The one thing that the Flash does that not many other superheroes these days do is he enjoys his powers. He’s happy to have them, and loves using them. Super speed is not a curse for Barry Allen; it is a blessing. But what happens when suddenly, just when he’s getting used to them, he is stripped of his super speed? Meet me after the jump for my thoughts on “Power Outage.”
The Nature of The Flash
Anyone who knows the comics knows that the Flash has a particular legacy. Through his very skill set and power set, the Flash can travel through time, and across dimension. The multiverse is his playground. There have been occasions where he’s hidden in the future, faced enemies from alternate futures, and even died through time itself – all to save lives, even entire universes. As I’ve said before, if you know the comics history of Barry and Iris, you know theirs is a love that surpasses time, space, dimension, and even death itself.
The Flash’s deadliest enemy, Professor Zoom the Reverse-Flash, is a being similar to the hero in this way. He was inspired by the Flash in his own far 25th century, eventually warped to evil purposes and a streak on revenge on Barry, an endgame that murdered his mother. This final attack, which we have seen on the TV series, in the comics created not just another dimension, but another universe – the Flashpoint continuity – which was subsequently erased. This is the nature of the Flash, the legacy of super speed, and the curse of time travel.
In the comics, Flashpoint was the bridging story between the old DC Comics Universe and the current New 52. They even made an animated feature based on the comics. The Reverse-Flash taking his ultimate revenge and murdering Nora Allen crushed the time stream, and created a whole new continuity where things weren’t just altered, they were maddeningly changed. Much like the fabled butterfly effect, the death of Nora Allen damaged the entire timestream.
The world was ravaged by a global war between Atlantis and Themyscria, and with Aquaman and Wonder Woman at odds, no Justice League was ever formed. Thomas Wayne became Batman to Martha Wayne’s Joker when their son Bruce Wayne was murdered. Those were just some of the really weird stuff that came about. Deathstroke was a pirate, Captain Cold a hero, and Superman a Area 52-like alien held captive by the government. To return the timestream to its normal flow, the Flash had to make one sacrifice – his mother had to remain dead. Ever the hero, Barry allowed it. It was into this world that a young hero named Farooq was introduced.
Alternately known as Blackout (no, not that Blackout), Farooq is a new character for the Flashpoint storyline. He is among the metahumans gathered by Cyborg to stop the war between the Atlanteans and the Amazons. As far as I know, and I could be wrong, but I don’t believe that Farooq exists in the present New 52 continuity, which makes him a rather odd choice for inclusion in the TV series.
In the comics, he had no names other than Farooq or Blackout, was given no origin, wore a simple facemask and barely a costume, and had astonishing control over electricity, making him a very dangerous metahuman opponent. Here, played by Toronto actor Michael Reventar, Farooq Gibran is more of an electrical vampire, whose powers were of course caused by the particle accelerator explosion. That origin is getting to be a bit too handy, much like the meteor villains of the week on “Smallville.”
Easter Eggs Immediately
Last time the opening voiceover was by Candice Patton’s Iris West, and this time it’s Tom Cavanagh’s Harrison Wells doing it. He is adding a journal entry in his future room via a possible artificial intelligence he calls Gideon. She could be just like Siri on our iPhones, or she could be something even more sinister. Two thoughts – could Wells be either Dr. Megala from the old Captain Atom (he does have a history with General Eiling), or maybe Thomas Oscar Morrow, enemy of the Justice League and the Justice Society, who frequently could look into the future, like Wells does here?
Wells’ journal entry talks about how Barry is depending more and more on his speed during everyday activities. We watch Barry get ready for work and help folks out in the long coffee line as Wells talks. Then we get the goodies. Barry is mugged in an alley. Funny dialogue and situation follow, but that’s not the coolest part. The coolness are the posters in the alley where it happens. We again see Blue Devil II – Hell to Pay, but we also see an ad for a Nighthawk and Cinnamon movie. These are characters from DC Comics’ old west, who may or may not be past lives of Hawkman and Hawkwoman.
Paradox and Blackout
After a first encounter with Farooq, besides getting zapped nastily, Barry is drained of his super speed. Barry is crushed, Joe is worried who will protect Central City from metahuman criminals, and Wells… well, he’s concerned that the future has been altered. There’s no trace of the Flash in it. He’s really starting to panic when things get much much worse.
Able to work out that the particle accelerator accident changed him, Farooq has come to visit S.T.A.R. Labs looking for Harrison Wells. In his assault on the building, he manages to blackout all of Central City. No Flash, no power, can it get much worse? Oh yes, yes, it can.
The Clock King
“The Flash” is firmly part of the Arrowverse, a shared television continuity begun over on “Arrow,” and one of the crossover points is Iron Heights prison. As Farooq attacks S.T.A.R. Labs, William Tockman, played by Robert Knepper, is being transferred from Iron Heights and held at the Central City police department. Known as the Clock King he is Green Arrow’s Silver Age archenemy and one of Arrow’s more dangerous foes.
Here, the Clock King has taken advantage of the power failure to break his bonds and hold the precinct hostage, including Joe and Iris. It’s nice that we get to finally see character actor Patrick Sabongui do more with Captain David Singh than a walk on and a few one liners. It gets even more desperate when Eddie is shot, and the clock is ticking…
Just like in the Flashpoint comics, where a powerless Barry Allen must reenact the accident that gave him his powers to do it again, that is Wells’ plan as well. The best part is the treadmill will be used to do it, looking more and more like a Cosmic Treadmill everyday. Meanwhile, Barry, always wanting to do the right thing, always wanting to help people, tries to talk to Farooq. It doesn’t work of course but I’m glad Barry tried it. At least he’s still a hero.
On the opposite end of heroism, Wells is so desperate he releases Girder to distract Farooq, killing Barry’s old nemesis in the process. Wells is so desperate he’s showing his hand openly to Barry, Cisco, and Caitlin, doing everything but walking. But how desperate is he really?
While everyone involved wishes the Flash had been there, the police standoff with the Clock King is resolved by Iris and Joe, showing not all heroes have to have powers. Back at S.T.A.R. Labs however, Farooq corners Wells saying he doesn’t care about anyone who was killed in the particle accelerator accident. And then it happens.
Wells rattles off a list of names of those killed – Ralph Dibny, Al Rothstein, Grant Emerson, Will Everett, Bea DaCosta, and Ronnie Raymond. For the uninitiated, those are the civilian identities of the Elongated Man, Nuklon/Atom Smasher, Damage, Amazing Man, Green Flame/Fire, and one half of Firestorm. A blueprint of the future perhaps?
The Insidious Doctor Wells
Barry and Wells make up unsatisfactorily, although it is probably in character for Barry, being the nice guy that he is. Wells has his requisite bad guy episode ending, in taking DNA from Farooq so he can see how he was able to steal the Flash’s powers. One could suggest it might be so he could also give someone else those powers – maybe the Reverse-Flash. If Wells is Morrow, could he be controlling Eddie Thawne through some sort of hypnosis and he is the Reverse-Flash? He is a Thawne after all.
What gets me is when Farooq is attacking Barry, Cisco, and Caitlin… Wells never once gets out of his chair, no matter how intense the danger. Just how far was he willing to take that charade? How much does he need them, and need them in the dark?
Next: The Flash Vs. Arrow!