Saturday, January 17, 2015

Why the CW's The Flash is the Best Comic Book Adaption you will ever get on TV

Spun off from the inferior, but steady Arrow, the CW's The Flash in only one half a season has perfected the televised episodic comic book adaptation.  The show stars Grant Gustin as police scientist Barry Allen, the fastest man alive, the titular Flash.  Struck by lightning in a storm of Dark Energy that engulfed Central City  when STARlabs particle accelerator exploded, Barry is imparted with the incredible gift of super speed.  Part of the show's success is due to Gustin's earnestness and the optimism the hero shows.  And that's the second secret behind why it works.  While it may be trendy in the wake of the Nolan Era Dark Knight films to have grittier, darker heros, The Flash works so well, partially due to the atmosphere of optimisim the permeates the entire proceedings.  In the DC Comics Universe, Barry Allen's Flash is simply put, the most fun of the Justice League: he's not a brooding orphan (though he lost his mom at a young age), and not an isolated, brooding alien, he's not an outsider, nor burdened by his powers...he's just a guy with a good heart who can run fast, really, really fast.  In the comics, Bruce Wayne, aka Batman, says of Barry, "He's the kind of man I would have wanted to become if my parents hadn't been murdered."  Think about that.

More, there's more to it than that. And sure, the effects are terrific.  Don't believe me?  Go watch the Flash and the Reverse Flash battle it out in the mid season finale.  I'm wait.  It's quick.  Okay, back now?  It's the show's simple sincerity.  There has never been, and there likely will never be, a more accurate and canonical live-action production of a comic book.  Unapologetic trust in the source material.  They don't Nolanize to make things more realistic, they just say, okay, so we've got this super smart gorilla...  And while they do rely on the plot device of the Dark Energy Storm from the Particle Accelerator to explain the numerous "metahumans", that is super-powered people who generally seem to resort to super-villainy, it actaully works fairly well.

The strong lead character is also surrounded by a good supporting cast, especially his friends at STARlabs, Kaitlyn, Cisco, and the mysterious Harrison Wells who clearly has another agenda in helping Barry solve crimes and stop rampaging metahumans.  Cisco is super-likable, and is responsible for most of the villain's code names.  And, yes, the villains.  I'm going to say it.  The Flash has always had the best rogues' gallery in comicdom (sorry Batman, Superman, and Spiderman):  Captain Cold, Heatwave, Mirror Master, Weather Wizard, Gorrilla Grodd, Trickster, Reverse Flash.  And unlike most comic adaptations, The Flash isn't killing off it's villains, so just like the comics, they keep coming back for more.  Shout out to Wentworth Miller, whose Captain Cold (who predates Mr. Freeze in the comics, btw) is true to the comic book villain.  And, just look at the Reverse Flash for Pete's sake, look at him...that's just awesome!

And finally, The Flash in only one half a series of network television is setting up the best time travel storyline to grace television, coming right from the graphic novel, The Flashpoint Paradox.  Seriously, the death of Barry's mom  when our hero was a kid, and the mysterious events that surround it, the existence of an even faster speedster, the Reverse Flash will culminate in the most sophisticated temporal paradox ever presented for the masses on network television.

So, seriously, that's why you should be watching The Flash on the CW.

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