The Flash – Episode 1, “Pilot”

** SPOILERS AHEAD – The following blog post contains a semi-review of the pilot episode of The Flash. There are spoilers within this tiny text that you should steer clear of unless you’ve seen the episode already or don’t mind little things like that. **

Following in the footsteps of the CW hit Arrow, DC Comics character The Flash races onto the small screen. I admit, I’ve only seen a few minutes of the series premier of  Arrow, but it is in my Netflix queue. But the big question I’m wondering is (despite my lack of Arrow viewings), can The Flash make a splash with audiences? Or will it fall to the ratings gods like it’s 1990’s predecessor? Well, luckily, according to Wikipedia, we’ll have the original Flash, John Wesley Shipp (now playing Barry Allen’s dad) and Amanda Pays (eventually reprising her role as Dr. Tina McGee) to give us a bit of nostalgia for the old television fans.

In the pilot episode we get a fantastic story arc, from beginning to end, of what a superhero movie should be like. Let alone this was just the pilot for a new television series, this was a fantastic stand alone episode if one were needed. The fact that there are more to flashposterfollow is just an exciting bonus. If you can’t tell by now that I’m excited by this new series, well then open your eyes brothers and sisters! I have high hopes here and don’t want anyone bashing them, but I believe DC may have found their second platform for viewers. It’s no secret I’m a huge fan of their animated films and shorts, but with the creative forces behind Arrow and now The Flash, I think they could really make good on the land of television. Let’s face it, Marvel has them beat in the cinematic universe of characters and storytelling, but DC should learn to stick to their own strengths, which in this case, the CW Network seems to have struck gold with.

As for The Flash pilot episode, we’re introduced to Barry Allen as – possibly – the slowest and most bumbling man alive. His mother was killed in a freak accident in which his dad was accused of and is serving time in prison for. The detective on the case at that time, Detective West, and his family took Barry in and raised him as their own along with daughter, Iris West. Barry holds strong feelings for Iris, but she’s still looking at him like a brotherly figure and can’t see his big doe eyes when they talk. So you’ve got a bumbling young forensic CSI investigator who was raised by the detective that helped send his real father to prison for a murder he didn’t commit. That’s good television, folks!

But Barry does have a serious side, which brings us to why the Central City Police Department keeps him around. He’s very, very good at his job. Within seconds of checking out a crime scene (which he was late to) Barry is able to tell them 50% of what they need to know about the get away car. With help back at the station from the labs and some computer work, (in that super short tv time of crime scene investigation) he is able to narrow down their search for the bad guys to 4 farms that sell a particular chemical that he found in a trace of cow poop from the tire. It may sound silly, but just go with it, okay? It works in this particular scenario.

The show moves along pretty quickly (I will really try to refrain from speed puns), getting straight to the lightning storm that gives Mr. Allen his powers. It’s intensified by the fact it’s caused by a faulty particle accelerator that goes boom and rips open a hole in the space/time continuum thingy that unleashes globs of dark matter and other science-y stuff into the air. Barry just happens to get struck by a combination of this and tossed into a rack of various chemicals. I know, I know, if you’re a Flash fan, you know all this! What happens next, though, takes place nine months later when Barry comes out of a coma and has been signed over to S.T.A.R. Labs care.

The rest of the show moves along smoothly and at a awesome pace with very little downtime to get bored with. Barry’s introduced to his new powers, has to learn to adjust, meets his new allies/friends, and has a last quarter falling out with Detective West. This all comes full circle in the final few minutes when he finally confronts another meta-human that was given powers by the same storm as him. Barry’s mission is to seek out these other meta-humans who would do harm to his family, friends and city and stop them with the powers he’s been given. And in the meantime, he’s also interested in finding the true killer of his mother and setting his father free. This is portrayed in a very touching moment at the end when he visits his dad in prison. John Wesley Ship is fantastic in the few scenes he’s in and  I really hope my gut feeling is wrong about him (which is that they’re probably going to kill him off in the next few episodes.)

And now for the big secret season-long story arc I think we’ll be getting: Reverse Flash, or Professor Zoom. The yellow ball of whirling light that was responsible for Barry’s mom’s death. I’m torn here. Pictures were released today showing the actor playing him in costume. Now, to me it looks like Detective West’s new partner, Eddie Thrawn, who fans may recognize the name of as being the Professor Zoom from the comics. But is this too obvious? Maybe they’ll change it up a bit in the series and go their own way with this. There’s also the possibility of Doctor Harrison Wells. He’s obviously hiding something BIG as we saw in the last few seconds of the pilot episode. He’s got some series trust issues with the secrets he’s hiding. But could he be Professor Zoom? Judging from what the pictures looked like in the media today, it doesn’t look like him behind the mask, and it honestly only sort of looked like Thrawn. Of course, that could have just been a stuntman in the suit to throw everyone off.

So, while I’ve gushed about The Flash on The CW Network, all I can really do is beg you to watch it. Make it a hit just like Arrow has become. This is a great first episode and I think we have more goodness to look forward to. Set your DVR’s, watch it live on Tuesdays, write in and tell them how much you love it and post across the mighty internet that others should join in on the fandom. The Flash has returned and I’m all in this time, just like I was the last time.

We’re Looking At It All Wrong

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If you’ve been hiding behind a nerd shield, then you may not be aware that the Kingdom of Nerd is all shook up this morning. It actually came in late last night, hopeful I guess, that the inhabitants were busy playing D&D or wrapped up in a good fantasy book. Warner Bros. and DC announced the next actor to play Batman in the 2015 Superman/Batman crossover movie. It is Ben Affleck.

Stones are being thrown, comments hurled wildly into the nether. The majority of folks I know and follow across the internet don’t seem to like this news. I’m remaining neutral (as best I can) because Affleck isn’t a horrible actor, and there’s also one other thing that comes to my mind: he wasn’t really cast to play The Batman, he was cast to play Bruce Wayne.

All the previous actors – Keaton, Bale, Kilmer, Clooney – they were chosen for what they could bring to the role of playboy Bruce Wayne. A philanthropist owner of a multi-billion dollar corporation who dabbles in a bit of everything to fund a very dangerous hobby started by the death of his parents at a very young age. A man who’s closest friend/parent/confidant is his butler. A man who has more emotional depth and complex social grid then anyone I know in real life. Bruce Wayne is a multi-dimensional character that requires attention and detail from whomever takes on that mantle.

But what about The Batman? Batman is his own person. An actor may fill the inside of the suit, but the costume and the writing take care of the rest. Batman will be whatever the director and the writers tell him to be. Affleck will simply be the skeleton it is molded over. In other words, if this incarnation of Batman turns out to be the worst ever, it will be Snyder’s fault and the fault of the script writers. Where Affleck will succeed or fail is with Bruce Wayne. If he can bring him to life and give him a portrayal worthy of the name, then he will be in good hands.

Pull List Reading for the Week of 5/2

Tonight, while flipping through the comics I picked up this past week, I realized something. It’s been awhile since I did one of my quick review/preview posts of the books I picked up and read for a particular week. Not only am I far behind in my comic reading, but I’m behind on my posts concerning those trades as well. So, I thought I’d throw this past weeks books out there.

Dial H #1 (DC Comics) – Part of the second wave of The New 52, Dial H is … well … I’m not really sure yet. The book – from what I could tell – follows an obese man who has had a minor heart attack. He is assisted by his friend, who isn’t in the best of shape himself. They get into an argument when the friend suggests a change in lifestyle to get rid of some of the weight, then leaves in a hurry. Having said some harsh words to his friend, who was just trying to help, our main character of the book, Nelse, goes after him. He comes across a few guys roughing up his friend, beating him senseless.

Here is where I lose all coherent thoughts, folks. Nelse runs to a pay phone, picks it up and starts to dial – the police? Either way, for some reason, he instead dials 4376 (which spells, H E R O), and all hell breaks loose. I’m not sure what happens, and at times I find it difficult to know who is speaking or even who they are talking to. For a first issue book, I really lost me right off the get-go, but I’m a sucker for punishment and will see it through a few more issues.

Earth 2 (DC Comics) – Another title from the second wave of New 52, Earth 2 takes place on an alternate Earth in DC’s multiverse. Here, things are familiar, yet completely different because of slight (or major) changes that occurred off kilter from our own timeline. In the first issue here, we discover that Earth has been over run by Apokolips’ parademons. Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman are about to make a last ditch effort to try and bring down the creatures, but it will cost them everything – including their lives. The three die in the wastes of what was once Metropolis, Supergirl and Batman’s daughter (and the current Robin) vanish in a flash of bright light.

We are then offered two peeks at some other folk. Alan Scott has provided the voice over for the memorial video that was created for all to see, detailing the events that lead to the superhero’s deaths. Another glance gives us a 21 year old Jay Garrick, who is seeing his girlfriend off to college. Correction, make that, ex-girlfriend, as she is fondly dumping him as she gets into her car. The issue ends with the god, Mercury, appearing to Jay with a final plea. End issue 1. Looking forward to a “fresh” take on the already familiar universe. But I wonder how long it will be before Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman are resurrected in this universe?

Action Comics #9 (DC Comics) – Ahh, DC’s Multiverse. It strikes again here, but not with Earth 2! Here, we get a look at Earth 23, and more specifically, the Superman that lives there. Similar birth origin, except this Superman was found and raised by a poor black couple when he crashed (that’s okay, you see, he’s black, too – Superman is.) If fact, from what I could tell, all the Justice League that was features was also black. Clark wasn’t Superman’s alter ego, though. On Earth 23, Superman goes by the name Calvin Ellis and he is President of the United States.

Issue 9’s side story opens with Superman fighting Lex Luthor. He destroys the mechanical suit Luthor has created then ventures into the lab his arch nemesis was working in. Inside, he discovers a portal to parallel worlds, and as he is staring at it, three figures come running through, two of them badly burnt. One of the burnt figures dies instantly, the woman of the group proclaiming, “No! Jimmy!” but her second companion is still barely alive. She reveals his name to be Clark. The woman tells Superman that they are from a world where their imaginations – via a neat little machine – have the power to bring ideas to life. In their world, Superman was thought to life, however he could only maintain form for less than an hour. So, they sought out funding to build a more powerful machine.

The people that bought it, however, didn’t need a more powerful machine, they just needed more brain power. With hundreds of people thinking the same thoughts, they created a killing machine. A Superman with no feeling or remote – a faceless killing machine. Calvin isn’t going to stand for it and swears to protect the group, instantly locking in combat as the hate-filled Superman comes through the portal.

I’ll leave the end for any readers to discover. Needless to say, anything can happen in parallel worlds because we may never even go back to visit those. Heros can die, change, be bad guys, etc. But at the end of the book, an interesting observation is made about this world’s Superman, especially concerning his status to the public as President of a free country versus defender of the free world. It was nice to read a little something different in the line, but I wonder if this was just an off the wall one-shot, or if the writers have something up their sleeve for the future.

Detective Comics #9 (DC Comics) – “Night of the Owls” is the subtitle of this cross-title adventure. The book opens with Arkham Asylum on lock-down and the police recommending Dr. Arkham take refuge in the hospital’s safe room. He instead chooses to go check on a patient who claims to have been cured. No sooner has he entered the room than all heck breaks loose. It seems a group called The Court of Owls had decided Arkham must die for aiding the criminals in his institution. Luckily, Batman just happens to bust in to save the night.

Arkham seems a bit unstable as he talks to himself in the book. The things he believes he is doing to actually help the insane rogues gallery his prison holds is a bit off whack. When he is saved by Batman and sent fleeing, he decides Batman is just as much an intruder as the Owls. So, he does the most logical thing – he recruits False Face to take down Batman and releases all the other criminals to fight the Court of Owls.

I liked it, check it out. I’m behind in my reading of this series, but jumping into this book didn’t seem to have me behind at all on what was going on. As a bonus, at the end of the first Owls story, we are given a 2nd story featuring Two Face called, 50/50.

I despise story lines that make me buy titles I do not even read just to get the complete “story.” I’m not really sure this one is going to be worth it to buy all the Bat titles.

G.I. Combat #1 (DC Comics) – G.I. Combat gives us 2 stories to sink our teeth into. The first takes us to North Korea where there is something strange going on. The special forces team in route has no idea what they are about to encounter because nothing is coming in or out of the area. As the team is briefed on their reconnaissance mission, the scene cuts to one of the choppers being attacked by a pterodactyl (or whatever they’re calling them these days.) And this leads us to The War That Time Forgot, the first story in the book. I do not like the art, but since I’m not professional on the subject, all I can say is that it isn’t to my liking. Too clean and cartoonish (as in television cartoon). And considering the story is cut short to make room for the second feature, titled The Unknown Soldier.

The Unknown Soldier  picks up in Afghanistan as a soldier is kicking down a door and preparing to lay down fire on some terrorists. No dialogue interrupts the scenes, but the text presented is in the form of a letter being written to a lady named Darla. The person narrating wishes them to know about the man known as The Unknown Soldier. Again, I’m no art major or critic, but this time the art is dark and dirty. The story, however, is good enough to make me want to come back for the next issue. It’s the typical story of a disfigured man with no idea of who he is called into service by his country because of a certain skill set. You know, the usual.

I’d give G.I. Combat a heavy “meh” because of the mixture of the stories. One is so-so, the other has potential.

Teen Titans Annual #1 (DC Comics) – Here is the second book I read that is setting up a cross-title arc. This Teen Titans Annual brings us into a 4-part arc titled The Culling. The Culling is a Battle Royal between meta humans. They fight it out to see who survives, and those that live become part of a group known as the Ravagers. Of course, the Teen Titans have other plans, and are joined by Legion Lost (oh look! A crossover!) Good story, good art, as usual. I like this team for the most part but, again, not sure if I’m going to invest in the other three books just to finish the arc started here.

Just a reminder folks, I’m no professional reviewer, I just call ‘em as my little mind see ‘em. These were the titles I picked up for the week of May 2nd, and of the 6 books I picked up, I’d say 2 1/2 actually captured my attention. Better luck next week! :)

Barnes & Noble Pulls 100 DC Graphic Novels

Reported by Bleeding Cool News, it seems Barnes & Noble (the giant book selling chain) has pulled over 100 DC Comics graphic novels from their shelves.  Why?  It seems to be a tantrum over the fact that DC gave Amazon exclusive rights to digital distribution of these same graphic novels on their new Kindle Fire device.

Please, hit the link to read Bleeding Cool’s brief article and give them some hits and love.

Bleeding Cool:

Barnes & Noble Pulls Watchmen, Sandman And 100 DC Graphic Novels From Their Shelves Over Amazon Kindle Fire Deal

DC Universe Presents: Deadman #1 (DC’s The New 52)

While I like to play it safe in the world of comics, sticking to what I know, I decided I’d go out on a limb with the DC relaunch. One of the “out on a limb” comics I picked up was DC Universe Presents: Deadman. I believe the original idea for the DC Universe Presents title is to host lesser known characters in small story arcs. An anthology to showcase characters people (like me) might like but might not know anything about.

With Deadman, I found myself pleasantly surprised. Knowing nothing about the character, I think the first issue did a nice job of introducing the man – Boston Brand, a man so egotistical that he is gunned down while performing a trapeze act. He is given a chance to redeem himself while walking the world between the living and the dead. He can take people who are beaten, down on their luck and have an all around rough life, and “inhabit” them, trying to turn their life around. Each time he succeeds, he grows once step closer to his real body/soul.

I know, it sounds a bit like Quantum Leap, right? Well, Boston Brand isn’t exactly a people person. He lived his life in vanity, remember? In the first issue, we are lead to believe he has already inhabited several dozen people’s forms, and none of them have really improved their status. He seems to be a failure, and is looking for a way to communicate with the goddess who made him the deal. Only problem is, she won’t answer his calls. So on our final page, Brand takes on the life of a crippled war veteran, and instantly cocks a gun and puts it to the guys head. The goddess instantly appears and Brand says it’s time they talk.

Despite some negative reviews I’ve seen online, I really liked this book. Great intro story, interesting character. Not sure where we’re going to go, but I plan on sticking around to find out. Nice, shiny art work, you get a feel for some of Brand’s powers (he is able to possess for a short time regular folks in order to communicate with the living).

Recommended read.