I finally got around to watching the last episode of "Arrow", which serves as a sort of backdoor pilot for "The Flash" TV series, and its main character, Barry Allen. Though I've always liked the Flash, I was never a big fan of Barry Allen. I always liked reading and watching the adventures of his successors, grown-up sidekick Wally West, who is currently all but non-existent in the DC Universe. But "The Scientist" doesn't just show why Barry Allen will be a good Flash - it shows why Allen is a great character.
This happens a lot among pop culture - and especially among comic book fans. We all have our favorites. The problem is we expect everyone else to share our favorites too, and we often don't do a very good job explaining why such characters are our favorites in the first place. We just expect everyone to immediately understand why X is the best Green Lantern, the best Doctor, the best James Bond, the best Top Gear co-host (it's James May by the way).
But as with a lot of things, "Arrow" starts small. The episode takes place before Barry Allen has become the Flash (I suspect the particle accelerator we keep hearing abut in the background will have something to do with that). Thus, Allen is a perpetually late and occasionally awkward (assistant) CSI, who helps Oliver Queen and company investigate a bizarre break-in at Queen Consolidated. The episode handles superpowers in a similar subtle manner. Based in a hyper-realistic setting (think Nolan's "Batman Begins"), we only see the super-strong Cyrus Gold (who I hope turns into Solomon Grundy). Everything else is hinted at in dialogue, ranging from the bizarre murder of Allen's mother by something - or someone - in a blur, or Oliver's own experiences with a super-serum years ago.
The only problem I had with the episode itself was the lack of interaction between Oliver Queen and Barry Allen. The two end up becoming good friends in the comic books, but the two have very little actual dialogue, aside from Oliver making cracks about Allen's age. Granted, Allen does look young, but it makes for a visual contrast, between the fresh-faced Allen and the hardened Queen.
I remain a Wally West fan, and this episode did little to change my opinion on the Best Fastest Man Alive. But it did do one thing - it showed me what people see in Barry Allen, and that's something not many comics have done in the four years since Barry Allen returned (long story). While Wally embodies the humorous side of the flash, Barry has more humble origins, and while the two are opposites, I can appreciate them both. I love forward to seeing what CW does with a Flash series (as long as they fit in Wally West somehow . . . )
(That's it for this rant. Check out a new Blue Yonder this Wednesday!)