If there was one comics story I would never have thought would be brought to the screen, small or silver, or even adapted, it would be “Flash of Two Worlds,” one of the most pivotal tales in the history of the DC Comics Universe. I had been asked in the 102nd episode of The GAR! Podcast what I wanted to see in “The Flash” this season, and never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined this. I am in nerd heaven. Meet me after the double super-speed jump for my thoughts on “Flash of Two Worlds!”
The Older Flash
Now I’ve talked about Jay Garrick, the original Golden Age Flash before, here and here, and drooled a little at his cameo at the end of the last episode. And yeah, that was his helmet that came through Harrison Wells’ time sphere last season in “Fast Enough.” Now he’s revealed himself as being from another world, just like in the comics.
Right up there with the excitement of having a live-action “Flash of Two Worlds” happening is seeing the live action Jay Garrick. This is a dream come true, my favorite superhero on TV. Teddy Sears is a perfect choice for a character, that had you asked me last year, I would have offered John Slattery from “Mad Men” as a possible perfect cast, but in hindsight, why does Jay Garrick have to be old? He only needs to be older, and having him be the Flash of his world for two years versus Barry’s one still gives him age and experience. I’m not just happy, I’m satisfied. I get Jay, not with the weakness of age, but with the strength of it.
In the comics, Zoom is a crazy nasty piece of work, and third Reverse-Flash. He’s Hunter Zolomon, former Rogue profiler, who was crippled during a battle where the Flash was involved. When the Flash would not go back in time to save him from his paralysis, Zolomon went a bit mad, and later became the villain Zoom. Not technically a speedster, but more a time teleporter who appears to move a super speed. His maniacal goal was to challenge the Flash in order to ‘make him better, with these ‘challenges’ often involving killing the Flash’s loved ones or destroying his city.
The TV counterpart of this villain is a speedster who resembles a bluish Black Flash – itself a speedster whose touch means death, but that’s a whole different story. Zoom is a villain who seeks out other speedsters to destroy them so he is the fastest, and ultimately the only speedster, chillingly voiced by Candyman‘s Tony Todd. Zoom was trying to wipe out Jay Garrick, who we get to see in full red leathery costume in flashback, when suddenly the singularity from “Fast Enough” appeared in the ‘Earth-Two’ sky and whisked Jay away, helmet first, to ‘Earth-One.’
There’s that multiverse thing again. The singularity pulled Jay from his world to our world, removing his speed in the process. And when Caitlin asks where he originally got his speed, he references the comics flawlessly – he’s a research scientist, an independent contractor, who was dropped into a coma by an experiment with hard water fumes. The fanboy in me was loving this. Jay also brought up that Atom Smasher was from his Earth, explaining last episode‘s mystery of the two Albert Rothsteins.
Speaking of explaining things, and this is for all those writers for pre-Crisis DC Comics who had trouble understanding the DC Multiverse, Victor Garber’s Professor Stein does it in under a minute here. He breaks the whole parallel universes thing down in just under a minute. Easy-peasy. Really, what’s not to get? I understood it all at six years old, but I guess I’m just special. The main thrust however is that Zoom is using folks from Earth-Two to kill our Flash, in exchange for transit back home. Does Zoom have access and control of the singularity?
We also have another new character/cast member this week, played by Shantel VanSanten, formerly of “One Tree Hill,” Patty Spivot will be Joe West’s new partner who wants in on the Anti-Metahuman Task Force. She is very determined and enthusiastic, a police officer rather than a police scientist, and graduated from Hudson University, alma mater of both Robin and the Bug-Eyed Bandit. She also has motive to be on the Task Force, the pre-Weather Wizard Mark Mardon killed her father. I like her, but she’s not Patty Spivot like the way Teddy Sears is Jay Garrick.
Patty is a Barry Allen fangirl, which is kind of refreshing, and also really wants to work with Joe. I wasn’t really happy that in her first outing she ends up a damsel in distress. There are also rumors of some romantic sparks with Barry Allen, as there have been in the comics of recent memory. Patty Spivot might be known to folks who follow the current New 52 version of The Flash in DC Comics the last few years, but I remember her a bit differently.
Patty Spivot’s first appearance in the comics was many, many years ago. Way back in the summer of 1977, in a one-shot comic called Five-Star Super-Hero Spectacular, which featured stories using heroes differently than how they were seen at that moment in 1977. We saw a Time Pool story of the Atom, space opera Green Lantern without then-partner Green Arrow, Aquaman fighting a fire-based foe in a desert, Batman’s first encounter with the master villain Kobra, and the ‘science-based’ origin of Ms. Flash.
This was a very different Flash story. While giving his new lab assistant Patty Spivot a tour of his lab, Barry Allen is witness to a metahuman hat trick. Lightning crashes through the window, electrifies a cabinet of chemicals, that then fall onto Patty. The same accident that happened to Barry, and his nephew Wally (Kid Flash) West, giving them both super speed, has happened again, but this time with a deadly difference. Her speed is causing disastrous side effects, so the Flash, demonstrating a brand new power – seeing the potential future in his mind, this entire story, in an instant – thinks at super speed and saves Patty from being affected by the explosion. No super speed, no Ms. Flash, no disaster.
It’s not often I am stumped by a comics-to-television reference, but I have to say, this time they got me. In my defense, it was a character who appeared after I stopped reading comics for a while – doing more constructive things like dating and partying – ah, foolish youth. When I heard the name ‘Sand Demon,’ and in relation to a Flash, my first thought was a rare Golden Age story called “The City of Shifting Sand” from All-Flash #22 in 1946. The Superman foe Quarmer also came to mind, a creature made of sand that was at one time responsible for removing half of the hero’s power for a while.
The character in question is of course simply named Sand Demon, and is yet another Firestorm villain. First appearing in Firestorm #51, Eddie Slick was, believe it or not, a Professor Martin Stein lookalike and criminal who developed sand manipulation powers very much like Spider-Man’s foe, the Sandman. Here, Eddie Slick’s played by actor Kett Turton, and is decidedly not a Stein lookalike.
The new Team Flash works pretty well. Professor Stein is a good fit to substitute for Harrison Wells, and what he doesn’t have, Cisco and Caitlin have stepped up and filled in rather well. Even Jay, when Barry finally trusts him, is a good addition. But what is Iris doing? Her standing around seems a bit false, like when it finally occurs to you why is McCoy always on the bridge of the Enterprise? Barry even calls her out on it for not being a scientist.
This prompts a talk between Iris and Barry on why Barry has been a pain in the butt so far this season. He’s still feels guilt over the deaths of Eddie Thawn last season, and of course, Ronnie/Firestorm, the real ‘man who saved Central City.’ Candice Patton’s Iris comes out of her McCoy shell here, proving she’s moral glue that holds the team together, much like Katharine McPhee on “Scorpion.”
Here are just a few of the bits and pieces that comprise Easter eggs for this episode, little factoids, Crackerjack prizes for those who follow the comics. When Stein explains the multiverse to Joe, he speculates that the Joe West of Earth-Two might be a prize-winning scientist, sort of like Ira West, Iris’ father (step, actually) really is. The Earth-One Eddie Slick served at Blackgate Penitentiary, which is in Gotham City, and where are the non-Arkham Asylum, non-insane, super-criminals that fight Batman are restrained.
Like a couple nerds, Barry and Patty easily bond over Monty Python and the Holy Grail references. In a crossover bit from last week’s episode of “Arrow” Team Flash watches Green Arrow’s broadcast. Cicso notes that he hates when “they stick a color in their name,” perhaps foreshadowing the hints of Hal Jordan and Ted Kord becoming Green Lantern and Blue Beetle in this TV continuity.
Flash of Two Worlds?
Now, in the end, this wasn’t really a television version of the classic comics story “Flash of Two Worlds,” but it was an exciting tale of Barry Allen and Jay Garrick teaming up against the forces of evil. I loved the way Jay called Barry “kid,” and was showing him new ways to use his speed, and man oh man, seeing Golden Age Flash in live action, super speed or not. And yes, as corny as it seemed to fans and non-fans alike, the re-enactment of the cover of Flash #123 was amazing. This was not only the best episode of the season, but maybe the series.
In the multiple endings tradition of Lord of the Rings, this episode does set up much for the future. There’s the appearance of Vanessa Williams (also from Candyman) as Iris’ mother, Cisco’s developing powers and his admission of them to Professor Stein, Stein’s collapse while explaining there are 52 (hello?) dimensional breaches in Central City, and the brief glimpse into the Tomorrowland-like S.T.A.R. Labs of an alternate Earth with Harrison Wells as its founder and savior… so much to munch on until next week…
Next: Colonel Cold and the family that slays together… “Family of Rogues!”