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Hits the ground run­ning

SFX - - Front page - Joseph McCabe

The Flash is here. We take a quick look.

Since the 1960s, DC Comics has suf­fered from some­thing of an in­fe­ri­or­ity com­plex. With char­ac­ters de­signed in the ’ 30s and ’ 40s for an au­di­ence of De­pres­sion- era chil­dren, and a uni­verse as­sem­bled piece­meal over sev­eral decades, the company was blind­sided by Mar­vel’s rapid con­struc­tion of a cos­mic camp­ground for post- pubescents, and the phe­nom­e­nal suc­cess that fol­lowed. Which is not to say DC’s char­ac­ters are in any way in­fe­rior to Mar­vel’s; they’re sim­ply built for kids. And with a few no­table ex­cep­tions, the pre­pon­der­ance of magic rings, las­sos and words tend to work best when de­ployed with a light touch.

All of which is to say that the best thing about The Flash is the way it fully em­braces its brainy but so­cially awk­ward Scar­let Speed­ster’s role as sur­ro­gate for an au­di­ence of beau­ti­ful dream­ers, kids of all ages who will love its ado­les­cent power fan­tasy and sci- fi sense of won­der. In cast­ing Grant Gustin as foren­sics sci­en­tist turned su­per­hero Barry Allen, ex­ec­u­tive pro­duc­ers Greg Ber­lanti and An­drew Kreis­berg have, quite frankly, found the best pair­ing of ac­tor and su­per­hero since Robert Downey Jr’s Tony Stark built his first suit of ar­mour. Gustin is ev­ery­thing Flash fan­boys could want – a com­bi­na­tion of deft wit, sin­gu­lar fo­cus and post­mod­ern mati­nee- idol looks ( he’s even got an al­lit­er­a­tive se­cret- iden­tity name). His Barry is haunted and fu­elled by the tragic death of his mother, and his fa­ther’s re­sult­ing in­car­cer­a­tion. But Barry’s no brooder. Un­like its par­ent show Ar­row, The Flash is op­ti­mistic in its out­look, if not ex­actly sunny. It’s awestruck by hu­man po­ten­tial rather than fear­ful of it, and it’s alive with the prom­ise of to­mor­row’s tech­nol­ogy. It’s also more than a lit­tle rem­i­nis­cent of the character’s Sil­ver Age in­car­na­tion, cre­ated by writer Gard­ner Fox and ed­i­tor Julius Schwartz, along with artist

Carmine In­fantino, whose run on the ’ 60s Flash comic with writer John Broome re­mains the de­fin­i­tive in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the Crim­son Comet.

Gustin is ably sup­ported by a game cast, in­clud­ing Candice Pat­ton as Barry’s best friend/ would- be girl­friend Iris West ( a stronger, more con­fi­dent fe­male lead than Ar­row’s); Jesse L Martin as Iris’s dad, De­tec­tive Joe West, who raised Barry after his mother’s mur­der; Tom Ca­vanagh as Dr Har­ri­son Wells, the STAR Labs sci­en­tist whose par­ti­cle ac­cel­er­a­tor ac­ci­dent cre­ates the Flash, as well as his in­fa­mous rogues gal­ley; and John Wes­ley Shipp ( the orig­i­nal live- ac­tion Barry Allen from the short- lived 1990 Flash show) as Barry’s fa­ther Henry. Danielle Pan­abaker and Car­los Valdes lend strong support as the STAR braini­acs of “Team Flash” – Dr Caitlin Snow ( whose fi­ancé will soon ap­pear in the form of Ron­nie “Firestorm” Ray­mond, played by Rob­bie Amell) and Cisco Ra­mon ( the al­ter ego of the Flash’s fel­low Jus­tice Lea­guer Vibe). It’s Ra­mon who de­signs Barry’s iconic cos­tume, and gives the vil­lains their suit­able comic- book co­de­names.

That su­per suit ( de­signed by Ar­row cos­tumer Colleen At­wood), by the way, may be a tad darker than that of the comics, but it looks great in ac­tion. There’s a lovely mo­ment in the pi­lot where Cisco, ex­plain­ing why he’s ap­ply­ing a cer­tain trade­mark light­ning- bolt em­blem to the suit’s chest, de­clares, “Be­cause it’s not bor­ing ”. It’s a mis­sion state­ment as well as a grace note, one we hope cre­ators Kreis­berg and Ber­lanti ( as well as their fel­low ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer Ge­off Johns) re­mem­ber through­out what should be – fit­tingly for The Flash – a long and healthy run.

Fi­nally… a news story that makes no men­tion of the Scot­tish Ref­er­en­dum.

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