Arrowverse, DC Universe, RTF Originals, TV, TV

RTF Review: Tales From the DC MulTVerse #7

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With every new installment of RTF Review: Tales From the DC MulTVerse, we get one week closer to the Arrowverse annual crossover. This year it will cover three shows, while introducing Lois Lane, the Monitor and Batwoman, to this live action shared TV universe.. As of this publication, we are 2 weeks away from this exciting event! While I wait with incredible excitement, let’s look at all the DC TV content we got on our screens this week:

TITANS:

“Dick and the new Robin, Jason Todd, team up to track down the man who is killing off Dick’s old circus friends.” (DC Universe)

The series may be called Titans but it’s all about Robin….Both of them. There’s some great character moments early on in the episode, as the two Boy Wonders work together to find a spot to hold the unconscious body of Dr. Adamson, for eventual questioning. You clearly get a sense that Jason Todd has a respect for Dick being the first Robin, eager to swap stories and gain pointers from him. Here, we are told that Jason has been working with Batman as the new Robin for about a year and that Bruce recruited him, after catching him trying to steal the hubcaps off the Batmobile. Given Geoff Johns’ involvement, I had no doubt his origin would be accurate to the books. Still, it was nice to hear regardless. As Jason starts to discuss how exciting being Robin is, as well as hyping up the upgraded armor and cape he has, you can see the tiniest bit of regret in Dick, regarding leaving Batman, as well as jealousy toward Jason for replacing him. Some of that awkwardness between the two gets down right funny at points. Jason suggests one of the penthouse/safehouses that Bruce Wayne has scattered in different locals. When Dick tries to get through the safeguards of the buildings, he finds that passwords have been change and facial recognition, no longer accepts his retinal scan. He needs Jason to get him through security . There’s the moment where Jason reveals he’s driven the Batmobile, something Batman never let him do. The reaction from Brenton Thwaites is ever so slight, yet ever so noticeable. You can see the perplexation and slight confusion in his face, over the thought of being replaced. The most awkward and funny moment, occurs when the rest of the Titans meets the new Robin. Jason refers to Dick as the former Robin, while Garfield gets all giddy, asking fanboy type questions like; How many Robin’s are there and if he too can become a Robin? I’m telling you, Gar Logan is the stand in for us, every DC Fanboy or girl watching this series. His reaction to anything Batman related, is something I would do or say! He’s great.

As for why Jason Todd has sought him out, it’s to alert him to an ongoing string of murders, being perpetrated against former Hayley’s Circus performers, who Dick used to travel with. Jason reveals the killer’s method, which is to burn half his victims face off with acid. This obviously is a callback to Harvey Dent, who gets a name drop in this episode. The killer isn’t Two-Face though, instead a killer known as Melting Man, aka Nick Zucco. Nick is targeting those close to Dick Grayson, who he knows is Robin, out of revenge for his father, Tony Zucco. Nick blames Robin for Tony’s death, after Robin’s attack on Tony’s police transport van, left Tony out in the open, resulting with him being shot dead, by the Maroni crime family. Comic book fans will know why Robin went after Tony Zucco in a vengeful rage, as he is the one responsible for the murder of John & Mary Grayson, This episode shows us a flashback of Dick as Robin, attacking the police transport vehicle and the beating he gave to Tony Zucco and how far he came, to almost killing him. He doesn’t though, but refuses to save him, from the firing squad Sal Maroni sent to kill Zucco, preventing him from making a plea deal with the police and turning over on Maroni. This flashback shares similarities and brought back so many memories, of the great Batman: The Animated Series two parter, “Robin’s Reckoning.” If you haven’t seen it, remedy that ASAP. The murders of the Hayley’s Circus group, also shares a similar story hook with the first storyline in The New 52 run of the Nightwing series. Although, I’m not sure if these similarities are intentional or not.

Our two Robin’s do manage to take down the Melting Man, saving the sole remaining member of the Hayley Circus performers, who prior to Bruce Wayne stepping in, was Dick’s immediate guardian, after his parents death. When police arrive, Jason decides to go distract them, while Dick gets his friend away from the crime scene. However, Jason goes ballistic and in a fit of rage, severely injures most of the officers, even breaking one of their backs! When Dick gets him under control, he reminds Jason that Batman wouldn’t condone this. When Jason remarks that Batman isn’t there, he then goes into a rant about how useless cops are, how he and Batman have to do their job for them and how this was payback for cops always shooting and going after him. He storms off leaving Dick Grayson in stunned silence, surrounded by broken, unconscious police officers. Curran Walters displayed the swagger and attitude Jason Todd has from the comics and at the end of last episode and throughout this one. In the last act of this episode, we see his immense anger, restlessness, and complete lack of respect for authority, or rules. I definitely see the attributes of Red Hood, within the actors performance. As for Dick, I believe spending time with Jason, realising he’s been replaced and witnessing Jason’s brand of violence, was the final push Dick needed, to step away from Robin and forge a new identity. I’m sure we’ll still see him as Robin a few times but this moment was the turning point, the unofficial birth of Nightwing.

Titans reminds me a lot of Krypton, being a show that a lot of people question at its inception and during production but ultimately, delivering with the  goods with the final product. This episode delivers intensity and pulse pounding entertainment, which The Flying Grayson’s would be proud of!

Score: A+

SUPERGIRL:

“As everyone gathers for Thanksgiving, Kara is feeling down after her televised debate with Ben Lockwood; James and Lena argue about the best way to handle the Children of Liberty.”

Agent of Liberty’s manifesto continues to spread through National City, on pamphlets everywhere. This has galvanized a group of Xenophobic humans, to join his hate group, complete with Agent Liberty masks, armed with weapons, such as crowbars and baseball bats. They’ve even trained dogs, to sniff out and intimidate aliens. At the outset of the episode, we see group of the Children of Liberty with their dogs, attacking an alien couple. Manchester Black intervenes, as does a nearby Supergirl and the two make short work of the masked bullies. Knowing the Manchester Black of the comic books, it’s still awkward seeing him working side by side with Team Supergirl. However, we do see the more traditional Manchester Black, when it’s revealed that he took one of them hostage and is torturing them for information, on the identity of Agent Liberty. It get’s more violent. When Manchester Black realizes the Children of Liberty are going to attack alien households, he is waiting in disguise as one of them, and seemingly kills the group that arrives at one of the houses. Now that’s more like the Manchester Black I’ve read about! Given what Agent Liberty did to Fiona, and the hate that the Children of Liberty spew, I can’t argue against or criminalize Manchester Black. Side note, the actor playing Manchester, specifically his voice and look reminds me of a young Idris Elba.

Team Supergirl discovers the Children of Liberty’s next target, through James Olsen meeting with one of their members, trying to use his influence as Guardian to dissuade them from their hateful message and acts. James discovers that they’ve trained the dogs to sniff out aliens, while Braniac – 5’s research learns that they mark each house, with markings that are only visible via the infrared technology, built within their mask. What I find interesting about marking the houses, is that it seems to be a bizarro twist on a biblical story. In the old testament, the Jewish people marked their homes with an X, so that the plagues God sent upon the Egyptians and Pharos, who refused to free the Jewish people from slavery would pass over their homes.. Here, the markings on the houses, are to signify targets of hate, violence and possibly death. I don’t know if this connection was intentional but that’s what I thought of. When James decides to meet with a member of the Children of Liberty, this puts him at odds with Lena Luthor, who would rather him appear on national TV, to denounce Agent Liberty and his hate group. Lena is working with the substance given to Kara by her mother and the council of elders on Argo. She’s testing it on a heart full of tumors, trying to cure cancer. While she doesn’t cure cancer, she does notice that the heart becomes impervious to fire or damage. When James says that the Children of Liberty are largely just scared of aliens and feel inferior, Lena than suggests using the Kandorian substance to create a way to give humans super powers. Thus taking away their fear and inferiority, which would hypothetically quell the fears and concerns, fuelling the hate group. However, Team Supergirl shuts that plan down, for fear of powers being given to the wrong type of person. However, when James is kidnapped, she decides on her own, to move forward with her idea, My guess is that Manchester Black will volunteer for a human trial, which will give him the super powers his comic book counterpart has.

The other two remaining fight scenes in this episode, involve Braniac – 5 taking down a cluster of Children of Liberty members. This was the first time this season we see Braniac 5 get involved in the fighting. Given the nature of his powers, his fighting can be described as a telepathic ballet of sorts. The fighting felt more quirky and awkward, rather than violent and threatening, which suits Braniac’ – 5’s personality. Meanwhile, we see Kara protecting a family being attacked by Children of Liberty. However, the daughter is frightened and calls on her pet dragon for help. Not only does the alien dragon scare her attackers but it gets lose, forcing Supergirl to regain it under control. It’s cool watching Supergirl take on a dragon, however given the more grounded storyline with serious themes being explored, it feels completely out of place here. I understand it was done for levity, but isn’t that what Braniac – 5’s quirky misunderstanding of certain Earth phrases and concepts is for? This plot point somewhat down graded an otherwise strong episode, which raised the threat level and moved the larger season narrative forward.

Score: B+

ARROW:

“Slabside becomes even more dangerous after a guard is murdered and everyone is a suspect. Felicity enlists help from a surprising source in her pursuit of Diaz, and Laurel flexes her muscles as the District Attorney.” (The CW)

My second favourite RTF Review: Tales From the DC MulTVerse series, sees Felicity recruiting Team Arrow frenemy,
Anatoly Knyazev to help them discover what Ricardo Diaz has planned next. This episode is also the first one where the entirety of Team Arrow is working together simultaneously. What the KG Beast helps them discover, is that he plans to use retrofitted areal explosives, attach them to underground gas pipes around Star City, causing explosions to level the city. This plot point, while not the same, gives me callback’s to season 1, when Malcom Merlyn tried to use a Markovian device to decimate the Glades, a poorer area of then Starling City. Like in Season 1, Team Arrow is able to foil Diaz’s dastardly plan but unlike season 1, they are able to jam the device signal, preventing any explosion, or catastrophe to the city.
There’s a great fight sequence, between Team Arrow against Ricardo Diaz and the Longbow Hunters. Whenever The Silencer is involved in a fight, things get interesting because her ability to manipulate sound disorients our heroes. Team Arrow does get help from the new Green Arrow. Speaking of Green Arrow, I’m more sure that it’s a woman under the hood. I hope whichever actress is under that hood, is a character known as Mia Dearden, who comics readers will know as the second character to act as Green Arrow’s sidekick, known as Speedy. That’d be a great nod to the source material. With the new Green Arrow’s help, Team Arrow is able to get the drop on Ricardo Diaz and ultimately apprehend them.

Meanwhile, Laurel Lance is in court using the physical and mental abuse Oliver’s experiencing in Slabside, to try and get him released. While that first attempt doesn’t succeed, Laurel does get the judge to order an investigation of the treatment of criminals in the prison. When the police have Ricardo Diaz in custody, Laurel gets the judge to agree to a deal, which would see Oliver get his freedom, in exchange for Ricardo Diaz and Oliver’s testimony, to help put him away for good! Most of Team Arrow doesn’t want her out in the field, as they still don’t trust the former Black Siren, hence why she is using her legal ability as the D.A. It’s funny how the two people who originally hated her the most, Felicity and Dinah, are the ones who come to her defense with the other members of the group. Even Oliver Queen who didn’t want her legal help, brought himself to thank her, for getting the judge to open an investigation on the treatment of the inmates. It’ll be interesting to see how he reacts, when she brings him the proposal of the deal. I’m glad the redemption of Laurel continues to be a slow burn, with only a couple Team Arrow members, believing she’s changed. It’d be ridiculous, if they were all suddenly on board with this Laurel, metaphorically singing kumbaya around a campfire.

The Flashforwards to the future Star City, reveal that Felicity didn’t join the Vigilante Resistance. Instead she goes underground and becomes The Calculator, carrying on her father’s criminal moniker. Her shady activities, got her noticed by the wrong type of criminal, which ultimately gets her killed. However, after leading William, Roy and the others to her defunct bunker, they find plans, funds, and equipment Felicity has left them, to blow up and tear down the wall surrounding the Glades. Is it me, or is future, dead Felicity, cooler and more badass, than present day, living Felicity. The creatives behind the scenes and the actress herself, have to convince me that Felicity can be driven to this future. As of right now, I can’t see it!  Once again, Arrow proves to hit it’s target, being consistently on the mark, as one of the best series, covered here in the RTF Revie: Tales From the DC MulTVerse column.

Score: A

THE FLASH:

“Caitlin, Barry, and Cisco learn something new about Caitlin’s father; Iris and Sherloque follow a clue about Cicada.” (The CW)

I found the Cicada reveals this week to be not very revelatory. Basically, the majority of The Flash crew, confirm Joe West hunch that Cicada is a father. Since the season began, we knew this and when they showed his daughter in the hospital, I speculated that metahumans may have somehow been the cause. Sherloque, Ralph, Iris, and Nora, deduce that she was hit by dark matter shrapnel, while she and her father attended a carnival that night. Sherloque than deduces that the core of the satellite containing dark matter, fell in the water, so Nora uses her super speed to retrieve it. Also regarding Cicada, we once again see him struggling, staggering and writhing in pain. We see the glowing wounds from the dark matter shrapnel on his chest and side, expanding and growing. When the doctor who’s treating him and his daughter, who seemingly knows he is Cicada, offers to patch him up, he refuses, saying the pain and energy makes him stronger. Of course, this was also alluded to in a previous episode. So aside from the reveal that his daughter was hit by dark matter shrapnel at a carnival, this segment of the episode was more a recap of what we already knew.

The real important information in this episode of The Flash came from the main focus, which was finding Caitlin’s father. Caitlin, Cisco and Barry, breach to the North Pole, where Cisco has located Caitlin’s dad. Inside the abandoned shutdown lab, Caitlin is reunited with her father, Thomas Snow. There, we learn that he had ALS and for years, he was experimenting with cryogenic therapy to freeze the progression of the disease. He did so, and was able to use this cryogenic gene rewriting therapy, on Caitlin, who had the genetic markers of ALS as a child. His altered concoction had cured Caitlin, yet created Killer Frost. This is what I and most fans of this show thought was going to be the case. Though, the ALS aspect was a twist. All that testing on himself, left Thomas with a cryogenic malignancy as well as mutation, whereby his skin crystalizes. Caitlin suggests using her cells to create a serum to stabilize his body. However, this touching display of father/ daughter love is short lived. Cisco is doubtful of Thomas’ story, so he vibes back to the lab and as he starks poking around, discovers that Thomas’ alternate personality, similar to what Killer Frost is to Caitlin, has taken over. This has all been a ruse, so that Thomas’ villainous alter ego, dubbed Icicle by Team Flash, could procure Caitlin’s cells, which when combined with his, would kill any remnants of Thomas Snow, once the body had been cooked to absolute zero! This dubious double cross would have been telegraphed, by anyone who’s seen Young Justice, read some comics, or kept up with news on this season of The Flash.

When Cisco, Caitlin and Barry become aware of this, they along with Nora, confront Icicle. He’s freezing the room to go full Icicle, leaving The Flash, Cisco, Elongated Man and Nora, effectively useless and freezing to death. Caitlin’s concern, fear and anger at seeing her friends in danger, brings Killer Frost out in her. The fight with the Snow family members gets somewhat icy, and has some pretty impressive CGI. With ice blasts, and punching with fists of ice. The most impressive special effect, was Icicle using his ice blasts as a propulsion mechanism, to fly away. We’ve come along way since Batman 66 and their visual representation of Mr. Freeze. It’s worth noting that Victor Fries did get a name drop this episode. I wish the fight between Killer Frost and Icicle was longer. As cool as it was, it did feel a tad short. I love the fact that Killer Frost returned. She’s one of my favourite characters on the show, and the dynamic and differences between Caitlin and Killer Frost, are fun to watch play out. It helps that Danielle Panabaker is so skilled and versatile at playing her character, as two unique and separate personalities! The Flash rebounded nicely, after being the worst show, of last weeks RTF Review: Tales From the DC MulTVerse for me!

Score: A-

BLACK LIGHTNING:

“While Lynn deals with the aftermath of fourteen deaths, Anissa meets with Anaya’s parents and help her deliver her baby… only to receive a surprise.” (The CW)

The question of whether Gambi was truly dead, was answered in the opening moments of this episode of Black Lightning. The answer of course, is yes. We see him interrogating the man who ran him off the road and tried to kill him. To get answers he’s cut off a few fingers of his attacker. However, when he doesn’t get answers, he ends up shooting the man! Even though I thought it wasn’t the case, I’m so glad Gambi isn’t dead. He’s a favourite of mine on this show and every so often, like this moment here, we’re reminded he can be a ruthless badass, when it’s warranted of course. Also, as expected, Lynn takes the blame for the deaths of the 14 “Green Light” meta’s in stasis in the pods. At an official press conference, she is bombarded by grieving parents and family members. She takes it to heart, and temporarily retreats into a bottle. She takes this so personally because unlike the ASA, she sees thee ,eta’s as humans not test subjects. She sees her children in them and wants to give them a chance at a normal life. I think it’s powerful seeing Jennifer take care of and comfort Lynn in her drunken, broken state. Especially after all the times Lynn counselled and took care of Jennifer.

Last week, it looked like Tobias had paid for the right to move Freeland’s Free Clinic, after paying off the mayor and the Reverend. However, the Reverend refuses that offer because he knows the mayor is bought and paid for by Tobias Whale. When the Reverend refuses, Tobias orders Khalil to kill the Reverend. Instead, Khalil threatens the preacher and tells him to leave town. The Reverend refuses, yet Khalil can’t go through with it. When Tobias finds out that Painkiller failed and flat out refuses to kill the clergyman outright, he and Tobias throw down. It’s a brutal fight. I’m surprised at how Khalil was able to hold his own for awhile. At a certain point, Tobias lands a series of punches that knock Khalil out. In that fight, Tobias reveals that he was the one that orchestrated the drive by shooting, which ultimately paralyzed Khalil in the first place. I think this will be the straw that breaks Khalil’s back, leading him away from Tobias for good! In fact, the first place he turns, is the Pierce house, specifically to Jennifer.

Anissa’s story takes her to South Freeland, to check in on a pregnant woman who she treated last episode, who’s boyfriend had recently been shot dead. His dying wish, was that Anissa made sure Anaya and their child were protected. What Anissa finds is a farming community. Anaya’s home and family are guarded by other family members with guns. That is because in this community, race relations are set back, to what feels like several decades. For example, people of colour dating a Caucasian person was a absolute no-no! To enforce such segregation type rules, a wealthy metahuman woman dubbed Looker, infuses her cronies with a silver liquid, which gives them enhanced strength and speed. When Anissa helps deliver not one child, but Twins to Anaya, with one being a baby of colour and one being Caucasian. Looker sends her super-powered posse out to attack Anaya’s family. When the fighting starts, Black Lightning joins the fray. Despite an awkward music choice, the fights in the forest were well choreographed. Anaya’s family manages to get one baby to safety, while Looker’s gang manages to abduct the baby of colour. This plot point was incredibly weird. The throwback to such strained race relations in a modern context was jarring, but than again, where we’re at in real life, hasn’t been that great. The Looker being one of the first metahumans in Freeland, similar to Jefferson, will make her backstory reveal quite interesting. Also, the way Looker imbued her underlings with abilities, by hooking up to them via silver liquified tentacles of sorts, was a bit disturbing and yes, weird to behold.

Black Lighting seems to be finding  a level of consistency, providing me with a solid hour of television, to end this weeks RTF Review: Tales From the DC MulTVerse # 7

Score: B+

That’s it for another week of thoughts and musings, about the small screen live action DC Multiverse. Until next weeks RTF Reviews: Tales From the DC MulTVerse, I hope the American readers of this column are having or had, a Happy Thanksgiving! As a Canadian, I had my Thanksgiving already. So, please enjoy an extra helping of mashed potatoes, or an extra piece of pie, on my behalf.

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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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