In the pilot episode of “The Flash,” first seen over the summer, and in a couple of episodes of “Arrow,” we have witnessed the secret origin of our scarlet speedster. Forensic police scientist Barry Allen has been imbued with super speed and has determined to become Central City’s new costumed defender. In this second episode, Barry gets a baptism by fire as a new villain opposes him. Meet me after the jump for my thoughts on “Fastest Man Alive.”
First things first, the internet has been flooded week after week since “The Flash” was announced on the CW of casting news of character after character. It almost seems like an empty week without at least one “Flash” news story. One wonders if there will be any surprises left for the season with so many characters cast and revealed. Already seen are the Weather Wizard and his brother, Vibe and Killer Frost (still in their civilian identities of Cisco Ramone and Caitlin Snow), and briefly glimpsed in the pilot was the Reverse-Flash, and also potentially his secret identity, Eddie Thawne.
One of the most well known facets of the Flash mythos in the comics is his Rogues Gallery, a loosely organized society of his costumed enemies. Among those already cast are Captain Cold and Heatwave (reuniting stars from Fox’s “Prison Break”), the Pied Piper, and Girder. Non-Rogues, but still just as villainous, we will also be seeing Wade Eiling and Simon Stagg. There is also quite the Easter egg from the pilot of a coming appearance by Super Gorilla Grodd.
In this week’s episode we meet Michael Smith who plays Danton Black, a man who can clone multiple copies of himself. Speaking of tonight’s villain, known in the comics as Multiplex, his comics origin follows a suspicious theme in this season of “The Flash.” Multiplex is most known as the archenemy of another comics superhero called Firestorm, and it seems as if the showrunners are more than a little obsessed with Firestorm. Perhaps, a “Firestorm” series will be launched from “The Flash,” just as “Arrow” birthed “The Flash.”
Witness the evidence. Multiplex is heavily drawn from Firestorm’s origin, and is literally his opposite number, created from the same nuclear explosion. Just as Multiplex is one man who can become many (fission), Firestorm is two men who become one (fusion). In the pilot it is mentioned that Caitlin lost her fiancée in the particle accelerator event. Her fiancée is Ronnie Raymond, who will be played by Stephen Amell’s brother Robbie, and also cast is Victor Garber who will play the scientist fused to him as Firestorm. I should also add that in the comics, Caitlin’s alter-ego of Killer Frost is also a major enemy of Firestorm’s. The set-up is all here, it’s just a matter of time.
Bright and Shiny
Nice new intro, a la “Arrow,” but then Grant Gustin’s voiceover turns it on its side. He’s having fun, we’re having fun. After years of TV superheroes being dark, grim, and gritty – it looks like we old school comic book fans are getting what we always wanted… fun four color superheroes on our TV screens, and based on last week’s ratings, we are not alone in our desires.
I will take bright and shiny over grim and gritty any day. In the opening scene The Flash saves several people from a fire. Almost as cool as finally seeing our hero in full costume, is seeing the good guy do right, and the good guy win. And best of all, Gustin as Barry makes it fun. He’s no brooding Oliver Queen, that’s for sure, and I love it!
Stagg Industries has already been established as existing in the DC TV Universe over in “Arrow,” but this is the first time we actually see its CEO, Simon Stagg, played by veteran character actor William Sadler. Comics fans will recognize Stagg as the freakish superhero Metamorpho’s constant nemesis. This is not a good man by any means, even if he has the same flash of purple from the comics.
In the comics, Rex Mason falls in love with Stagg’s daughter, but the old man decides he’s not good enough for her and tries to have him killed. The ‘accident’ turns him into an elemental monster, yet the daughter still loves him. And so, Simon Stagg continues to try to destroy Metamorpho on a subtle and continual basis. Stagg is worst kind of villain, because of his money, and his daughter’s love, he always gets away with his brand of evil.
Here in the television version, Stagg is getting a Man of the Year award for his work in cellular regeneration, when the event is attacked by six gunmen. They all look alike (notably dressed in a casual homage to the comics Multiplex costume) and move alike. Barry tries to apprehend them but he gets the woozies and has to stop. Turns out, just like in the comics, Barry and his super speed metabolism are hungry.
Multiplex is after Stagg because he was hired by the old man’s bodyguard Mr. Java. This is a cool update because in the comics, Java is Stagg’s dimwitted Neanderthal servant. When Java confronts Danton Black for blowing the hit, we see the villain become multiple and beat him to death. Java always was a thug, but he didn’t deserve that.
Family and Flashback
Just as “Arrow” had what I’ve called ‘Flashback Island,’ where viewers were shown events that formed young Oliver Queen into the man he is today, “The Flash” is doing a bit of the same. We get to see Barry as a kid, interacting with pseudo-sister Iris and pseudo-dad Joe. It appears to have always been a rocky relationship with Joe, but there is love, and care. And it’s care that causes Joe to confront Team Flash at S.T.A.R. Labs.
More callbacks to the comics have Iris pursuing journalism. In the comics she was a reporter for Picture News, just this side of being as obnoxious as Lois Lane, but never quite getting there. There is a great scene where Barry tells her everything between the ticks of a second. This is the magic that makes this show great. We also see just a little bit more of Rick Cosnett’s Eddie Thawne. I know he has the Reverse-Flash’s family name but they are making him such a slimy Eddie Haskell type that it must be a red herring, right?
Barry’s support team is still semi-supportive. Cisco is all in on the superhero game while Caitlin is getting waaay colder and meaner, and Harrison Wells is not only a bit more bitter about being in a wheelchair (although we know that may or may not be true), but he also refers to himself as a pariah.
Comic fans will know that Pariah is a pivotal character in DC Comics’ Crisis on Infinite Earths, which was hinted at the final scene of the pilot, and in which the comics version of the Barry Allen Flash dies to save the Multiverse. Just saying. And speaking of the Multiverse, this fanboy loved that the ‘Cisco-ed’ treadmill looked a lot like the Cosmic Treadmill from the comics.
Confidence and Catastrophe
In the end Joe joins Team Flash, and his believing in Barry gives our hero the advantage he needs to beat Multiplex. Thanks, Cisco, much better than ‘Captain Clone.’ And Joe just doesn’t join that team, he joins Barry in his quest to free his father as well. Their relationship is something I’m looking forward to seeing more of.
The Flash’s other foster father Harrison Wells is into something a bit more sinister. Throughout the episode he keeps showing up places out of nowhere as if he had speed of his own. And in the final moments of this episode, he confronts and murders Stagg. “The Flash is a secret that must be kept.” Who is Harrison Wells?? I think we can rule out an older Barry Allen now… so the question is… which Reverse-Flash is he?
Next: Could it be… The Mist?