I’ve reserved comic book TV reviews for my comic book based live radio show but this was too big to not extend my thoughts beyond the internet airwaves so here is my review of The Flash and Arrow’s two night crossover event on The CW.
Superhero crossovers are something that can be fun, but tricky sometimes. Heroes show up, sometimes a misunderstanding leads them to fight, then team up, and the day is saved. Usually its the writer or the heroes involved that can make or break a crossover. Comics are great for it and well TV has too with the DC Animated Universe works and yeah event Smallville succeeded with season 9’s Absolute Justice, which featured the emerald archer himself. I was much more excited for this than the upcoming Batman v. Superman: Clown Car of Justice, oops, Dawn of Justice which is pretty much a clown car at this point. Thankfully this crossover turned out to be every bit as fun as expected.
Now I want to get general thoughts on each show out first before we get into the nitty gritty.
The Flash is the best comic book adapted show airing right now. I said it, I mean, I’m sticking to it! It really has gone off with such precision its fantastic. Actually seeing them get everything just right and nailed down about Barry Allen, couple tweaks there too, and the world he inhabits with the people he’s surrounded by has been just utterly too much fun. Its had a couple missteps, but nothing too big. Its fun, charming, exciting, funny. Its like I’m reading some the earlier Flash comics all over again. Only issue is they’re using The Flash Rebirth, recommend you read right now, origin with the death of his mother but yet, its only a slight issue since its not the main drive for Barry. They keep him true to wanted to be with the police to help people and wanting to keep doing that when he gets his powers.
Arrow didn’t quite fire off that fast with me. I liked the pilot fine and seeing how this wasn’t going to be the Oliver Queen I know from the comic, I went with it since its primary basis was Green Arrow: Year One by Andy Diggle and Jock, which I highly recommend you read. The next few episodes after that didn’t do so hot. Yeah I liked Deadshot being brought on but it was just not doing it for me until a two parter with The Huntress debuted and kicked things off. Arrow got much, much better in its second half of the first season as did Stephen Amell as it found its footing, its characters, and then when on to season 2 which had more hits than it did misses and kept me waiting each week in anticipation for what was next. some still give Arrow flak as a low grade Batman, but the show, much like the hero in the center of it, has truly carved out its own identity. Season 3 so far has been on target.
Both shows are just on and are exciting to watch week in and week out even when the occasional episode is dud. The CW and DC are doing something very right together.
This time last year saw Grant Gustin appeared as Central City forensics scientist Barry Allen. Now he is the fastest man alive thanks to an accident in his lab involved a freak lightning storm and the STAR Labs particle accelerator and is ready to fight side by side with this pal Oliver Queen AKA The Arrow.
My what a difference a year can make.
The crossover began on The Flash Vs. Arrow then concluded on The Brave and The Bold. Surprisingly these weren’t that too connected. They each felt like an episode of their own shows respectively. There was of course a connection with one Digger Harkness AKA Captain Boomerang since he’s started using his trademark weapons about Starling City to get the attention of A.R.G.U.S. agent Lyla Michaels, Diggle’s ex wife, girlfriend, now fiancé, and I love that since it allows him a connection to both shows as a member of the Flash’s Rogues Gallery and his connection to the Suicide Squad and I must say Nick Taraby was just so damn good to watch him as Boomerang. He plays the role so damn well with a fine understanding of the character and his great precision of throwing his weapons and his fighting style but as well as having smarts that keep both heroes on their toes against him. He’s already a much better choice than Jai “I have the same charisma as a plank of wood” Courtney for the upcoming Suicide Squad movie in 2016. The fight scene with the heroes made me a little excited seeing how fully realized this universe has truly become.
Boomerang leads our Arrow crew to Central City for the first hour and while there, helps Barry and his team try to take down Roy G. Bivolo AKA The Rainbow Raider who if I had any complaint, I’d love to seen him try to take on our team of heroes, but he does serve as the purpose for our main fight scene.
If there was anything that made me hesitant about this it was the fact we’d get our heroes fighting but thanks to Bivolo we got a spectacular fight. Now I do love my superhero crossovers to personally be more like how Arrow’s episode was with the heroes just working together and letting the excitement of that help to drive the narrative story that’s being told. Like when it was first done back in 1940 with the Human Torch and Sub-Mariner in Marvel.
Now while I prefer it done that way, I can’t deny how wonderfully fantastic the titular fight is. It was so well staged, choreographed, and exciting. There was fun character traits each would use to their benefit in the fight such as Oliver’s array of trick arrows such as one full of horse tranqs which Barry vibrates out of his body and run up the building to stop Oliver’s escape. Its mixed its CGI elements and actual fighting blended in wonderfully. The conclusion with Joe West and Harrison Wells using the strobe lights to help get Barry unwhammied is nicely clever. Then after getting a trace on evidence to help find Sara Lance’s killer, Cisco and Caitlin hop the first train over on to Starling City.
Both shows use the characters they needed to for each side of the story for good effect. We get to see each team get a glimpse at how each other works. Barry’s side is something of the more traditional superheroism whereas Oliver is the more tortured soul that operates on the more extreme side of things. Both compliment each other very well. The chemistry that Stephen Amell and Grant Gustin have is wonderful to watch. Oliver being the top ranked hero having gotten two years on Barry allows him to be the big brother to Barry and those moments of them together talking about the hero business is nicely done, as shown in the training sequence which does do Barry some good, minus getting hit in the back with some arrows. Barry allowed Oliver to lighten up and Oliver allowed Barry a little more gravitas. Each played it well and giving more depth to their own character, including Barry when he’s full of rage which shows off more of Gustin’s talents and let Barry get out what he has pent up inside.
Seeing the team of supporting characters together works to help them see how the other works and the realities of what each other does, more so with Barry’s team seeing the grim side of things when Captain Boomerang attacks them and gravely hurts Lyla. Its a nice offset of how they are thinking that their world seems very different with all the powers they encounter and codenames they give. The barrier gets broken and Diggle starts to think about how it all was before, but Cisco nicely brings up how The Flash might be here to help deal with the crazy the real world has gotten with people like Harkness, which does help to ease Diggle’s mind.
Same for when the Arrow crew was in Central City and David Ramsey got to show his lighter side of things, especially when seeing Barry’s powers for the first time. I think that might have been the biggest laugh of the entire crossover, next to Oliver’s line of admitting that he isn’t as emotionally balanced as Barry is. That’s fine Oliver, that’s why we have Roy who exudes the same broodiness while not being as serious about it as Oliver is. In fact Roy is the center of Arrow’s humor next to Felicity, but Roy is that more so here since he reacts well to Caitlin and Cisco in lab. He helps loosens things up.
Also I love the neat little meta moment as it were of Diggle debating with Caitlin and Cisco who might do more damage and Felicity’s reaction to that is goddamn priceless to me. As was Flash running past Thea. I’m going to stop now before I go over every single little detail that made me happy.
Each show had a sense of progression for themselves with what was going on before such as Barry’s dealing with Iris and Eddie, also thanks to Dark Flash he’s now got an Eddie lead task force on him, and Oliver with trying to deal with how he feels for Felicity, which had a nice mirror put up to it on the Flash episode with Iris, though Ray Palmer was absent from Arrow’s half.
The crossover succeeds at continuing the connection between the shows but also providing a big dose of superheroic fun and excitement, with some dark edges to it. Its refreshing to see when a good portion of the adaptations now are trying to ape Nolan’s Batman style that there can be different depths and tones to comic books adaptations. Greg Berlanti, Andrew Kreisberg, Geoff Johns, and Marc Guggenheim have all brought something exciting to TV. I think DC might have better luck here than it might on the bigger screen and you know what, if it means we get much more shows like the two we have right here, that’s fine by me. Here’s to the next adventure of the Scarlet Speedster and the Emerald Archer.