And the title of my blog comes from this scene in the CW’s Arrow. No copyright infringement intended.
For some time now I have been watching and reviewing various DC Comics-based live-action television series from a number of different sources. Although a few series, including notable ones, pre-date what eventually became known as the Arrowverse, the CW’s DC shows really started this trend of high-quality television shows based on DC Comics.
There are three broad categories of DC Comics shows: The Arrowverse, DC Universe, and Other. Also, some shows that would be considered other, such as Constantine have been retroactively folded into the Arrowverse. And Crisis on Infinite Earths actually implied that many earlier classic DC shows, such as the Adam West and Burt Ward Batman series (aka “Batman ’66”) take place in the same multiverse but on different Earths. So DC is big, it’s complicated and there’s a lot. And while I don’t profess to have seen every single DC show out there, I have seen many. So this post hopes to clear up some of the confusion and provide links to my previous reviews in one big post.
Starting on the CW network in 2012 with Arrow, the Arrowverse has grown to include seven ongoing series and counting. and although Arrow itself ended in 2020, the universe spun off from it continues to grow and grow. A Superman series starring Clark and Lois and their children is now planned for 2021, and Arrow itself hinted in the final two episodes of Season 8 for a possible Green Lantern or Green Lantern Corps series and a possible Birds of Prey. And, Spoiler Alert, Crisis on Infinite Earths laid the ground work for a possible Justice League series. So the Arrowverse is not ending, despite it’s flagship ending after eight seasons.
Based on Green Arrow, but modernized, Arrow follows millionaire Oliver Queen who returns to his home, Starling (later Star) City after being presumed dead for five years. The series saw several other DC characters both heroes and villains making appearances as regulars, semi-regulars, or in one-off and two-off appearances. The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow spun off directly from Arrow.
Read my Review of Arrow Season 1
Read my Review of Arrow Season 2
Read my Review of Arrow Season 3
Read my Review of Arrow Season 4
Read my Review of Arrow Season 5
Read my Review of Arrow Season 6
Read my Review of Arrow Season 7
Read my Review of Arrow Season 8
Spun off directly from Arrow, The Flash features CSI Barry Allen who becomes a speedster after being hit by lightning during the Particle Accelerator accident in Central City. Barry uses his newfound ability for super speed to fight crime, stop evil metahumans, and help good metahumans. He works with his friends and teammates at Star Labs and continues to work at the Central City PD as a CSI. Like Arrow, The Flash brings in a number of DC Characters both as regulars and as usually one-off villains of the week.
Read my Review of The Flash Season 1
Read my Review of The Flash Season 2
Read my Review of The Flash Season 3
Read my Review of The Flash Season 4
Read my Review of The Flash Season 5
Read my Review of The Flash Season 6
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow (aka “Legends of Tomorrow” or simply “Legends”)
Also spun off directly from Arrow and The Flash in a two-part back-door pilot, Legends is an original series, bringing together a number of characters that had previously appeared on either The Flash or Arrow as well as new characters from DC Comics. Not only is Legends a team show, but the cast routinely rotates as new characters are added and older ones leave. The cast is different for each season. The general premise of Legends of Tomorrow is that a group of “B-list” and “screw-ups” who time travel for a purpose that, in general, changes each season. Their ship is the Waverider and it’s integrated AI is Gideon.
Read my Review of Legends of Tomorrow Season 1
Read my Review of Legends of Tomorrow Season 2
Read my Review of Legends of Tomorrow Season 3
Read my Review of Legends of Tomorrow Season 4
Read my Review of Legends of Tomorrow Season 5
The first season of Supergirl actually aired on CBS not The CW but it had one of the same producers (Greg Berlanti) as the previous CW Arrowverse series, and even it’s first season had crossover episodes with The Flash. Since the second season, Supergirl has been on the CW. Supergirl is Kara Zor-El, cousin of Superman (Kal-el, aka Clark Kent). When Krypton was about to be destroyed Kara’s parents but her in a pod (a small spaceship) to go to Earth to watch over baby Kal-el. But Kara’s pod was “knocked off course” (and stuck in the Phantom Zone) for a while before finally being freed. When Kara finally landed on Earth, Clark was all grown-up and unable to care for a teenaged girl. He arranged for Kara to be raised by the Danvers family. And even though Jeremiah Danvers disappeared and was presumed dead for years, Kara found herself being raised by the foster family of the Danvers including mother, Eliza, and sister, Alex. We join Kara in Central City, a young adult, and intern at Catco Worldwide Media, whereas her sister Alex works for the DEO. As with other Arrowverse series, a number of DC characters are introduced in Supergirl, including Martian Manhunter (J’onn J’onzz) who becomes a regular.
Initially thought by many to be “separate” from the Arrowverse despite airing on the CW, the producers did say it was in the same general universe. With Jefferson Pierce (Black Lightning) appearing in Crisis on Infinite Earths the show is now officially part of the Arrowverse. Black Lightning was stated to take place on a different Earth. It’s not clear if Freeland has been re-located to Earth Prime like National City or if it is on one of the Earths that were spared like the DC Universe shows. Once upon a time, Jefferson Pierce was Black Lightning, an African-American superhero in the city of Freeland. But when he was injured too often, his wife divorced him, and he found himself raising two young daughters – Jefferson figuratively hung up his cape. Several years later, Jefferson again becomes Black Lighting. Over the course of two seasons, it becomes clear his daughters also have superpowers, with the older daughter, Anissa becoming Thunder and the younger daughter, Jennifer, slowly coming to terms with having powers. Black Lightning Season 3 aired in 2019-2020.
Batwoman is Kate Kane, Bruce Wayne’s cousin. She is a lesbian who is out and proud, but being outed at West Point torpedoed her dream of a military career. She returns to Gotham City, where Bruce has been missing for three years. Although initially hesitant like many superheroes on the CW, Kate becomes Batwoman and faces off against a season-long villain. Batwoman definitely takes place in the same universe as Arrow, Legends, The Flash, and Supergirl as Kate/Batwoman (Ruby Rose) has appeared in the Elseworlds and Crisis on Infinite Earths crossovers. The initial storyline is based on the graphic novel, Elegy by Greg Rucka. Unfortunately, due to the Pandemic Season 1 wasn’t completed. Ruby Rose, the lead actor, has left the series. The title role of Batwoman has been re-cast. It isn’t known yet if the new actress will play Kate and they will ignore the fact that it’s someone new or if she will be playing a new character. However, Season 2 will run on the CW in 2021.
Read my Review of Batwoman Season 1
Stargirl was originally transmitted on DC Comics streaming service, DC Universe, but also aired the same time (well, the day after) on the CW. The series is a transitional one, belonging to both DC Universe and the CW. In Crisis on Infinite Earths, Stargirl, Doom Patrol, Titans, and Swamp Thing were all shown to take place on their own individual Earths.
Stargirl follows Courtney, a teenaged girl in a blended family who has recently moved to Blue Valley Nebraska from California. Courtney discovers the Cosmic Staff which belonged to the deceased Justice Society of America hero, Starman. Courtney’s step-father was Starman’s sidekick, Stripey. Courtney and her friends from high school, over the course of the first season, become members of a junior JSA and face-off against the Injustice Society.
Read my Review of Stargirl Season 1
Doom Patrol is one of the strangest and most surreal television shows I’ve ever watched. It’s not your average television show. The series also addresses psychological health conditions in a fairly direct manner. The team all have serious issues that go beyond their special abilities. In many ways, the only way to truly understand this team show is to watch it. Doom Patrol was transmitted on DC Comics streaming service, DC Universe. Future seasons will air on HBO Max.
Read my Review of Doom Patrol Season 1
Swamp Thing originally was transmitted on DC Comics streaming service, DC Universe. In the Summer/Fall of 2020 it was rerun on the CW network. The character of Swamp Thing started in Vertigo Comics, DC’s original “mature readers” imprint before being brought into the DC Universe proper. Dr. Abby Arcane is an infectious disease specialist for the CDC who is sent to the small town of Marais in Louisiana to investigate a new, dangerous, and possibly deadly disease they call the “green flu”. Abby meets Dr. Alec Holland, a discredited botanist, who is studying the local swamp for a businessman named Avery Sunderland. Holland needs to rebuild his reputation. But Avery sends his goon squad after Holland, causing him to fall into the swamp and become the half-Alec, half-walking, talking, living plant and Guardian of the Green. Swamp Thing is a horror series, but it’s also a Beauty and the Beast tale and in many ways, a mystery series – as everyone in Marais is hiding dark secrets, including Abby. Unfortunately, the series was canceled early in its first season. However, it gained fan and critical acclaim on DC Universe and it is doing well on the CW. With many scripted series on hiatus due to Corvid19, there is always a possibility that the CW or HBO Max will bring the show back.
Titans was transmitted on DC Comics streaming service, DC Universe. Future seasons will be on HBO Max. Titans is a more grown-up, darker, and grittier version of the Teen Titans animated series. In DC Comics both titles Teen Titans and Titans have been used for this team (as well as New Teen Titans). Led by Dick Greyson who eventually claims the superhero name of Nightwing, Titans also features Raven, Beast Boy, Jason Todd’s Robin, and Starfire. However, especially in the first season, this series is about building a team and the characters becoming the characters we know they will eventually be – which is why when we first see Dick, he’s a police officer, and when we meet Raven – she’s a runaway. I also felt like the two seasons actually felt like one long season. Titans is definitely worth watching but it does require some patience – don’t expect a team that’s worked together for years from episode one, but they are getting there.
Batman (aka “Batman 1966”)
Batman starting Adam West and Burt Ward was the extremely popular 1960s series shot in Technicolor with two half-hour episodes (the first ending on a cliffhanger) forming each story. The show is bright and colorful, has a somewhat campy style but not quite as much as one might think. It’s also a very formula-driven show. Still, it’s a classic.
Read my Review of Batman (1966) Season 1
Birds of Prey
Birds of Prey is loosely based on the various DC Comics comic book series about an all-female superhero team headed by Barbara Gordon. This series is set in New Gotham and features Barbara Gordon (Oracle), Helena Kyle (Huntress), and Black Canary’s teenaged daughter, Dinah, who is starting to develop her own powers. This series follows Dinah learning about her powers, Helena learning to control her metahuman abilities, and Oracle not only running the Birds of Prey. Oracle is a computer expert, hacker, and tactical expert, but she is an awesome fighter herself. Unfortunately, the series only lasted one season.
The character of John Constantine comes from Vertigo Comics where he was first introduced in Swamp Thing. He was popular enough to be imported into regular mainstream DC Comics in various series (Constantine, Hellblazer, John Constantine Hellblazer, as a lead character in Justice League Dark, etc.). And although Constantine the series was originally on NBC for one short season, the CW brought the actor (Mark Ryan) and character back, first in a guest role in Arrow, then in a featured guest (semi-regular) role on Legends of Tomorrow, and finally as a regular on Legends. So, this is a character who is so popular he keeps coming back. John Constantine is a magician, spellcaster, exorcist, magic-user, and con man. He also tends to be very unlucky – magic always has a price and for John that often means losing the people he cares about, thus his rather gruff manner. The original Constantine series establishes who Constantine is, what he does, and explores his world. But it ends much too early.
The Flash (1990)
This series aired on CBS and was the first attempt to build a show around the character of The Flash as a weekly television series that I know of and despite a good cast, the series watched now, definitely has its flaws. However, the lead actor, John Wesley Shipp, has been a regular on the modern The Flash series on the CW, playing that Barry Allen’s father, Henry Allen (an admirable character) as well as characters from various other Earths. Also, the Flash of “Earth-90” was an important character in Crisis on Infinite Earths, so in a way, this version of The Flash has been folded into the Arrowverse retroactively. On its own, though, this series is about the Silver Age Flash, Barry Allen, a police scientist who gains his super-speed in a lab accident and from a lightning strike. The first half of the series has Barry catching regular criminals and the second half introduces more supervillain type characters.
How did Bruce Wayne become Batman? Gotham attempts to answer that question, introducing Bruce as a young boy who has just lost his parents to a violent crime and is now being raised by Alfred Pennyworth. But the series quickly becomes about some of the most famous villains in the Batman canon and how they came to be who they are. And it’s the story of a time and a place, the story of a city – the city of Gotham. Gotham is stylishly directed – the show looks gorgeous and weaves together the old and the modern seamlessly (everything tends to look very historical – yet the characters carry cell phones). Gotham is also very much set in a different universe, with no connections to the Arrowverse or anything other than the next series on my list, Pennyworth.
Pennyworth is the story of Alfred before he was Alfred. That is, this is a young Alfred Pennyworth, just out of the army and the SAS. The series was created, produced, and largely written by Bruno Heller and Danny Cannon who developed Gotham and I consider Pennyworth to be a prequel to Gotham. It’s set in an alternate universe (World War II appears to be ongoing, even though it’s also the 1960s, we assume). Pennyworth is at times dark and violent, but I absolutely loved it, as I had really liked Gotham. Alfred Pennyworth is trying to make a name for himself, wants to start his own security business, ends-up working for Martha Kane (not yet married to Thomas), and meets Thomas Wayne though he doesn’t get along with Thomas at first. Alfred also seems to fall into situations that cause him to have to do the opposite of what he says he wants to do. That is, for a man who keeps saying he wants nothing more to do with violence and that he doesn’t want to work for spies or special operatives – he ends up doing precisely that. The show was brilliant.
Lois and Clark
“Superman as a romantic comedy? Yeah, let’s do that,” is pretty much how this show seemed to come about. But it’s also incredibly fun, with a light romantic touch combined with SF plots that show a great amount of originality and fun. Lois and Clark is light, fun, enjoyable, funny, and full of high adventure. Even when they try to be serious, this show just has that feel-good, everything will work out feeling of a good romantic film.
It’s hard to remember just how important this series was. At the time it was made, there were no other female superheroes on television or in the movies. And there were few other superhero shows at all. The Wonder Woman series, starring Lynda Carter, taught a generation of women they could be heroes too – and that being a hero didn’t mean you couldn’t be kind. Diana is strong, principled, and more than anything, she is kind. And even though it looks a bit dated now, and the stories are largely stand-alone, it’s still something to see.
And that’s everything up to this point for live-action DC Shows. I’m waiting for the DVD/Blu-Ray releases of Black Lightning Season 3, Doom Patrol Season 2 and Pennyworth Season 2. The Arrowverse shows will not air until 2021. Titans is apparently just starting to film again and moves to HBO Max.
- Series Title: Black Lightning
- Season: Season 2
- Episodes: 16
- Discs: 3 (DVD)
- Network: CW
- Cast: Cress Williams, Nafessa Williams, China Anne McClain, Christine Adams, James Remar, Damon Gupton
- Format: Color, Widescreen, NTSC, R1
This review contains spoilers for Season 2 of Black Lightning.
Season 2 picks up where Season 1 of Black Lightning left off, with the death of Proctor and the exposure of Green Light as a Rogue Operation. Lynn gets a job working with the “pod kids”, some of whom have been in stasis since the original vaccine experiment from the 1980s and others who are recent kids exposed to Green Light. Agent Odell of the ASA is now in charge of the pods. Meanwhile, Jefferson loses his job as principal of Garfield High and returns to teaching. Inspector Henderson has figured out Jefferson is Black Lightning and Anissa is Thunder.
Lynn and Odell do not see eye to eye about the pod kids. Whereas Lynn is concerned about the children’s’ well-being and wants to care for them, Odell views them as weapons and tools. He even seems to believe the US is in a “meta-human arms race” with Markovia. However, even though Lynn and Odell do not agree, Odell cannot exclude Lynn entirely because he needs her expertise. However, he does force her to work with Dr. Jace another expert in Meta-humans who is also completely ruthless and uncaring.
Jennifer learns to come to terms with her powers throughout the season. She starts not wanting her powers and wanting nothing to do with being different. But when Anissa blurts out that she is Thunder and their father is Black Lightning at first Jennifer is hurt – she even runs away with her boyfriend. But eventually, Jennifer learns to accept herself and her powers. She even gets a suit by the end of the season. Jennifer’s boyfriend, Khalil returns and continues to text Jennifer and drop by to see her. At first, Jennifer pushes him away, but after finding out about Jefferson and Anissa – she and Khalil run away. Tobias Whale had pushed Khalil to kill the preacher, Rev. Holt because he was standing in the way of one of Whale’s business deals. But Khalil can’t kill an unarmed holy man. He warns Holt, who t first takes it as a threat. But Khalil, to his credit, explains that Whale wants Holt dead – not him, so he better leave. Because Khalil refused to execute the hit – Whale puts a price on his head. Khalil and Jennifer go on the run. Whale sends another assassin after them, named Cutter. Jennifer is forced to reveal her powers to Khalil which brings them closer together. Eventually, the two realize they can’t run forever – and they return to the Pierce household. Jefferson and Lynn convince Khalil to turn himself in and Inspector Henderson arranges for witness protection. Unfortunately, Cutter stops the caravan, kills everyone, and takes Khalil to Tobias Whale. Whale rips out Khalil’s artificial spine. A few episodes later Khalil dies.
Tobias Whale is back, and has a brief relationship with Cutter, his assassin – though, by the end of the season, he kicks her out. He also takes on a young hacker to get into Proctor’s briefcase. The hacker breaks the briefcase’s firewalls and eventually gets into the real information on the briefcase – four criminal metahumans, the Masters of Disaster, are stored in pods and hidden under Rev. Holt’s Free Clinic. The Hacker finds the location and then Tobias Whale breaks in and takes them. He also hires Dr. Jace, who by this point has gotten thrown off of Odell’s team. Jace helps Whale get the Masters of Disaster out of the pods. Whale, Jace, and Cutter also organize a raid on the ASA’s holding facility and steal as many of the pod kids as they can. When the Hacker is at the end of his usefulness – Whale has Cutter kill him.
Anissa also develops a secondary vigilante/hero persona, Blackbird, who steals from area drug dealers and other criminals and gives the money to Rev. Holt at the church for good causes such as fending off bids to buy the Free Clinic. Anissa also returns to her girlfriend, Grace, who suddenly disappears. Anissa spends the rest of the season looking for Grace. Unknown to her, Grace is some sort of metahuman, but we don’t know the exact details of her powers.
By the end of the season, Jefferson has torpedoed the opportunity to get his principal job back. Lynn has finally walked out of her job working with Odell since there are no kids left. Tobias is as powerful as ever. Jennifer is accepting her powers. And Anissa is balancing two superhero personas and her personal life (she’s still a med student too).
Read my Review of Black Lightning Season 1.
- Series Title: Stargirl
- Season: Season 1
- Episodes: 13
- Discs: 3 (Blu-Ray)
- Network: DC Universe / CW (Further seasons will be on CW and HBO Max)
- Cast: Brec Bassinger, Yvette Monreal, Anjelika Washington, Luke Wilson, Amy Smart, Trae Romano, Henry Thomas
Format: Color, Widescreen, NTSC, R1
This review will include spoilers for Season 1 of Stargirl.
The blended family of Barbara and Courtney Whitmore and Pat and Mike Dugan move to Blue Valley Nebraska so that Barbara can take a new job with the American Dream society. Pat, a mechanic by trade, buys a local garage and starts a new business. Courtney starts high school and Mike starts middle school. But all is not as it seems in the small all-American town. Courtney, a star gymnast at her Californian high school discovers that her new high school doesn’t even have a team. The school activities director suggests she join the cheerleading squad instead, something Courtney has no interest in. When the high school’s head cheerleader and mean girl, Cindy, tries to recruit Courtney to her squad, Courtney turns her down flat. This makes her unpopular at school.
Courtney also isn’t too pleased to have a new Dad, Mike Dugan. Her own father’s been missing, presumed dead since she was four years old. In the family’s garage, Courtney finds an old, golden staff, which grants her special powers. She also finds old photos of the Justice Society of America, including Starman. Because Starman’s Cosmic Staff works for her, and Starman resembles an old photo of her father she wears in a locket around her neck, Courtney assumes Starman is her father. Pat insists Slyvester Pemberton was Starman, not Courtney’s father. Pat also tells Courtney not to use the staff because it’s too dangerous.
However, Courtney, as a strong-willed, but cheerful teenager doesn’t listen. She practices with the staff, designs and sews herself a costume (using the old Starman costume), and even tries to take on bad guys. She’s not successful, and in her first outing, even after Pat shows up in his giant robot, a young boy dies when he wanders away from a bus crash and into traffic. Pat and Stargirl had stopped the school bus from crashing off a bridge but hadn’t stopped additional traffic from crossing the icy bridge.
Courtney names Pat’s robot STRIPE. She also recruits new JSA members from her high school from the unpopular kids, including Yolanda who becomes Wildcat, Beth who becomes the new Dr. Mid-Nite, and Rick who becomes Hourman. Together they form a new junior Justice Society of America and try to discover what is going on in Blue Valley, who the members of the Injustice Society are, and what the ISA’s plans are.
The team individually and together has encounters with Icicle, Brainwave, Brainwave Junior, and Shiv (Cindy). They also face the Gambler, The Fiddler, Tigress, and Sportsmaster. Later, they discover the high school janitor is really Shining Knight from Pat’s old team the Seven Soldiers (even though there were eight of them). Pat had been the sidekick Stripsy to the Star-Spangled Kid before the Kid became Starman. However, Shining Knight is suffering from amnesia, and although his stories help some, his lack of clear memory doesn’t help much.
Finally, the new JSA team, with help from Pat, Mike, and Barbara, realize they need to figure out what the ISA is doing. It was Icicle who caused the death of the boy during Courtney’s first foray as a superhero and he later orchestrated the deaths of the boy’s father and mother. Brainwave killed his wife, lied about it for years, then killed his son after he developed telepathic powers as well and used them to help Courtney. The rest of the ISA is equally ruthless.
This is why when the new teenaged JSA finally figures out the Injustice Society’s plan – it makes no sense, at all. The ISA builds a machine that will reprogram all adults and build a perfect society. But when Beth and “Chuck” (Dr. Mid-Nite) discover the ISA manifesto it includes ending global warming, relying on solar and wind power, ending discrimination, prejudice, and hatred based on color, race, LGBT status, etc, and other good things. As one of the teens points out: “Are we sure we’re on the right side?” But this reprogramming has one fatal flaw: up to 25 percent of the people exposed to Brainwave’s amplified power will die. Plus it’s a classic case of “good intentions-bad methods”. But at the same time, these are the same ruthless people we’ve seen kill their own spouses and children. Their methods have been ruthless and motivated by a lust for power. It doesn’t make sense that their grand plan would have any positive outcomes at all. Needless to say, the new, young JSA is able to defeat the ISA and destroy the machine.
Other than the ISA’s grand scheme making no sense whatsoever, I enjoyed Stargirl. It feels at times to be aimed at teenagers, not all ages, but it still has it’s moments. I liked the entire cast, including the villains, and found the show to be enjoyable to watch. I recommend it, however, it doesn’t fit with the dark and gritty DC Universe shows, nor does it fit with the traditional superhero shows on the CW. Stargirl seems to very much be its own thing. Next season it moves to HBO Max with the rest of the DC Universe shows as well as repeating on the CW, so the move may bring changes.
- Series Title: Legends of Tomorrow
- Season: Season 5
- Episodes: 15
- Discs: 3 (Blu-Ray) Plus Crisis on Infinite Earths
- Network: CW
- Cast: Caity Lotz, Brandon Routh, Maisie Richardson-Sellers, Dominic Purcell, Nick Zano, Tala Ashe, Matt Ryan, Jes Macallen, Adam Tsekhman
Format: Color, Widescreen, NTSC, R1
This review will include spoilers for Season 5 of Legends of Tomorrow.
As hinted at the end of last season, during the fifth season, the Legends face “Encores”, history’s greatest villains armed with hell weapons and returned to Earth by Astra who controls their soul coins in hell. The Legends face off against these Encores, such as Rasputin, Marie Antoinette, Genghis Khan, and Bugsy Segal in a few episodes, but defeat them relatively easily – sometimes even capturing their hell weapon, the only thing that can send an Encore back to hell.
About halfway through the season, the real theme emerges: Charlie is actually one of the Fates and many thousands of years ago she broke the Loom of Fate and scattered its pieces throughout the multiverse. Due to Crisis on Infinite Earths, all those pieces are now on one single Earth – Earth Prime. The Legends agree to help Charlie find the pieces again so that Behrad can be brought back after one of the Fates kills him. Constantine also forms an uneasy alliance with Astra, promising to save her mother once they get the Loom of Fate.
The Legends manage to get two of the rings of Fate but then lose them again. While trying to recover them, the third Fate Sister, who had raised Astra in hell, unleashed the Zombie Apocalypse in the UK to slow down the Legends. The Legends finally reach the London safe house of the Time Bureau only for the time couriers stored there to need charging, while they wait for the couriers to charge zombies attack the bar. Sara is killed defending the others and only Charlie escapes.
However, the Fates now have all three rings and can rebuild the Loom of Fate. The elder sister creates a world straight out of 1984 where everyone only works and watches TV and has no choice in anything. Even the food is only different colors of mush. But Gary somehow knows something is wrong and shouts warnings to people on the street. Mona works for the historical sanitation department. However, the Legends are all stranded on TV – where Charlie put them to keep them safe. They realize this and break free of their conditioning, then escape in the Waverider. It appears the Loom was successfully broken again. But now, even though people wear different clothes and eat different foods, they also wear smartwatches with an app called Fate. People ask Fate for advice on everything from the best route to work to what to have for lunch. Fate still rules instead of individual freedom. Once again the Legends and Charlie have to put a stop to the Fates, shutting down the app which is powered by Gideon. They succeed. The Legends then celebrate at Charlie’s dive bar in 1970s London where Charlie sings onstage as part of the punk band The Smell.
Charlie decides to remain in London. By the end of the season, though Zari from seasons 3 and 4 had been briefly released from the air totem, she has to return to the Totem so Behrad can live. Zari II, a Social Media Maven joins the Legends on the Waverider with her brother. Happily, Ray Palmer and Nora Darhk marry. Sadly, Ray then leaves the Legends so he and Nora can settle down.
I was happy that Legends was able to complete Season 5. The season felt a little rushed, but at least it didn’t end on a cliffhanger. The first episode of the season was a “documentary” about the Legends, which I didn’t like at all, but then I personally hate “found footage” and fake documentary style. The Encores episodes were a bit episodic, and each conflict was easily resolved – but they were also still fun and kept up the Legends tradition of referencing other movies, television series, and genres. There were, as always with Legends, some really great moments too. Overall, this is still a very fun series, very watchable, and highly recommended.
- Series Title: Supergirl
- Season: Season 5
- Episodes: 19
- Discs: 4 plus Crisis on Infinite Earths
- Network: CW
- Cast: Melissa Benoist, Katie McGrath, Chyler Leigh, David Harewood, Nicole Maines, Jesse Rath, Jo Cryer, Andrea Brooks
- Format: Color, Widescreen, NTSC, R1
This review includes spoilers for Season 5 of Supergirl.
Season 5 of Supergirl is very uneven, not in the sense that some episodes are good and others aren’t, but more in that there’s not much of a unifying season-long plot, and there are several episodes that stand perfectly fine on their own. That’s not too much of a criticism, but I’m used to the CW DC shows doing a better job of creating a season-long arc-plot with a formidable villain. The season opens with J’onn J’onzz discovering a secret about his family – he had a brother, Malefic, who was banished to the Phantom Zone and then the very memory of Malefic was erased. J’onn wrestles with this discovery because it is very much a crime against Martian culture to erase someone. But with Supergirl and Dreamer’s help, J’onn is able to work through it and even become allies with his brother. Malefic returns to Mars to help M’Gann with the Martian resistance and to end the Civil War.
Meanwhile, a new villain is developed: Leviathan. Supergirl and Lena discover this decades-long conspiracy, led by aliens from another planet near Krypton – thus giving these aliens incredibly long lives and extreme super powers. But soon after Supergirl confronts and temporarily defeats Rama Khan, one of the leaders of Leviathan – Crisis on Infinite Earths happens.
During Crisis, Lex Luthor re-writes history, making himself a hero. Only the Paragons and a few people close to them who are given a memory dump by J’onn J’onzz know the truth. Lena also remembers the past, but Lex convinces her he’s “changed” and talks her into partnering with him. Lex also drives a wedge between Lena and Kara. Eventually, Lena’s “Non Nocere” (“Do No Harm”) project fails for the second time. However, despite everything, it’s failure enables Lena to see Lex for what he is and may send her back to Kara.
After Crisis, also there are several stand-alone episodes. In “The Bottle Episode” Alex, J’onn, Supergirl, and Nia Nal not only discover there have been several changes post-Crisis (National City is now on Earth Prime for example, along with The Flash’s Central City, and Oliver’s Star City) but that a group of various Brainiac 5 doppelgangers from other Earths want to release an Earth that was saved in a Coulan bottle device. However, releasing that Earth would destroy it and Earth Prime. Our team prevents this from happening. In “Back from the Future” parts 1 and 2 – Winn Schott returns to prevent his doppelganger from committing an unspeakable crime that will destroy Winn’s life and family in the future. And in the 100th episode, “It’s a Super Life”, Mxyzpik arrives and offers Supergirl the chance to change one thing about her life. Kara decides to tell Lena she’s Supergirl earlier – yet every time the consequences are worse and worse. Finally, Kara decides that Lena’s negative reaction to learning the truth is Lena’s fault, gets mad, and yells at Lena she’s “a villain” in the present. But of course, Lena knows absolutely nothing of the “other timelines” that Kara has experienced – so she has no idea why Kara is so angry with her. A few episodes later, “Reality Bytes” is an excellent episode about Dreamer and a friend of hers who is also transgender and is targeted by an anti-trans man via the dating app Upswipe. The only issue with the episode is Dreamer’s friend (and possibly her roommate) is someone we’ve never seen before and probably will never see again. Still, the episode itself was well done.
The second half of the season finally begins to focus on Leviathan, with Brainy having dumped Nia and started to secretly work with Lex because one of the other Brainiac 5s from “The Bottle Episode” told him the only way to stop Leviathan was to work with Lex. Since Lex now owns the DEO, Alex eventually quits her job there and works with J’onn J’onzz as a PI/Security Officer. Kara, William Dey a new reporter at Catco, Alex, and Alex’s girlfriend Kelly start investigating Obsidian WorldWide and eventually Leviathan. There is a big confrontation in the last few episodes, and at first, it seems Leviathan is defeated. However, they are not – and Brainy may have died for nothing. (If he’s really dead).
Once more, because the Global Corvid19 Pandemic shut down the set of Supergirl, like other DC Comics programs on the CW the story isn’t finished and the season ends with a “To Be Continued” title card and a cliffhanger. The season felt very unfinished, especially as it started, then re-started and took a while to establish itself.
I’m a fan of Lena and of Lena and Kara as friends – so I didn’t like seeing Lena partnering with Lex and Kara completely misunderstanding her “Non Nocere” Project. Kara doesn’t even ask Lena what she’s trying to do – she just assumes it’s mind control. Lena, however, doesn’t offer any explanations either for her behavior. Both are stubborn and both are control freaks who have a very hard time understanding the other person’s point of view. Normally, Kara’s need to control things benefits her – giving her focus and drive, without having her forget about the people she’s trying to help. But Lena has that same drive to help others – and a last name that causes people to not trust her. I want to see the two as friends again, and the last few episodes hinted that may happen. But Kara really owes Lena an apology for blowing up at her after the Mxyzptik incident. I’m still enjoying Supergirl, and I hope this season’s hanging questions get resolved in the next season whenever it airs.
- Series: Arrow
- Season: 2
- Episodes: 23
- Discs: 5
- Cast: Stephen Amell, Katie Cassidy, Caity Lotz, David Ramsey, Emily Bett Rickards, Willa Holland, Colton Haynes, Paul Blackthorne, David Nykl
- Network: CW (Warner Brothers Productions)
- DVD Format: Color, Widescreen
This review includes Spoilers for Season 2 of Arrow.
“I have come home with only one goal … to save my city. But to do so I can’t be the killer I once was. To honor my friend’s memory, I must be someone else. I must be something else.” – Oliver Queen, the Arrow
Deeply affected by Tommy Merlyn’s death at the end of Season 1, Oliver leaves Starling City and returns to Lian Yu to think things through. Felicity and John Diggle fly a small plane to pick him up and convince him to return to Starling City. Once back in his home city, Oliver vows he will not kill to obtain his goal of saving his city.
In Starling City, a new female, blond woman in black leather and a mask is helping women by attacking would-be muggers and rapists. She’s friends with Roy’s friend, Sin (Cindy) a street kid. Oliver wonders about this new vigilante, and initially wants to stop her. That changes when he finds out she is actually Sara Lance, whom it was thought also died when the Gambit went down. Sara works with Oliver off and on throughout Season 2 (she will eventually spin off into her own series, Legends of Tomorrow).
The flashbacks in Season 2 follow Oliver’s experiences on the Island, taking place immediately after the flashbacks in Season 1. Oliver is taken prisoner by Professor Ivo on the freighter, Amazo, and Sara appears to be working with Ivo. Ivo is also keeping a motley crew of prisoners from multiple countries, people who have been shipwrecked and “rescued” by Ivo. Ivo is searching for the Mirakuru a World War II Era Japanese miracle drug that’s meant to turn men into super soldiers. Sara and Ollie become allies. One of the prisoners on the ship is Anatoly Knyazev.
Back in Starling City, Moira Queen is on trial for the murder of 503 people in the Glades – the total number of people killed by The Undertaking’s earthquake machine. With Malcolm Merlyn presumed dead, the new DA and the city want someone to blame and Moira is chosen, despite her eleventh-hour press conference to warn people. Moira eventually tells her lawyer she will take a plea deal to avoid court because she is afraid of what family secrets will come out. At this point, the audience doesn’t know her Big Secret – but having seen Season 2 and all of Arrow before during this re-watch it’s obvious: Moira doesn’t want anyone, especially Thea, to know that she had an affair with Malcolm Merlyn years ago and Thea is actually his daughter, not Robert’s. This secret and who knows about it and how they react when they find out becomes a major theme of Season 2. And this actually helps the season tremendously and keeps things interesting because it creates family drama and it creates an emotional stake for Oliver. Thea, especially, has trouble accepting her mother’s secrets, lies, and faults. Moira, however, is acquitted on all charges during her trial.
Sebastian Blood, supposedly an orphan who grew up on the city streets before eventually becoming an alderman from the Glades is publically running for mayor. Privately, he is “Brother Blood” – and wears a skull mask and leads a group of men who terrorize and harass the city. Brother Blood works as a bad guy at first, but it is obvious someone is pulling his strings. Blood also just really wants to be mayor and to re-make Starling City in his image to help the people. And, like last year’s Undertaking, and this year’s ultimate villain, Blood is willing to use extreme measures to get what he wants. At times Blood seems to be someone who will simply let the Ends Justify the Means because he really does want to just help the city. At other times, he’s just as much of a villain as any major bad guy on Arrow. So Sebastian is complicated, right to the end of the season, which also makes Season 2 very enjoyable and interesting to watch.
The main villain of Season 2 is Deathstroke, Slade Wilson. By using both flashbacks to the Island and Ivo’s boat, and the story in modern-day Starling City, we see Slade Wilson’s entire journey – from jaded Australian Secret Intelligence Service officer, sent to Lian Yu to extract Yae Fei, to Mirakuru-enhanced super-assassin and supervillain. In a sense, it is Oliver and Sara who create Slade, by injecting him with Mirakuru to save his life. However, when Ivo challenges Oliver to choose who lives and who dies – Sara or Shado, and Oliver risks his own life to save Sara, Slade blames Oliver for Shado’s death. He also seems to be obsessed/in love with her (he says) despite never showing any interest in her before.
On the Island and Ivo’s boat, there is a lot of running around looking for the Mirakuru and then a lot of “who has it” and “who wants it”. Most of the Mirakuru is destroyed by the end of the season’s flashbacks, but since Slade was injected with it, he carries a sample with him. Ivo also developed a “cure” for the Mirakuru that counteracts the negative effects (hallucinations, paranoia, etc.), which is something Oliver spends some time towards the end of the season looking for in the flashbacks. Once the Mirakuru shows up in modern-day Starling City, it’s something Oliver and his associates are constantly looking for, especially after Roy is captured and injected with the Mirakuru serum.
Besides bringing in Sara Lance as the Canary, and explaining where she’s been for five years (working for the League of Assassins who trained her). Season 2 also brings in Barry Allen, a forensic scientist from Central City, who comes to Starling City after a strange robbery at Queen Consolidated. Barry and Felicity hit it off. Throughout the season news reports mention the Particle Accelerator that Dr. Harrison Wells, has built in Central City and that some people oppose out of fear. By the end of the episode, “The Scientist”, we see Barry being hit by lightning in his lab during the Particle Accelerator explosion. Throughout the season, we hear references to Barry being in a coma, as well as Felicity visiting a few times. Caitlyn Snow and Cisco Ramon also visit Felicity and Oliver to help with the production of the Marikuru cure. However, Barry does not wake-up from his coma yet.
Thea runs Verdant, formerly Oliver’s club, and she begins dating Roy Harper (the rough kid from The Glades who stole her purse). Nothing is mentioned of her own run-in with the law last year. At first, Thea is angry and hurt by her mother’s involvement in the Undertaking, but she eventually comes around and forgives her mother. Thea is also close to Oliver. But when Oliver finds out that Malcolm Merlyn is Thea’s father, he gets so angry at Moira that he cuts ties with her. He doesn’t tell Thea what he found out, thinking it would destroy her. This is a big mistake on Oliver’s part.
After her acquittal – Moira is approached by city businessmen, who convince her to run for mayor. The situation is difficult, and it leads to Thea being kidnapped. The kidnapper tells her the truth about Malcolm being her father – which causes Thea to be very angry at Oliver and Moira for lying to her. Moira seriously considers dropping out of the mayoral race but during a rally that she was going to use to make a concession speech, she gets caught up in the moment and decides to continue to run. It’s a fatal mistake. Deathstroke kidnaps Oliver, Thea, and Moira, and forces Oliver to choose between his sister and his mother. Moira sacrifices herself to save her children. Thea decides to leave Starling City. Oliver encourages her to go.
A woman named Isabel Rochev (Summer Glau) launches a hostile takeover of Queen Consolidated at the beginning of the season. With Walter Steele’s help, Oliver counters her bid, and Isabel and Oliver become uneasy partners. Oliver, however, doesn’t really have time to run his company, what with being the Arrow, and all his issues with his friends and family. Isabel thinks he should spend all his time at Queen Consolidated anyway. At the very end of the season, she is revealed to be working with Slade Wilson to get revenge on the Queen family because she was one of Robert Queen’s flings. She claims that Robert was going to leave his wife and family and marry her. She further claims that they were in the airport when he received a call from Moira that Thea was hurt – so he left. Isabel says she can’t understand it because she knew that Robert knew that Thea was Malcolm’s not his. When Slade creates his Marikuru army, Isabel also becomes a Marikuru soldier.
Slade succeeds in creating his Marikuru army, and proceeds to randomly attack the people of Starling City – he also hits major targets, killing the police commissioner, the DA, and several police officers. When Blood is appalled at the destruction in Starling City, and pulls his support from Slade, helping Oliver instead, including giving him the cure worked up by STAR Labs, Slade has Sebastion Blood killed. However, Oliver, Officer (formerly detective) Quentin Lance, Sara “Canary” Lance, Laurel Lance, John Diggle, and Felicity Smoak work together – and they succeed in bringing down Slade Wilson and capturing – not killing him. They also use the Marikuru crew to stop Slade’s army of soldiers without killing him.
I really liked Season 2 of Arrow. I think it may be my favorite season. Oliver’s determination to avoid killing people whenever possible is a good thing – and something he completely forgets later on. But I also like this season because of the new characters that are brought in. Sara Lance returns, now played by Caity Lotz, and she’s wonderful – and she and Oliver have real chemistry. Also, bringing in Sara means there are several meaningful plots with her family – including Laurel, Quentin, and her mother, Dinah (played by Alex Kingston). We also meet Nyssa al Ghul, Sara’s one-time lover who got her into the League of Assassins, something Sara is trying to leave. Oliver’s family in Season 2 is also an interesting plot complication. Thea is much more put together than the party girl she was in the previous season. Her boyfriend, Roy, and his friend Sin (whom I always liked) are important players in the season. Roy will continue to be part of Arrow throughout the 8-year run, though often as an off and on role. Sin, unfortunately, disappears. Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) shows-up a couple of times, basically trying to assert his “rights” as Thea’s father. Later on, he will bring her to Nanda Parbat to train her. We also meet Amanda Waller this season, and see more than just a cameo of Lyla Micheals, whom we find out is John’s ex-wife. John and Lyla renew their relationship and in one of the last episodes of the season, we find out Lyla is pregnant. (And actually, it’s Amanda who announces it with the line, “And that boy your carrying, or is it a girl, or did you want it to be a surprise?”) We also see one of the very first hints that Oliver really does love Felicity. Deathstroke is also a great villain, in part, because Oliver was on the Island with him for two years. And we see him both before he’s injected with the Marikuru and after. And hint – don’t inject an unstable spy with something that will make him even more unstable – just don’t. I also loved Oliver’s commitment to not killing and that he stuck with it even at the end of the season, finding a non-lethal way to take down the Marikuru soldiers and Deathstroke.
I highly, highly recommend Arrow Season 2. It really is my favorite. Though it is worth it to watch all of Arrow and the entire Arrowverse.
Read my Review of Arrow Season 1
Read my Review of Arrow Season 3
Read my Review of Arrow Season 4
Read my Review of Arrow Season 5
Read my Review of Arrow Season 6
Read my Review of Arrow Season 7
Read my Review of Arrow Season 8
- Series: Pennyworth
- Season: 1
- Episodes: 10
- Discs: 3 (Blu-Ray)
- Cast: Jack Bannon, Ben Aldridge, Emma Paetz, Hainsley Lloyd Bennett, Ryan Fletcher, Jason Flemyng, Paloma Faith, Polly Walker, Ramon Tikaram
- Network: EPIX (MGM)
- DVD Format: Color, Widescreen
This Review contains Spoilers for Season 1 of Pennyworth.
Created, produced, and largely written by Bruno Heller and Danny Cannon who developed Gotham (and Heller also did The Mentalist), Pennyworth tells the story of Alfred Pennyworth before he was Alfred. That is, when he was young. Alfred and his friends, Bazza and Dave Boy have just been discharged from the Royal Army where the three served in a SAS unit. Alfred was in service for ten years. Alfred and Bazza are working as bouncers at a club, but Alfred has ambitions to start his own security business.
Alfred meets Thomas Wayne when there’s an altercation at the club. Alfred gives Thomas his card, but later when Wayne offers him a job he turns it down because he doesn’t want to work for a “spook” (spy, intelligence officer). Alfred knows Wayne is a CIA officer – something Thomas continuously denies. Alfred also, despite his best efforts, keeps getting drawn in to political battles – and violence (despite his saying that he wants to avoid any more violence and bloodshed).
There are two “gangs” fighting for control of England – the Raven Society and the No Name League. The Ravens are Conservative, rich, pampered, and spoiled – they are also extreme racists. They want to “cleanse” England of foreigners, the unemployed, welfare, etc. And they are Fascists – willing to do anything to remake England in their image. The No Name League is a little more unknown. Martha is drawn to them because she’s an idealist and genuinely believes in equality and social justice – ideals the No Name League claims to support and that they are criticized for holding by the Ravens. However, the Queen, Prime Minister, and government oppose both factions as radicals. As as the season plays out, the No Name League seems to be willing to use extreme measures to get what they want as well. The Ravens have money and power because they are mostly aristocrats and the rich, though their Conservative agenda and racism appeal to the Army and even some of the working lower classes (such as Alfred’s father, who works as a butler in the household of a lord who is a member).
Alfred manages to get a few independent jobs, including work for an American named Martha Kane, who hires him as a bodyguard and driver. Martha pays well enough that Alfred can quit his bouncer job. Alfred also meets Esme at his club. He rescues her from some guys who are annoying her. She seems somewhat posh, but she’s studying to be an actress and her father was a Vicar. Initially, Alfred’s father disapproves of Alfred’s relationship with Esme – essentially telling his own son she’s too good for him. But the two continue dating, winning over Alfred’s mother almost immediately. Alfred proposes, but then the two break up. Later, Alfred proposes again and the two get back together. Esme wins over Alfred’s father by expressing admiration for the tables he’s designed as a butler and asking him to help with the planning for her wedding.
Then Esme is murdered, while Alfred is out on assignment with Martha, helping the No Name League. The assignment doesn’t really go as planned, but at least Martha and Alfred survive. Alfred assumes it was the Ravens who killed Esme, but it turns it out wasn’t. Much later he finds out that Bet Sykes, who had kidnapped Esme for the Ravens, had actually fallen in love with her and wanted to go to her apartment to apologize for everything. She saw the couple who went into the apartment – but didn’t initially realize she had seen the murderers.
Alfred also had taken on jobs for Mr. Ripper, a gangster who runs the East End – after running his son out of his local pub for harassing one of the waitresses. Alfred had gotten the senior Ripper to realize his son was a “weak link”. Ripper then banished his son and hired Alfred. After Esme’s death, Alfred goes to Ripper for information. Ripper tells him he has to do a job for him, then he will tell him who killed Esme. Alfred does the job, but instead of giving him an answer – he sends Alfred to a witch being held at Bethlehem Royal Hospital. During their first encounter, Alfred doesn’t go in for her fortune-telling. But when something she says turns from prediction to fact, he sees her again. She drugs him and in a dream, he realizes just who did it. Alfred, Bazza and Dave-Boy track down the military officer they’d had a run-in with while in the SAS. But he’s also the bastard son of a Lord, and protected. The police won’t touch him. Alfred, with help from Bet Sykes, tracks him down and kills him. This results in Alfred being sent to Newgate Prison.
Meanwhile, the violence, street crime, and battle for England between the Raven Society and the No Name League has escalated. Lord Harwood, leader of the Raven Society, is arrested and tortured – but Bet finds him on the streets, takes him to her sister’s, and they work on helping him recover. When he is recovered they take him to his former second in command, Frances Gaunt, who had been running the Raven Society in his stead. Gaunt, and the new leader of the No Name League, Mrs. Thwaite, had worked out a fragile peace. They had even gotten a promise of a fair general election with both the Raven Society and the No Name League running on the ticket alongside traditional parties. But Harwood won’t wait – he has Gaunt put together a demonstration, where she resigns and introduces him as the new leader. Alfred’s father is in the audience. The Prime Minister calls for violence and arrests, but Harwood commands the police to stand down and they do. From that point on, the Raven Society starts a coup. They demand the PM and government resign, instigate martial law, forbid anyone but Raven Society members from being on the streets, and hang “enemies of the state”, namely members of the No Name League, including Mrs. Thwaite.
But when Harwood has the Queen kidnapped, even Frances Gaunt has doubts. Harwood also brings the Queen’s uncle and pretender to the throne back to England. Alfred ends up rescuing the Queen. The coup is averted, the government is restored, and the Queen vowes to see the suffering of her people and to help them. It all seems OK. Alfred gets a royal pardon for assisting the Queen. But why is Alfred’s father acting so strange? And where is this boring dinner party the Queen is attending with the Prime Minister, heads of the army, and other important government types? The last few minutes of Pennyworth aren’t to be missed and it ends on a massive cliffhanger with lots of unanswered questions. I goggled it, the second season of Pennyworth was approved by Epix, with filming to start in January for a planned October run. I haven’t been able to find out if filming was disturbed by the Global Pandemic or not.
I loved Pennyworth – there’s plenty of action and surprises. I liked Alfred a lot, and Thomas and Martha are much more different than they are usually played, so they are more interesting as their own persons. Even the villains are of interest here, though they don’t take over the story as they did in Gotham. And yes, this does play like a prequel to Gotham. I could definitely see this Alfred Pennyworth growing up to become Sean Pertwee. I felt sad that poor Esme was fridged, but it does mean Alfred would have a personal experience that he could use to relate to Bruce eventually. And the relationship between Thomas and Alfred doesn’t develop immediately. He’s actually more loyal to Martha and works for her first. Pennyworth is a tightly-written, well-acted, beautifully directed show and I highly recommend it.
- Series: The Flash, Arrow, Supergirl
- Second Arrowverse Crossover Special: Elseworlds
- Episodes: 3
- Discs: Episodes Located in Individual Boxed Season Sets
- Cast: Grant Gustin, Stephen Amell, Melissa Benoist, Candice Patton, Danielle Panabaker, Carlos Valdes, Emily Bett Rickards, Echo Kellum
- Network: CW (Warner Brothers Productions)
- DVD Format: Color, Widescreen
Elseworlds parts 1 and 2 are actually quite humorous, which is different from the previous two Arrowverse Crossovers. Things get more serious in part three, but even then, this crossover isn’t as heavy as the others. The title comes from a series of specials that DC Comics would periodically do (before “Elseworlds” they were also known as “Imaginary Stories”). The Elseworlds stories were “What if” stories – what if Ma and Pa Kent got a flat tire and missed the landing of Superman’s spaceship and he was raised by migrant workers instead? What if Superman’s ship landed in Russia? Even Frank Miller’s “The Dark Knight Returns” is an Elseworlds tale – technically.
However, CW’s take on Elseworlds doesn’t precisely follow the type of stories DC readers are used to when it comes to that label. Rather the story begins with Oliver waking up in an unfamiliar bed, only to have Iris West-Allen call him to breakfast. She’s convinced he’s Barry. And Barry finds himself sparring with John Diggle at ARGUS – everyone thinks he’s Oliver Queen. Oliver and Barry try to convince everyone who they are – and end up locked in the Pipeline. They escape, and portal to Earth 38 where Kara recognizes them immediately – as their own personas. Since she’s visiting Lois and Clark at the Kent farm, Superman tags along when they return to Earth 1.
Meanwhile, back at Star Labs, Iris explains she let Barry and Oliver go because she felt that Oliver really was Barry. When Barry, Oliver, Kara, and Superman return to Star Labs on Earth 1, everyone accepts the situation and is trying to figure out what happened. And the skies are red and shot with yellow lightning. Cisco says he vibed someone and lets Oliver and Barry see what he saw. It’s Mar Novu, the Monitor. And he’s given the Book of Destiny to Deegan (Dr. Destiny) who is using it to shape reality as he sees fit. Oliver recognizes where Deegan and the Monitor were in the vibe – Gotham City.
Everyone heads to Star City, where the geek squad tries to figure out how to switch Barry and Oliver back as well as investigating the red skies. After a brief giving of assignments session – Barry, Oliver, and Kara head to Gotham. Meanwhile, Caitlin and Cisco arrive in Star City, telling Felicity and Curtis that the red skies and lightning have disappeared from Central City, but they are now strong in Star City. They think someone is trying to breach through – and try to stabilize the breach so whoever it is can get through. We’ve seen this mysterious “breacher” a few times so far as well as in the Elseworlds prologue – it’s the Flash of Earth 90 (John Wesley Shipp).
In Gotham, Barry, Oliver, and Kara have just arrived and are discussing how to find Deegan when they are mugged – at gunpoint. Barry reacts and disarms the muggers, then the police arrive and the three are jailed. As they exit the jail after being bailed out – they are taken at gunpoint, again, this time to Wayne Enterprises. Their mysterious benefactor is Kate Kane, cousin of the now missing, Bruce Wayne. She helps by telling them Deegan is a doctor at Arkham Asylum. However, when they manage to get the book (briefly) – Mar Novu takes it back and gives it to Deegan, again. Kate (Batwoman) Kane is wonderful in this and she and Kara have an instant rapport, even joking about being “World’s Finest” when in costume together. Kate’s costume and even her street-clothes look are also comics-accurate.
In Star City, the mysterious traveler arrives, and tells everyone, including John, that they have to get the book. But when Deegan gets the book again, Oliver and Barry find that they are now the Trigger Twins and they have no power. Furthermore, Earth – or at least Central City, is ruled by an evil version of Superman (really Deegan, though he looks like Superman of Earth 38). Kara’s been locked up in the cells at Superman’s palace (eg, once Star Labs). Kara manages to convince Alex who works as one of Superman’s enforcers to help her by using information from when they were kids. Once again, Barry and Oliver briefly get the book, but Superman/Deegan gets it back. While Barry and Kara run around the world real fast to slow down time – Oliver again sees the Monitor, this time making a devil’s bargain to save Kara and Barry’s lives. They then manage to destroy the Book of Destiny, and a much older Deegan is sent to Arkham where the cell next door is occupied by Psycho Pirate. Kara and Barry live, Superman is back to being Superman (of Earth 38), Lois does not fall to her death, and everything seems to be alright. But the stage is set – the next crossover will be Crisis on Infinite Earths and Oliver has made a promise to the Monitor.
I genuinely love Elseworlds. It’s so much fun, and has a lot of humor to it, especially the Freaky Friday aspects of the story. Or maybe Quantum Leap as the geeky squad (Curtis, Cisco, Felicity, Caitlin, and even Barry) argue. It’s a shorter crossover, but the Legends of Tomorrow episode that aired that week is the classic, and off-the-wall “Legends of To-Meow-Meow”, which is one of my all-time favorites (and there is a passing reference to the crossover in the episode). Deegan comes off as a limited villain who has no idea what to do with the power he’s given. One really has to wonder why the Monitor chose him – and why he gives him so many chances. Mar Novu also comes off as being almost villainous himself, which is a different portrayal than his character in Crisis on Infinite Earths. But I just loved Elseworlds and I highly recommend it. As with the other crossovers, I really wish the CW / Warner Brothers would just put the crossover out on individual DVDs or Blu-rays like a movie with all the parts on a single disk. They finally did that with Crisis on Infinite Earths (but included it in the Arrow Season 8 Blu-Ray set) but I think there’s a market to have the crossovers available separately – maybe in a box set of all four? Also, since the special crossovers are largely self-contained but in some ways lead into each other (especially Elseworlds and Crisis) that’s another selling point for a movie-type release of all the parts. Maybe even with special titles for each crossover?
- Series: The Flash, Arrow, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow
- Second Arrowverse Crossover Special: Invasion!
- Episodes: 4
- Discs: Episodes Located in Individual Boxed Season Sets
- Cast: Grant Gustin, Stephen Amell, Melissa Benoist, Candice Patton, Danielle Panabaker, Carlos Valdes, Tom Cavanagh, Jesse L. Martin, Emily Bett Rickards, Victor Garber, Caity Lotz, Chyler Leigh, Franz Drameh
- Network: CW (Warner Brothers Productions)
- DVD Format: Color, Widescreen
The first full crossover event between all four of CW’s DC Superhero shows includes episodes of Supergirl (Season 2 Episode 8: “Medusa”), The Flash (Season 3 Episode 8: “Invasion! Part 1”), Arrow (Season 5 Episode 8: “Invasion! Part 2”), and Legends of Tomorrow (Season 2 Episode 7: “Invasion! part 3”). The Supergirl episode is more of a preview or “part zero” as a breach keeps opening around Kara and then disappearing. Kara meanwhile is dealing with Cadmus releasing a Kryptonian virus that kills all aliens. At the very end of the episode, Barry and Cisco arrive and ask Kara for her help.
Kara joins Barry and Cisco and is introduced to everyone and the plot. An alien spacecraft crashes in downtown Central City, bringing with it some very unfriendly aliens. The Dominators had previously been to Earth in the 1950s where they kidnapped people “for intel” according to Lyla. Kara is introduced to everyone, and as more characters join Barry’s crew – the characters from Arrow and Legends, specifically, everyone is introduced to everyone else. It’s very much like the great comic book crossover events where various characters come together to combat a major threat.
Invasion! is great in that we see all our characters interacting, together, and broken up into smaller groups, each with their individual assignments, including the Waverider heading back to the 1950s to kidnap a Dominator so the heroes can figure out what they want. I enjoyed seeing Cisco, Felicity, Curtis, and Caitlin working together as “Team Science” and “Tech Support”. And since this is just post-Flashpoint for The Flash, everyone is dealing with the repercussions of that, especially Cisco who’s brother Dante died as a result of Flashpoint. Also, the Legends have a message from “future Barry” not to trust current Barry. This brings some depth to a story that otherwise is pretty much just a big fight with all the heroes costumed or not playing their part. This is also the episode that introduces Lily Stein, Dr. Stein’s daughter who was created by his meeting his younger self in an episode of Legends of Tomorrow.
Oliver, Thea, Ray, Sara, and John Diggle are kidnapped by the Dominators and put into a dream state where Oliver and his father never got on the Gambit – so Moira and Robert Quinn are alive and Oliver is about to marry Laurel Lance. John is the Green Arrow. Sara is just living her life. Eventually, Oliver realizes as perfect as this fantasy life is – it’s not real, and they must break out of the illusion. They do and find themselves on an alien spaceship. They escape and their escape craft is rescued by the Waverider before it’s can be destroyed by the Dominators.
Finally, the ultimate plan of the Dominators becomes clear. They consider Metahumans a threat and have come to Earth to eliminate that “threat”. Curiously, Rene Rameriz, Wild Dog, is also showing his hatred and prejudice against Metas and Superheros, basically being a jerk in the one episode where he is heavily featured. He even seems to think eliminating Metas is a good idea.
The heroes have to fight off the Dominators. Firestorm will transmute the Dominator Metabomb into water. Supergirl stands off against the “Man in Glasses” an X-files-like character who was there during the previous Dominator invasion, ordered the torture of one of the aliens, and shows-up when the Dominators do to suppress information about the incident and take charge, even pushing aside Lyla and ARGUS. The Heroes fight is successful. Especially, after their bomb is turned into water the Dominators just leave.
The good about this crossover. It does feel like a big comic book crossover event – with lots of characters (the entire casts of Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, and Legends of Tomorrow are seen at least briefly, and the core casts have featured roles). There are some more emotional parts to the story – Cisco’s visible anger at Barry, though he eventually learns to let go as he realizes after traveling to the past with Felicity in the Waverider how easy it is to accidentally change the past. And Stein’s acceptance of his daughter really works in this story. But, at the end – it’s a slugfest: heroes versus aliens, that’s it.
Although the Supergirl episode is really more of a prologue than a full part of the story, it is thematically linked. Cadmus, led by Lillian Luthor, mother of Lex and Lena Luthor, wants to destroy all aliens, good, “bad”, or indifferent. Actually, as racists, they believe all aliens are bad and must die to leave America clean for the humans. Yes, it’s racist. But at least their plan is seen as evil, and Kara stops it fairly easily, with some help from Lena. The Dominators, who want to eliminate all Metas are the same. They don’t care if some Metas might be good. They consider anyone with power to be a threat and someone that must be eliminated. Again, they are racists who are willing to commit genocide (like Lillian) to preserve themselves. Rene Rameriz is the same – he clearly hates Metas and Superheros and never changes his mind, despite working with a couple dozen people with powers or talented mortals who put on a mask and become a hero.
I recommend Invasion! I do wish that CW and/or Warner Brothers would put all the crossovers out on individual DVDs or Blu-Rays like movies. It is a little awkward to pull out different DVD sets to watch the various episodes. And I had to look-up the order online when I want to watch this again. But it’s a not insurmountable problem, it’s just a little awkward.
You can also read My Review of Crisis on Earth-X the next crossover.