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How the Flash has Broken Lose from the Darkness of the DC Universe

Confession time: Most of us Earth Nerds around here love Marvel Comics. And their movies. And their role playing game. It isn’t like we hate DC but…well, I just don’t like it. (I’ll let the other nerds speak for themselves.)

So when a friend of mine recommended the first season of the CW show The Flash to me, I was skeptical. Most DC stuff just tends to turn into a dark, overwrought mess. Their recent movies are just so dark that I don’t find a key element that I need in my superhero stories: hope.

And while I didn’t hate the show Arrow, which The Flash spun out of, it did slowly drift from being a thing I was watching to something that I forgot about mainly.  But I was willing to give The Flash a shot.

[divider]Reasons to Watch the Flash[/divider]

So this summer I have been watching season one as they release it on Hulu. So I have seen 11 episodes now and I have some thoughts on this show.

  1. It isn’t dark. Even as it deals with some dark things like the murder of Barry Allen’s mom when he was a child, it doesn’t become an all consuming force. The writers are even aware of the need to differentiate themselves; there is a showdown in a crossover episode where Barry and Oliver (The lead in Arrow) compare backstories and with all the coincidence, Barry chooses a more hopeful way, even as Oliver chooses to use torture.
  2. FLA101d_0806r_1893c5eclr_542b50aa7211f1.74706723The cast is great. Barry has a team of people helping him, all disgraced scientists, who help train him, give him direction in combat situations and are all around his team.
    • Dr. Snow is a female scientist who lost her fiancee in the blast that gave Barry his powers.
    • Cisco is my favorite character, a young mechanical engineer that they use to give the series fun, especially in his naming of the villains that they encounter.
    • Barry’s father figure is Detective Joe West, who is also the father of Barry’s object of unreturned affection:
    • Iris. This is a show without an obvious weak spot in the cast, which is rare.
  3. The Rogue’s Gallery. Hardcore Flash fans will argue that he has the best line-up for villains among all superheroes. And they are using it effectively in the season. It is letting the story be both a “Villain of the Week” and tell a longer narrative arc that I have found superb. In all honesty, so far, this season is using that format as well as any season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Angel. And you know when I invoke Joss Whedon, that is high praise indeed.
  4. TheFlash-110-RevengeofTheRogues-3J5360-CW-Stereo_a7029ca49_CWtv_720x400It is about hope. Barry is a character torn by awful circumstances that is still choosing to cling to hope, to want to bring freedom to his father, who is wrongly imprisoned for his mother’s murder. Barry is a perfect example of what you hope for in a young superhero story: fascination with his power, his desire to help others and driving force.
  5. His powers. The idea of the Speed Force and how it plays out in Barry is excellent. It is a great power to bring to the small television screen because it can be done with minimal cost special effects and still have a powerful impact. Streaks of light are balanced with scenes shown from Barry’s perspective, where everything is slowed way down. By rotating between the two, it makes The Flash seem more whole and complete in a way that focusing on just one would not.

So admittedly, I am only about halfway through the first season and it could go off the rails. But I’m excited to see where it goes. They have done the bold step of showing you that one of the main allies of Barry appears to also be the man who killed his mom. And watching how they unfold that story, keeping my interest and doing great individual episodes has made this one of my favorite shows this summer.