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

RTF Review: Tales From the DC MulTVerse #6

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It’s that time of week again. RTF Review: Tales From the DC MulTVerse #6 is here, with a full compliment of shows this week. So let’s get right to the fun stuff.

TITANS:

“In order to prepare themselves for the Nuclear Family’s next attack, Dick decides to put Kory, Gar, and Rachel through special training.” (DC Universe)

For the first time in the series, the core group of TITANS is together. They stop at a motel, so they can plan and strategize, there next plan of attack. Meanwhile, a replacement father is created for the Nuclear Family. First, I must comment on the scenario of Dick Grayson selling the Porsche for a mini-van. I know it’s a different type of van but I got Scooby gang vibes from the Titans in that one scene. Dick Grayson running point on strategy and training makes sense, given his background with Batman and experience. The actual training scene, which took place in an abandoned farm was fun. I love the training/ “learning your powers” scenes in superhero origin stories, so this moment was a favourite of mine. We learn that Starfire’s powers are sun based, in that she can absorb the sun’s light and direct it. She reveals to the team that her powers are weaker at night. I don’t know the in’s and outs of Kory’s comic book abilities, or if this lines up, but as a concept, it’s a good one. We’ve seen Rachel’s powers before, yet here, when she tries to bring them out at will and control them, it doesn’t go so well. If not for Kory’s heat blast, Raven’s black mist, or whatever it is, would’ve harmed the team. There’s a lot of humor centered around Gar’s shape changing. Dick finds it a little weird that he has to be naked to change, while Kory makes a sexual innuendo. Dick has a slightly frightened reaction, when he sees Gar as a tiger, which gives the team and the audience a laugh. The whole team gets a laugh at Gar forgetting he’s naked, when he returns to human form. There are some emotional moments within these scenes. First, we have Beast Boy giving advice to Rachel about how to control her powers, by relating his own experiences. We also have scenes of Kory trying to get Dick to open up about his past, while telling him about the frustration of not remembering her own. Even after only one episode together, you can see the familial nature of the group from the source material, starting to form here. Oh and for those who wanted Dick and Kory’s relationship to echo the comics and get intimate, you’ll be pleased.

Speaking of family, the Nuclear family is back this week. They even got a newly made dad to add to their ranks, prior to their next attack on the Titans. With their family in tact, the Nuclear Family attacks the Titans at the motel they are staying at. This aspect of the story produces the best fight choreography in this series to date. Dick Grayson takes on Nuclear Mom and Dad in his hotel room, while Starfire takes on the Nuclear children. Meanwhile, Gar ushers Rachel outside of the motel! Dick Grayson uses his briefcase in the fight as a defense mechanism and as a weapon. This is not using it in a WWE foreign object type of way, rather he’s incorporating the briefcase into his martial arts. Add to that, the confined space of a motel room and it makes for an intense fight, The Hallway fight wasn’t as good as the Daredevil Season 1 hallway fight but it was still good. The most noticeable aspect of this fight, is how resilient the Nuclear Children are. They bounce back from being thrown down stairs. Their moment somewhat reminds me of how Terminators move. When the fights transition outside, Raven, Starfire and Beast Boy look outnumbered. That is until Dick Grayson arrives and begins just beating on the Nuclear family. At first the three other Titans are awestruck at how wekl Dick is handling himself on his own. They are also shocked that he is Robin, as this is the first time that has been revealed to them. They eventually join in the fight, and we see the Titans fighting as a unit for the first time ever. As a long time DC fan this is a great moment, as it’s something I’d never imagine seeing in live action.

After subduing the Nuclear Family, we see their brain bombs explode, once their superiors realize they’ve been compromised. However, Robin uses their cell phone map to track their base of operation back to Chicago. Dick heads there on his own, and finds Dr. Adamson, the Nuclear Family’s handler, within this mysterious agency. He warns Dick that because he’s been compromised, armed reinforcements will arrive imminently, to take them both out. Dick fights valiantly but is overwhelmed by the number of armed forces. Smoke grenades suddenly go off and through the fog, we see the new Robin, Jason Todd coming to his predecessors rescue. This was another first, seeing Jason Todd appear in live action entertainment. Jason only had a line or two of dialogue, but Jason Todd’s swagger was evident. Whether the character’s rebellious attitude is present, remains to be seen. It’s worth noting that his fighting style mirrored Batman’s from the warehouse scene, in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Titans was a great start to this week’s RTF: Tales From the DC MulTVerse. Moreover, in my opinion, it’s the best episode of Titans so far!

Score: A+

SUPERGIRL:

“Colonel Haley makes a surprising decision about Supergirl; Kara writes a series of articles about aliens in National City that end up putting them in harm’s way.” (The CW)

If you figured out at the end of last week, that Agent Liberty implanting pieces of Parasite into his DEO traitor Agent Jensen , was to give him Parasite absorption abilities to battle and kill aliens, you’re bang on! His first target is a mall complex. Supergirl intercepts him but is weakened when he absorbs and attacks her, with her own abilities. As the DEO chases him, he gets away by absorbing the abilities of a shape shifter. It’s worth noting, that unlike Kara with her healing factor, the aliens who Jensen absorbs their power usually die. His effect on Supergirl is so strong, that Col. Hayley orders her sidelined until they capture him. This particular aspect, was a bit of a retread on last week but I digress. One of the negatives of Parasite’s ability is that it fades, constantly needing to be fed more power to sustain itself.To account for this, Agent Liberty puts out a call on the dark web for help. A human woman steals an amulet, from her former lover, an alien healer, who uses the amulet to absorb and heal abilities and illness affecting other aliens. Without the amulet, the alien healer known as Amadei, falls ill and is near death. As the alien community congregates outside his home for a vigil, Jensen armed with the amulet, begins absorbing their abilities and killing them. I think this episode did a great job at showing how formidable and dangerous Parasite is. A better job, than the actual episode when they had Parasite present. However, when DEO agents surround the street, with Supergirl and Guardian present, promising a battle with Jensen. Instead , we see Alex talking him down, to the point where he agrees to surrender, removes the amulet and faints to the ground. This was a very anti-climactic ending to the stand off, in my opinion.

The sub plot with Kara interviewing the healer Amadei, gets points for showing off Kara’s journalistic skills. When his amulet is stolen, the DEO brings Martian Manhunter in to investigate. After he mind links with Amadei, he sees the last thing our victim did. That vision is of a young woman. J’onn J’onzz and Kara use the combination of investigative reporting and detective skills to discover that the young woman Elizabeth, is Amadei’s estranged daughter, who’s mother kept her away from him, most of her life. When confronted by Supergirl, Martian Manhunter and her daughter Elizabeth, the mother cracks under pressure, revealing she stole the amulet for Agent Liberty, because Amadei spurned her and broke her heart, all those years ago. I appreciate seeing more of Kara the reporter and investigator J’onn, with their team up solving the mystery of who stole the amulet. While the idea of a half human/half alien child being born is intriguing, the unknown child’s mother and spurned lover commits crime angle, felt like a tired and unoriginal story you’d see on an episode of Jerry Springer or Maury Povich. As a result of J’onn helping solve this case, he’s got aliens looking to him to solve cases the police can’t! I sincerely hope we see more of this for the rest of the season, with Martian Manhunter getting his own spinoff series, with him as a Private Investigator. I’d watch the heck out of that, as I hinted last week.

While I like certain plot elements of this episode, this weeks Supergirl was a disappointment. More so after coming off a really strong episode last week. Aside from finding out that the acts of hate are being led by a specific group, the story really didn’t progress forward all that much. Adding to my disappointment, there was no mention or follow up details, on the Manchester Black or Russian Supergirl plots teased at the end of last week.

Score: C

ARROW:

“Felicity learns something new about Oliver that shocks her. Meanwhile, Diggle asks Curtis to go undercover for ARGUS. Dinah works with an unlikely ally.” (The CW)

After his sessions with Dr. Parker, Oliver is kept in a cell block on level 2 of the supermax prison. He is denied visitation, before being thrown in his new cell. In the shadows of this cell stands the Demon. I was wrong, the Demon was not Dr. Parker but rather someone very familiar. The Demon steps out of the shadows, to reveal herself to be none other than Talia al Ghul, the daughter of Ra’s al Ghul. Given that she goes by the code name The Demon and her father was the Demon’s Head, that should have clued me in to her being the mysterious figure on Level 2. The best part of this though, was that it was a surprise I didn’t see coming. One reason for that, was because I pegged the character for dead, after that explosion on Lian Yu at the end of last season. Her resurrection she explains, came at the hands of a last minute rescue, thanks to Ricardo Diaz. In exchange for that favour, she agreed to help Diaz make Oliver’s life a living hell on the inside. Also as a way of getting payback at Oliver, for killing her father. Not only does Talia’s reappearance and motive make sense, I think it’s an awesome callback to the history of the show, specifically seasons 3 and 6. As for how she got put in the supermax herself; she indicates that an altercation with an adversary in Gotham City put her there. Whether in this universe that is a nod to Batman or Batwoman, I’m not sure but it was great to hear none the less.

As for why Talia was in his cell, she wants his help to break out of the prison, as she tells him that most people who get sent for Dr. Parker’s experimental therapy, don’t come back. When Oliver sees the body of the inmate that attacked him in the premiere, he starts asking questions. When he gets stonewalled by Dr. Parker, he agrees to help Talia, but only if she aggress to break into Dr. Parker’s lab and figure out what’s going on. They cause chaos with the guards to get into the room, then subdue the doctor and his attendant. Oliver copies the doctor’s computer files on a flash drive and the two attempt to make their escape. I don’t know what it is with superhero tv shows and hallway fights but we get another one and this one is fantastic! The cohesiveness with which Oliver and Talia fought was like a well orchestrated dance, with punches of course! The fight choreography continues to be great on Arrow. I also love the respectful, yet adversarial banter and relationship between Oliver and Talia, for which Stephen Amell and Lexa Doig, play perfectly off each other. When they get to the escape route, Oliver gives Talia the drive and tells her to get it to Felicity. As she escapes, Oliver stays behind, getting recaptured, which allows Talia to get away. For what it’s worth, I prefer Lexa Doig as Talia, from last season and this episode, over Marion Coultilard from The Dark Knight Rises.

Speaking of Felicity, when she realizes that Oliver has been moved to Level 2 and his visitation privileges have been revoked, she enlists Laurel to use her District Attorney clout to get her into see Oliver. While she is stonewalled by authorities at the prison, Laurel displays an attitude and confidence while trying to get Oliver his visitation. That attitude is more in line with the comics Dinah Lance aka Black Canary. This Earth 2 Laurel is acting more like her comic book character, than Earth 1 Laurel did in Season 1-3! For my money, Katie Cassidy is delivering her best work on the series, going back to the tail end of last season. Felicity brings Dinah Drake into the fold. She uses her clout as Police Captain, to dig up information on Doctor Parker. What they find, is that he is running unsanctioned experiments on inmates, which Oliver’s flash drive confirms, essentially erases inmates memories and personality. The three ladies turn the evidence over to the authority, getting Level 2 and the experiments done there shut down, with Dr. Parker being fired. Laurel then brings up the possibility to use the remaining evidence, to  get Oliver’s sentence overturned. It’s much more entertaining, to see these women work together, rather than constantly at odds, or watching Felicity take the “It’s my way or the highway routine.” It’s worth noting, when the three worked together, they got results, as opposed to Felicity botching an active investigation, twice in a row. I also enjoyed how both plotlines eventually linked up and intersected.

Arrow along with Titans continue to be the most consistent RTF Review: Tales From the DC MulTVerse performers. The quality thus far has been so good, that Arrow has me looking forward to Monday’s now! Believe me, that is an accomplishment worth noting.

Score: A+

THE FLASH:

“Nora lets something slip about the future that devastates Iris. In an attempt to distract his wife, Barry asks Iris to team up to stop a new meta, Rag Doll. Meanwhile, Caitlin learns something about her father.” (The CW)

I hoped it wasn’t coming, yet they happen every year and this is the first for this season of The Flash, as well as a series covered on RTF Review: Tales From the DC MulTVerse. What I am speaking of is a “filler” episode. I hate “filler” episodes. To me, they are the negative of having a season filled with 22 episodes. We get nothing in regard to Cicada, instead we see another meta human created by “The Enlightenment.” This villain is known as Ragdoll, and was turned into a meta after being crushed by the satellite and being exposed to dark matter. His super power is essentially to twist and contort his body. After having a fallout with his rich mother and having all the advantages of such wealth taken away from him, he turns to stealing and taking away from others. He steals a valuable necklace from a bride to be and destroys the building of a famed architect, who’s buildings are his pride and joy. The look of this character is supposed to be frightening but nothing he did, gave me any scares whatsoever. I was bored every time Ragdoll was on screen. I feel the only reason this character was used, was so they could cast Troy James, a contortionist who is famous for being a YouTube sensation and America’s Got Talent alumni. Look, if I want to watch this guy do his thing and contort his body five ways to Sunday, I’d watch his YouTube channel or America’s Got Talent clips! This villain was just an utter waste of screen time. He kidnaps Barry, ties him to a chair, and hoists him on the edge of a building. When Iris and Elongated Man arrive to save him, he pushes the chair off the roof. Iris Jumps off the ledge after him and is able to unlock the power dampening cuffs, just in time for him to super speed them to safety. That was absolutely ridiculous and nonsensical. Especially, when you have a meta human who can stretch his body to ungodly limits, or even make himself into a cushioned landing pad.

The episode does have some season wide continuity ramifications, unlike Smallville filler episodes, which were just horrendous. For half the episode, Nora still wants nothing to do with Iris, as Nora reveals that in the future, Iris is distant with her daughter, won’t open up about her past, which is what ultimately pushed Nora away. However, after a stern talking to from Cecile, perusing through Iris’ baby album, and watching her mother risk her life to save her father, Nora is ready to open up and spend some time getting to know Iris. Look, I ultimately want these characters to mend fences but practically doing so in half an episode, seems a little rushed. Even for a show titled The Flash. The other important story progression seen in this otherwise waste of an episode, concerns Caitlin and her father. With Cisco’s help and “Vibe Vision”, Caitlin and the audience learn that her father knew Martin Stein, formerly played by the wonderful Victor Garber. Cisco also has a vision of Caitlin’s father working on the formula bonding hydrogen chains over and over, to oxygen at absolute zero temperatures. Essentially making ice. With these visions, Cisco, Sherloque Wells and Ralph Dibny assert that Caitlin’s father knew she was Killer Frost. I’m pretty sure that it’ll be revealed that Caitlin’s father had a hand in creating Killer Frost, which means he’ll also likely be involved in bringing her back. Watching this group of characters work together, was by far the best part of this episode.

Overall, this was the weakest installment of  The Flash this season. It would have gotten a lower score than Supergirl this week, had it not been for the plot point regarding Caitlin and the revelations about her father.

Score: C+

BLACK LIGHTNING:

“Jefferson and Anissa make a shocking discovery while investigating a creepy man at the clinic. Tobias pressures Khalil to fill the void that Syonide left.” (The CW)

A few small progressions continue from last week. After stealing the money to keep the Free Clinic in Freeland open as Thunder, Anissa volunteers her non super heroic time as a Doctor at said clinic, after most staff members quit, following the bomb scare. This “career” move makes sense for Anissa. We also see parts of the discussion between Jennifer and Khalil. The character does seem generally remorseful of what he’s done for Tobias Whale and wants out. I hope at some point he does break away from Tobias and join forces with Team Black Lightning. Speaking of Tobias, we see him bribe a city government official with a donation, in exchange for moving the location of the Medical Center. As for why he wants this to occur, it’s not made clear but when it comes to light, it will surely put him in conflict with Anissa aka Thunder. Meanwhile, Lynn is convinced she has found a cure that when deployed simultaneously, will cure all the “Green Light” Babies. However, she’s been tricked. That cure was designed to only cure half of the people in the pods. As to why, my guess is the ASA wants to use the individuals who survived as meta-human agents, with the death’s being blamed on a faulty version of the cure, which they can blame on Lynn.

The one and only action set piece involves Gambi’s van being chased by another vehicle, with two men inside shooting at him. They run him off the road, with the van eventually exploding. Onlookers confirm that no one got out of the car before impact and Chief Inspector Henderson, pronounces that Gambi is dead, while they search for DNA confirmation. The reactions from the characters are honest. At first Jefferson is in denial, before eventually coming to terms with it and shattering with sadness. Lynn behaves as the rational responsible one and begins to plan a memorial for Gambi, as she knows, eventually Jefferson will want one. The two girls are heartbroken over the loss of the man they know to be their uncle. Anissa copes by meeting up with Grace Choi and having, what I guess, can be described as “condolence sex.” After the coitus, the two argue, with Grace leaving the room. Here we see her skin start to glow, with spots forming on areas of her body. I don’t know what is going on, but the implication that Grace is a meta human with burgeoning powers, possibly even a “Green Light” baby, is intriguing. Plus it means we’ll see more of the character and actress, which I’m all for. Jennifer’s response is to get closer to her dad. Gambi’s “death” would have had more of an impact, had Jefferson not suggested that he believed Gambi had escaped and was laying low, to find out who ordered the hit on him. That coupled with the fact that the police couldn’t find a body, plus other characters insisting he was dead, makes me not believe it.

This was a decent episode of Black Lightning, that leaves me with several questions. Does Grace have a superpower and if so, what is it? Also, who put the hit out on Gambi? Was it Tobias Whale, or the new regime in charge of the ASA? Either way, I’m looking forward to finding out.

Score: B

That brings this installment RTF Review: Tales From the DC MulTVerse to an end! Fret not, I’ll be back next week and I hope you will too!

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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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