Friday, December 19, 2014


Hey, this post is synched with Jamas' post over on his blog

Hi readers, today I'm going to write briefly about some DC comic heroes currently on the small screen. By rights I should be matching this post with a similar post about Marvel superheroes on TV, but that's not likely to happen any time soon, as I'm not currently a viewer of any of those, so if you're still here then settle in...

In 2014 there's not a lot of TV I watch. A combination of late evening starts, box sets, altered priorities and spousal/scheduling TV issues means that my fare has been a little wanting. Game of Thrones was a regular watch, and the local, silly but fun Covers Band, but other genre TV has just not been a go-er. Walking Dead? Forget about it. Breaking Bad? Maybe one day.

But I have been watching two series - Gotham and The Flash - both based in the DC universe of superheroes, but both quite different in takes. Gotham has been labelled a Batman prequel, but it's really more of a procedural in the middle of a gang war which happens to be happening at the same time as young detective and future Commissioner Jim Gordon arrives in Gotham. There, the recently orphaned Bruce Wayne- I'll stop, actually. If you don't know what Gotham is, there are plenty of places to find what you're after. Suffice it to say, I really like it. It's not Batman, but in the absence of, say, Boardwalk Empire or The Sopranos, and in the absence of a Batman TV series for grown-ups, it's quite engaging, and has now the best iteration of the Penguin I've encountered. But it's dark, and not a happy piece. So... contrast I watch The Flash, featuring of course DC's Scarlet Speedster, Barry Allen/The Flash - and a host of other superheroes and villains still emerging from the particle accelerator-infused brickwork of Central City. It, too, is something of an early days hero story - but it's lighter, simpler, and more heroic in a classic comic sense. If Gotham reflects the Batman comic of today with its nuanced characters and intricate plotting and broad back story, then this new series of The Flash is pure silver age, good-natured fun. A great remedy, and a pretty refreshing Thursday night appointment.

Over on his blog Jamas has marked the recent Flash/Arrow crossover, which this post was also supposed to do. I watched it, but like Jamas found it less of a cross-over and more of a blending of two episodes that each centred around their series' respective hero. [Green] Arrow arrives in Central City and becomes a more ruthless and predatory figure alongside Barry's sometimes haphazard heroics, while an hour later the Flash speeds into Oliver's Star City and is very much the ingenue against the Arrow team, his fitting in with their methods and values proving a challenge, even though he obviously wants to prove himself to his would-be mentor. I haven't followed Arrow, simply because it didn't immediately engage me, but I can see the appeal, and maybe one day I will. In the mean-time I'm glad these three shows are around, and have done will in a tough environment and somewhat superhero-saturated media marketplace.

Further thoughts on Flash versus Arrow after the jump...

1. The choice of villains in either episode of this cross-over was interesting, both Rainbow Raider (or 'Prism', as he's seemingly called) and Captain Boomerang being from the Flash's ample rogue's gallery. Prism's simply there to set up the "versus" angle, turning Barry against Oliver and providing the much-promised smackdown. There's a fan theory out there that in introducing this colour spectrum/emotion angle, it could set up a future Green Lantern extension to the shared Flash/Arrow small screen universe. It may be a stretch at this stage, but it's intriguing.

2. In both episodes the style of fighting and approach to their work by either of the heroes is even more telling - Barry is still learning some of his key moves (he's only just learned how to run up sheer surfaces and on water in recent stories) while Oliver's talent for torture is a plot point in itself, and the subject of that episode's flashbacks.

3. That said, the limitations of each hero can be seen in that regard, with Barry proving less effective than Oliver at times, but at the key point, more inventive. In contrast, it seems when all you have is a bow and arrow, every problem begins to look like a bullseye...

4. Even as a very casual acquaintance of both strips, I did pick up on some cute comic universe references - [Neal] Adams and [Carmine] Infantino being intersecting streets in Star City, for example, and Barry being nicknamed 'Speedy' at one point - the name of Arrow's one-time strip (but not screen?) accomplice.

5. The convergence of worlds seems pretty well handled so far, with restraint being the key. No metahumans in Star City means Barry's little war continues on his own patch, allowing Oliver's own fights to be more 'grounded' and less 'fantastic'. Mid-season on Arrow, however, and with a fateful surprise in store for Oliver it would appear the fantastic is due to make a key appearance after all. 


  1. The Arrow's sister, Thea Queen, is nicknamed Speedy.

    I find the dark take of Gotham to just be too heavy for me. You note Boardwalk Empire and The Sopranos, both shows I didn't watch for the same reason - dark and gritty is depressing and exhausting.

    So the Flash's light take, especially compared with The Arrow's somewhat grim one, is just what I've been looking for. I really enjoy it, even if it does lay on the sap a bit thick. I just wish Iris wasn't so annoying, and Barry and Felicity maintained a long-distance relationship.

  2. I have to admit that I haven't given the Flash a fair go, only making it half-way through the pilot, but Gotham has pleasantly surprised me so much that I might even be disappointed when Batman finally appears.
    A show that could so easily have been formulaic and, by because of its prequel nature somewhat predictable, has constantly wrong-footed me this year with it's twists and turns, all reinforced by some wonderful performances. I'm not necessarily a fan of the Bat: but I am of Gotham.

  3. Hey, G!

    No, I didn't watch those shows either, pretty much for the reasons you give (and yet, A Game of Thrones?!) and I watch The Flash for exactly the same reasons as you - including observations on Iris! Cisco can syat though - he's fun. Just get working on that soundwave jacket, kid...

    Al, give The Flash a go! Firestorm taking off is a GREAT visual! And I watch Gotham for your reasons too, yus :)