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Dads, Dark Matter, and the Diggle Shakes: It’s this week’s Arrowverse Weekly Round-Up!

We know. We missed last week, making this not all that weekly of a round-up. You can thank illness of the face for that. But we’re back this week! So let’s break this one down before another week slips by us.  Worst to First, let’s do it! (A bit spoilery, but not too bad)

Supergirl

Bless her little Kryptonian heart, she’s trying. She really is. But what do you do with an all-powerful, god-like character? A question that’s plagued the Superfamily since forever.  At first, the showrunners decided to borrow some of the best of the MAN of Steel’s history the first season, then had him actually show up in National City  for what was arguably the best episode of season 2. Well, the answer this year seems to be ignore the question, because other characters not named in the title have a lot going on, and we’ll get to Kara. Promise.

This season has a lot happening to be sure. There’s Alex and Maggie’s wedding that is CLEARLY doomed to not happen as hinted at these first three episodes, Nathan Petrelli is doing his best at megolomaniacal industrialist (until his isn’t? Maybe next week?), Lena Luthor bought Catco because…um…reasons, and Odette Annable will at some point be “making it Reign”. (That’s her quote, not our quote. It’s punny as hell, but admittedly better than what we would have come up with.) Oh, and that one girl is sad about her boyfriend being maybe dead. What’s her na–OH! Kara! Right!

To be FAIR, Kara did some stuff this week. J’onn did most of it assisting M’gann and the white martian resistance though, but Supergirl helped. It was a decent bit of business with J’onn reuniting with his father he previously thought deceased.

A darker, distracted Supergirl was kind of fun. Not Snyder dark, but Kara with a chip on her shoulder that first episode would have made for an interesting sub-plot this season as she works through the idea that even with all the power in the world, she can’t save everyone she loves. It’s a good third season plot that could flesh out Kara and grow her as character. Because if she’s the role model for a generation of young girls, they need to see that even our heroes struggle and we all need to find it in ourselves to overcome.

…No? You’d rather wrap that up half-assedly after 2 eps? Alright, how about a wedding shower then? Yeah to hell with it.

Arrow

…What are we going to do with this show? The time slot change is  bad enough as it makes it a lot more difficult to get these reviews done in a timely manner–on top of all the other reasons– but the writers insist on recycling the same storylines the way Flash recycled Ollie’s apartment in last week’s episode. Yeah, we noticed. All of us noticed.

Anyway, Oliver is again this season spending more time as the mayor than as the Green Arrow like last year. Because when we go to watch superhero dramas, it’s important to us that we spend at least 10 minutes an episode worrying about new legislation.  

This week, Diggle takes over as Green Arrow as Oliver is under the watchful eye of FBI Agent Mrs. Plot Device, and wants to be a better father to William “Exasperated Sigh” Clayton. Digs got the shakes though as is having confidence issues thanks to his last season visit to Lian Yu. I don’t speak any languages beyond this sort of English and “I am a pineapple” in French, but I have to assume Lian Yu is Mandarin for “No Real Stakes Island”.  We’ll come back to that.

From there, the never-ending, white hot poker in the eye that will not be named came on screen. I  was suddenly overwhelmed by my own form of Diggle Shakes and slapped the video halfway across the room. I came to outside, standing over a burn barrel holding a box of matches as my tablet sat on top of the pile, reeking of gasoline. The tablet’s fine, but I can’t finish a review for you, because I’m on a kind of expensive laptop and I don’t want to risk another blackout.

Even with the imminent destruction of my tablet, Arrow still ranks ahead of Supergirl this week. This show is still trying to find it’s way back, and we feel like it still can, but it needs to bring back the high stakes that the first two seasons had.  Yeah, they killed Laurel, and for this, we will never forgive them, but this show has lost it’s nerve. If you’re going to have every character on an island, and you’re going to explode that island, then have every character survive, you’ve wasted a perfectly good island explosion. They had the chance to course correct, (same as with Flashpoint) and they didn’t take it.  They keep letting all the plucky sidekicks survive. They have so many, they could Game of Thrones the hell out of the show once every two weeks, and by season end, there’s still six characters left. My math’s off, but you get the idea. Trim the fat. You have two quirky scientists. Axe one of them. You have 2 gun-toting hard asses. Axe one. You have 2 Canaries. Break one’s neck after you’ve injected bleach into her veins and set her on fire, then reform Laurel, you canon-destroying-on-a-whim, Felicity-fellating jackasses.

I’m feeling woozy..let’s move on.

FLASH

The Flash, what do you say about it? It’s a consistently good show. This week and last week were no exceptions. The writer’s have loosened up on the overly dramatic reins for the time being and everyone is having fun. We didn’t get to cover this, so we’ll touch on it here, last week’s episode made it enjoyable to watch Barry and Iris together for the first time in a while. She wasn’t constantly harping on him all episode and he didn’t spend the tenth week in a row explaining how he’ll never let anything bad happen to her. For the first time in a while, there was natural chemistry between them, and it was good to see. 

As far as the fun goes, they introduced Hazard this week; a girl with the worst luck in the world, until she’s introduced to dark matter, thanks to Barry’s return from the Speed Force. She’s a petite blonde that’s  funny and fun to watch. In the end, she’s monster of the week, so they wrap her story quick, but she’s got a bigger part to play in Junior Brainiac’s no good, very bad scheme.

This week also saw the return of Tom Cavanaugh (It’s about time you got here! Welcome home!)  and Earth 2 Harry Wells. Always good to have him back so Cisco has someone to properly bicker with. The problem there is Harry seems a bit too…not scatterbrained, but less full of himself than when he was around previously and that felt like it lost something. Still good to have him back.

Oh, and poor Wally. This town’s not big enough for two speedsters apparently. Tough Luck, Bro.

Also, I spent the episode deciding that Cecil needs to back the hell up a step. But, that’s obviously not going to happen. Nice cut to black on that one.

Legends of Tomorrow

Understand that before we get too far into this that we know. We do. We know and we understand any trepidation you might be feeling with this being the second Round-Up in a row that Legends came out as top dog. If the illness hadn’t struck last week, Legends would have been number one then too. WE KNOW! It doesn’t make sense!  After the first two seasons, we get all of it. 

Listen up, though: Legends is the current champion of the CW’s Arrowverse. If you aren’t watching, you’re missing out. Allow us to explain.

Is it a perfect show? No. Some of the worst extra acting around. Sometimes the mains’ acting isn’t all that great either. But what is it about Legends that we find so damn convincing? We said it last time: They’ve found their voice. The writers and showrunners know what they are, and they’re making it work. Not everyone wants the light-hearted approach that Marvel takes with it’s properties muddling in with the super serious world of DC, but this is exactly what the show needs to be.

The Legends aren’t a stoic band of heroes that save the space time continuum while attempting to bone each other in the meanwhile. They’re an imperfect group of screw-ups and also-rans that are doing the best they can with what they’ve got. The showrunners finally cracked that code and allowed themselves and their characters to be fun.

The introduction of the Time Bureau, run by previous captain Rip Hunter, is the perfect adversary for the Legends as they skip through time striving to put right what once went wrong (thanks to their incompetence).

Thats not to say that there aren’t moments of them potentially falling back into old habits, but we’re still cautiously optimistic. The reintroduction of Amaya to the Waverider is a slippery slope. We’re waiting for the moment when they fall back into the well-trodden drama of a relationship between her and Nate, but so far they’ve avoided it. We can only hope that they continue to steer around it so as to not get bogged down with the heavy-handedness of their relationship.

It probably feels unnatural to you, but unless you’re staunchly opposed to humor in your Arrowverse, this is the show to watch. It’s been consistently entertaining for these first three weeks, and with Matt Ryan’s Constantine slated to come aboard, hopefully it can only get better.

Post-Superman Reborn: What’s next for the new DCU?

With the Rebirth era of DC Comics approaching its first anniversary, recent issues of Superman and Action Comics seem to have reset the playing field. This seemed like a good time to discuss the new status quo for Superman, how it reflects the greater DC Universe, and some wild speculation as to what’s really happening in the larger Rebirth mystery. Warning: This article contains spoilers for the Superman Reborn story arc, as well as other stories across the DC Universe.

A Reborn Man of Steel

As promised, the four-part Superman Reborn storyline has answered some major questions. We know now that the false Clark Kent was, in reality, Mr. Mxyzptlk, having recently escaped the clutches of the enigmatic Mr. Oz. We also know what Mr. Oz meant in DC Universe Rebirth #1 when he told the Pre-Flashpoint Superman that neither he nor the New 52 Superman were what he thought. In fact, they and their respective Lois Lanes were two halves of the same whole, split in Superman Red/Superman Blue fashion. Now the halves have been rejoined, and all is well in Metropolis. Except, of course, for the new question raised here: who split them and why? Not to mention, of course, how this impacts the rest of the DCU.

Action Comics #976 reveals that not only the characters, but also their respective histories have been merged. Presumably, this means that when they return to the Daily Planet they’ll encounter a Perry White who remembers attending their wedding, a Metropolis that knows all too well the destruction of Doomsday, and a Supergirl who once again recognizes her cousin in this man. But what about some of the elements that are harder to reconcile? Wonder Woman has already moved past her romance with Superman, but will those characters still remember it? Will the Teen Titans have memories of their former teammate, the time-tossed Superboy cloned from Lois and Clark’s son? And what about Martha Kent? In the Post-Flashpoint New 52 Universe she was dead; in the DCU that existed prior to Flashpoint she was still alive. If Clark goes back to the family farm now, will she be waiting for him?

Not all of these questions can simply be handwaved away, but more and more it’s feeling like this is by design. DC has been attacking discrepancies head-on in books like the Superman titles or Wonder Woman. Diana has learned that she’s been manipulated for years, sent to a false Paradise Island whenever she attempted to return home, and as a result her entire history is suspect (Wonder Woman #11). In another huge contradiction, the original Wally West has returned. Rather than attempting to eliminate the New 52 Wally West, a solution was found to keep them both. And all of this, of course, seems to connect back to the central mystery revealed in the first DC Rebirth issue: someone has “stolen” ten years of time from the DC Universe, and as a result, everything is off-kilter. Now, the Rebirth story appears to be accelerating. Superman Reborn was the first part of that. The next part, the Batman/Flash crossover “The Button,” begins in April.

Put a Little Love In Your Heart

After the two Superman families merged, Mr. Oz ponders, “That family has done the impossible. Proven that true love really can conquer all… Is it over? Or is there more?” The question here seems to be if “love” truly can repair the damage done to the DC Universe when whoever did whatever it was they did. I would argue that this is already happening, both literally within the DCU and in a more metafictional way. Rebirth has largely been about restoring the lost sense of hope and love to the DC Universe. DC Universe Rebirth #1 began with the return of Wally West, a character who literally uses his love for others as the anchor to keep him in reality. Immediately the romances between Aquaman and Mera, Green Arrow and Black Canary, and Barry Allen and Iris West were all pushed to the forefront of those respective books. We’ve also seen Batman working with his “family” in a much closer, less secretive way, even revealing his identity to his cousin, Batwoman (in Detective Comics #934. She already knew, it turned out, but the moment it creates between the two of them is both funny and inspiring.) That’s not all, though: he’s taking an active role in the rehabilitation of several criminals and killers: Clayface, Killer Frost, and Lobo (the former in Detective Comics, the latter two in Justice League of America). He refused to believe it when Catwoman was convicted of murdering hundreds of people and finally, after decades of dancing around it, Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle professed their love for one another (Batman #15).

Love – or at least mutual admiration – is also in the air in Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps. If you thought Batman was a mensch for trying to rehab three bad guys, the Green Lantern Corps has actually partnered up with the entire Sinestro Corps, trying to turn the yellow Lanterns into partners in policing the universe. Meanwhile, Hal Jordan has told Kyle Rayner that he sees Kyle as the greatest Lantern of all, just before Kyle dropped his New 52 Status Quo as the White Lantern and rejoined the Green Lantern Corps (Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #17). Oh, and did I mention all of this is set against the search for Saint Walker and the restoration of the Blue Lantern Corps – the DCU’s embodiment of hope?

It can’t be a coincidence that all this is happening now. One of the most consistent and justifiable criticisms of the New 52 era was that the world had grown too dark. A pre-merger Superman even pointed this out when comparing notes with Nightwing, declaring the villains of this world to be far grimmer than the ones he remembers (Nightwing #9).

Who’s Watching the Watchmen?

This, of course, leads us back to the biggest question of Rebirth: who, exactly, is responsible for the 10 missing years of the DC Universe? For the first year of the storyline, the evidence has overwhelmingly pointed in the direction of the characters from Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen invading the DCU. Both the Rebirth special and Superman Reborn ended with knowing glances towards the planet Mars, which played a large part in that story. Also in the special, Batman found the Comedian’s blood-stained smiley face button embedded in the wall of the Batcave. The Titans even located their new headquarters in New York because Omen received a psychic impression of the word “Manhattan” (Titans #6).

Then there’s the mysterious Mr. Oz, he whom the comic book media has declared to be Watchmen’s Ozymandias. He’s been watching Superman for some time, he seems to know who’s really behind everything, and he’s taken some major players “off the table.” Red Robin, for instance, was captured early on in Rebirth (Detective Comics #940, specifically), leaving Batman and the others to believe he’s dead. Why Red Robin? Because he somehow was helping other people make connections that Mr. Oz didn’t want made.

This is where I think the wheels start to fall off the Ozymandias theory. Ozymandias was, of course, the smartest man in his world, but that was a world where only one person had super powers, and it wasn’t him. I can believe Ozymandias would be able to imprison Tim Drake. I can even believe he could think of a way to contain an ultra-powerful tank like Doomsday (as in Action Comics #962). But how could a man with no powers capture a fifth-dimensional imp like Mr. Mxyzptlk?

(Yes, I know that this is a comic book, and therefore some nonsense technobabble ass-pull is always a possibility, but I’m building towards a point here, so bear with me.)

This feeds a nagging doubt I’ve had for a while regarding Watchmen and its involvement in Rebirth. It feels… well… too easy. Too well-constructed, especially for a story that is ostensibly only approaching the halfway point. And it doesn’t exactly work, in my opinion, with DC’s meta-message here. The Rebirth special was, in many ways, DC’s mea culpa. Through the characters, writer Geoff Johns basically told the reader that DC understood where things went wrong and that this is the story that’s going to fix it. However, by capping this special with the reveal of the button, Johns essentially seemed to make the statement that DC’s problems weren’t recent (true), that the roots of the darkness Superman would later comment on go back well before Flashpoint (also true), and that in a way, you can trace it all back to when Watchmen changed the comic book landscape in 1987.

Sort of true.

The thing about Watchmen is that it was the book that proved to countless people comics could tell deeper, more sophisticated stories. But like any success in entertainment, it spawned a wealth of imitators. It never should have become the template for other comics that it did, but it’s not the fault of Watchmen itself that so many subsequent writers treated it as such.

So the notion that the meta-message of Rebirth is “It’s all Watchmen’s fault” has three problems:

  1.       It’s only partially and indirectly responsible, if at all.
  2.       I think Geoff Johns is far too good a writer to cast that aspersion in such a simplistic way.
  3.       Even from a business standpoint, it’s hard to picture DC devoting two years of publishing towards denigrating their best-selling graphic novel of all time.

All of this is to say that, while the Watchmen characters are almost certainly involved in the rebirth mystery, I’m almost equally certain that things are more layered than “Dr. Manhattan messed with the world.”

Crazy-Ass Speculation

We’re about to get into some wild and almost totally unsupportable theories here, friends, so buckle up. The last major element we haven’t discussed yet is the DC Multiverse, which is still following the rules established in Grant Morrison’s The Multiversity and was central to the most recent pre-Reborn storyline in Superman. That multiverse contains 52 worlds and a hell of a lot of metatextual commentary, including a world where the former Charlton characters are more like their Watchmen counterparts. (Watchmen, for the three people who didn’t know it, began as a pitch to DC utilizing the recently-acquired Charlton Comics superheroes. Alan Moore reworked them into original characters at DC’s request.) One may wonder if it’s those characters from The Multiversity: Pax Americana– and not Dr. Manhattan and company – responsible for the missing decade. However, I think we can throw that out as it doesn’t account for the presence of Watchmen’s most iconic image: the smiley face button.

There’s an aspect of Multiversity, though, that has rarely been brushed upon since. The DC Multiverse has 52 worlds, that’s true, but it’s also true that there is more than one multiverse, each with its own Orrery of Worlds. In fact, DC even announced stories from the “other” multiverses would be told in a series of yet-unproduced original graphic novels by Grant Morrison.

Here’s how, metatextually, DC can have its cake and eat it too. Let’s say the Watchmen Earth is in one of those other multiverses where the worlds (as in “our” multiverse) are to some degree or another derivative of each other. If – in the real world – it’s Watchmen’s influence that tainted everything that came after, what if in-story the true threat comes from a Watchmen derivative world that drew on the original world in the wrong way, just like so many writers did?

Or, in simpler terms, if Watchmen is its multiverse’s Earth-1, what if the real bad guys of Rebirth are from their multiverse’s Earth-3?

It’s just a theory, of course, and probably completely wrong, but it’s awfully nice to be pondering and analyzing DC Comics again, and to a degree that hasn’t been possible for years. And if nothing else, we can look forward to “The Button” next month in the hopes that the clues it gives us will keep us going into Rebirth Year Two.

Blake M. Petit has been nerding up the internet for over a decade. You can nerd along with him at BlakeMPetit.com or at his Facebook page.

Supergirl Gets Hitched And Flash Attacks Gorilla City Next Week

Next week we’ll be seeing a few awesome super villains showing up in the CW DCverse.  First up on Supergirl that trixter from the 5th dimension Mr. Mxyzptlk shows up wreck havoc.  Turns out he has a little bit of a crush on Kara and even tries to get her to marry him.

And while not a NEW villain on Flash we finally not only get the return of Grodd but the reveal of Gorilla City.  In a two part story we’ll see the Flash team head to another earth looking for the Earth 2 Harrison Wells and end up facing down this classic mind reading foe.

I’m usually pretty stoked to watch these shows anyway but with these stories coming up I’m pretty excited.  Can’t wait to see what they bring.

CW Drops A Full Length Super Hero Crossover Trailer

The date is finally nearing and The CW has dropped a full length trailer for the Supergirl, Flash, Arrow, and Legends Of Tomorrow crossover.  It shows us a lot more of what the threat is and what we have in store.  How Supergirl makes it onto Earth 1 is still unknown but we’ll get to see what is probably our best bet for the live action Justice League on TV now with the DC movies in full swing.  So feast your eyes below and get ready for November 28th.

New CW DC Crossover Trailer For Heros Vs. Aliens

They teased us before but they released a trailer which clues us in at least a little more on the 4 night crossover event for the CW Super Hero line up of Supergirl, The Flash, Arrow, and Legends Of Tomorrow.

While it doesn’t give us a complete rundown of what will be happening we do see some interesting glimpses of what might be new heros and even returning characters in Deathstroke.  Deathstroke people!  Check it out below.