Television crossovers rarely happened in the past, and when they did, it was more in the way of a backdoor pilot or a guest-star role. Things like Happy Days and Laverne & Shirley spring to mind, but there were full-blown crossovers in the past – doctors from St. Elsewhere visited the bar Cheers, and Charlie’s Angels solved a mystery on The Love Boat – but in an age where we have huge extended continuities like the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it happens a lot more often. Meet me after the jump and we’ll discuss one of the most ambitious crossovers in recent television history – Heroes v Aliens, Invasion in the Arrowverse!
Arrow to Supergirl
Five years ago the CW brought a dark and violent re-imagining of the Green Arrow from DC Comics to television with Arrow. Slowly they began to re-imagine other DC villains and even some heroes, and then halfway through the second season, they tried something drastic, and introduced the Flash, who quickly (pun unintended) spun off into his own series the following season. A brighter and less violent hero with a more fun vibe, The Flash similarly began to introduce characters and concepts that eventually spun off into another series, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, featuring some of those characters like Firestorm, Hawkgirl, Heat Wave and Captain Cold, and the Atom and White Canary from Arrow in time travel adventures. Thus was established the continuity known as the “Arrowverse.”
Over at CBS, the same showrunners had created a show about Supergirl. When CBS decided not to renew it, the production moved to Vancouver where the other three shows were done, and it joined a four-night block of DC Comics programming. While Supergirl was at CBS, the Flash visited her world, establishing her continuity as another universe in an established multiverse. It was something the other heroes in the Arrowverse had done before, first here and here, then here and here, as well as smaller guest-stars back and forth. Now, this week, the CW plans something even bigger…
In 1988, Keith Giffen plotted a crossover event for DC Comics that would bring together concepts he had tinkered with on titles as diverse as Legion of Super-Heroes, Omega Men, and Justice League International, as well as tie up loose ends from those books. The event was Invasion! and featured work by such talents as Bill Mantlo, Todd McFarlane, and Bart Sears, among others. The plot involved an organized Alien Alliance of several intergalactic races attacking the Earth to rid the cosmos of its dangerous metahuman forces that had plagued them in the past.
The invasion was masterminded by the Dominators, who formed the alliance with the Durlans, the Daxamites, the Khunds, the Thanagarians, the Gil-Dishpan, the Psions, the Citadel, and the Warlords of Okaara. Many of the races were from the Legion’s time, and had never been seen in the 20th century before, and several had previously menaced the Omega Men and the New Teen Titans. For several months, Earth’s heroes fought a war against them until finally snatching victory from the Dominators after the detonation of a “gene bomb.” This is the comics event that the CW is basing its Heroes v Aliens crossover on this week.
The CW has been advertising that the Heroes v Aliens event began last night with Supergirl, but that’s not strictly true. “Medusa” is a regular episode of the series, where the last scene ties in with Invasion!, sort of reminding me of those notorious “red sky” issues of Crisis on Infinite Earths.
In “Medusa,” it’s Thanksgiving, and like most of the shows on the CW, it’s soap-opera heavy. Secrets abound, Jimmy is secretly Guardian, Alex wants to come out, J’onn is turning into a White Martian, and Cyborg Superman has access to the Fortress. While everyone is saying what they’re thankful for, a dimensional portal tries to open up, but fails. We know it’s Cisco and the Flash, but not yet.
The portal tries to manifest again later as Supergirl battled for her life against Cyborg Superman. Nothing comes through, but its appearance is enough to distract the villain and Supergirl escapes. The episode continues with Cadmus trying wipe out every alien on Earth, and Lena Luthor claiming her birthright – with deception rather than evil.
Happy endings are everywhere in this episode, as several subplots came to an end, or started new beginnings, but that’s not what we’re after here. Finally, with two minutes left in the episode, the Flash and Cisco arrive in Supergirl’s apartment via a dimensional portal. They ask for her help, to be continued, cue credits.
This was not the kind of start to this event anyone thought was coming. I hope the other parts are a bit more forthcoming, because really, as far as I’m concerned, this looks more like a three-night event.
Next: The Flash – Invasion!