Dennis O’Neil: Flash Back!
You’ve already seen it, you slathery blagger, but from this side of the time divide it’s an experience yet to be had. I refer, of course, to the debut latest television version of DC Comics’ venerable superhero, the Flash.
(Digression: I never know whether the “the” is the Flash should be capitalized. Seems to me it should because although it’s usually a garden variety article, in this usage it is also part of the guy’s name and so a proper noun and thus meriting capitalization. But a DC editor insisted that its lower case and I guess he should know.)
I said that what will be playing on the CW tomorrow night is “the latest” video Flash and that might puzzle those of you who have entered the universe recently we’ll provide a bit of explanation (and perhaps bore those of you not so new to the universe.)
The Flash first came to your living rooms way back in 1990. It starred John Wesley Shipp and much of it was written by comics’ own Howard Chaykin. And… I confess that I’m about out of information. I wasn’t a big TV watcher back then and – mea culpa – I wasn’t much attracted to comic book characters in other media because, well… comic book characters were my job. But I do recall seeing the show and thinking it was well done.
And I’m happy to note that in what I’ll be watching on the CW, the original television Flash, John Wesley Shipp, plays the current Flash’s father. This is one of those harmless inside jokes that don’t harm your understanding to the story if you don’t get it and provides a momentary smile if you do. (And yes, purists might argue that such jokes do harm the story because some in the audience will be thinking Shipp, Shipp – where have I heard that name? and others will be thinking Hooray – that’s the Flash my daddy told me about! and in both cases the audience member will be distracted and maybe lose an important plot point. But, with your permission, I won’t be that picky.)
What I’m wondering is, how super will the TV guys allow this particular superhero to be? In the very first issue of his comic book, published in 1940, our speedster is shown outracing a revolver bullet, so from the git-go he wasn’t fast like an Olympic runner is fast, he was something beyond human. And he got faster and faster and faster. So he wasn’t a science fiction character because sci-fi requires that the narrative not violate the laws of nature as we know them and someone operating, with no explanation, far beyond human capability certainly does that. Green Arrow is a character rooted in human possibility. Spider-Man is not. Neither is the Flash.
None of which will determine whether or not television’s latest miracle worker can do his real job: giving us a light dose of after dinner entertainment. I guess we’ll find out pretty quickly.