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The Flash/Legends of Tomorrow: ‘Crisis on Earth-X’

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The big CW DCTV crossover event is finally here, bringing The Flash, Arrow, Supergirl, and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow together for one big four-hour adventure. In this case, it’s the wedding of Barry (the Flash) Allen and Iris West and the Crisis on Earth-X. For my review of the first two parts, click here. Meet me after the jump for my thoughts on the concluding two chapters, the Flash and Legends of Tomorrow chapters of Crisis on Earth-X!

Origins of Crisis on Earth-X

The original source material for this year’s big CW DCTV crossover event comes from the glory days of DC Comics’ Bronze Age, when the late but legendary Len Wein was steering the adventures of the satellite era Justice League. He had already written the 100th issue celebration of Justice League of America, which was the first (villain yeams don’t count) to introduce a third team to the annual JLA/JSA cross-dimensional team-up with the Seen Soldiers of Victory, and sought to continue this tradition with the Freedom Fighters, a new group composed of Golden Age superheroes that DC had recently obtained from Quality Comics. Yes – the Black Condor, Phantom Lady, Doll Man, the Human Bomb, Uncle Sam, and the Ray – it was great to see these classic heroes again, but Len Wein had a new twist to throw into the mix.

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The Freedom Fighters would come from a new undiscovered parallel Earth called Earth-X (initially Wein wanted it to be Earth-Swastika, but wiser minds overruled it), where the Nazis had won World War II, not big deal. The JLA and the JSA were testing their transmatter cube, a device to travel back and forth between Earths One and Two instantly, but the accidental sabotage by the android Red Tornado caused heroes from both teams to travel to the new Earth-X instead. There, with the help of that world’s super-powered resistance, the Freedom Fighters, the Justice League and Justice Society defeated the Nazi menace once and for all, happy ending. Later the Freedom Fighters would relocate to Earth-One, but that’s another story.

The Worst Is Yet to Come

When we last left our heroes in the television version of Crisis on Earth-X, Supergirl was about to go into surgery to have her heart placed into her evil counterpart Overgirl by the Reverse-Flash; Iris West and Felicity Smoak were free at S.T.A.R. Labs with much of Team Arrow and Team Flash locked up in the nearly inescapable Pipeline; the rest of the heroes (minus half of the Legends conspicuously missing and not even invited to Barry and Iris’ wedding) left in a red-skied and terrifying in a real way concentration camp on Earth-X. The imprisoned heroes on Earth-X have power dampening collars to prevent the use of their powers. It gets worse, and far too real for a superhero show, but I think in our current political atmosphere, we need reminders of what the Nazis did, and could do again.

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This concentration camp on some levels is no different from ones we know from history. The prisoners have stars and triangles on their uniforms to represent their ‘crimes,’ such things as being born Jewish or loving the wrong person. Nazis are not big fans of things like racial, ethnic, or sexual equality, and I hate that I have to be so heavy-handed and say this, but in Trump’s America, some folks might be unaware of just how evil the Nazis were/are. Back on course, Quentin Lance makes an appearance as the camp commandant, to lead the heroes and other prisoners to be shot.

Shining Through

The Captain Cold of Earth-X, designated Citizen Cold shows up to save the day, as among the prisoners is his boyfriend, Ray Terrill, also known as the Ray. First I can’t tell y’all how great it is to see Wentworth Miller III again, as his portrayal of Cold (good or evil) is one of the best things to appear on either The Flash or DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. The CQ knows it too as he is featured prominently in the previews for this event. Sadly rumor has it that Miller will be leaving the CW soon< I hope it’s not true.

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The Ray is just as much of a treat, played by Russell Tovey, an actor who has been around, mostly in British shows like Gavin & Stacey, Being Human, and even a Doctor Who and a Sherlock. It is amazing to see the Ray’s 1990s costume, one of the era’s most visually exciting, actualized in live action. The Ray, a superhero who has speed, flight, and energy powers, and here openly gay, is one of DC’s most underrated and I’m happy to see him get his spotlight on the small screen, and soon in animation on CW Seed. Oh, and weird surprise, he’s from Earth-One. That has to mean something, other than an homage in that the Freedom Fighters were retconned as originally coming from Earth-Two.

Action Action Action

The showrunners have tried to pack as much action into this second half of the event as possible. There is a lot of superhero action, so much so, and much of it CGI that I had to wonder, ir it too much? Can the superheroics we love so much from the comics be too much on TV? My mind harkens back to the fact that the ‘bat-fights’ on the 1960s Batman TV series rarely exceeded one minute, is there such a thing as too much? Several times during this event we did get an overload. I hope the showrunners will be careful in the future. Remember, even if you’re dressed like Green Arrow, be Batman, right?

In between the action Iris and Felicity demonstrate girl power in freeing their friends and punching Nazis, Cisco finally wakes up, and Melissa Benoist has a fantastic scene with herself, Supergirl to Overgirl. There are a lot of those darkest moment chats, one between Cold and Ray, and another between Alex and Sara, the latter giving more solidity to their relationship/friendship. And there’s a lot of same sex kissing that I hope really angers the far right. This along with the Nazi punching makes me very happy, coupled with the event’s ratings means we still have real Americans in this country.

Opposite Numbers

One of the subplots in now just this event, but recent episodes of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow has been Professor Stein’s slow regression from his team, and his combined identity with Jax, Firestorm. Like with Wentworth Miller III, there have been rumors of actor Victor Garber leaving, so it’s not a surprise, but I don’t think any of us expected his character to die in this event. So we lose Stein in a hail of Nazi bullets followed by Cisco’s potion to remove the Firestorm connection from Stein and Jax. There are some tough moments here, later, as a rallying cry to fight on, and at the funeral, but still I hate to see Garber go. Like Miller, he was one of the high spots in these shows.

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Meanwhile cavalry comes in two forms, the missing Legends, along with the Waverider (and its evil Nazi counterpart as well), and we finally meet Win Schott of Earth-X, who is a bit of an a-hole surprisingly. There’s a gateway back to Earth-One, but he wants to blow it up, even after promising to wait. I know he’s the Toyman’s son, but does he have an evil turn himself coming up in Supergirl, and this is just the first hints? Regardless, he sends the Red Tornado, who had previously appeared in the girl of steel’s series, and is a nice himage to the source material, to destroy the portal. Watching the Flash and the Ray take down the Red Tornado is a sight to behold and does not fall into the special effects overload mentioned above, one of the best sequences of the night.

Showdowns

Appropriately the final chapter of Crisis on Earth-X, in the >i>Legends of Tomorrow timeslot, much of the downtime happens on board the Waverider. The heroes have been solidified by Stein’s death but it seems the villains are falling apart. Overgirl is on her last legs without a heart, while the Reverse-Flash really doesn’t seem like his heart is in this Nazi thing, and Dark Arrow, wow, I’m not sure what is more frightening, Oliver-X’s capacity to love or his capacity for evil. The dark mirror perhaps reveals more than it should about our beloved heroes.

Crisis on Earth-X, Part 4

The final battle is little more of a street brawl in Central City, but we do get that great shot of all the heroes in a line walking toward the fight. There is more of that CGI fight choreography, but the real highlights are the good leads against the bad leads. I’m not sure which was the most fun here. There’s he Flash vs. the Reverse-Flash, where I’ve decided Tom Cavanaugh is the best in the villain’s role, and why does Barry let him go?We all know that is going to come back and bite our hero in the butt. Then there’s Cisco piloting the Waverider, which I wish we had more of, but nothing beats Supergirl borrowing one of the best lines from Superman II, “General, would you care to step outside?” That said, there was nothing more chilling than Green Arrow killing Dark Arrow, at least Oliver stays in character no matter the circumstances.

Conclusions

I was surprised that Citizen Cold was not accompanying the Ray home to Earth-X. First, we never got an explanation as to Ray being from Earth-One, and also, why wouldn’t he stay with Leo? There is so much more here, and I hope we find out what is what. Do we have a release date on Freedom Fighters: The Ray yet, and will Citizen Cold be joining Team Flash or the Legends? Either one would make things very interesting. Also, does it mean we have two Colds running around? Or is the first really dead and only around through the trickery of time travel and Heat Wave’s alcoholic hallucinations?

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Barry and Iris finally do tie the knot, although I thought it was a cop out to have John Diggle do it, and really, why should he? He wasn’t even invited to the wedding (or crossover event) at all if memory serves. And as if Nazis couldn’t ruin Barry and Iris’ wedding, Oliver manages to do it, by getting married too.  Still, it’s good to get it over with… and thinking of that waitress from last night, did Barry ever really say “I do”?  I’m sure, like letting Thawne get away, this will come back to haunt them as well…

All in all, this was an impressive crossover event, and I thought it came out quite well, as there is so much that could go wrong. I dug it, and look forward to next year, and let’s shoot for the moon – include Constantine, the Ray, Vixen, and Black Lightning next time, I dare you!

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About Glenn Walker

Glenn Walker is a professional writer, and editor-in-chief and contributing writer at Biff Bam Pop!. A blogger, podcaster, and reviewer of pop culture in all its forms, he's done stints in radio, journalism and video retail. Ask him anything about movies, television, music, or especially comics or French fries, and you’ll be hard pressed to stump him or shut him up.

Posted on November 29, 2017, in DC Universe, Glenn Walker, television, the flash and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. That was one helluva Walk of Heroes! 😀

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