What do you get when you mix an Ar­row with a Flash?

SFX - - View Screen - Joseph McCabe

It’s a glo­ri­ous time to be a su­per­hero fan. Enough comic- in­spired films and TV shows have been pro­duced at this point for all the genre’s on- screen grow­ing pains – long since left be­hind in print – to be flushed out of main­stream sto­ry­telling. Case in point: TV’s Ar­row. Ini­tially an at­tempt to trans­late the suc­cess of Christo­pher Nolan’s Dark Knight tril­ogy to the small screen, it found its feet mid­way through its first year, then brought propul­sive ac­tion to its sec­ond sea­son, the best by far of any live- ac­tion su­per­hero TV show. Now in year three, Ar­row has spawned an­other se­ries de­voted to a Jus­tice Lea­guer in The Flash, and reaps the full benefits of that re­la­tion­ship in a two- part, mid­sea­son cross­over event. Com­prised of The Flash’s “The Flash Vs Ar­row” and Ar­row’s “The Brave And The Bold” – a lovely paean to the long­stand­ing tra­di­tion of fun­ny­book team- ups, named af­ter the long- run­ning DC ti­tle – it’s a study in contrasts that ex­am­ines what makes our he­roes tick.

In this case, Barry Allen, de­spite his pow­ers, rep­re­sents “the brave”, as the cham­pion determined to set the world’s wrongs right. Oliver Queen is “the bold”, the vig­i­lante will­ing to com­pro­mise his prin­ci­ples in or­der to de­feat vil­lains with­out any, and who sac­ri­fices the things – and some­times peo­ple – he loves so oth­ers won’t have to. Of course, as Barry’s friends Cisco and Caitlin point out, brav­ery – and cute nick­names – might come eas­ier when the pow­ers of one’s foes are so out­landish as to ren­der the men­ace they hold mere fod­der for fan­ci­ful ad­ven­tures.

As this episode opens, the STAR Labs team pays Star­ling City a visit just as Digger Harkness, a for­mer Sui­cide Squad mem­ber, breaks into AR­GUS head­quar­ters, seek­ing vengeance from his for­mer re­cruiter, Dig­gle’s

girl­friend Lyla. The ac­tion through­out this se­quence is typ­i­cal of Ar­row, in that it’s pretty much the best on tele­vi­sion ( while dis­tin­guished from the SF ori­ented se­quences in The Flash). In the wrong hands, Harkness ( dubbed Cap­tain Boomerang, af­ter his weapon of choice) could look ridicu­lous, or be stripped of what makes him in­ter­est­ing in an at­tempt at re­al­ism. But writer- pro­duc­ers Greg Ber­lanti, Marc Guggen­heim and An­drew Kreis­berg do their usual finely bal­anced job of in­te­grat­ing him into the DC TV Uni­verse, while play­ing up his level of cun­ning – a re­quire­ment of any ad­ver­sary con­fi­dent enough to battle the bow­man and the speed­ster.

Some have ar­gued that this sea­son of Ar­row has con­tained more navel- gaz­ing and philo­soph­i­cal ru­mi­na­tions from Oliver and co than pre­vi­ous years – un­der­stand­able when the prin­ci­pal an­tag­o­nist thus far is Ollie’s own per­ceived in­abil­ity to be both vig­i­lante and Star­ling ’s scion. But the navel- gaz­ing in “The Brave And The Bold” is pierced by the lev­ity of Team Flash, and the younger hero’s be­lief that Oliver too can in­spire peo­ple, de­spite his past sins.

Those look­ing for a greater ex­ter­nal threat this year would do well to re­mem­ber Ar­row’s past Big Bads – Mal­colm Mer­lyn and Slade Wil­son – re­vealed their in­ten­tions late in their re­spec­tive sea­sons. One glimpse at what’s to come, with a bare- chested Oliver bat­tling Ra’s al Ghul in the snow, and it ap­pears that sea­son three will fol­low suit. Should things get out of hand, how­ever, Bran­don Routh’s Ray “Atom” Palmer and JR Ramirez’s Ted “Wild­cat” Grant stand wait­ing in the wings.

Re­tain­ing pe­riph­eral vi­sion while wear­ing a hood is a su­per­power of its own.

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