Arrowverse, DC, DC Universe, RTF Originals, TV, TV

RTF Review: Tales From the DC MulTVerse #4

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By: Adam Basciano:

There were no additional shows added to the column this week, so this installment of RTF: Review: Tales From the DC MulTVerse, will just continue reviewing the usual suspects from last week:

TITANS:

“Rachel and Kory travel to the convent where Rachel was raised, while Dick compares his own orphan experience to Rachel’s. Meanwhile, Rachel befriends Gar Logan.” (DC Universe)

The episode definitely reveals a bit more of these characters, in the perfectly named “Origins.” Koriand’r aka, Starfire, gets a lot of play here. We see flashbacks of her tracking Raven shortly after her mother’s murder, leading right up to last episodes moment on the rooftop, eventually saving Raven from the Nuclear Family, at a gas station rest stop. Starfire gets 3 fight scenes in this episode. The first is at the Roth household, after she breaks in and has to disarm a few officers. This fight was quick, and to the point. The second scene, wasn’t really a fight, seeing as how she walks up to the Nuclear Father and burns him to a crisp. The after effects of the burn, reminded me of the burned mobster Joker fries in Batman 89, and the after effect of the volcanic eruption in Pompeii. The third fight was at a diner, defending a waitress from being accosted by her boyfriend. It reminded me of Clark getting into the diner/bar fight in Superman: The Movie and Man of Steel. Though, this iteration involves more violence. Namely, a man being stabbed with a fork. Admittedly, it’s tamer than what we’ve seen so far on Titans. When Starfire takes Raven to the convent where she was raised, the nun tells the story of the virgin Mary, coming into contact with the divine. She speculates that the divine took human form. Not only do I think this parallels the devilish spirit within Rachel, I think it’s foreshadowing a change to Starfire’s origin. I think that the alien aspect of Starfire, will be an entity that has co-opted a human host. When Dick catches up with Koriand’r, they arrive at a storage facility belonging to her. On the wall, we see newspaper clippings about Rachel, imagery of a raven, and alien looking script. Starfire, inexplicably to both her and Dick, is able to read the language, revealing that Rachel is part of a prophecy, in which she is the destroyer of worlds. I love the decision to have Kory be the one to reveal this. Both she and Raven have an unexplained entity within them, and Anna Diop is dominating every scene she’s in! She’s Terminator like in her fighting and sells the naïve confusion of not knowing much about herself.

Rachel does something she has rarely done so far in this series, smile and have some fun. These moments occur when she meets Gar Logan at a video arcade. The two bond over playing the game, and the uniqueness of their hair color. It was nice to see Rachel smile ever so briefly. These scenes remind me of rare times in the comics, or the film Justice League vs Teen Titans, where Raven lets her guard down and has a little fun. Seeing as these two characters are the “teens” of these Titans, it’s nice to see them acting like teenagers. With Starfire confirming that Raven is part of a prophesy earmarking her for evil and the maker of The Nuclear Family, telling them her father is going to burn the world,but needs Raven to give him passageway to Earth; this pretty much confirms Trigon is the big bad of the season. Also, the Nuclear Family was referred to as being made, so it’s a safe bet that their robotic nature, has carried over from page to screen. It must really suck for Raven, that even people who want to help her, feel the need to subdue her and lock her up. This time, it’s the nun at the convent. Even though they lock her in the basement of the building, she escapes, allowing the demon Raven to take control, escaping into the forest. Once again, Titans channels a “horror” aesthetic and feel for these scenes. I’m really looking forward to seeing Raven fully unleashed! Kudos again to the young actress playing Raven. This is dark, heavy material, coupled with green screen and she’s handling it superbly.

In his search for Rachel, Dick Grayson is thinking about his first days after his parents death and being taken in by Bruce Wayne. Via flashbacks, we get our first real good look at Wayne Manor, and I instantly want to win the lottery and buy that house. Also, as a Batman fan, seeing this iteration of the Gotham City skyline gave me goosebumps. Dick tries to leave the Manor on two occasions. The first, he jumps out of a window, using the trees, as if they’re part of the Flying Grayson’s Circus act. On the second occasion, Dick steels the Porsche, his present day self is driving and takes it for a joy ride, before being caught by the cops. These scenes reminded me of Batman Forever. The first scene, was reminiscent of when Dick finds the Batcave in that film. The second scene, is reminiscent of when Dick steals the Batmobile in that film. Ultimately, Titans did it better in my opinion. Akiva Goldsman is definitely redeeming himself, with his third try at the Boy Wonder! In terms of Bruce Wayne watch, for those keeping score, we see his silhouette, we see a blurry Bruce in the background of a shot, and we see him from the back of his head, at the orphanage.

Titans continues to do right by Dick Grayson/Robin. Raven creeps me out in a good way, and Starfire is awesome! For the third week in a row, Titans starts RTF Review: Tales From the DC MulTVerse, on a good note.

Start: A+

SUPERGIRL:

“The story of how Ben Lockwood became Agent Liberty is told.” (The CW)

Episode 4 of Supergirl, picks up right where last week ended. Supergirl is infected by kryptonite poisoning, after Kryptonite was dispersed in the air at the hands of Otis, Mercy and Agent Liberty. Braniac 5 tells the viewer and Alex, that the situation is much worse then anyone thought. The kryptonite dispersal wasn’t just in National City, Washington, or surrounding areas, it’s everywhere. While they don’t specify that this is a worldwide event, this was certainly the implication. The DEO calls in J’onn J’onzz, to rescue Supergirl from a fall from the upper atmosphere, which in her infected state, would kill her. This is an incredible action sequence and visual effects spectacle. The look of Martian Manhunter, the speed at which he flew. Everything added up to a WOW moment! Would I be to greedy to want a solo Martian Manhunter TV series? What agent Liberty is doing, by dispersing Kryptonite into the atmosphere, parallels what Supergirl did to the Daxamite invading armies in Season 2, by dispersing led into the atmosphere. The key difference was in intent. Supergirl did this to the Daxamite army, in a last ditch effort to get them to flee planet Earth, whereas Agent Liberty did this, with the intent to kill Supergirl. Unlike Mon-El that season, who had to leave Earth’s atmosphere to survive, a dose of yellow sunlight radiation and a kryptonite shield, were able to slowly eradicate the kryptonite in Kara’s system. In terms of a more long term solution, Lena provides her with a radiation controlled proto environment. In simpler terms, it’s the armored Blue & Red costume, we’ve seen in some of the trailers. The way the armor morphs onto Supergirl, would make both Tony Stark & the Power Rangers envious. This armor is a nod to the comic books. It was worn by Superman, in a story where he and Batman, tried to round up the earth’s known fragments of Kryptonite. Since we can’t have a Tyler Hoechlin led Superman series apparently, I love that Supergirl pulls elements from Superman’s comic book world.

That was the focus of present day content on Supergirl. The majority of the episode, is flashbacks in different periods of Ben Lockwood’s life, detailing what led him to become Agent Liberty. When we meet Ben, he’s a hard working history professor who seems to be okay with Supergirl and aliens among us, if not for having an anti-alien father. Things start to change for him, when his father loses his steel factory and L-Corp contracts, after Astra, Zod and the Kryptonian’s attack Earth, during Season 1 events. Things get worse for Ben and his family. When the Daxamite’s attack in Season 2, his family’s possessions are destroyed, and their house burned to the ground, in the aftermath of a fight between Martian Manhunter and a Daxamite. Season 3’s events with Reign, lead to the physical destruction of his father’s factory, with his father, buried underneath ruble inside. First off, I love the call backs and consequences all 3 previous seasons of the show had on creating Agent Liberty. I 100% understand and find it believable, that these events would drive an otherwise good man, to such anger and hatred. It’s also pretty cool that we get to see different vantage points to action sequences from those prior seasons. We even see some fights we’ve never seen from those events. These scenes also show us the aftermath of superhero events and battles on average citizens. That was a big draw for me in Man of Steel and it’s a big draw here. Any sympathy I was starting to have for Ben Lockwood goes out the window, when the Trump rhetoric kicks in. He says “Make America Great Again.” He also insults an Alien/American student of his, for her distinctive alien visage. It reminded me of when Trump mocked a disabled reporter at one of his rallies. To top it off, he beats an Alien American to death with a baseball bat. So while I understand what drove him to become Agent Liberty, I feel no sympathy for him. Sam Witwer does a great job at playing the average nice guy, turned evil villain, It’s almost as if he did something very similar, on season 8 of Smallville!

It’s been said that a hero is only as good as his or her villain. If this is true, Supergirl is poised for a really good year.

Score: A-

ARROW:

“Still in prison, Oliver faces his biggest challenge yet. Meanwhile, Felicity gets an intriguing offer, and Diggle asks Curtis to go undercover for ARGUS.” (The CW)

To this point of the season, Arrow has been my favourite Arrowverse show on RTF Review: Tales From the DC MulTVerse, followed closely by The Flash. Unsurprisingly, Brick reneged on his deal to tell Oliver the name,of the actual individual who is working with Diaz from inside the prison, despite Oliver getting “rid” of the guard, Brick asked him to. Instead, Brick sends Bronze Tiger to Oliver’s cell to kill him. After some close quarter fisticuffs, where Oliver once again, handles Bronze Tiger, he forces him to take him to Brick, who is running a secret game for the imamates and corrupt guards. When they get there, Oliver and the viewer learn, that this is a prison fight club happening, where inmates bet money on the winners and losers. Turns out, this was all a rouse, set up by Brick, to get Oliver down there to face Sampson. This is a great fight sequences, with Oliver, mixing his trade mark brutal bone breaking fighting style, with some wrestling moves. This is no doubt to capitalize on the fact that former WWE talent Cody Runnels, plays Sampson and nod to the wrestling matches Stephen Amell had with him, a few years ago! The wrestling moves never undercut the more brutal fight choreography. They are actually implemented in seamlessly, making the fight more unique. After Oliver breaks several of Sampson’s bones, he confronts Brick, who tells him that the person who has all the info on Diaz is know as the Demon. Though, he warns that Oliver will never get to him, as he is on level 2, which is reserved for the worst of the worst, not the Green Arrow. So Oliver takes a blade, stabs and assaults a few guard members, before surrendering himself, to be taken to level two. It’s worth noting that these stabs were in non lethal areas. This coupled with the “fight club” sequence, while not as gory as Daredevil, or Titans, are the most violent on Arrow to date. I’m so curious for the identity of the Demon, as Brick built him up to be as enigmatic and formidable as Diaz.

Felicity continues to unfortunately take up screen time, crying to the FBI Agent, in charge of apprehending Diaz. She almost demands, that the FBI Agent bring her into the investigation, because she is better with tech than any of her agents. At first, the Agent puts that petulant child, posing as an adult in her place, by telling her, that her only responsibility, to Felicity, vis a vis, the deal with Oliver, was to grant Felicity immunity, for her part in Oliver’s vigilantism as Green Arrow. However, when the Agent’s superior’s refuse to make Diaz their priority target and when Felicity admits to hacking the CDC, learning what Diaz is after, she agrees to go rogue and join Felicity, Rene and Dinah to try and intercept Diaz? That makes zero sense. First off, she should arrest Felicity for reneging on the part of the deal, requiring Team Arrow to cease all vigilante activity. The minute Felicity admitted to hacking the CDC, or proposed this plan, Agent Watson should’ve slapped cuffs on Felicity and Rene. Secondly, there’s no way an FBI Agent would risk their livelihood or freedom because they “felt sorry” for Felicity, or because it was “the right thing to do.” She arrested them for being vigilantes and now, is engaging in vigilante behavior. For a show that prided itself on realism for so many years, there was Reed Richards level stretching, required to buy this plot point. Oh and what does aligning with Felicity do for the agent? Well, Diaz once again escapes, while Agent Watson is reassigned, for disobeying a direct order from a superior. So last week, she botched an ARGUS lead on Diaz and this week, she lost Diaz again, while simultaneously assisting in getting a lead Agent on the investigation fired. What a bang up job she’s dong! For me, Felicity is veering into Lana Lang on Smallville, levels of frustrating/annoying.

The only interesting thing to come out of Felicity’s scenes was tracking Ricardo Diaz. He broke into the CDC, to steal a bio compound that protects red blood cells from certain diseases. Before he eventually injects himself with it, Diaz seems to be distilling it, or purifying it. When he injects himself with it, he punches a wall, doing damage to the wall, but barely any to his hand. Here’s a thought I had. Could he have mixed the bio compound with Mirakuru, or did the bio compound already have traces of the Japanese super soldier serum within it?  Is Mirakuru even present at all? I suppose we’ll have to wait and see. Felicity’s nonsense caused my enjoyment of this week’s Arrow to decline a bit. However, the mystery of the Demon and fantastic fight scenes, still make this episode a positive experience and strengthen the episode, despite the weak link.

Score: B+

THE FLASH:

“Barry and Iris face the ultimate parenting test when Team Flash battles Spin, a savvy millennial armed with meta tech, and a dangerous agenda for their daughter, Nora. Ralph is feeling defeated until an unlikely source issues a challenge to help boost his confidence. (The CW)

This episode didn’t feature our heroes battling Cicada, instead, they took on the “Fake News Media.”..Literally. One of Iris’ former colleagues has created her own news app, where she is always first to report the news and is capitalizing on metahuman news, beating the amount of hits and subscribers, Iris’ blog gets. Spencer Young invents headlines, posting them minutes before they happen, then ultimately making them happen. As a viewer you’d think she was a meta human. However, you’d be wrong. She was on the streets during The Thinker’s “Enlightenment” event. Even though XS had saved her from being hit with Dark Matter, her phone had fallen to the ground in the chaos and was hit with the debris. As such, her phone is able to hypnotically influence humans and meta humans alike, to make her headlines she posts a reality. She gets XS to stop a bomb from going off at a charity baseball game, between thee CCPD & the CCFD. She uploads a headline forcing The Flash to run to Las Vegas, in the middle of trying to put out a raging fire, leaving XS alone to deal with it. She then uploads an article about XS killing The Flash, and the two battle in a sports stadium. The incorporation of meta-tech onto the show, is a clever way of doing a “freak of the week” episode, without it feeling stale. I think it’s great how when a new meta shows up on The Flash, their powers are linked to the previous seasons catastrophe. This makes for great connective tissue and quippy call back references from Team Flash.

This episode provides us with new information about Nora. Firstly, the character is a lesbian. She doesn’t actually flat out say the words but it’s pretty obvious, since she was crushing on Spencer and Spencer was flirting with her. More importantly, we learn what future Iris dies to Nora, that has her so apprehensive and distant, to her mother. In the future, Iris implanted a power dampening chip in Nora, so she wouldn’t realize she had abilities like her dad. Nora reveals that she only found out about her powers recently and it wasn’t Iris who told her. It makes sense that she feels betrayed and when Barry finds out and sides with present and future Iris, Nora goes to stay with Joe. What I want to know, is who told Nora about the chip and convinced Nora to go back in time? My money’s on a future version of the Reverse Flash! In terms of Cicada, Sherloque Wells and Elongated Man team up, to discover that Cicada works for a factory and that his mask, has a respirator built in. This explains the sound we hear, whenever he uses his lightening rod dagger. As for how Cicada was created, that also occurred during the “Enlightenment.” When XS punched the satellite nocking it off course, the man who becomes Cicada is hit with Dark Matter. Even though Sherloque Welles dismiss Ralph Dibny’s insistence on looking into the mask to discover more on Cicada, he shocking give Ralph credit for that choice and discovering this info. Writers of The Flash, continue to find the balance between writing Sherloque as a pompous jackass, yet a fun almost lovable character. One final note on Cicada. He has a wound on his peck area, which keeps expanding. We know this is due to being hit by shrapnel like debris from “The Enlightenment” satellite. We also see Cicada dent a pole as her writes in pain, as his wounds expand. Does this enhanced strength come from dark matter, or does it come from the metahumans he’s killed with his lightening rod? Knowing the Arrowverse, we’ll likely get answers, just prior to the winter hiatus.

The Flash managed to do something this episode, Smallville never really could. That is, write a filler esque episode, that is worth your time because it gives consequential information on characters and situations, that will play out over the larger narrative of the season.

Score: A

BLACK LIGHTNING:

“Jefferson confronts Anissa about her reckless and irresponsible behavior leading to a fierce disagreement.” (The CW)

In the last episode of this weeks RTF Review: Tales From the DC MulTVerse, things are tough for Jefferson Pierce. Back at school, now as a teacher, Jefferson has to break up a fight between two students. He talks them down and convinces them to settle their dispute by talking it through and walk away shaking hands. However, when the new principal catches wind of the fight, he expels the boy who started the fight, while suspending the other. When Jefferson’ explains how he handled the situation and urges the principal to reconsider his decision, he is utterly dismissed. He is told by his replacement, to either follow the new zero tolerance policies, or he can quit. The way Jefferson is talked down to by his replacement, you can see the show pushing the idea that he was kept on staff, to make things look good from a PR stand point for the school board, within a community where he is beloved.  In terms of Tobias’ arrest, there’s not enough evidence to hold or try him, for the murder of Jefferson’s father. Worse still, they can’t put Jefferson on the stand to testify because no one knows he witnessed Tobias murder his father and also, because Tobias’ lawyer will incite Jefferson’s anger, which he would use, to insinuate that Jefferson is lying, to get justice for his father. I knew that the arrest of Tobias Whale wouldn’t stick and this cheapens the shock value of last weeks ending. Tobias is back to pretending to be an upstanding member of society, while running The 100 gang behind closed doors. The show has regressed backward with this plot point, in my opinion.

Speaking of taking a step backward, this episode of Black Lightning‘s handling of Jefferson’s children, is definitely a step in the wrong direction. When we first see Jennifer, she is having a vision, of Painkiller, possibly killing her family. What follows is an awesome fight scene between Jennifer and Khalil. We see some solid hand to hand combat, eventually ending with Khalil being blasted out of the bedroom window. Back in reality, she is able to harness the electrical energy surrounding her into a ball and later put it into a box. After going out of their way, to show us how she is gaining a command of her powers, they undo it all by having her short circuit a laptop when she gets frustrated. Taking it even further, her parents tell her she’ll be home schooled because she can’t control her powers. After swearing to her sister that she hasn’t had contact with Khalil, we see her sitting with him, in what looks to be the high school hallway, wallowing in the disappointment of being home schooled. In the case of Jennifer, in 42 minutes, this episode took one step forward and two steps back. The bulk of Anissa’s involvement in this episode, was arguing with her father, about her decision to steal from gangs and give it to the reverend, for his free clinic. After arguing about their being a superhero code of do’s and don’t, Anissa metaphorically stomps her feet like a child having a tantrum and declares that she’s moving out! Note to Anissa: You’re in your mid 20’s, a college graduate and still mooching off your parents! Moving out of your parents house shouldn’t be a threat, it should’ve happened already! Everything with the Pierce girls, felt like I was re-watching certain moments from season 1.  The difference being, season 1 did it better!

There was another worthwhile scene, that featured Black Lightning and Thunder foiling the bombing attempt at the Free Clinic. It was cool seeing their different methods to defuse the bomb. Black Lightning short circuited the bomb, while Thunder absorb the effects of the explosion. For me, Black Lighting continues its battle with inconsistency this season, with this being the most underwhelming, lackluster episode of the series. Here’s hoping Black Lightning can regain the consistency of quality it had in it’s debut season.

Score: C

You may have noticed that DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, is missing from this week’s RTF Review: Tales From the DC MulTVerse. That’s because I’ve decided, it is officially out of my watching and reviewing rotation. I don’t mind not liking elements of a show, but when I lose complete interest in a show and watching it/reviewing it feels like homework, there’s no point in investing time in it. However, to fill the void, on RTF Review: Tales from the DC MulTVerse, I will be adding GOTHAM‘s final season when it starts and Young Justice, when it returns! So, there’s plenty to look forward to and discuss, in the weeks and months ahead.

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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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