time and saves his mother. He has three wonderful months with both his parents being alive, but eventually things don’t go so well, and Barry decides he’s made a mistake, so he has to reverse it. He releases the Reverse Flash whom he’s kept hostage and allows the death of his mother to happen. But when he returns to the new present things are different. Iris isn’t talking to her father, Joe. Cisco is extremely angry at Barry and grieving. Caitlin, unknown to the others at first, is developing cold powers and fears becoming Killer Frost. And at the Central City Police Department, Barry is now working under a new head of the CSI department, Julian Albert, a man that doesn’t like or get along with him.

At first, Barry is at a loss. But within an episode or two, Barry gets the team back together, and although things are not perfect, they are at least working together. It takes Cisco a little longer to come around (he lost his brother, Dante, as a result of Flashpoint), but he works with Team Flash anyway. Flashpoint has another effect – new metas are appearing in Central City, and the police forensic department is finding husks that are somehow linked to these new metas and a villain called “Alchemy”. Barry suddenly realizes that the new metas had existed in Flashpoint.

There’s more investigation, and it becomes apparent that Julian is Alchemy but he’s merely a harbinger and servant to Savitar – the God of Speed. Julian had become obsessed with an artifact known as The Philosopher’s Stone, but when he found it on a dig in India, his entire archaeological team died, and unknown to Julian, he became Alchemy. Julian is brought in to Team Flash and the fight against Savitar. Meanwhile, Caitlin’s cold powers become more obvious. At first, she takes a pair of meta-power damping bracelets to suppress her powers. Later, Cisco makes her a necklace. Wally also becomes Kid Flash – as he was in Flashpoint.

But once the Alchemy plot is resolved, and the fallout from Flashpoint largely settled, the main focus of the season becomes clear: Savitar. In an attempt to destroy The Philosopher’s Stone, Barry is thrust into the future and he sees Savitar murder Iris. Saving Iris becomes the focus of the rest of the season. Team Flash tries to change the future, by changing the other headlines Barry saw on a TV news broadcast when he traveled to the future. There are villains of the week to defeat, but the majority of the plot is devoted to preventing Iris’s death, and figuring out who or what Savitar is and how to stop him. Barry even travels to the future again, and discovers just how messed-up everyone is without Iris – and how broken, he, Barry, is. By the end of the season, it becomes clear who Savitar is: he’s a time remnant of Barry Allen – and essentially a time paradox.

The last two episodes of the season play like one big 2-hour finale, even though there is no “to be continued” title card at the penultimate episode. In the second-to-last episode, we see the events from a few months before – and Savitar kills Iris despite Team Flash finding a physicist, Tracy Brand to build a speed cannon to defeat him. But, it turns out to not be Iris but rather HR Wells, using a projector to hide his appearance and take Iris’s place. Tracy, who was starting to fall in love with HR was devastated. But now that Iris is alive, it changes things – and essentially Team Flash is waiting for the Time Paradox to catch up and for Savitar to disappear from reality. Savitar tries to save himself at the last minute – but Barry shows him mercy and even invites this other scarred Barry on to Team Flash.

This doesn’t go well, and Savitar kidnaps Cisco. But Cisco gets through to “Killer” Frost. At first, it looks like Caitlin will still choose Savitar, but in the end she doesn’t. Julian develops a cure for her, but she also chooses to return it to him, deciding to keep her frosty personality, but maybe without the “Killer” part. Barry has a final fight with Savitar, defeats him, turns away and is nearly killed – until Iris saves Barry by killing Future Evil (Savitar) Barry.

You’d think all would be well, but as Barry and Iris start to discuss wedding plans – a speed force storm erupts and threatens the entire city. Barry voluntarily goes into the Speed Force to fill the prison that Savitar left empty.

Season three of The Flash had it’s ups and downs. Although having Yet Another Evil Speedster seems like a bad idea – I had less of a problem with that than the main plot point being the threat to Iris’s life. The majority of the season seems to rest on the idea that no matter what Team Flash does – they can’t change things enough to save Iris – and the future is fixed. But, we know, Iris is a main character – and she’s not likely to really “die”. Throughout the history of DC Comics – Iris West is Barry Allen’s wife, not his girlfriend – and whether she is “Iris Allen” or “Iris West-Allen” she is his wife. So, despite this “big threat” that she will die – it’s an empty one, we know that she won’t. It is possible to make something interesting to see how she will survive, and HR’s sacrifice to save her is actually a surprise – but that she survives isn’t really a surprise.

That Savitar turns out to be Barry almost doesn’t work – it explains how Savitar knows everything Team Flash will do – he simply remembers what happened. But it’s actually “Killer” Frost who gives the game away – when she says everything Barry will say, as he says it, she’s actually giving Barry a big hint as to who Savitar is. Plus the Savitar-is-Barry plot actually mirrors the Wells/Thawne/Reverse Flash plot from season 1 – but this time in a sense we see the time travel paradox from Barry’s point-of-view, and Savitar is Barry as Reverse Flash, which in some ways works but in a lot of ways does not fit Barry’s character. Barry, despite his dark past, is one of the happiest characters in DC Comics. And, although it makes sense that in a fit of despair, after the loss of his father, he would go back in time and create Flashpoint, it doesn’t follow that he would then become Savitar, especially as Savitar originally exists in the Flashpoint Universe – which is the one where Barry’s parents are both alive and Barry doesn’t have super speed.

However, despite that, and season 3 of The Flash being darker than previous seasons, I still enjoyed it. Watching the development of Iris and Barry’s relationship is joyful. Wally West, especially once he becomes Kid Flash is awesome. I like Julian and HR as members of Team Flash. Caitlin’s story was well told – and I liked, a lot, that she was given agency throughout her story. She was able to choose if she’d be “Killer” Frost (though it’s Julian who causes the manifestation of her powers), and, more importantly, it’s Caitlin who decides not to take the experimental “cure” to remove her powers. It would have been so easy for someone to simply shoot the cure into her – but The Flash didn’t go that route. I also really liked Tracy Brand as a character, and I hope we see more of her in Season 4, but I doubt we will.

Follow this link to read My Review of Season 1 of The Flash.

Follow this link to read My Review of Season 2 of The Flash.

Supergirl Season 2 Review

  • Series Title: Supergirl
  • Season: Season 2
  • Episodes: 22
  • Discs: 5
  • Network: CW
  • Cast: Melissa Benoist, Mehcad Brooks, Chyler Leigh, Jeremy Jordan, Floriana Lima, Chris Wood, David Harewood
  • Format: Color, Widescreen, NTSC, R1

This review contains spoilers for the second season of Supergirl.

With it’s second season, Supergirl switches over to the CW, which frankly, is where the show belongs instead of on CBS. Also, Supergirl is now officially part of the CW DC-verse (aka the “Arrowverse”) and this season of the show includes two crossovers. Click here to read my Season 1 review of Supergirl.

There are some character changes for Season 2, Cat Grant is in the first two episodes, but then she leaves to find herself, putting new reporter, Kara Danvers, in the care of Snapper Carr. The opening episodes with Cat show her both as her acerbic self and as a mentor to Kara, and when Kara announces she wants to be a reporter, Cat hands her a sealed envelope – inside is Kara’s resume, with the word, “reporter”, written across it. But rather than shepherding Kara through her new role, Cat leaves. Snapper, Kara’s new boss, is rude, entitled, and a bit racist and sexist. As annoying as that is, by the end of the season – Kara’s experiences with Snapper do show a different type of mentorship – and for a show with a younger audience, an audience that it probably dealing with “old guard’ bosses at work that behave like Snapper or worse, and it shows how to deal with it and with people like Snapper. Kara even follows her heart and publishes a story on her own, a story that Snapper refused to publish due to his own prejudices. Breaking her contract with Catco gets Kara fired. To get her job back, not only does Kara need to find another exclusive story, and bring that story to Snapper with it’s resources and documentation done precisely as Snapper wants, but she has to share the byline with Snapper who did nothing on the story. Then Kara has to apologize to him and declare he “was right” and that she’s learned a lot from Snapper. Watching that scene is hard and it made me bristle – clearly it was Snapper who’s anti-alien prejudice prevented him from wanting to publish either story in the first place. In both cases, Kara was right in her stories – and she wasn’t writing mere opinion, but facts.

Snapper also co-opted Kara’s work and took credit for it. But, as unfair as that seems – it’s also the way of the world. That type of stuff happens all the time in the real world, and in all sorts of industries. Supergirl shows, especially to it’s young audience of teens and twenty-somethings, how to deal with those situations in the real world. Essentially by swallowing her own pride and sucking up – Kara gets her job back, and is given more freedom to do want she needs to do – be a reporter. Would Snapper have treated a male reporter the way he treats Kara? Probably not. If Kara’s stories had been full of anti-alien trash and prejudice with no research and just prejudicial language and hate speech – what would Snapper have done? Probably publish them without a single red-pen edit. In a sense, his Archie Bunker attitude is the one being criticized, while at the same time showing just how to circumvent such people. Snapper also attacks James, whom Cat has named as her successor during her sabbatical. But within an episode or two, James tells Snapper off – pulling the “I’m the boss whether you like it or not” card.

Season Two also introduces Maggie Sawyer, a National City cop, and a lesbian. Alex meets her, they become friends, Maggie gets Alex to realize she is also a lesbian, then Maggie rejects Alex. They do get back together, and Maggie is present in some form or another for the rest of the season. The Maggie/Alex relationship is brilliantly played, with ups and downs, rather than as a fairy tale. It becomes clear that both Maggie and Alex have some self-esteem issues. Both have had trouble in the past being true to themselves and opening up to others. These flaws make the characters more interesting, and give the audience different types of characters to identify with.

Winn also meets a girl (are we sensing a pattern?) an alien named Lyra. Their relationship seems fine, and very hot, until she sets him up to make it look like he broke into a museum and stole Starry Night by Van Gogh. Winn, though, doesn’t buy the police line that he was simply used. Even when Lyra tells him the same, he pushes, until he finds out that Lyra was blackmailed into the theft and a series of others to pay off her brother’s gambling debts and free him from the alien mobsters who are holding him. Even though Supergirl, Winn, Alex, and the DEO are able to free Lyra’s brother and arrest the mobsters, after the incident we seldom see Lyra.

The season introduces Megan McGann, (aka M’Gann, Miss Martian) whom at first seems to be a Green Martian refugee like J’onn J’onezz. She turns out to be a White Martian instead, one whom became disgusted at the genocide of the Green Martians on Mars – and whom helped some escape. The relationship between the two also has its ups and downs and ends with M’Gann deciding to return to Mars to find similar thinking White Martians.

Finally, Kara, herself finds love – but it’s a bumpy, season-long process. At the very beginning of the season, a Kryptonian pod crashes on Earth. It’s occupant is Mon-El of Daxam. Since Daxam, sister planet to Krypton, has also been the enemy of Krypton for centuries, we get the rare experience of seeing Kara’s prejudice against someone – namely Mon-El. She even jumps to conclusions and blames him for a crime that he is innocent of and has no knowledge of. When it quickly becomes apparent that she was wrong, Kara, to her credit, admits her mistake. She then starts to work with Mon-El, trying to basically make him exactly like herself – from wardrobe, to internship at Catco, to becoming a superhero, to wearing silly glasses to hide his identity. It doesn’t work. However, over time, the real Mon-El emerges, and as Mon-El becomes his own person – it is that person that Kara falls in love with. And Mon-El also improves himself because of knowing Kara. Once he gives up on being an intern at Catco, Mon-El gets a job as a “mixologist” at the alien bar that’s a reoccurring location for the season. But he gradually becomes more involved in helping the DEO and Kara.

This season also introduces Lynda Carter as President of the US, who passes the Alien Amnesty Act, allowing alien refugees to become US citizens. In contrast to her compassion and understanding, Cadmus – run by Lillian Luthor (Lex’s mother) is an anti-alien organization that wants the destruction of all aliens – especially Supergirl and Superman. Like most people who act out on unreasonable prejudices – Lillian sees all aliens as the same – something evil, to be hated, to be feared, and Lillian also uses her resources to stir-up hatred in the general population. Lillian is unable and unwilling to see people as individuals but sees all others as evil ones to be hated and feared. Cadmus makes threats over the airwaves, taking over the media in National City. They use alien weapons to commit crimes and attack people then blame aliens for the crimes. Cadmus even co-opts Jeremiah Danvers, Alex’s father and Kara’s adoptive father, convincing him that deporting all aliens is the Final Solution to the Alien Problem. Yeah. For the most part, however, even with the destruction, death, and set-backs (at one point the alien bar is attacked and every alien is killed), the DEO, Alex, Maggie, and Supergirl are able to stop Cadmus and Lillian.

In contrast to Lillian, Lina Luthor is actually a good person. She becomes a fast friend of Kara (who, again, was willing to hate her for being a Luthor, but saw Lina as a person and became her friend instead), and goes up against her own mother to protect the people of National City, including aliens. Lina is fascinating, she’s also a businesswoman, re-branding “LuthorCorp” as “L Corp” to distance the corporation from her notorious brother and evil mother. She develops an alien detector, which becomes a plot point, though not an over-used one.

The beginning of the season tends to have a lot of stand-alone episodes, though threads are being laid for season-long plots, especially in terms of the characters and their relationships. One problem with the stand-alone episodes is it generally goes like this: alien menace arrives, alien menace (or cyborg or constructed alien like Metallo, etc.) defeats Supergirl in a fist fight or by using special powers (Kryptonite, absorbing her powers, etc.) Kara goes to the DEO and John, Alex, Winn, and maybe James or Maggie come up with a way for Supergirl to defeat said alien menace. Supergirl challenges the menace and wins. This is a boring and repetitive plot. Fortunately, it’s only a few isolated episodes in the first half of the season, and all of those, as I’ve said, have other character stuff going on, but it’s something future seasons really need to avoid. Besides, seeing Supergirl get defeated over and over again weakens the character, and makes her subsequent wins unbelievable.

There are two crossover events for this season of Supergirl: Invasion and the Musical. Invasion is the 4-part crossover that features the entire CW DC universe (aka the Arrowverse). Invasion is actually a pretty much stand alone episode. For the Supergirl episode that introduces it – it’s pretty much just the last five minutes of the episode, when The Flash and Cisco arrive via a universe-hopping portal and ask Kara for help. She then leaves with them and spends three episodes as a lead character in Invasion. Unfortunately, those other episodes are not included on the DVD set. Because the DVD releases of all four shows were spread out over a month, it’s also not possible to stop watching Supergirl and skip over to Invasion (until after The Flash and Arrow were finally released that is). I highly recommend that, since I do enjoy the crossovers, the crossover story be released as a separate special DVD with all four episodes in order. Which isn’t to say those episodes shouldn’t be included on the season sets of their respective shows. But like the Doctor Who Christmas specials – Why not release the Crossover Event as a DVD a few weeks after it airs? I’d buy it – and I’d still buy the season sets at the end of the season. From watching Invasion during the highly-rated Crossover Week – it’s pretty stand alone anyway, and it’s a good introduce to the Arrowverse for new fans. An inexpensive DVD/Blu-Ray release would be an awesome idea.

The Musical is a story that is integrated well in the season arcs of both Supergirl and The Flash. In Supergirl, Kara has just found out that far from being the “palace guard” that she thought Mon-El was – he’s the prince. Although every one tells her to work through her anger at being lied to, in the end, Kara breaks up with Mon-El. Meanwhile, on The Flash, Barry and Iris are in a similar situation – Barry had proposed marriage to Iris, she accepted, then for plot purposes they broke it off (there will be more when I watch and review The Flash). Again, at the end of a Supergirl episode, suddenly an “alien” is being led into the operations center of the DEO, he breaks free of his bonds, and whammys Kara, who collapses. Now by this time, my copy of The Flash had arrived from Amazon, so I was able to go straight to “Duet” and watch it. In “Duet”, we find that the “alien” is the Music Meister, an imp with Mxyzptlk-like powers and an interest in “true love”. He traps Barry and Kara in a musical, which features some actors from Legends of Tomorrow and Arrow as well as The Flash – though everyone is playing different characters. They sing. I was disappointed with “Duet” though. The music was, overall, only so-so both the old songs (“Moon River”) and the originals (“Superfriends”). The storyline in the musical is OK, but pokes fun at musicals (“It really is easy to convince people in a musical!”) The story does end with a beautiful scene of Barry proposing again to Iris (for real) and in song. Kara also sees the error of her ways and declares her feelings for Mon-El.

The final arc of Supergirl is brilliant – well acted, relevant, smart, and a better season finale than even Myriad. Cat Grant returns and we realize just how much we’ve missed her. The President (Lynda Carter) becomes a important part of the story. We meet Mon-El’s parents, played by Kevin Sorbo and Teri Hatcher – and discover that Queen Rhea is the most controlling parent in the the universe (not to mention a little nuts). Rhea returns and tries to get Mon-El to return to lead the survivors of Daxam as prince and future king. But Rhea hates Kara because she’s from Krypton, and after all when Krypton was destroyed it bombarded Daxam and made the planet a wasteland. Mon-El eventually is forced to sacrifice himself and his love for Kara, but she rescues him. This puts Rhea on the warpath. She passes herself off as human, approaches Lina, and gets Lina to work with her on a portal to move goods and people from point A to point B instantaneously. There are two issues with this: one – major side effect, the radiation from the generator that runs the portal turns telepathic aliens into dynamos that attack with the uncontrolled power of a tornado, and two – Rhea has no intention of the portal being used for the humanitarian uses Lina envisions, instead she brings in a fleet of Daxamite ships, which attack National City and hold it hostage.

In the end, even though Supergirl challenges Rhea to single combat for the planet, Rhea cheats – not only by using Kryptonite, but by calling in her guards and airstrikes despite Supergirl winning. This causes Supergirl to release a weapon of mass destruction developed by Lillian and Lina Luthor – they seed the entire planet with lead, which is toxic to Daxamites. This kills Rhea outright, and means Mon-El has to leave the planet. He escapes in the Kryptonian Pod, only to be swallowed up by a wormhole.

I had to wonder about the whole “lead” thing. First, lead is highly poisonous to humans, birds, and animals – it causes brain damage to children and babies; yet Lillian, Lina, and Kara don’t seem to even notice this fact or care. Second, it’s stated several times that Supergirl and Superman (who makes several guest appearances this season) cannot see through lead. If microscopic pieces of lead are in the very atmosphere, it would rend both characters blind until the lead settled out of the air, at the very least. It would be like walking outside on a day with heavy mist – you get wet. Not as wet as in a downpour, but your face and hair is going to be covered in a fine spray of water. So the “fix” to get rid of the Daxamites doesn’t make a lot of logical sense.

Still, Season 2 of Supergirl is an enjoyable series. The characters are likable – and it’s nice to see the interpersonal struggles without either falling into the extremes of soap opera plots or perfect characters who never have problems. I liked the relevance of the series, from Superman’s “I’m with her” statement while standing next to Supergirl, to the female president who has compassion and sense, yet is still strong and capable, to the last episodes being entitled, “Resist” and “Nevertheless She Persisted” – this is a show with something to say, and that is good. Also, looking at the credits in the episode guide flyer included with the set – nearly every episode is written, co-written, and/or directed by women. And that is awesome! This season also has less of a “aimed at teenaged girls” feel and more of a “general audiences” feel which is good, many of the people who “need” the messages of this show won’t watch a program they think is for teen girls. Kudos on that.

Recommended.

 

Legends of Tomorrow Season 2 Review

  • Series Title: Legends of Tomorrow
  • Season: Season 2
  • Episodes: 17
  • Discs: 4
  • Network: CW
  • Cast: Caity Lotz, Brandon Routh, Arthur Darvill, Franz Drameh, Victor Garber, Maise Richardson-Sellers, Dominic Purcell, Nick Zano, Matt Letscher, John Barrowman, Neal McDonough
  • Format: Color, Widescreen, NTSC, R1

This review contains spoilers for the second season of Legends of Tomorrow.

Season 2 of Legends of Tomorrow starts off very much as an anthology series – Rip Hunter is missing, and the remaining Legends are travelling through history to fix “aberrations” or changes in the established timeline of history. The first nine episodes have the Legends in a variety of places: World War II, where they meet the JSA (Justice Society of America), including Amaya Jiwe (Vixen) who joins the Legends. Also introduced in the season premiere is Dr. Nate Heywood (Citizen Steel). The Legends also end up fighting zombies in the civil war; they travel to 17th century Japan meeting Katana’s great-great-great etc grandfather, and they go to the Old West where they meet Jonah Hex again. These episodic stories are fun, and also allow the characters, especially the new ones to grow and the team to gel. Sara Lance (White Canary) is appointed leader and captain in the wake of Rip’s disappearance.

Eobard Thawne, from the first season of The Flash is one of three main villains, however, the Legends don’t know that is who they are facing. Firestorm finds a secret message from a future Barry Allen warning of an evil speedster – which they don’t immediately share with the team. Damien Darhk, from Season 4 of Arrow is another villain. Sara meets Darhk in the season premiere and intends to kill him, but her team prevents her, since killing Darhk in the 1940s would change everyone’s history. The third partner in the trinity of sin is Malcolm Merlyn (from Arrow from the beginning). Thawne, Merlyn, and Darhk make for great villains. Audiences who have watched the CW-verse (or Arrowverse) from the beginning are familiar with their stories and their endings. Many of our characters, especially Sara, have personal conflicts with the villains. And by introducing them more gradually, as well as their goals, the series flows better than last season where the main villain (Vandal Savage) just did not work. Also, each episode begins with a spoken intro that explains the premise of the show, however, Legends of Tomorrow keeps this from being boring by having each character repeat the info in their own style, and in episode 10, “The Legion of Doom”, it’s one of the “villains” from the Legion who put their own spin on the by then familiar introduction. Note that officially, the villains are “The Legion of Doom”, despite Sara saying, “Yeah, we’re not calling them that”. Nate had come up with the moniker, after a “Hanna-Barbara cartoon I watched as a kid”.

After “Invasion” the 4-part crossover featuring all four CW DC shows, the conflict between the Legion and the Legends heats up. In “Raiders of the Lost Art”, the Legends meet George Lucas while he is a film student, and have to convince him not to quit film school. The episode is filled with Star Wars references and a great deal of fun. They find Rip as well, who has completely forgotten who he is, his mind being scrambled by contact with the Waverider time drive. Rip thinks he is a film student, working on a student film of his script, “Legends”. Not only does “Legends” feature versions of all the Legends, but Rip is frustrated by a really bad actor playing the Vandal Savage character, and the script introduces the plot for the rest of the season, the search for the legendary “Spear of Destiny”, which has been broken in to multiple pieces. Rip calls this the McGuffin of his script. This is the type of self-referential humor that Legends manages to do really well. It also helps that the villains and the season-long plot are introduced slowly.

The second half of the season has the Legion of Doom (Merlyn, Darhk, and Thawne) and the Legends all looking for the Spear of Destiny. The Legion also messes with time to try to trap the Legends – and the Legends have to put it back. Rip, meanwhile, is captured by the Legion at the end of “Raiders of the Lost Art”, and tortured for information. However, the Legion discovers that Rip can’t tell them anything because his personality has been overwritten. However, one of the Legion pulls an artificial tooth from Rip’s mouth that hides a bank acct number, the Legion goes to the bank, first intending to rob it, then having Rip simply ask for his vault to be opened, only to discover Rip doesn’t know his passphrase. The dynamics between the Legion are great. Once they get the future tech that would restore Rip’s mind and personality, Malcolm alters it to make Rip a mindless tool of the Legion. Although the audience won’t know it until later – this is also when Captain Cold is pulled out of time from before he dies and recruited by the Legion.

With Rip on the Legion’s side, the Legends are in trouble. The Legends also discover that the Spear was broken into pieces, and each piece was given to a member of the JSA to guard. The JSA was then scattered throughout history. So, we now have a quest to get back the spear. The Legion strikes first, killing Dr. Mid-Nite in the future and taking his piece. The Legend gets Rip’s piece of the Spear from 60s Los Angeles, saves George Lucas, but as mentioned previously, fails to save Rip Hunter. Another piece of the Spear is found in Camelot, guarded by Stargirl, whom the locals know as Merlin, and whom has created the Round Table. Commander Steel, Dr. Heywood’s grandfather, and member of the JSA, worked for NASA, and hid his piece on the moon. But with all their successes, and even assembling the Spear themselves, the Legends decide they must destroy it – the Spear is too powerful an object for anyone to wield. They head to the Battle of the Somme in World War I, to meet JRR Tolkien, who had written an unpublished paper about the final resting place of Sir Gaiwan, said to be the hiding place of a vial of the Precious Blood of Christ – the only substance that can destroy the Spear. The adventure with Tolkien is also great, with multiple Lord of the Rings references, and includes a quote of the “Men of the West” Speech from the film Return of the King. But for all their efforts, the Legends fail and the Legion of Doom gets the Spear.

The penultimate episode, “Doomworld”, has a world re-created by Merlyn, Thawne, and Darhk. However, they have also messed with the Legends – making them into their worst and most unlucky selves. Dr. Heywood, however, figures out something is wrong. He meets Ray who has created a device to restore the Legends memories. This works OK, until Jax tries to restore Professor Stein – who resists and breaks the device. There’s a massive fight, but in the end, Thawne gets the Spear and drops it into an very hot reactor to destroy it (not unlike the destruction of the One Ring by volcano in Lord of the Rings). The Legends decide they must go back in time and prevent the Legion from getting the Spear in the first place. In the end, it’s Sara, who all along had been the strongest voice to say they mustn’t use the Spear, who uses it to defeat the Legion. Yet, when the team arrives in Los Angeles – time doesn’t seem quite right.

Legends of Tomorrow is quite fun and the second season was an improvement on the first. Sara shines as captain, able to make tough decisions, wrangle her crew, but also able to learn from her own mistakes, and even to develop compassion. These characters are still screw-ups, which is a great way to do superheroes – as perfect characters are boring. The crew this time around: Sara, Professor Stein, Jax, Dr. Ray Palmer, Mick Rory, Dr. Heywood (Steel), and Amaya (Vixen) work better than last year’s line up.  I missed Rip in the early part of the season, and for much of the second part of the season he’s working with the villains, but overall he’s there enough – and Sara actually made for a better captain with a better leadership style. Dr. Heywood fits in to the Legends immediately, and Amaya also is not as awkward a character as Hawkgirl from last season. And Vixen’s power, the ability to channel the power of any animal, is very cool and realized beautifully. Overall, Legends of Tomorrow was my personal favorite of the CW shows last season.

You can also read my Season 1 Review of Legends of Tomorrow.

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.

Book Review – Arrow vol. 1

  • Title: Arrow vol. 1
  • Author: Marc Guggenheim, Andrew Kreisberg
  • Artist: Mike Grell
  • Line: CW DC Verse
  • Characters: Oliver Queen (Green Arrow), Huntress, John Diggle
  • Publication Date: 2013
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 04/17/2017

Arrow is a collection of short stories set during the first season of the CW Network’s television show, Arrow. As the show is now in it’s fifth season, it’s a bit difficult to remember the details from Season 1 – especially who did and did not know Oliver’s secret.

This is my second time reading this book, and the individual stories are very, very short, which makes them a bit difficult to get in to. I liked the two stories about Huntress. The story about Diggle completely contradicts what we later learn about his brother, Andy, especially in Season 4. There’s also some great moments between Oliver and Tommy. However, there isn’t much depth to these stories or this book, mostly because the stories are distinct and separate – and they are very short.

Still, if you want to go back and read some untold stories set in Season 1, Arrow Vol. 1 is worth picking up.