Tag Archive | Smallville

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Third-episode verdict: The Flash (US: The CW; UK: Sky 1)

Posted on October 23, 2014 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

BarrometerFlash.jpgA Barrometer rating of 1

In the US: Tuesdays, 8pm ET, The CW
In the UK: Tuesdays, 8pm, Sky 1. Starts October 28

Three episodes into The Flash, the latest CW adaptation of a DC comic book, and it's becoming pretty clear that despite coming from the same creative team as the rather good ArrowThe Flash is very much Smallville but with a superhero who's human and capable only of running very fast. With its "kryptonitedark matter freek of the week" that only the Flash can stop, its young love and failed romances, its concerns with great powers bringing with them great responsibillities, you could probably take any Smallville script, run a reasonably simple find-and-replace on it and end up with a The Flash script.

This isn't necessarily a bad thing - after all, Smallville ran for a record-breaking 11 seasons and there's many a TV show that would kill for even half that run. All the same a little innovation would be nice.

And indeed that's what you get with The Flash, which rather than waiting three seasons as Smallville did to realise it was a superhero show and geek out, went Nerd Factor 10 from the first episode, and mined the comics for some of the best Flash supervillains and other superheroes available. And in contrast with the early 90s adaptation starring John Wesley Shipp (who plays the Flash's dad in this adaptation), it's got series arc after series arc, crossovers with Arrow and a greater willingness to embrace the comic book's later attempts to make the Flash more than just the fastest man alive, with a time travel plot that lifts the show above what could simply be fluffy, brainless, "crash bang", teen kisses fare into somewhat darker territory. 

True, the science is still bobbins but we're talking about someone who got to run at 300mph after a lab accident, so that comes with the territory. And as with Smallville's earlier episodes, there's the frustration of watching our hero having to learn about his powers and come into others we know he'll have, and so, for example, having to deal with a mist villain in the third ep by running around a bit, rather than using his arms to create disruptive air vortices as we know he'll be able to do at a later point.

But as with Smallville, too, it's all part of the journey, something again explicit in the (spoiler alert) time travel plot, with the Flash's protective overseer from the future - probably Professor Zoom - potentially causing the accident that created the Flash in the first place so that he'll become the hero necessary to save the day in years to come and maybe even cause that time travel capability to be created.

Of course, the Flash doesn't have the real-world popularity of either Batman or Superman, so to the average viewer, it'll all be new. And the producers are of course resultingly at liberty to change big chunks of mythos if they want to - need Barry and Iris end up married as they are in the comics? No more than helper doctor Caitlin Snow has to become Killer Frost, who was never engaged to the future Firestorm in the comics, no matter how many lines about their being 'like fire and ice' are thrown in for the fans.

This embracing of comics is ultimately going to be either a strength for the show, which has already been picked up for a full season, or a weakness. If you don't like comics, prefer something a bit darker and Nolan-esque, and find even Arrow to be too escapist for you, there's no way in hell you're going to enjoy this. But if bright, shiny fun comics are your thing, and you don't have huge expectations of its young cast or lowish budget, then The Flash is well worth your time - especially when the only real competition in town are  Gotham and Constantine

Barrometer rating: 1
Rob's prediction: Should last at least a season but will need to work a bit to ensure it doesn't fall into a rut

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Wonder Woman '77 announced - so just who does read comics?

Posted on October 13, 2014 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Who reads comics? The standard response - indeed, stereotype - perpetuated by TV shows including the likes of The Big Bang Theory is this:

Comic Book Guy

Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons - a fat, white, straight male nerd.

Stereotype it may be, but is it true? To some extent, yes. A poll conducted by DC Comics into who bought comics in US comic book stores found that only 7% of purchasers were women. And a lot of women don’t feel especially welcomed by the average comic book store.

But that's all changing. Go to the average comic-con in the US and you will see people like this, for example:

Jay Justice as Wonder Woman

Yes, people who don’t fit the standard stereotype at all.

In part (but certainly not wholly) that’s because of online. No longer do you need to set aside an annexe of a house to collect comic books; no longer do you need to even step foot in a comic book store if you don’t want to. You can order graphic novels via Amazon or simply read them digitally on your tablet (or phone if you really just hate having perfect vision) using Comixology and other comic book readers.

So who reads digital comics? Increasingly, the answer is this:

A female nerd

Comixology’s sales figures indicate that as many as 20% of digital comic readers are young women, particularly outside the US. How about the remaining 80%, though?

You might think it's just young men, who are part of the digital generation who shun dead trees. But you’d be wrong. Or at least DC thinks you’re wrong, because although it’s been happy to push digital comic versions of younger-skewing TV shows The Flash, Arrow and Smallville, as well as tie-ins with cartoons such as Batman Beyond 2.0, it’s also seeing a good deal of success with Scooby Doo crossovers as well as Batman ’66 - a series based on the Adam West Batman of the mid-60s.

Batman 66

Batman ’66 is already a best-seller and doing well in both print and digital, which is where it started as an ‘enhanced’ comic - that is one that had animations as well as standard comic panes.

Now, you might think that Batman 66 is an exception, because you could stick a Bat on anything from Fairy Liquid through to piles cream and Batfans would still buy it; more so, the original show is still wildly popular among the general populace and is a real pop culture icon.

Except this weekend, DC announced another title in the same vein: Wonder Wonder ’77.

Wonder Woman 77

Based on the 1970s TV series starring Lynda Carter, Wonder Woman ’77 will be a digital-first title debuting in December. Now Wonder Woman has obviously been doing very well of late in the nu52 universe. Pre-nu52, there was one Wonder Woman title, Wonder Woman, and she’d occasionally pop up in Justice League or some other titles. But now, as well as Wonder Woman, we have Superman/Wonder Woman, the digital-only Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman and Wonder Woman ’77. That’s four concurrent Wonder Woman titles - more than there’s ever been before at any point in her 73-year history.

Clearly, she’s doing something right. But the question is: who will buy this new, digital-first title?

Undoubtedly, Lynda Carter is the platonic ideal of Wonder Woman as far as many fans are concerned, and there are aspects of the show that still define most people’s idea of who Wonder Woman is and the wonders she can do.

But largely, we’re talking about a show that never really entered the popular psyche and never got the re-runs in quite the same way as Batman. More so, it just wasn’t very good - try rewatching them, I dare you, because while the first season set during World War II is just about bearable, the latter two seasons are really hard going. Anyone coming to them fresh now is unlikely to be converted into an ardent fan by watching them.

On the other hand, I’ve got them all on DVD and iTunes, largely because I watched them all when I was a kid back in the 70s. So while I imagine there’ll be regular Wonder Woman fans giddy for any new Wonder Woman who’ll buy Wonder Woman '77, particularly those who hate the nu52, I doubt anyone young who is uncommitted would flock to this in the same way they might to Batman ‘66

And I don’t think DC thinks so, either. I think it's after a new group altogether from all the previous groups we've looked at - an older group that normally wouldn't enter a comic shop but who are now enabled by digital technology to read comics, particularly those based on shows they watched when they were kids.

Yes, DC is after the Silver Surfers. How ironic.

I’ll be buying it, of course. Will you?

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Preview: The Flash 1x1 (The CW)

Posted on July 1, 2014 | comments | Bookmark and Share

The Flash review

In the US: Tuesdays, 8pm ET, The CW. Starts October 7

Superheroes are all the rage at the cinema right now. In the comics book world, DC and Marvel predominate, but for many years, DC was the only real name at the movies, with Batman and Superman movies galore. However, Marvel has now not only caught up, it’s setting the pace and showing how comics should be adapted. So while DC has gone dark, gritty and important in the past decade, an attitude that the Lego Movie mercilessly mocked…

…Marvel has gone for relatively light, fun movies, such as Iron Man, Thor and the forthcoming Guardians of the Galaxy. DC's movies have also been self-contained, while Marvel has had its superbeings unite in The Avengers and guest in each other's movies and TV shows with aplomb.

But DC is picking up the pace, both at the movies and on TV. The forthcoming Batman v Superman is going to feature not only the eponymous two heroes, it's also got Wonder Woman, Cyborg and various other members of the Justice League lined up to appear, with more movies together and individually lined up if these are a success. And on the small screen, it has the continuing adventures of Green Arrow in Arrow and Batman prequel Gotham lined up for the autumn/fall.

But it's still all a bit dark and gritty, isn't it? However, DC appears to be well aware of its gloomy reputation so it's giving us something a bit lighter and a bit more fun. And since The CW did so well with first Smallville (the Guinness World Record holder 'longest consecutive running sci-fi TV show') and then Arrow and believes that superheroes are the best way to attract male viewers who might have been scared off by all that Gossip Girl and The Carrie Diaries, it seems appropriate for it to be the launchpad for this new show based on one of DC's (literally) lightest characters: The Flash, a character who ends up being able move even faster than Superman, following a laboratory accident.

Indeed, for the past season of Arrow, The CW has been slowly introducing The Flash and his helper monkeys to viewers, inserting him (and them) pre-powers into various episodes, originally intending to turn one episode into a backdoor pilot. It backed off from that idea and instead decided to give him a launch episode all of his own.

And not only is it very good, in some ways better even than Arrow’s first episode, it’s really just what DC is looking for - fun, light and full of crossovers from other superheroes. Just don’t be too surprised if it all seems very familiar and a bit… light.

But first, here’s a dark and gritty (hugely spoilering) trailer - it seems some habits die hard.

Continue reading "Preview: The Flash 1x1 (The CW)"

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