How Does The Flash Compare To DC’s Impressive Series Line-Up?
Never let it be said that this isn’t an amazing time to be a geek or comic nerd, with reference to the current world domination of Marvel and DC as far as movies and TV series are concerned. The Flash is the one DC series we haven’t written about yet, because we’re assholes I suppose. Yesterday I covered the Constantine pilot, and today I’m going to be talking about the speedy adventures of Barry Allen and whether or not it’s worth watching. As we gamers know shared worlds are currently the in-thing right now, and it seems no different with comic book heroes, as The Flash takes place in the same universe as Arrow. You should know this if you watched the latter, since the character of Barry Allen was introduced in that series, which happens to be my favourite of the DC Comics line-up.
The Flash begins with a retelling of the character’s origin for its pilot. After witnessing his mother’s strange murder by what appears to be a ball of lightning with a man inside of it, Barry Allen’s father is wrongfully convicted for the crime and thrown in prison. Barry grows up with Detective West and his family. As you may know from watching Arrow, Barry is struck by lightning and doused with some pretty nasty chemicals when an advanced particle accelerator malfunctions during a thunder storm in its public unveiling, sending him into a nine-month coma. The trade-off for losing all that time of his life though is the power to move at super speeds. Unfortunately for him, he wasn’t the only victim of the particle accelerator, and all over the city ‘metahumans’ are rising with super human powers. Together with Harrison Wells, the designer of the particle accelerator and man of many secrets, Barry has to use his powers and become The Flash in order to protect the people of Central City from the escalating violence of metahumans. That’s more or less a summary. Yeah, I should learn how to summarise.
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Similarly to Constantine, I’m not really a reader of the source material. My exposure primarily comes from the Justice League and enjoying playing as the character in Injustice: Gods Among Us. I’m mostly a Batman and Spider-Man kind of dude. Nevertheless finding myself immensely enjoying Arrow broadened my horizons a bit, and I felt keen to give The Flash a try as a result. The thing you’ll notice about it pretty early on is that it’s not afraid to feel like a comic. It’s probably the closest to being comic book campy than any of the other series’, and it actually works out quite well. It’s lighthearted in a good way, and this plays on Barry Allen actor Grant Gustin’s strengths, as he has plenty of quirk. He’s one of those quick-to-like characters, but the jury is still out on whether he’s commanding in a lead role. I’m not entirely sold just yet, but I can’t say he isn’t a likable character and actor, and you will warm up to him, his scientific mind and his human problems if you had your doubts about him.
Of course the premise of the show means you’ll be seeing superhuman feats each episode, which is part of why I say it’s the closest to being a comic book out of the current line-up. It employs the expected ‘villain of the week’ episodic setup so far as a result, although a twist at the end of the pilot suggests the writers have some long-term plans in mind. It’s only three episodes in so far so I can’t comment on any overarching plot or primary villain, but I would hope something of the sort gets established so that we have an idea of where it’s all going, as we do in Arrow with its core villains. Unfortunately I can’t comment much on the show’s relation to the comics, since I’m not a reader of The Flash, but for the newbies out there it’s its own show and you don’t need to know much about the character to enjoy it, since it does actually begin with an origin story after all.
The Flash certainly has high production values, as we’ve come to expect from the DC Comics TV series line-up, and it does look really cool whenever the character is moving at blitz speed, as the series makes use of a red streak of lightning to depict his movements. It’s not the most stylish of shows with regards to the aesthetics of the city and tone, as I’m sure most of the budget goes to the depiction of superhuman powers, but it’s enjoyable to watch and it certainly doesn’t feel like any shortcuts were taken with the special effects. As I’ve recommended with Constantine and Gotham, if you are going to watch this I would suggest to do so in HD, so that you can enjoy the effects in all their glory.
If I have to give some verdict, whether you should watch The Flash or not is not too tough a question to answer. If you’re a fan of the Arrow TV series, The Flash offers something similar but different to it, in the sense that it’s more lighthearted and comic bookish than its counterpart. It’s pretty likely you’ll enjoy The Flash too because of its thematic differences. However if you’re not at all into more campy comics and prefer your dark and broody setups, The Flash may not be for you. At the end of the day though if you’re a DC nut I’d advise watching it anyway, because you won’t know until you try it.