Arrowverse, DC, DC Universe, Reviews, RTF Originals

RTF Review: Tales From the DC MulTVerse #3

rtf-review-tales-from-the-dc-multverse-3

By: Adam Basciano

Here’s installment #3 of RTF Review: Tales of the DC MulTVerse. In addition to new episodes of the series discussed last week, we also have the season premiere of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. Let’s get into it:

TITANS:

“A new threat is after Rachel as she and Dick arrive at the home of Hank Hall and Dawn Granger, where a complicated history resurfaces.” (DC Universe)

This week, the bonding between Dick Grayson and Rachel Roth continues. On their way to Washington DC, to visit Dick’s friends for a place o lie low for a while, the two share more stories about what it’s like to be orphans. Instinctively, Dick treats Rachel as more of a kid, questioning if she should be drinking coffee, then later, questioning whether she should be watching Game of Thrones. I found that ironic and humorous, given the level of violence and adult language on this show. Rachel’s big fear, is not necessarily just the demon within her but also about being left alone. Even though Dick promises he won’t leave her, he begins to questioning his ability to care for her, given his history with Batman nd the dark, violent, person he feels he’s become. We get another reference to Batman, via Alfred, who Dick calls for a favour to wire him money. That money is to give to his friends, to take care of Rachel, Dick, reassures Rachel that he would come back, but when she touches his hand, she knows that is lying. I get where Dick is coming from but considering they are both orphans and they are both fearful of darkness within, they are actually great company for each other. The episode goes to great lengths to show the calming, reassuring effect they have on one another.

The “friends” Dick Grayson had planned to leave Rachel with, were Dawn Granger and Hank Hall. Not only are they a romantic couple, they are vigilantes and have been fighting crime exclusively together, for 3 years,  From interviews with the actors, I don’t think Hawk and Dove have the powers they do in the comic books. However, the idea that Hawk is an angry, aggressive hot head , with Dove being a calming, peaceful and hopeful presence, are certainly kept in tact. I thought Alan Ritchson as Hawk and Minka Kelly as Dove, had great chemistry together, playing the yin and yang of Hank’s hot headed nature and Dawn’s calmness off each other perfectly. While they didn’t have their powers, their costumes looked great. They looked pitch perfect to the comic book versions, and were just as top quality as Robin’s costume. The first time we see them, Hawk is captured and tortured. Titans beautifully turns the damsel in distress troupe on its head, as Dawn rescues Hawk, in a brutal, intense action scene. Since Dove can’t fly, I love that the show and character uses her wings as both a weapon, the tips are sharp, and stab people like a knife, and as a shield, to protect people from bullets and such. Following this scene, the episode really keys in on the negative aspect of vigilante activity. We see Hank in a bathtub, giving himself an injection in the leg and taking medications for his pain. He even mentions needing a hip replaced and having a damaged shoulder. I love that the series shows the down side to this lifestyle and that everything isn’t all happy and fantastic, even though they won the day. I’ve seem The Dark Knight Rises, the Daredevil film and NETFLIX series, that dealt with this subject, but it’s typically glossed over. This scene also features Minka Kelly’s Dawn character, wearing a Superman t-shirt! I’m bias, but that gets this episode a bonus point from me.

The inclusion of Hawk and Dove, also expands on Dick Grayson’s past in this Titans continuity. He would occasionally partner with the two vigilante’s in secret, even though Batman warned him to keep his distance. We also learn, through Raven’s mind reading ability, that Dick Grayson and Dawn Granger were in a relationship. Even the thought of which, sends Hank Hall into an angry rage! Alan Ritchson has come a long way acting wise, from his appearances on Smallville; where Aquaman said “Bro”, 50 times an episode. Robin assists Hawk and Dove, in taking down an organization selling guns to pre-teens and teens. This produces the most violent, gruesome an intense fight yet. I mean Robin throws his “R” shaped Ninja Stars into a thugs eyes. As for the rest of the fight sequence, picture a mix of the Batman Begins dock scene, the Batman v Superman where house scene and any fight scene featuring Hit-Girl, from Kick Ass. So far, I’ve mentioned two fight scenes, where our heroes end up victorious, however, they do lose. Remember, several groups are after Rachel. A new group enters the fray, sent by a higher entity. The new attacker is a family known as the Nuclear Family. Outwardly, they’re a stereotypical family, right out of the 1950’s. Deep down their lunatic covert assassins. Now I know these are comic book characters and in the comics they are robots. Here though, I have no idea if they are robots, though they do inject themselves with some serum. Robots or not, they are extremely creepy and violent. They find our heroes on the roof of Hawk & Dove’s apartment, leaving Robin and Hawk incapacitated and Dove, near death. It was surprising to see our new heroes get beat so badly, in their inaugural episode. That’s a rarity.

If you read last weeks RTF Review Tales from the DC MulTVerse, you know I love the premiere episode. This episode was even better, with stronger, emotional character beats and absolutely spectacular fight scenes.

Score : A+

SUPERGIRL:

“When a shocking revelation brings chaos to National City, Supergirl sets out to capture Mercy Graves.” (The CW)

At the end of last episode, the world discovered that the President of the United States, played by Lynda Carter, is indeed an alien. Episode 2 of Supergirl, aptly titled “Fallout”, brings us right in the middle of the aftermath of this reveal. As President Marsden prepares to resign, protests for and against aliens in America, rage outside the White House. The barriers separating the two sides collapse, and the two sides begin to get into physical altercations. In the chaos, a flag and the pole it rests on, begin to collapse. In the nick of time, Supergirl catches the pole, lands in between the feuding groups, plants the pole and flag proudly, and reminds the crowd, that now more than ever, is not a time for fighting, but a time to come together and discuss. This scene is both sad, yet uplifting. It’s sad, because it unfortunately echoes the scenes of hatred, bigotry, and division, present in the world outside our television screens. It’s uplifting because Supergirl is behaving like a beacon of hope, urging diplomacy and dialogue. This is behavior I’ve come to expect and look up to from any hero bearing the symbol of House El, no matter the medium. Also, Supergirl carrying the flag and flag pole, is reminiscent of Superman, flying and repairing the flag atop the White House, in Superman II! One thing the episode was sure to emphasize, was that the battle for and against alien rights on Earth, extended beyond the White House. We see arguing and heated discussions taking place within the DEO and CatCo Worldwide Media. While the show deals with literal, science fiction aliens, it makes sure that the nature and divisiveness of political discourse, is as real and authentic as possible.

We learn more about Mercy Graves, as Kara interviews Lena for a story. Kudos to the Supergirl creative team, for always including scenes of Kara as a reporter. Have I mentioned, that is sorely lacking in the Superman films? Just as in the comics, Mercy was Lex’s top security personal, eventually becoming his closest confidant. Taking things even deeper, she was a surrogate mother to Lena, when her mother wasn’t around. So the fact that she breaks into L-Corp, makes things even more personal for Lena, when Mercy and a small army raid L-Corp. As the building goes into lockdown mode, Kara is stuck with Lena and Eve Tessmacher, unable to find a place to get away and change into Supergirl. This forces Kara to find secretive, sometimes accidental looking, ways, to keep the gun toting army at bay. We see Kara slyly blocking bullets by flinging them away with her hands, using her shoe to keep a security door open, or faking a sneeze, to evasively use super breath, to knock over the armed attackers. I found this fight sequence to be original, inventive and humorous. We eventually get to the basement of L-Corp, which is basically the applied sciences department, housing Lex’s old inventions and weaponry. In a cool nod to the comic books and Season 2 of this show, we see Lena and Mercy, using discarded pieces of Lex’s battle armor in a fight against one another. Kara eventually finds away to change into Supergirl, eventually apprehending Mercy but, not before her crew manages to get away with a laptop, a vile of kryptonite and a dispersal device. While actress Rhona Mitra doesn’t look like the animated/comic book version of Mercy, in terms of demeanor and personality, she is spot on.

With the laptop they stole, Agent Liberty’s crew are able to hack the image inducers L-Corp sold to aliens living on Earth. This exposes Braniac 5’s true visage, to a local pizza shop owner, who begins to insult him, refusing to serve him and threatening violence against him. Nia Nal happens to be frequenting the same establishment, eventually intervening on Braniac 5’s behalf. She tells the owner she intends to write an article against the establishment, exposing the bigotry and violence toward aliens. Back at CatCo Worldwide Media, Nia uses this experience, while also revealing she is transgender, to show James Olsen that she knows bigotry and hate firsthand, and that the paper must take a stand for justice. After exploring her meek and bumbling side in the Supergirl premiere last week, this week showcased, a strong, assertive side to her character. The pep talk from Kara, clearly took hold. Credit to The CW! They said, they’d cast and have a transgender actress, to play a transgender character, and have her play a pivotal role in the series. They did it and are putting their money where their mouth is! Martian Manhunter is still trying to figure out what happened to his co-worker, at the alien support group. Unfortunately, we know she’s dead but he doesn’t. It’s great to see him doing some sleuthing and detective work. It’s a big part of his character, that hasn’t really been explored on Supergirl, all that much.

The episode ends on a great cliff hanger. We see Agent Liberty giving a anti-alien rights speech to a room full of people. That voiceover is intercut with scenes of an escaped Mercy, loading the vile of kryptonite into the dispersal device, releasing kryptonite. We see Supergirl flying, the clouds start going green and the episode closes with Supergirl unconscious, falling through the air. This episode is a vast improvement over last weeks episode. Supergirl went from a leap, to flying up, up and away to a great sophomore episode.

Score: A+

ARROW:

“Felicity is determined to find Diaz by any means necessary when Diggle tries to keep her on the outs and Oliver is forced to ally with an old enemy.” (The CW)

RTF Review: Tales From the DC MULTVerse #3, continues tracking second episodes of the new season, with Arrow. In this episode, all of Team Arrow is tracking the whereabouts of Ricardo Diaz and his associates the Longbow Hunters. The search intensifies, when the Longbow Hunters steal a high density renewable battery, from an ARGUS facility. ARGUS adapted it into a weapon, that could flatten a whole city. ARGUS has been monitoring their location but so has Felicity. In her desire to get revenge on Diaz, she uses her tracker to pinpoint their location, and gets Curtis and Rene to go to the location. However, they must have gotten wind they were being tracked, fled the location, and gotten rid of anything incriminating. She has essentially compromised ARGUS’ investigation, out of her anger and desire of vengeance for Oliver. Later, when they are trying to apprehend the battery from a train, she puts Diggle, the ARGUS team, and the city in danger, when she refuses to separate the train car with Diaz on it, from the train car with Diggle and the battery on it, all because she doesn’t want Diaz to get away. Luckily, Curtis does the right thing, separating the two train cars. Felicity says she’s doing this for Oliver, but really she’s doing it for the losses Diaz cost her. Vengeance may have been Oliver’s thing in Season 1, but he never put his needs, over the needs for the city. Had Felicity gotten her wish, she’d have put the city in imminent danger. I can’t stand Felicity, her whining, selfishness, or how the show had force fed what was to be a guest star, into such a prominent role on this series.

After being out of solitary confinement, Oliver sets out to find out who Diaz is working with on the inside. To discover that info, he has to turn to his enemies. In exchange for the info, they want Oliver to get rid of the main guard. Oliver refuses to kill him, so he warns the guard he is in danger, advising him to quit, which he doesn’t. To avoid killing him, as the villains want him to, he instead stabs himself, to make it look like the guard stabbed him. This ensures the guard will get fired and he will get the information he wants on Diaz. These scenes are great, as they show, no matter what happens in prison, Oliver will not revert back to murder as a solution. It reinforces the character’s growth as a hero. There are also wonderful scenes between Laurel Lance and Dinah Drake. There’s plenty of resentment from Dinah towards Laurel, for killing her fiancé last season but through Laurel’s insistence, and her desire to get Justice for Quentin, an understanding is forming between the two. They work together to raid a warehouse owned by Diaz. They are intercepted by one of the Longbow Hunters, The Silencer, who can manipulate soundwaves. She is able to silence the sound within her immediate area, thereby rendering both Dinah and Laurel’s Canary cries temporarily mute. However, when the canary cries are combined, that breaks The Silencer’s concentration and her control on sound waves. Though, she manages to escape. It’s a welcome change, seeing Black Canary and Black Siren working together, instead of trying to kill each other. Scenes like this, also fuel my hopes for a redemption of the Laurel Lance character. The use of The Silencer was a cool surprise, given that the character has only been around for 9 months. The characters are at two different places in their lives. Here she is a full on assassin for hire, whereas, in the comics, she is married with a kid, trying to get out of the life. Their powers seem to be the same but we’ll see where the show takes her.

The Flash Forwards with future William weren’t as shocking but are quite revelatory. We learn that at some point, both Oliver and Felicity left him. Yet, Felicity sent him there with a clue. When he shows that clue to Old Man Roy, he takes Roy to 4 graves. They dig up one, to find Oliver’s bow and Arrow’s. There, Roy finds a note and tells William, they are going back to Star City. Also, it’s worth noting, we learn that future Roy has an ex- boyfriend. It’s great that The CW continues to emphasize inclusion and diversity, whenever possible! What I want to know is why Felicity and Oliver left Roy, and what becomes of Star City, in the Flash Forwards? Here’s hoping for more answers next week. Despite, more Felicity content, which left me groaning, rolling my eyes and cringing, this episode was another superb installment of Arrow.

Score: A-

DC’S: LEGENDS OF TOMORROW:

“After the Legends defeated Mallus and wiped the final anachronism from time they find themselves in unfamiliar territory with the Time Bureau. All that changes when Constantine informs Sara of a new magical threat that leads the team to Woodstock. Constantine thinks he knows how to defeat the new threat but will need the help of the team and their special klepto talents to help with his spell. Meanwhile, Nate and Rory go on an adventure leaving Nate facing someone from his past.” (The CW)

In my opinion, Season 4 of Arrowverse shows, have typically experience a sharp decline in quality. While Supergirl Season 4 is fighting off that trend so far, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, might have the worst 4th season premiere of them all. What an utter disappointment this episode is for me. I was so excited when Constantine showed up at the end of last season, indicating that mythical monsters were on the loose. However, the first mythical monster they encounter is a Unicorn? Really? After last seasons tease of a dragon, I expected a more menacing creature to start. Granted, this Unicorn impales some hippies but essentially, this episode was a backdoor effects test, to see if they could do My Little Pony in live action. One of the reasons why I still enjoyed Season 3, was despite the fact that it embraced humor and got silly at times, they still took things seriously, and certain stories and time periods seriously. I guess the fact that last season ended with the Legends conjuring up a giant Beebo, to defeat Mallus, should have clued me in on the fact that DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, would go even crazier and more campy. For me, I view DC’s Legends of Tomorrow Season 3, as Batman Forever. It lightened things up, became bombastic and fun, but still had serious themes and strong character moments. The season 4 premiere, hints at this year going full on camp and becoming a live action cartoon. It’s essentially, the Batman & Robin of the Arrowverse for me! But hey, if you like to see this show being a joke fest, the heroes high and acting like complete jackasses. this episode is for you.

There’s a scene in John Constantine’s apartment, where he is seemingly visited and possibly inhabited by an invisible demon. He gets knocked to the floor and we see him writhing and seething in pain. When he comes to, we see writing in blood on his mirror that says; “I’m coming for you Johnny.” This was the darkest and scariest moment in the episode and more of what I expect from this character. However, this tone doesn’t mesh, with the excessive ridiculousness of the rest of the episode. There were some character moments that had some value, such as Nate reconnecting with his father, Zari, making the tough decision to not save her family, instead letting history take it’s course, and Ray admitting his true feelings for Nora. However, that is all undercut by the asinine ridiculousness that precedes and follows, these moments. I will give this show a couple more episodes, but may ultimately drop it from this article. It was a chore to get through and easily, the worst season premiere since the Arrowverse began.

Score: D

THE FLASH:

“Following Cicada’s attack on the Flash, Nora comes up with a plan that puts a member of the team in danger.” (The CW)

Episode 3 of The Flash opens up with a flashforward to the future, with Nora as a child. We see her in The Flash Museum, where she is afraid to access the files on Cicada. Back in the present day, time displaced adult Nora, tells her father and the rest of the team, that in the future they weren’t able to deduce the identity of Cicada. However, he has arrived earlier this time, due to Nora’s presence in the present day. Much like her father, Nora bears the guilt of this time alteration. So she comes up with a plan, to recruit another Harrison Wells from the multiverse, to help discover Cicada’s identity and apprehend him. The Harrison Wells they recruit is Sheloque Wells. Obviously, the character is the Arrowverse version of Sherlock Holmes. He’s smart, cocky, duplicitous and fast talking! He has a lot in common with the Robert Downey Jr. Iteration of the character. He gets the job done and identifies the man who is Cicada. When he is rounded up and brought in for questioning, no evidence is found, connecting him to Cicada. That’s because, while he is a killer in this timeline and in every other timeline and multiverse, he was Cicada, Nora’s appearance in this time has altered the identity of Cicada as well. I like the new Wells, as I am a fan of Sherlock Homes. Also, it allows Tom Cavanagh, to continually reinvent his character, and show off his incredible acting range. As for the time line alterations, caused by Nora’s arrival, I love that they are important alterations, and the show is bringing them to the forefront, as Cisco mentioned would happen, instead of ignoring such consequences of time travel.

Speaking of Cisco, the real Cicada is after Vibe and after discovering his connection to Joe West, he hold’s Joe and his family hostage to lure Vibe out! Just as he was about to kill Joe and his new family, Vibe transports himself and Cicada to a forest, where, Vibe and The Flash battle with Cicada. Much like last week, Cicada kick the crap, out of both The Flash and Cisco. After taking her dad’s advice, slowing down and thinking things through, she uses her speed, and the device to vibe people, to pull Cisco away from Cicada, but not before he believes, he has succeeded in killing Cisco. Once Cicada is gone, XS vibes Cisco back to Team Flash. Meanwhile, we see Cicada return to a hospital. He looks in on his daughter, who is in a coma, to which a nurse tells him, she’s made no improvement. In terms of Cicada, this show is building him up to be quite the threat. The fact that he has a sick child, does lend him some sympathy from me. I wonder if metahumans actually had a cause in her coma somehow, which is why he wants to eradicate them all? XS in 3 episodes, has come a long way. Her willingness to compose herself, think things through, before rushing in shows progress as a character and ero. The actress continues to be endearing and I hope she stays on the show, beyond this season, if there are more.

There’s a subplot with Caitlin and Ralph, that I really enjoyed. The two characters are on the hunt for more information about Caitlin’s father. After being stonewalled by her mother, they break into her lab, retrieving her fathers old notes and formula’s. At first, she think it can help her bring Killer Frost back to life. In actuality, it’s a coded message from her dad, telling her to come find him. Caitlin Snow, has always been my favourite member of Team Flash. As for Ralph Dibny, the character has done a complete turn around for me, in a positive direction. He’s more of a team player now and has really grown into a hero as Elongated Man. He’s kind and endearing now, while still maintaing a bit of snark and attitude. For 3/4 of last seasons, I found him to be an unlikeable jerk. Finally, the show is keying in on the detective
aspect of his character. I hope that continues, as it’s a vital component of comic book lore.

The Flash is the first show in the RTF Review: Tales of The DC TV MulTVerse list, to complete the hat-trick of great episodes,to start the season. Can the likes of TITANS and Arrow keep pace? Time will tell…

Score: A+

BLACK LIGHTNING:

“Jeff cleans out his desk after the board retires him as principal. Meanwhile, Anissa goes looking for money to keep Holt’s clinic from going insolvent, Lynn gets a new co-worker, and Jennifer meets a woman with a unique gift.” (The CW)

Episode 3 continues the theme of consequences this season. While it was an improvement over episode 2, the pacing in this episode was off. Nothing of great importance happens for the first two thirds of the episode, with everything seemingly happening in the third act. As Jefferson Pierce, our hero interacts with his replacement principal and adjusts to life as a teacher. As Black Lightning, he is called on by his friend Bill Henderson, to assist in a police investigation of a dirty cop being murdered. They discover that the hit was put out by Tobias Whale and ordered by Khalil, aka Painkiller. Speaking of Khalil, Tobias is grooming him to take over second in command within the organization. Last episode, it seemed that Khalil was severely doubting his villainous lifestyle, whishing he could get out but fearful for his life if he tried. This episode, the character seems more confident and dangerous in his new role, killing a bar owner who owes Tobias payment, but resists and is condescending to him. When Black Lightning catches up with him and tries to get Khalil to flip on Tobias. He refuses before launching a tranquilizer dart at Black Lightning. Aided by new advancements to his suit, Black Lightning is able to catch and trap the dart, in an electrical field. Moments after this, police raid what looks like the Whale family crypt and arrest Tobias, after gaining intel from one of his people. Did Painkiller rat him out off screen? I’m not sure, but that’s what it seems like. I like that Black Lightning has been brought in by the police, to work with them. It reminds me of the Batman & Jim Gordon relationship at it’s more advanced level. The writers are trying to write Khalil as indecisive about working with Tobias, but the extreme reactions and behavior, from one episode to next, doesn’t sell that at all. As for Tobias being arrested so early on, I found it anti-climatic. With the amount of corrupt cops in Freeland, do we really think it’ll stick?

Remember last week, when Anissa was dating that celebrity singer? Yeah, well that ended as quickly as it started, which was last episode, by the way. All thanks to a pep talk from her younger sister. Oh and remember last episode, when Anissa was show boating in front of the crowds? Well, this episode she’s back to wearing black joggers and a hoodie, with a face mask, stealing from rich criminals and giving to the poor reverend, so he can keep his shelter open. To me, that is quite the extreme from one episode to the next. Oh, and her trying to make in roads with her first ex-girlfriend Grace Choi, was typical groan worthy CW relationship material, which continued from last week. In terms of Jennifer, her parents put her in contact with a metahuman who can help her access the inner reaches of her mind, to hone and harness her abilities. The visual representation of that with the two characters, being in a hair salon or Jennifer’s bedroom, with the scene being in black and white was interesting. The whole mindscape thing, reminded me of Inception a tiny bit. I’m very interested in seeing Jennifer continue to learn about her abilities, and get a handle on them. I will always be a sucker for that aspect of a superheroes origins.

Black Lightning was my favourite CW DC Comics show last year. It hasn’t lived up to that for me this season. This episode was an improvement over last week but definitely left me feeling that this show has much more to offer yet.

Score: B

That’s it for this weeks RTF Review: Tales From the DC MulTVerse #3. Which shows will improve? Will any of them falter in my eyes? You’ll have to come back next week to find out.

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Adam Basciano

I'm a long time fan of superheroes. I love DC and really like Marvel. Will be contributing comic book review columns, to Revenge of The Fans.

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