My review of the Flash pilot at an appropriate, lightning-fast speed: This.
My review in a little more detail: This is how you do right by a superhero.
As a writer who enjoyed (in every sense) one of the longest runs on DC Comics’ Flash comic ever, I watched the TV premiere with my shields up. And they didn’t come down in the prologue, either; the idea that Barry Allen’s mother was murdered when he was a boy is taken from the comics, but it’s a fairly recent, retroactive addition to the Flash mythos, a horribly misguided, lead-footed attempt to “contemporize” the character by force-feeding some Batman into his origin under the presumption that all heroes must spring from darkness.
And then we moved to present day, and thank God, the Sun came out.
The Flash writers and producers (who have my gratitude and admiration) found just the right note to hit with that lead-in. Here, the circumstances of his mom’s murder inform adult Barry’s scientific curiosity, but that’s not his motivation for becoming the Flash. Instead, Barry Allen is driven by optimism, by compassion and a sense of selflessness. He isn’t weighted down by his past, because being the Flash isn’t about gravity. It’s about freedom. It’s about the runner’s high, the joy that comes with moving all-out to where the only sounds in the world are the roar of the wind and the thunder of your own two feet.
The creators of this show get that. This Barry (actor Grant Gustin) gets that, and it shines in his voice and in his unbridled glee as he tears through Central City at mach-plus. That’s the Flash. I pray that this momentum sustains. Let’s see how next week goes; I’ll be here with a play-by-play.
This episode’s Easter Eggs
Does Barry’s dad look familiar? He should. John Wesley Shipp starred as the Scarlet Speedster in the original 1990-91 Flash CBS-TV series. Nice casting coup.
Captain Singh, Iris West, Eddie Thawne — all pulled from Flash’s publishing history. In the comics, Iris was a reporter, not Barry’s foster sister, but it’s an interesting wrinkle for a character who (bluntly) never really was much of anything but Lois Lane lite. Also in the comics, Eddie Thawne is Eobard Thawne, a 25th century time traveling scientist who becomes the villainous Reverse-Flash; that doesn’t seem at all to jibe with this interpretation, but I have confidence that TV’s Eddie has more of a backstory than is immediately obvious.
Caitlin Snow is better known to comics fans as the woman who eventually becomes the Firestorm villain Killer Frost, while Cisco Ramon’s DC universe namesake is (wait for it) Vibe, a vibration-powered Justice Leaguer; we’ll see if that sticks.
That sign on the broken animal cage that reads “Grodd”? That’s Gorilla Grodd, a superintelligent ape — and if you think that sounds goofy, imagine having to fight for your life against a half-ton slab of muscle and savagery that’s also smarter than you.
And the epilogue is a call-back to DC’s 1985 epic series Crisis on Infinite Earths, in which Barry Allen sacrificed his life to save the multiverse. The sound you heard while watching that was the nationwide symphony of a million fanboy heads exploding.
In addition to a landmark near-100-issue run on The Flash from 1992 to 2000, New York Times bestselling author Mark Waid has written a wider variety of well-known characters than any other American comics creator, from Superman to the Justice League to Spider-Man to Archie and hundreds of others. His award-winning graphic novel with artist Alex Ross, Kingdom Come, is one of the best-selling comics of all time. Currently, he writes Daredevil and S.H.I.E.L.D. for Marvel Comics and Empire and Insufferable for his own webcomics site, Thrillbent.