Like meteor freaks or monsters of the week, breachers from Earth-Two sent to destroy the Flash on orders from Zoom have become status quo so far this season of “The Flash.” This week’s breacher goes by the name of Doctor Light, a character with a dangerous and twisted history and legacy in the comics. We’ll take a look at that, and the episode at hand, “The Darkness and The Light,” after the jump.
Doctor Light Vs. the Justice League
Back in the Silver Age of DC Comics, the concept of continuity as we know it today did not exist. What Superman was up to in Action Comics had no bearing whatsoever on his adventures in World’s Finest Comics or Lois Lane or Justice League of America or his own title. That’s just the way it was. DC didn’t catch up to that sort of stuff until the early 1970s. There were two exceptions. One was Zatanna’s search for her father Zatara that jumped from title to title for about a year, and the other was the insidious Doctor Light.
Doctor Arthur Light had appropriated Thanagarian technology that allowed him a variety of light-oriented powers, and using for evil, he crossed paths with the Justice League. Once beaten and imprisoned, Light surmised that he could not defeat the JLoA en masse, so determined to wipe them out one on one. Doctor Light began to appear in each of the Justice Leaguers’ solo titles in his quest to fight them individually. First he fought the Atom, then Green Lantern, and so on. It was feared by some readers that the villain might be right. Perhaps he was no match for the whole team, but just maybe…
As the Silver Age became the Bronze of comics, Doctor Light contended against the Flash, and Superman and Batman, and then later was humiliated more than a few times by the Teen Titans, and then he was beaten and incarcerated by literally some kids in costumes called Little Boy Blue and the Blue Boys. How the mighty had fallen, something drastic had happened behind the scenes, and a rather frightening retcon by novelist Brad Meltzer explained it all.
In the beautifully written and illustrated, but critically maligned, mini-series called Identity Crisis, we find out the tragedy caused by and the trauma inflicted upon Doctor Light. Before he battled the Titans, Light managed to infiltrate the Justice League’s satellite headquarters and battered and raped the Elongated Man’s wife. When the League caught him, they learned exactly how desperate and mad to destroy them Light truly was.
Rather than fight them individually, Light swore he would uncover their secret identities, hunt them down, and harm their loved ones as he had just done. He would get them, and they couldn’t stop him. A plan was hatched, it was suggested Light be magically lobotomized by Zatanna, removing any information he may have gathered on the League. A mad plan, a plan that not everyone agreed with. The Flash was convinced when Light brought attention to the fact he could see a wedding ring under his glove. Light was mindwiped.
Thereafter, he became inept, a joke, a loser who could not even beat a pre-teen hero named Little Boy Blue. And as the years went by, The League still used Zatanna to mindwipe and ‘reform’ villains who had learned secret identites or whatnot. Only Batman was against it, and he was mindwiped to make him forget, an action that would cause derision years later. And when Light got his memory back, he became deadlier than ever. All of this would come back to bite the Justice League in the butt later on. It’s a perfect example of ‘absolute power corrects absolutely.’
The New Doctor Light
Now we’ve talked about the Crisis on Infinite Earths before. A lot of characters were killed or changed, but there were a handful of new characters created. The new Doctor Light was one of them. Gaining light powers from the events of the Crisis, Japanese scientist Kimiyo Hoshi became the new Doctor Light, originally not the nicest person in the world, arrogant and belligerent, she was inspired by the death of Supergirl in the Crisis to become a better person, a superhero.
All that history and villany and legacy in the name of Doctor Light, and it turns out that the Dr. Light encountered in this episode of “The Flash” is neither of them, nor anything like them. She is, like the other breachers, is sent by Zoom to kill the Flash. While any of the Light costumes from the comics, we are given a slick reality version that I rather like. Many superhero and villain costumes from the comics do not translate well to live-action, and the attempts to do so along with the revisions don’t make the cut. The TV Dr. Light has a very cool look I’d like to see more of.
The Harrison Wells of Earth-Two
We open this episode eight months ago in the Tomorrowland world of Earth-Two as that universe’s Harrison Wells introduces app technology to detect metahumans. Apparently Earth-Two is overrun with them and the majority of them have gone bad. Enter Jay Garrick, that world’s Flash, who accuses Wells of creating all those metahumans. They don’t seem like friends at all. It’s almost hero/villain chemistry.
Cut to now on our Earth where Wells has just defeated King Shark and saved Barry’s life. No one on Team Flash is very happy with any Harrison Wells in their midst. Hell, Joe takes a few shots at him. It’s interesting that the old Wells was evil but seemingly gentle, while this one is a dick (just quoting Cisco, folks) but might actually be here to help.
The Dr. Light of Earth-Two
When I say Dr. Light of Earth-Two, don’t be misled, fanboys and fangirls, I’m not talking about the minor villain who pestered Doctor Midnite in the Golden Age, I’m talking the slick costumed thief sent by Zoom to kill the Flash. We enter doppelgänger territory again when she’s revealed as that world’s Linda Park. Both a surprise and a missed opportunity, depending on how they use it. I seriously hope they’re not saying all Asian women look alike though…
Wells wants to use her to bring Zoom to them, a worse idea than the original Wells ever had. And although the new Wells mentions that Zoom can make people do things out of character, it seems all this Dr. Light wants to do is rob banks so she can leave town. Isn’t she afraid Zoom could still find her? Where is Zoom anyway? Why doesn’t he come after the Flash? The other bad news is that she blinded Barry.
Soap and Comedy
There is a ponderous middle section of this episode that has become a bad 1970s sitcom drenched in soap opera suds. I could swear this was a rejected “Brady Bunch” subplot. Blinded, Barry tries to keep a dinner date with Patty, so while wearing sunglasses, Cisco guides him via earbud radio. Holy Cyrano, Batman, and I mean “Batman” ’66, yeah, it’s that bad. It works out, but wow.
Meanwhile, Jay and Caitlin are canoodling in a van keeping watch on Linda Park. There’s a bizarre theory that since the first thing Atom Smasher did was kill his Earth-One doppelgänger, that would be what this non-murdering Dr. Light would do as well. Jay and Caitlin are becoming more and more a couple, so I guess there’s no Joan waiting for him on Earth-Two – but apparently there is an Atlantis, above the water.
Then Dr. Light blasts the van they’re sitting in and goes after Linda Park, our Linda Park. There’s some faulty logic at work here, and why does it seem that everyone from Earth-Two knows Jay is the Flash? Didn’t he do that blur thing with his face so people couldn’t see it? And please note that Light called him the Flash in a newspaper office, someone has to remember that. Team Flash saves Linda but not before Light accidentally kills someone.
Later Wells outs Cisco of his Vibe powers with his app so they can find Light. The Flash learns a new power, creating multiple images, speed mirages, to defeat her. That said, it was waaay creepy hearing Wells give Barry speed advice. How does he know about speed mirages? Is the Harrison Wells working with Zoom? Could Wells even be Zoom?
Beginnings and Endings
Once defeated, Dr. Light is deposited in the Pipeline, along with Sand Demon, and who knows who else. Weren’t the days of the Pipeline and wondering where they go to the bathroom over when Iron Heights put that metahumans wing? I guess we’re back to daily runs to Big Belly Burger for the prisoners (as well as for apparent fans Jay and Wells), and the ignorance of civil rights are back. Maybe the cross-dimensional Miranda rights are different…
Jay also leaves when Team Flash agrees to Wells’ plan to confront Zoom. I’ll miss him, and hope he doesn’t go back to the barber who gave him that crappy haircut (ick). Barry and Patty have finally gotten together as a couple and had a nice goodnight kiss. Love is in the air for Cisco as well, as he asked out the pretty barrista he’s been crushing on. Yeah, she is who we thought she was. We saw her for a few seconds in the season finale last year, and in the trailer for “Legends of Tomorrow.” Welcome to Ciara Renee as Kendra Saunders – Hawkgirl.
Next: “Enter Zoom!”