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RTF Review: Tales From the DC MulTVerse #8

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RTF Review: Tales From the DC MulTVerse is back for it’s 8th installment! I enjoy writing these articles and sharing my thoughts with fellow fans. So let’s get right into it:

TITANS:

“Rachel’s birth mother is alive. In a desperate attempt to rescue her, the group breaks into the Asylum where she is kept.” (DC Universe)

In this episode of Titans, the captured Dr. Adamson illustrates a master class performance, in getting the team to do exactly what he wants. When Rachel questions him, he tells her that her destiny is not to destroy humanity, but to save it. To prove his point, he tells her to save him, just as he slits his own throat. As panicked and freaked out as she is, she still saves him. When he recovers, he tells Rachel her mother is still alive, being kept at an abandoned asylum. Naturally, Rachel wants to go rescue her immediately. When Dick & Kory tell her they need to wait and do reconnaissance first, she of course disobeys them, taking Gar Logan with her. Of course, they get captured, which leads Dick and Kory to get captured as well. Even though I know Dr. Adamson’s true intent, which is to use Raven to unleash her demon father Trigon into the world, the performance and dialogue delivery of actor Reed Birney, had me believing the pitch he’s selling Rachel. Obviously, the Asylum wasn’t empty and with the Titans captured, scientists begin to do tests on the team, in some cases testing the limits of their powers, or to just cause them pain, testing their breaking point. Robin is strapped to a chair in a padded cell and injected with a hallucinogenic drug. Beast Boy is thrown in a cage, constantly being tased and Starfire is being poked, prodded and ready to be cut open. The most interesting aspect of this part of the episode was Dick Grayson’s hallucinations. He is battling his young self, who is beating him up with a bow staff, from their Wayne Manor Bedroom, before the vision takes us to the Batcave. In this vision, adult Deck wears his Robin costume. As young Dick continues to beat him, he blames his adult self, not Batman, or Tony Zucco, for what he’s became. I think this hallucination is bringing Dick’s true feelings on who he’s become to the surface and it’s a great visual manifestation of those feelings.

When Rachel regains consciousness, she finds herself in Dr. Adamson’s office. The former captive, now in full control, tells Rachel she can save her friends from pain and harm, if she agrees to cooperate and uses her ability to bring her father into this world! Rachel begins to get angry, letting the Raven persona come out! Using her power, she reopens Dr. Adamson’s slit throat wound, killing him. In full on Raven mode, Rachel Roth has to be one of the most powerful beings in the DC Universe. After rescuing her mother, she sets out to free the rest of the Titans. The rest of the episode, is essentially a prison break operation. When Rachel frees Garfield, guards attack her and her mom with a taser. Garfield snaps, turns into a tiger, attacks him, throws him in the cage and quasi mauls him to death. When they then rescue Dick Grayson, the team is cornered in what seem to be underground tunnels. Dick instructs the others to leave, while he and Kory take care of their pursuers. What follows is Dick Grayson pummelling asylum armed guards, with a wrench. The blood and gore from the first two episodes of Titans returns. Dick tells Kory to use her powers to torch the place as they prepare to leave

It would seem that Dick Grayson condemned the unconscious guards and any patients inside, to death. However, it’s worth noting that this is the Asylum where the Nuclear Family, humanoid robots, were created. Based on their movements, resilience, pain threshold and stamina, it’s possible that the guards were humanoid looking robots too! I’m not sure if there were any patients inside, aside from the captive Titans. However, if the guards were human, is it really fair for me to judge the characters, or creatives behind the show for this decision. I say this in light of the fact that every live action Batman, save for Adam West, has had a hand in directly or indirectly killing a villain. I don’t think it is. Garfield was distraught after realizing he mauled one of his attackers. Dick Grayson looked stunned and shocked, at what he and the team had done. One interesting note, is that we see Dick burning the Robin costume, in the aftermath of the Asylum wreckage. I think the realization of what he just done, has him seeing the Robin identity as toxic. This moment, will not only draw him further to Nighwing but will also cause him to retake a vow against killing. This episode isn’t as phenomenal as the last two were, but it still remains a superpower, within the RTF Review: Tales From the DCU MulTVerse bullpen!

Score: A-

SUPERGIRL:

“James falls in deeper with the Children of Liberty in his efforts to meet Agent Liberty. Meanwhile, Supergirl and Manchester Black follow a lead on Agent Liberty’s location, but things take a dark turn. Lena kicks off her first set of trials.” (The CW)

The episode opens with Supergirl and Manchester Black working together continuing to try and track down Agent Liberty. They actually work quite well together. However, his propensity for excessive violence, causes Supergirl pause. She even stops working with him because of it, until J’onn convinces her that all that violence, is bread from sadness. Supergirl does give him a second chance, and they find out that Agent Liberty and his cult plan to explode a monument at Shelley Island, a port for alien immigration to Earth. The reason this is problematic is because as a precaution, the port has a power dampener on site. This would lessen Supergirl’s power set. When they get to Shelley Island, they are stormed by a gang of Children of Liberty. Here, Manchester Black reveals he struck a deal to hand Supergirl over, in exchange for a face to face with Agent Liberty. This is quintessential Manchester Black. A anti-hero who is out for himself and will do what he must to garner his desired result. Once again, the show pulls on religious mythology and imagery. When Manchester Black betrays Supergirl, it’s very reminiscent of Judas betraying Jesus. Speaking of Jesus, when Supergirl is bound in chains, the position of the chains and how she is posed, looks like the crucifixion. She is ultimately chained and locked in the monument, the group wants to blow up. I’m not surprised that Supergirl is tapping into the Judeo/Christian mythologies, since this has been a staple, in multiple multimedia exploits of her cousin Superman.

As for James Olsen, he figures into the plot because Agent Liberty wants him to blow up the monument, where Supergirl is trapped in. Of course, James would never do this, so Agent Liberty forces him into it, by telling him no one will be anywhere near or inside the monument. Agent Liberty further forces James’ hand by threatening the life of the man James helped turn and denounce the Children of Liberty. James agrees and prepares to begrudgingly set the bomb off, in full Guardian gear. Supergirl desperately tries to get his attention, but can’t until she creates visible light with her heat visions. When James notices this, he immediately begins attacking the Children of Liberty. Manchester Black, realizing he’s been duped and used by the Children of Liberty, frees Supergirl. With little time to spare, she flies retrieves the bomb and throws it high enough into the sky, so that it explodes, without doing any damage. This moment was poetic justice, as Agent Liberty intended it to be a death blow for alien rights, instead it became an advertisement for pro alien sentiment. The aftermath of the explosion looked like fireworks, with Supergirl, the poster girl for alien rights surrounding them. This is such an energetic, uplifting scene that drowns out the hate rhetoric. Beyond the confines of the show, we need these types of uplifting moments in our entertainment today! Now more than ever.

As the description suggests, this episode of Supergirl sees Lena Luthor beginning human trials for her super power cure. At first she refuses to know the tests subjects name, so as not to get emotionally invested if something goes wrong. However she does open up and reveals that the reason she is pushing so hard for this, is because as a child, her birth mother had an accident and drowned. Lena blames her 4 year old self, who stood there in shock and did nothing. She believes that even at that young age, the fact that she did nothing, suggests that she belongs with the Luthor’s and is just as bad as they are. Unfortunately for Lena, the tests doesn’t go well and her patient dies. I really sympathized with Lena when she described her back story. Since she’s been a part of Supergirl I feel the character has been fighting off the Luthor’s negative influence. I hope they don’t have her descend into evil. Though, at the end of this episode she was sitting alone in her office in darkness, which is usually foreshadowing for a dark turn. This was easily Supergirl’s best episode of the season, in my opinion.

Score: A+

ARROW:

“Oliver makes a choice that will affect his entire life, as well as the lives of everyone he cares about.” (The CW)

I’ve got one word to describe this episode of Arrow and that word is….WOW! At the start of this episode, it is revealed that Oliver must have accepted the deal brought up last week, because Ricardo Diaz is being brought into Slabside, with Oliver being released by days end. Before he leaves, Oliver reveals to the Green Arrow fanboy he’s been protecting in prison, that he knows he was the one who recently murdered one of the guards and used Oliver, to get Bronze Tiger thrown in solitary confinement. He’s been using Oliver this whole time, in order to get retribution on fellow inmates, who’ve hurt or bullied him. The two eventually fight, with Oliver locking him up in a what looks to be a cleaning supplies room, when all hell breaks loose in Slabside. All hell breaks loose when Diaz’s prison transfer guards, who are on his payroll, kill everyone at the front entrance, before providing Diaz a change of clothes and entry into the penitentiary as a visitor for Oliver. He tells Oliver that today is the day Diaz will kill him and once he’s done, will hunt down Felicity. As Ricardo Diaz makes a speech urging the inmates to seek retribution on their jailors. Oliver goes to apologize to Bronze Tiger, promising to put in a word with ARGUS, on Bronze Tigers behalf, when he gets out. Oliver is then attacked by Brick and Samson. When things look their most dire, Bronze Tiger arrives, beating back his former allies. After a hilarious bit where the two ask how each broke out of their cells, they form an unlikely alliance, to stop Diaz.

Shortly after this pact, Ricardo Diaz release every prisoner from their cell. Bedlam ensues, with guards being assaulted, beaten, and killed. When Oliver arrives on the scene, this episode of Arrow turns into the Raid, meets Shawshank Redemption, with a WWE Street Fight match, thrown in for good measure. Oliver and Bronze Tiger make their way through every cell block, with fights occurring on stair wells. I’ve often mentioned the Daredevil hallway fight from season one of that show, specifically how nothing’s been able to top it. Well, for me, the third act mealy in this episode of Arrow has done it. In terms of weaponry, Oliver doesn’t have his bow and arrow but, soda cans wrapped in bed sheet or towels, used as a whip, pack some knock out blows. At one point, Bronze Tiger didn’t have his claws, yet was pretty handy with a wrench. Oliver eventually tells Bonze Tiger to get the remaining guards to safety. This sets up a final confrontation between Oliver Queen and Ricardo Diaz. Fire from an electrical power surge surrounds them, and the two engage in a brutal and bloody fight, possible the roughest fight in Arrow history. After stabbing Oliver in the shoulder with scissors, Diaz has the upper hand. However, showboating and taunting as Diaz goes in for the kill, allows Oliver to get in a couple headbutts, gain control of the knife, and deliver a killing stab to Ricardo Diaz. The episode ends the following morning, as Bronze Tiger, the remaining inmates and rescued guards, are on cleanup duty. Meanwhile, Oliver is set free, with Felicity and John Diggle waiting to greet him on the outside of the fence. Michael Jai White was phenomenal as Bronze Tiger, and his fighting capability was top notch. I hope we haven’t seen the last of the former Spawn actor. As for Kirk Acavedo, while I liked him as a villain, every time Ricardo Diaz spoke, it sounded like he was doing an over pronounced campy imitation of Al Pacino in Scarface. I can’t say I’ll miss that.

This episode of Arrow has catapulted into my top 5 episodes of the series. With time and a little reflection, it may eventually take a top 3 or even top spot. The whole first arc of Oliver in Slabside, has quenched my desire to see that Green Arrow: Supermax movie, which WB had in development about a year ago. Hands down this is the best single episode in this weeks RTF Review: Tales From the DC MulTVerse column!

Score: A+

THE FLASH:

“While Nora grapples with unresolved anger over her father’s disappearance in the future, Barry and Team Flash must stop a powerful new meta, Weather Witch, from killing her own father, Weather Wizard.” (The CW)

This episode of The Flash has all the typical tropes and cliché’s of a Thanksgiving episode, which feels one week too late, given it’s airdate. The highlight of this episode are the flashback’s to Cicada’s origin. One of the things we learn right away, is that the little girl Grace is not his daughter, but his niece. Cicada, aka. Orlin Dwyer, gained custody of her because his sister and brother-in-law, were killed in the after math of a metahuman incident. At first, the uncle and niece didn’t get along. He didn’t want the responsibility of raisinger, nor did she want to live with him. Over the course of the flashbacks, the two get close, move into a new house together, and are celebrating their first year together as a family, at the Central City county fair. We see the moments of “The Enlightenment”, and the aftermath of Orlin being impaled by a shard of the dark matter satellite and Grace falling into a coma. As a viewer, it was painful to see the shard protruding out of his chest, as he got carted into surgery. However, for me, any time a child is alluded to or shown to be in danger, it tugs at the heart strings. Seeing Grace unconscious, certainly had that affect on me. Seeing that both the death of Orlin’s sister and coma of his niece were the result of being casualties to meta-human activities, I 100% sympathise with him, and understand why he became Cicada, embarking on a crusade to bring deaths to all meta’s. His tragic origin and the sympathy I feel for him, give Cicada that similarity to most Spider-Man villains. In fact, I think quite a few of The Flash‘s rogues gallery, share that trait with Spider-Man baddies. For me, the fact that this origin story, was a small portion, told in flashbacks, as an addition to another main story line was a negative for me. This tale would have been more effective and hit even harder emotionally, if it was the main portion of the episode, like Supergirl handled Agent Liberty’s origin tale.

Speaking of the main story, The Flash and XS investigate a weather anomaly near an electrical plant. The Flash is struck by lighting, which stops his heart. Nora uses her speed and her hands as a defibrillator, to revive Barry, This event shocks Nora and brings about fear and resentment towards losing her father. She’s mentioned this through her time on this show, but seeing her father technically die, it makes sense that these feelings would come boiling out of her, making their way outward. As always, Grant Gustin and Jessica Parker Kennedy share a wonderfully emotional scene, where Barry tells her, the reason he is The Flash, is to protect her and the rest of his family and would risk sacrificing his life for them. Time and again. This is why Barry Allen/The Flash is both a great television and comic book hero. The weather anomaly that stopped The Flash’s heart wasn’t a natural occurrence. It was the work of The Weather Witch, the Weather Wizard’s daughter, who carries a staff imbued with a dark matter shard, allowing her to manipulate the weather. She threatens to level Central City, if her father, isn’t handed over to her. She doesn’t want a Thanksgiving reunion however, she wants to kill her absentee, estranged father. We briefly do see her father, the Weather Wizard, in an attempt to draw her out. I understand they wanted to uses the father/daughter strife to parallel and contras, what’s going on with The Flash and XS. However, it falls flat for me, because I don’t have the history, or emotional connection with Weather Wizard and Weather Witch, like we do with Barry and Nora. Also, it seems to me that Weather Wizard has gotten the short end of the stick when it comes to The Flash main rogues. He’s essentially cameo man at this point. That’s what all of his appearances have essentially been.

This episode wasn’t great, but was good! That’s okay though, because next week is the 100th episode of The Flash. I expect something great for such a monumental achievement.

Score: B

BLACK LIGHTNING:

“Looker and her clan attack Black Lightning and Thunder. They fight to get her to release the Sange. Jennifer and Kahlil continue to grow closer.” (The CW)

The episode sees Black Lightning following the trail of silver liquid from the Looker’s sange, back to her location. When he comes upon a couple of Sange standing guard, he uses invisibility tech on his armor to get the drop on them. That was a cool surprise, as I had no idea his costume had such a feature. However, the Black Lighting armor was low on energy, allowing the Sange guards to turn the tables on Black Lightning and capture him. Tied up in the basement, when he comes to, Jefferson realizes he has been stripped of his armor and is face to face with the Looker. When The Looker mentions that she and Black Lightning are the same, in that they are both trying to protect their own people. Black Lightning calls her a racist for having a confederate flag. She rebukes, saying a confederate flag is no different than a black lives matter shirt. This show has always been politically inclined, but this is the first time they verbally referenced these two concepts directly. During the discussion, The Looker sees a vision of Anaya’s other baby, with Anissa and Lynn at her lab, so she takes a group of her Sange, to steal the other baby. Meanwhile, a few of her cronies are left behind, instructed to electrocute Black Lightning until he dies. What they don’t realize, is that electrocuting him only recharges his ability, since his powers don’t come from his armor. When he’s fully charged, he gets free of their capture knocking them both out, with a mix of sheer brutality and finesse. I continue to be impressed with this mix of light choreography for this show.

Black Lightning rescues one baby and leaves it with Henderson at his home, while he goes to assist Anissa. Before Black Lightning gets there, the fight between Thunder and The Looker is pretty even. This is more martial arts based and more traditional in that sense. Eventually though, it seems like The Looker gets the upper hand. As she is choking the life out of Thunder, Black Lighting arrives to save her. The combine force of their powers is too much to bear, and as the force of Black Lightning‘s lighting strikes hurls The Looker through the air backward. She is impaled on a protrusion, sticking out of the wall. Due to her powers, she doesn’t die, so Jefferson tells Anissa they must take her to the ASA. When Anissa suggests they shouldn’t because they’ll run tests on her, he remarks; “That’s her problem.” While that seems harsh, I think seeing two people of colour hung upside-down would anger even anybody. After seeing the type of segregation culture and hate she and her group pushed forward in two episodes, I think getting sent to the ASA is getting off easy. The writers and actress did a great job of making this viewer hate The Looker. In terms of Jennifer and Khalil, they continue to bond . He worries that he’ll never be free from Tobias’ control. Meanwhile, Jennifer laments that her parents, her sister, nobody understands her. At Jennifer’s insistence, Khalil tries to warn the priest one more time. When that fails, Khalil leaves, but is tracked down by Tobias. While he manages to get away from Tobias, he then has to deal with Tobias’ goons who have been sent to track him As he hides in an alleyway, Jennifer uses her powers to all the lights and electricity in the area, leaving Tobias’ goons in the dark and their tracking device inactive.

As they meet up in an abandoned location, Jennifer comes completely clean with Khalil about her powers. The two then start to discuss their future, being together and the possibility of them having kids together. After discussing and deciding that there’s nothing left for them in Freeland, they drive off together, leaving town. After season one, I hated the idea of this relationship. However, as it’s been developed over the course of this season so far, I’m actually rooting for these two. By no means does that make me a shipper by the way! I don’t do that! Though now that they have declared their love and intentions, and now that I’m on board with this relationship, I wouldn’t be surprised if Khalil gets killed by Tobias at some point. Speaking of relationships, Black Lightning finds a tracking device in a forest, when searching for The Looker. He uses that tracker to find Gambi at his safehouse. He voices his displeasure that Gambi allowed him to believe he was dead and wants answers . Gambi tells him that he did it to keep Jefferson and his daughters safe, until finding out who ordered the hit. Jefferson tells Gambi that he is part of his family before embracing him! I’m’ so glad this scene happened because it reinforces the father/son relationship that these two share. This adds an additional layer of heart to this show, in addition to Jefferson’s interaction with his daughters. In my opinion, the emphasis the Black Lightning series puts on family, is the driving force of this show.

Score: B+

That brings another installment of RTF Review: Tales From the DC MulTVerse to an end! Next weeks installment, RTF Review: Tales From the DC MulTVerse # 9, features the live action debut of Donna Troy on TITANS and the 100th episode of The Flash. I look forward to sharing my thoughts with you as always!

 

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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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