Much like the episode of TV that I’ve just finished watching, I’m not going to belabor this intro too much. The pilot episode for CW’s “The Flash” was awesome, and it’s setting up for a series that pays homage to the extensive mythology of the Scarlet Speedster while also feeling contemporary at the same time. Developed by Geoff Johns (DC Comics’ Chief Creative Officer and Flash super-fan), Greg Berlanti, and Andrew Kreisberg, “The Flash” tells the story of Barry Allen. Allen is a forensic scientist working for the CSI division of the Central City Police Department, and during a fateful experiment that gives rise to the birth of “meta-humans,” the previously slow and clumsy Allen was kicked into overdrive.
The best elements working for “The Flash” are the overall efficiency of the writing, the inherent celebration of the character in the material itself, and finally a DC superhero in live action that’s not afraid to crack a smile once in a while. Led by a charismatic and infectiously joyful Grant Gustin as the title character, “The Flash” paid attention to the recent history of Barry as a character while also creating an entirely new set of rules for itself that can easily sustain a season, and more, of new creative material. Admittedly, some of the writing struggles a bit by showing an Iris West (Candice Patton) that seems way too oblivious to Barry’s adoration of her, and some of the dialogue is a little clunky and eye-roll inducing, but this episode is viciously lean. There’s something to be said about overall efficiency when wanting to dive in to the new adventures of a superhero, and “The Flash” pulls no punches and holds nothing back.
To put it more bluntly, “The Flash” accomplished in one episode what took “Smallville” ten years to do.
Unlike the last reigning superhero show on the CW (if you don’t count “Arrow,” which you should), “The Flash” is happy to be a show about the longstanding DC Comics icon created by Robert Kanigher, John Broome, and Carmine Infantino. “Smallville’s” major problem was that it seemed almost embarassed to be a Superman show, and in truth, it really wasn’t until the somewhat disappointing final episode. Enthusiasm for the material goes a long way in showing fans how serious you are in bringing a beloved character and his world to life, and this pilot makes its joy for the material very clear.
That word right there is really what comes to mind the most when thinking of “The Flash:” joy. While it starts with a grim event in Barry’s childhood (which readers of The Flash: Rebirth and Flashpoint should find exceedingly familiar), Barry’s demeanor, his attitude towards the possibility of becoming a hero, and the realization of what he can do just all had a sense of joy and possibility attached to it. While it was really fun seeing former TV Flash John Wesley Shipp return to the world of his former show, at the center of all of this is Grant Gustin, whose portrayal as Barry Allen is pitch perfect. The Flash is a DC Comics character, but he’s not Batman. He’s not Superman. He’s not even the Green Arrow. He’s the Flash, future pillar of the Justice League, the Scarlet Speedster, and the Fastest Man Alive. This pilot is filled with the kind of possibility for a comics character I’ve only felt after reading a really good #1 issue, and I just can’t wait to see where Barry will run next.
Especially if all roads lead to Zoom. 9/10
We’ll check back in on “The Flash” at the midpoint of the season!
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