Posted in Television

Superman & Lois, “Haywire” Review

SERIES: Superman & Lois
TITLE: S1:E4 – “Haywire”
STARRING: Tyler Hoechlin, Bitsie Tulloch, Jordan Elsass, Alexander Garfin, Dylan Walsh
WRITER: Michael Narducci
DIRECTOR:
James Bamford
ORIGINAL AIR DATE:
March 16, 2021
SYNOPSIS: Lois continues to clash with Morgan Edge. Clark struggles to balance family life with his Superman duties.

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Dylan Walsh plays Lois’ father, General Sam Lane. It wouldn’t shock me to see him kick the bucket at some point. As I recall, he’s died more than once in the comics.

You know what I’d like to see at some point? Flashbacks to Clark and Lois raising Jonathan and Jordan as toddlers. Maybe it’s because I have a toddler myself. I just think it would be interesting to see them in that context.

Bitsie Tulloch is slowly growing on me as Lois Lane. She’s not natural in the role the way someone like Margot Kidder was. But I liked the tenacity she showed in this episode. She’s coming along well.

Shuster Mines. As in Joe Shuster, co-creator of Superman, Lois Lane, etc. I see you, show. I see you.

I’ll say it again: Jonathan is a good brother. He’s starting to really get jealous of Jordan’s success with football. Rightfully so, by the way, given that Jordan has friggin’ super powers. But he’s letting him have it. He’s not making too much of a stink.

So Superman picks up this super-powered kid who’s wigging out, flies him high up in the sky and says, “The air’s thin up here. It’ll help calm you down.” Is that how that works? And is that really what happened? I don’t think so. The kid passed out. Call a spade a spade, Big Blue.

One thing I’m immensely grateful we don’t have in this series? The Superman spit curl. That occurred to me when I saw the shot of Superman rocketing up into the sky. No stupid cartoony spit curl.

There’s a special school for kids with super powers? That wouldn’t happen to be the Teen Titans Academy, would it? Nah. That’d be just a little too awesome…

That attempt at a date by Clark and Lois was really charming, in my book. Establishing romantic chemistry between those two is important. In a lot of ways it’s at the heart of the series. Superman & Lois hasn’t quite got it down yet. But they’re working toward it.

General Lane establishes “Project 7734” at the end of this episode. Long story short, in the comics Project 7734 is a designation for a series of efforts made by Lane and the US military to keep the Earth safe from alien threats. Most notably Kryptonians. It dates back to the New Krypton storyline in the comics from about 10 years ago.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Posted in Television

Superman & Lois, “The Perks of Not Being a Wallflower” Review

SERIES: Superman & Lois
TITLE: S1:E3 – “The Perks of Not Being a Wallflower”
STARRING: Tyler Hoechlin, Bitsie Tulloch, Jordan Elsass, Alexander Garfin, Inde Navarrette
WRITER: Brent Fletcher
DIRECTOR:
Gregory Smith
ORIGINAL AIR DATE:
March 9, 2021
SYNOPSIS: Jordan tries out for the football team, while Sarah clashes with Lana.

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Here’s what I liked about that “Kent family plays with paint” sequence: Right after Clark races off to do Superman stuff and everything has stopped, there’s that half-second before we cut to the next scene where Lois goes back to playing with the boys. It sends the message that Clark dashing off is something that happens all the time, and she’s used to it by now even if the boys aren’t.

Three episodes in, and I’m not really feeling social anxiety from Jordan, as the show’s premise suggested. Based on my experience with social phobia, he’s not so much anxious as he is angsty. And that’s more or less any teenager at some point, right?

Tyler Hoechlin is giving off serious dad vibes as Clark. Maybe it’s the hokey, “Aw shucks” nature of the Clark Kent character. But Hoechlin is making it work. 

How much you wanna bet that Lana’s husband, Kyle, becomes a supervillain at some point? Or maybe Sarah? Maybe both?

“Everything you do is a mistake,” said the teenage brat to friggin’ Superman.

When she got attacked during this episode, I was initially inclined to say Lois should carry a weapon of some kind. Then I realized, what better weapon could you have than a direct line to Superman? Sure as hell beats a gun, or a knife, or whatever the hell she could be carrying.

Jonathan is a good brother. That’s refreshing to see. It would be easy to pit the two brothers against each other constantly. But the show makes him a lot like his dad. That’s good writing, in my book.

This was a good parenting episode, and a good episode for Lana in particular. It provided her with some much-needed depth as a quietly suffering wife and mother.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.


Posted in Uncategorized

Superman & Lois, “Heritage” Review

SERIES: Superman & Lois
TITLE: S1:E2 – “Heritage”
STARRING: Tyler Hoechlin, Bitsie Tulloch, Jordan Elsass, Alexander Garfin, Emmanuelle Chriqui
WRITER: Todd Helbing
DIRECTOR:
Lee Toland Krieger
ORIGINAL AIR DATE:
March 2, 2021
SYNOPSIS: As the family adjusts to life in Smallville, Clark teaches Jordan about his Kryptonian heritage.

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

I do need to make a correction from last week’s post. The “first” Superman costume from the premiere did not make its debut in The New Frontier (although that’s primarily the work I associate it with). It’s from all the way back in the Max Fleischer Superman cartoons of the ’40s. Whoops. Hey, what do you expect? I’m not Superman, y’know…

Captain Luthor says, “We need to stop Kal-El before he does to this world what he did to mine.” It looks, then, like Captain Luthor is an alternate-universe Lex Luthor. In the comics, the most prominent alt-universe Lex is the one from Crisis on Infinite Earths. Alexander Luthor, as he’s known, is that world’s only hero, fighting against an evil version of the Justice League. Is that what we’ve got here?

There’s a city on Krypton named “Kryptonopolis?” That’s pretty dumb, actually. I wonder where the city of “Earthopolis” would be…?

We see the artificial intelligence Jor-El, played by Angus Macfadyen. I imagine it’s more daunting for an actor to play that role than we imagine. After all, a large portion of the audience associates that role with Marlon friggin’ Brando. No pressure there.

Question: Clark takes Jordan to the Fortress of Solitude to learn about his Kryptonian heritage, but not Jonathan. Why? Odds are Jonathan is manifesting powers too, right? They’re just different than his brother’s. So why sew the seeds for jealousy by taking one brother and not the other? Also, they couldn’t have waited until after school to take Jordan to the fortress? What, are they worried about him missing dinner or something?

I’m finding myself wanting to see more personality from Bitsie Tulloch’s Lois Lane. It feels like she’s missing a certain spunk, or killer instinct. I suppose you can argue this is an older, more subdued version of Lois. But I’m not sure I buy that. Granted, it could also just be Tulloch growing into the role.

So now we’ve had another episode to let this Social Anxiety Disorder thing with Jordan sink in. Much like I’m wishing Lois had a little more spunk, I’m wanting to see Jordan be more socially isolated. After all, he kissed a girl in the show’s very first episode. That’s not to see everyone experiences social anxiety the same way, or that it should be portrayed uniformly. But if you’re going to say the kid has Social Anxiety Disorder, why not really dive in and explore it?

Lana not knowing Clark’s secret takes some getting used to. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. But she’s almost always portrayed as having been in on it since Clark was a teenager. And even having a cunning nature to rival Lois’ at times. Thus far, Superman & Lois has portrayed her more like a ditzy homemaker.

That shot of Superman standing with the American flag in the background was a nice touch. I’m a sucker for cheesy stuff like that. 

Lois quits The Daily Planet after an editor re-writes a story of hers, and joins The Smallville Gazette. I’ve always been a fan of the journalism-oriented side of Superman’s world. So seeing Lois empowering a small community newspaper is pretty cool. I’m also liking the Chrissy Beppo character. Here’s wondering what she and Lois can learn from each other.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Posted in Television

Superman & Lois Season Premiere Review – Family Matters

SERIES: Superman & Lois
TITLE: S1:E1 – “Pilot”
STARRING: Tyler Hoechlin, Bitsie Tulloch, Jordan Elsass, Alexander Garfin, Emmanuelle Chriqui
WRITERS: Greg Berlanti, Todd Helbing
DIRECTOR:
Lee Toland Krieger
ORIGINAL AIR DATE:
February 23, 2021

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Looking at the Superman costume they used for his debut in Metropolis, my initial instinct was go shout: “They made it to match his original suit in Action Comics #1!” Because, of course, I’m a huge geek.

That’s not what they did, however. It took me a minute to realize where I’d seen that suit. It was Darwyn Cooke’s DC: The New Frontier. The costume’s vintage look threw me off.

So the kid says to Superman, “Thanks. Cool Costume.” He replies, “Thanks. My mom made it for me.” That line is plucked directly from Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale’s Superman For All Seasons.

This show went out of its way to establish geek cred right away.

Jordan, one of Clark and Lois’ twin sons, has Social Anxiety Disorder. As someone who’s struggled with social anxiety, that hits home for me. I’m sure it hits home for a lot of the people watching a comic-book-inspired TV show like this. From that standpoint, it has the potential to be a very smart move. But as with anything, it’s all about how they execute it…

I’m a staunch Superman defender. But watching this episode’s expository opening sequence, I can understand why some people don’t like him. Especially when he talks about being married to the most famous journalist in the world, raising two teenage boys, and then we see him on TV doing Superman stuff. As he’s presented here he has, in many ways, the perfect American life and family. In that moment, he comes off like the most popular football player in high school who grew up to become president of the United States. Personally, I love that Rockwellian Superman. But I can see the drawback. The hard truth is that when he’s at his truest and best form, Superman isn’t for everybody.

Question: I know that as comic book characters Superman and Lois Lane don’t age. But how old are they supposed to be in this show? Late 30s? Early to mid 40s? For what it’s worth, Tyler Hoechlin is 33 and Bitsie Tulloch is 40. Mrs. Primary Ignition, by the way, thinks that age difference makes them look weird. I’ll admit, it is a little weird. But I imagine that’s one of those things that’ll wear off with time.

After discovering the rocket in the barn, Jonathan (Can we just call him Jon?) and Jordan come right out and accuse Clark of lying.  I like that. Superman supposedly never lies. But as a parent, Clark Kent does. What that says about being parent is up for interpretation.

“Your life falling apart doesn’t mean you’re special. It means you’re human.” That’s a good line from Lois.

Fun fact: Alexander Garfin, who plays Jordan, was the voice of Linus in The Peanuts Movie. Am I weird for thinking that’s kind of perfect, considering Jordan has social anxiety? It matches up with the whole Linus and the blanket thing, right?

On the subject of Jordan, for me it’s always a fine line with how moody and angsty certain teenage characters are. At what point does it cross the line and get too moody or angsty? I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer to that. It just depends on the character and the story…

Clark Kent’s signature glasses disguise always requires a huge leap in terms of suspending disbelief. It’s comic book science at its least practical. But disbelief really stretches thin when you try to sell us that Clark’s own children didn’t recognize him without his glasses on.

Simply put, when we get to the scene where Clark takes his glasses off and it’s this big revelation, Jonathan and Jordan look like idiots. It’s just that simple.

What are the odds that as the series progresses we get a good twin/bad twin situation? Does one become a superhero, and the other a supervillain, thus tearing the Kent family apart? Seems like the probable way to go…

So the bad guy in this episode turns out to be someone named “Captain Luthor.” I can only assume this isn’t Lex Luthor, as the CWverse Lex is played by Jon Cryer. (Right? It’s been awhile since I’ve been plugged into the CWverse.) But apparently it’s not a Superman show unless you have a bad guy named Luthor. So…cousin? Someone unrelated who adopted the name?

Overall, not a bad premiere. I can’t say I was blown away. But Superman & Lois shows a lot of promise. Tyler Hoechlin was, and is, a great Superman. Possibly the best performance in the role since Christopher Reeve, and I don’t say that lightly.

If you’re into the concept of Clark and Lois as parents, there are two book’s I’d highly recommend. The first is Superman: Lois and Clark (which has nothing to do with the ’90s TV show). The second is Son of Superman by Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason, and all the subsequent books in that series. For my money, this series owes a debt to these creators and those titles.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Posted in Mental Health

World Mental Health Day: The Power of Laughter

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

World Mental Health Day has a special place in my heart. For reasons that, if you know me personally, are obvious. I’ve struggled with anxiety, depression, Attention Deficit Disorder, among a few other…quandaries. Quite the resume, eh?

I don’t have any sort of ground-breaking research or insight to present to you here. I do, however, have something to remind you of.

Humor is a powerful tool in the fight against mental illness. You can’t be anxious or depressed while you laugh, right? I’m pretty sure that’s been clinically proven somewhere…

So with that in mind, allow me to show you a video that makes me crack up whenever I watch it. I’m a huge Whose Line Is It Anyway? fan. So I’m constantly falling down Whose Line YouTube holes. Here we have a recent one, presented by 12Medbe. We’ve got Wayne Brady, Jeff Davis, and Colin Mochrie playing a game called Doo Wop, as Ryan Stiles watches in the background, and Aisha Tyler moderates. Turns out, even the world’s greatest improvisors have the occasional brain fart.

Enjoy and be well. Remember, this world needs you.

Follow Primary Ignition on Twitter, or email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com.

 

Posted in Comic Books/Graphic Novels

A Dark Knight III: The Master Race #4 Review – Nagging Distractions

DKIII: The Master Race #4, cover, Andy KubertTITLE: Dark Knight III: The Master Race #4
AUTHOR: Brian Azzarello, Frank Miller
PENCILLER: Andy Kubert
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $5.99
RELEASED: April 27, 2016

***WARNING: Spoilers lay ahead.***

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

The Flash is kind of a big deal for DC right now. He’s got a TV show on The CW that pulls in millions of viewers per episode. What’s more, it’s actually a damn good show.

Viewers of said show may want to avoid this issue. Their hero not only goes out like a chump, but he’s wearing one of the gaudiest costumes the DC Universe has ever seen.

We open the issue with a showdown between father and daughter. It’s Superman against Lara the Supergirl, who happens to have an army of Kryptonians behind her. Once they’re done with him, Batman is next in line. Quar, leader of the hostile Kryptonians, demands that Batman be produced or Gotham City will be destroyed. Once again, The Dark Knight is about to come out of retirement. But this time, he seemingly has no choice in the matter.

The Flash, Andy Kubert, DKIII: The Master Race #4, 2016This issue devotes three pages to The Flash being taken out by a Kryptonian. I can’t say I was a fan. He doesn’t even put up a fight. He simply gets his legs taken out, and it’s all over. If you’re going to devote that much of your issue to taking out a hero, that’s fine. But come on! This is The Flash! Now more than ever, this guy is one of DC’s big guns! Give him at least a little offense!

That costume is a leftover from The Dark Knight Strikes Again. That alone should have been a red flag. I understand that book can’t be completely ignored. But there are certain things from DKII that need to be left in the past. This costume is undoubtedly one of them.

Sadly, it’s not the only awful costume we’ll see…

Surprisingly, the first thing we see when we open the issue is The Atom. Despite the CRUSH we saw in issue #2 that seemed to indicate Ray Palmer had been killed, apparently he’s alive, albeit in a microscopic state. I can’t say I’m sad to see him back. But his death was a nice punctuation mark on the arrival of the Kryptonians. It’ll certainly be interesting to see how he factors in later.

Quar, Lara, and the other Kryptonians either kill or neutralize Superman, depending on how you interpret the issue. Despite all the blood he spills in this issue, there’s no way Superman is gone. Not with his daughter playing such a crucial role in things. If there was ever a time for a reconciliation between Batman and Superman, it’s now.

DKIII: The Master Race #4, Carrie Kelley, Bruce Wayne, Andy KubertOnce again, Andy Kubert does a fine job evoking Frank Miller’s style, while still making the book his own. This is most evident in the way he draws Bruce Wayne. The detail he puts into the character’s facial expressions and his scarred physique are fantastic. It’s almost as if someone has flipped a light on, allowing us to see details we’ve never seen before.

One of my few complaints with the art in this issue involves the scene where Commissioner Yindel sees Batman for the first time in the story. She’s been searching for him since the first issue, and now they’re finally face to face. We see Batman shrouded in darkness, holding the flask he’s just taken from a hopeless Yindel. I envisioned this scene being as impactful as Superman’s return to consciousness last issue. It isn’t. I think it would be different if Kubert, inker Klaus Janson, and colorist Brad Anderson had taken him out of the darkness a bit more. This Batman doesn’t always lend himself to the whole shadowy figure of the night routine. He’s big, bulky, and brash. This would have been a big time for one of those toothy scowls he’s always flashing around. DKIII hasn’t given us much of Batman in all his grandeur yet. This would have been a good time to play that card.

This issue’s mini-comic gives us Batgirl as we’ve never seen her before: Drawn by Frank Miller and wearing Joker colors. Seriously! What the hell is up with that costume? If Batgirl has ever looked worse, I can’t remember it. That’s not even getting into how weirdly she’s proportioned.

Dark Knight Universe Presents: Batgirl #1The story mostly consists of Carrie Kelley, after being given the Batgirl costume by Batman, fighting off some thugs at a dock. Aquaman emerges from the water to save her when she gets in over her head. Why he happened to be there is anybody’s guess. Hopefully we’ll learn more next issue. But if what happened to Green Lantern and Flash is any indicator, I’m hoping he’s got good healthcare down in Atlantis.

This issue is still decent in terms of the core story. But the Flash interlude and the weird acid trip that is the Batgirl issue prove to be nagging distractions. As such, this is the least satisfactory installment of DKIII thus far. Brian Azzarello maybe in the driver’s seat, but Frank Miller’s fingerprints are still there….

Images 1 and 3 from weirdsciencedccomicsblog.blogspot.com. Image 2 from newsarama.com.

Follow Primary Ignition on Twitter @PrimaryIgnition, or at Facebook.com/PrimaryIgnition/

Posted in Television

A Review of The Flash S2E6 – Zoom Ends Barry’s Run?

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

This was a big episode. How do you know? Because they didn’t have any time for that plot thread with Iris’ mom. I’m hoping that has something to do with something at one point. Otherwise, what the hell was the point?

But again, no time for that crap this week. Things are goin’ straight to hell…

Jesse QuickPonderings From The Flash, S2E6:

Wells: “You’re my joy, Jesse Quick.” Ahhhh, how about that? Wells’ daughter is Jesse Quick. There’s something to look forward to.

In the old DC Universe, Jesse Quick was a supporting player in the Flash comic book. The daughter of Golden Age hero Johnny Quick, Jesse became one of Wally West’s partners before changing her hero identity to Liberty Belle.

I can only assume Jesse knows about her powers, if only because Zoom came looking for her. Given how that fight between Zoom and Barry went (more on that later), they may need her sooner than later.

Obviously, the “Arrowverse” is expanding. With Legends of Tomorrow on the horizon, and The Flash still going strong, that’s a good thing.

The team enlists Linda Park’s help in setting a trap for Zoom. This was a bad idea, and even the heroes knew it. You never intentionally put innocents in jeopardy. That’s got to be in the first chapter of the superhero rule book.

Linda Park, Malese JowOn the plus side, it’s nice to see the Linda Park character fleshed out a little more. This as the first episode where I really took the time to study how Malese Jow portrays her. She now seems like she has her own distinct personality, as opposed to just being somebody in the background.

She also had two really good lines this week: “I’ve made out with The Flash,” and in reference to Zoom, “You can’t fight that thing. It’s a monster.”

Also, now she knows Barry is The Flash. Barry’s got a lot of strings attached at this point. That could come back to bite him, specifically when it comes to his adopted father…

Barry admits to Joe that he’s been having trouble being happy since he failed to save his mother from the Reverse-Flash. Joe tells him to do his best to be happy here and now. Grant Gustin and Jesse L. Martin have become really good at these father/son scenes. And it led to an awesome moment between Barry and Patty. Scenes like this make me wonder if Joe’s going to get killed off at some point. His death would be so impactful for all the heroes, Barry and Iris especially.

The Flash, Season 2, ZoomThe Flash faces off with Zoom for the first time. Obviously Zoom has a scary quality to him. A little less scary when you realize they’re sort of channeling Cobra Commander and Shredder with his voice. But still, he’s a very effective big bad for the season.

This fight reminded me of the Luke Skywalker/Darth Vader fight from The Empire Strikes Back. The good guy has the heart and the will, but the bad guy simply has too much power and experience. As such, The Flash got his ass kicked, and he was humiliated in front of his allies. I’m not sure how much Zoom knows about Barry’s life, but having Zoom drag Barry in front of his father would have been a nice cap-off to that sequence.

When Zoom stabbed Barry, originally I thought the wound was in his heart. Needless to say, that would have complicated things. But as we’d soon learn, the wound was in his spine. So what does The Flash do when you take away his legs? In the comics, we’ve seen a version of Barry on a motorcycle. But I doubt they take that route here. I’ve got a feeling Barry gets his legs back next week via super healing or something like that.

Robert Queen is the Arrow of Earth-2. During a flashback scene on Earth-2, Harrison Wells hears that Robert Queen, Oliver Queen’s father on Arrow, was the one who donned the hood on that world. That was a really cool little Easter egg.

Image 1 from nerdist.com. Image 2 from ibtimes.com. Image 3 from ign.com.

Follow Primary Ignition on Twitter @PrimaryIgnition, or at Facebook.com/PrimaryIgniton.

Posted in Television

A Review of The Flash S2E1 – Excitement, Frustration, and Alternate Earths

The Flash, season 2 posterBy Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

***Warning: Spoilers lay ahead for The Flash, Season 2, Episode 1***

Last season, The Flash turned out to be a very pleasant surprise. It wasn’t without its hiccups, of course. But in the end, it turned out that DC’s television universe may be more interesting than the cinematic one it’s trying to get off the ground. Grant Gustin plays a pretty good everyman, and the show proved that not all superhero shows don’t necessarily need to be grim or gritty to succeed.

Let’s hope that success can continue this season. This episode was fine, but also surprisingly frustrating…

Our season 2 premiere reveals that Ronnie Raymond apparently died while helping The Flash stop the black hole in the season 1 finale. I found this development pretty lame. We’ve already done the whole “grieving over Ronnie” thing. This feels like we’re retracing steps from last season. Granted, this is a superhero story. It’s entirely possible that Ronnie is alive and well somewhere. But then we’re just retracing our steps yet again with the whole “finding Ronnie” angle.

The Flash, Season 2, Episode 1, image 1Still, Barry Allen pushing everybody away was a natural reaction to Ronnie’s death, if not a little textbook superhero. I also love that Caitlin doesn’t blame Barry for what happened. Personally, I’ve always liked the idea of Barry and Caitlin being together much more than Barry and Iris. With them both being scientists, it makes more sense. Hell, she even forgave him for his role in her husband’s death! She obviously cares about him deeply. Why not explore this?

In his living will, Harrison Wells inexplicably confesses to the murder of Nora Allen, resulting in Henry Allen being released from prison. This a trap. It has to be. There’s no way Wells, in defeat, would simply give Barry the one thing he wants more than anything. So what’s the punchline?

Also, I call BS on the whole “I have to leave so you can be The Flash” thing. That makes no sense at all. How would it hinder Barry to have his father there to encourage him? What’s more, Henry MAKES Barry tell him it’s okay to go away after 14 years in prison. Talk about a dick move. Between this and the Ronnie Raymond thing, it feels like they’re writing around the actors’ availability. But is that even the case?

Atom Smasher, The Flash, Season 2, Episode 1Adam Copeland, a.k.a. WWE’s Edge, plays Atom Smasher. I’ve actually never seen Copeland act in any environment outside of WWE. I was pleasantly surprised. He’s quite good at it. But that’s not really a surprise, considering what a sadistic jackass he played during the last several years of his wrestling career. He’s got a really cool grizzled bad guy voice too.

Barry and the others construct a “Flash-Signal” to summon Atom Smasher for a confrontation. Cisco: “I think I saw it in a comic book somewhere.” This was an eye-roller. If you want to wink at the audience about Batman, then at least be clever.

Atom Smasher reveals a person named “Zoom” told him to kill The Flash. Obviously they’re building toward the introduction of Professor Zoom, here. I’m curious as to how they’ll do that. For non-comic book readers, Zoom was an alias of Eobard Thawne, who died last season. The line about Zoom taking Atom Smasher home was also curious. Is this home an alternate Earth, perhaps? Speaking of which…

The Flash, Season 2, Jay GarrickJay Garrick makes his on-screen debut in the closing moments of the episode. This is definitely exciting. Jay Garrick, the Flash of Earth-2, opens a lot of new doors for this season, and the series overall.

I can only assume we’ll see Barry travel to Earth-2 at some point, presumably by way of the cosmic treadmill. We have very little to go on at this point, obviously. But as a sucker for alternate Earth storylines, I’m very anxious to see what they do with Jay Garrick, and whatever Earth-2 characters pop up.

Image 1 from ign.com. Image 2 from forbes.com. Image 3 from comicbookresources.com.

Follow Primary Ignition on Twitter @PrimaryIgnition, or at Facebook.com/PrimaryIgnition/

Posted in Television

A Review of The Flash, Season 1 – Don’t Be Afraid to Smile

flash_ver2TITLE: The Flash, Season 1
STARRING: Grant Gustin, Candice Patton, Jesse L. Martin, Carlos Valdes, Tom Cavanagh
CREATORS: Greg Berlanti, Andrew Kreisberg, Geoff Johns
RATING: TV-PG
NETWORK: The CW
SERIES PREMIERE DATE: October 7, 2014

By Levi Sweeney
Staff Writer, Grand X

I was never drawn to Arrow. It was mostly the ho-hum reviews that I read online, but also because I’m not a huge Green Arrrow fan. Any character done right is worth attention (see Marvel’s Daredevil), but I remained highly skeptical of Arrow, and still do. I watched a couple of episodes on Netflix, and decided it wasn’t worth my time to endure the agony of a crappy first season until it got “really, really good.”

That said, I actually adore The Flash. I looked forward to watching it each week, and I came away from the season finale wanting more. How is it that two shows, both on the CW, both created by similar creative teams, and even occupying a shared universe, managed to make me look at them in wildly different ways?

2060_oriThe Flash stars Grant Gustin as Barry Allen, a nerdy young CSI for the Central City Police Department. He’s obsessed with proving the innocence of his jailed father, Henry Allen (John Wesley Shipp, who played Barry Allen in the 1990s The Flash TV series). Henry was convicted years ago of murdering Barry’s mother in a strangely fantastical incident that Barry witnessed as a child. There was a big, yellow streak involved. Then one day, at the activation of the new S.T.A.R. Labs Particle Accelerator, things go horribly wrong. There’s an explosion in conjunction with a lightning storm. Barry is struck by lightning while working in his strangely grungy-looking CSI lab.

Barry wakes up from a coma nine months later, being tended by S.T.A.R. Labs personnel Dr. Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh), Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes), and Dr. Caitlyn Snow (Danielle Panabaker), to find that he has super speed, a healing factor, and a need to eat lots and lots of food. His surrogate father, police detective Joe West (Jesse L. Martin) warns him not to tell his daughter, and Barry’s longtime crush, Iris West (Candice Patton), about what’s going on. Barry soon dons a scarlet costume and works with the S.T.A.R. Labs team to take down delinquent “meta-humans” who also gained powers through the particle accelerator explosion. Meanwhile, Dr. Wells is hiding a deep, dark secret…

Also, Joe’s partner, Detective Eddie Thawne (Rick Cosnett), shows up and begins dating Iris.

The Flash, Arrow, crossoverFrom what I saw of Arrow, the two shows do have a few things in common: They’re both drenched in bathos and melodrama and almost none of the characters look above 30. But aside from that, they couldn’t be any more different. Where Arrow is dominated by soulless and crushing despair, The Flash is the most upbeat TV drama I’ve seen since White Collar. It’s not just the abundance of humor. It’s stories are made to be as fun as possible, with no pretentions of being realistic or serious. After all, how serious can a show about a guy who runs really fast punching criminals be?

Early episodes of the show went with a straightforward police-procedural feel. But as the show got more confident, it eventually transformed into full-blown comic-booky science fiction craziness.

Arguably the two best things about this show are the Joe West and Harrison Wells characters. Joe is just a fun character to watch. He’s so blithely incredulous about the craziness going on around him that it’s impossible not to find him endearing. I love that he’s really the only one who has a problem with Barry and his friends locking up all the meta-humans they capture in a completely illegal private prison. There’s also an actual Tumblr devoted to his unique facial expressions. Joe West reminds me of a more laidback version of Crispus Allen from Gotham Central.

Tom Cavanagh, Harrison WellsThen there’s Tom Cavanagh as Harrison Wells. Cavanagh spends most of the season in a wheelchair, but it’s incredible how subtly he gets his character across. I enjoyed how they played up Wells’ similarities to Joe, in that they’re both father figures to Barry. It all leads up to a great payoff in the end that gives us an excellent performance by Cavanagh as a maniacally evil mad scientist. He’s interesting to watch at all times.

As for other villains, The Flash suffers from a tired “freak of the week” format, but it’s redeemed by a particularly fun group of recurring villains. There are the Rogues, led by Captain Cold (Wentworth Miller), who deserves special mention. He sounds like he’s channeling Clint Eastwood half the time, but he’s obviously having a lot of fun in the role. Some of the best and craziest episodes of the series involve both he and his fellow Rogues, Heat Wave (Dominic Purcell) and Golden Glider (Peyton List). Purcell is probably the hammiest actor on the show next to Mark Hamill’s much-ballyhooed guest star as the Trickster. And who can forget the Reverse Flash the Man in the Yellow Suit?

Granted, The Flash won’t win any writing awards. For instance, the love triangle between Barry, Iris, and Eddie seems contrived at best and creepy at worst. On one hand, there’s no real conflict between Eddie and Barry because they’re both really nice guys. Barry doesn’t want to hurt Iris or Eddie, and those two are completely oblivious to Barry’s feelings. On the other hand, Iris herself said in the first episode that she and Barry were like “brother and sister.” Ick. It didn’t help much when they decided to pair Iris with Eddie. It was a pathetically obvious effort to inject some cheap drama into the plot. Incidentally, Eddie and Iris actually make a pretty good couple.

The Flash, Harrison Wells, Eddie ThawneEddie’s mere presence here is a possible sign that this show was only half-baked when it first went on the air. First we have the Totally-Not-Evil Dr. Wells doing his thing. Then we have some guy whose name is Eddie Thawne, which fans of the comics will know sounds a lot like Eobard Thawne, the alter ego of the Reverse Flash. You’d think that the writers would use this as a gold mine for an intriguing subplot, especially since in the promotional materials Eddie was touted as having a “dark secret.”

But that intrigue of peters out, and Eddie fades into the background as the series goes on, particularly when Team Flash begins dealing with Firestorm. But the finale actually addresses this problem, after much else has been revealed. Believe it or not, it actually works! When the series ends, Eddie is seen in an entirely different light.

For all its faults, The Flash won me over because of one simple truth: It’s fun. The crazy plots, the spectacular, super-powered battles, the silly melodrama, the obligatory DCU references, the self-aware humor. Even the mediocre CGI and other special effects were endearing. Bottom line, if you like superheroes with no pretentions of seriousness (think Thor, The Avengers, and Guardians of the Galaxy, with a bit of Batman ’66 thrown in), then you’ll absolutely love The Flash.

Something tells me that DC is beginning to understand that their heroes can afford to smile now and then.

RATING: 8/10

Image 1 from rottentomatoes.com. Image 2 from theinsightfulpanda.wordpress.com. Image 3 from theflash.wikia.com. Image 4 from etonline.com.

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