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RTF Review: Tales From the DC MulTVerse #9

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When you read this column next week, I’ll be sharing my thoughts about the 3 night, 3 episode  Arrowverse crossover event titled: “Elseworld’s.”  However, we cant jump ahead, so this time on RTF Review: Tales From the DC MulTVerse #9, we get to discuss Donna Troy’s debut in live action, as well as a monumental and historical episode for The Flash.

TITANS:

“Kory’s memories are beginning to return. Rachel bonds with her mother. Dick seeks out an old friend for guidance.” (DC Universe)

At the start of the episode, following a “team breakfast”, Dick announces he’s leaving the team, to essentially find himself and who he will become, post Robin.  I remember a very similar moment in the New Teen Titans comics, from which this show takes cues. Dick feels he is able to do this, because he sees Rachel interacting with her birth mother.  Rachel seems happy and safe, which technically means Dick lived up to his promise of keeping Rachel safe.  Speaking of Rachel,  It was nice to see her getting to know her biological mother.  Whether it be experiencing a tender moment, or getting a hug..  Even Gar gets to join in on this moment.  In her conversation with her mother, Rachel learns that she gets her abilities from her father.  She also learns, that her mother gave her up and left her, to keep her safe from her fathers minions.  We also learn that the woman raising her, who died in the pilot, was her mothers best friend. That last aspect is different from the comics.  In the comics, Rachel is placed in the care of her mother’s sister.  The core concept of why her mother left her, remains the same, so it’s not a big deal. Actress Rachel Nichols, plays Raven’s mom.  I’m familiar with her in roles like Alias, G.I. Joe, and Continuum. This was one of the first roles I’ve seen her in, where she isn’t a straight up action heroine.  She does well playing the long lost. nurturing mother role. She and actress Teagan Croft have strong chemistry together, which makes the forming of a mother daughter bond believable.    After their good bye’s, Dick heads his own way, while the rest of the group head to Ohio to Rachel’s mothers house.

Dick Grayson tracks down Donna Troy.  We get flashbacks to Wayne Manor, where a young Donna Troy spends time with Dick Grayson, while Diana meets with Bruce, about Justice League business.  Here we get our first verbal references to both Diana and the Justice League. Little nods like this continue to flesh out the DC Universe, which these characters inhabit.  The young Wonder Girl and Robin, discuss Dick’s first encounter with The Joker.  This moment has shaken Dick’s confidence in he and Bruce’s ability to stop the Joker and make Gotham City a better place.  Donna assures him that it’s okay to be scared because even Diana is frightened by The Joker.  Donna reassures Dick that he and Bruce will do right by Gotham City and stop The Joker. In the present day, Donna tries to get Dick to learn how to mingle with “normal” people., at one of the gallery showings of her photography.  When that fails miserably, she tells Dick, that he can’t quit the vigilante lifestyle, he just doesn’t have it in him. She also reinforces that he needs to become someone else, as Robin no longer fits his personality or worldview.  Conner Leslie as Donna Troy and Brenton Thwaites, echoed the performance of their flashback counterparts, that you instantly believe that those kids, grew into these adults.  The banter and teasing the older actors engage in with each other, gives a sense of legitimacy to this friendship and it’s longevity.  One cool moment was in the alley way, when the two friends race each other to the top of the building.  Dick Grayson uses his acrobatics, while Donna Troy super leaps to the top of the building.  Her leap mirrored that of Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman from the film.  Even though this show isn’t connected to the films, that was a cool nod.

 Speaking of connecting to the Titans, Donna Troy connects to the Titans, that happens when Donna Troy sees a picture of the ancient text from Kory’s storage unit, on Dick’s phone.  She reveals she can translate the ancient language, which makes sense. Given her time with the Amazon’s.  She translates the prophecy.  Here is where we get the first reference to Kory as Starfire.  More importantly, Donna reveals that the prophecy had been misread.  Starfire wasn’t sent to find Raven to protect her but rather kill her.  I’m not actually shocked, given that Rachel’s soul self, is the daughter of a demon.  This information sends Donna and Dick to Ohio, where the others are headed. Speaking of the others, on the train ride, Kory keeps having visions of herself, in what appears to be a space craft and speaking an alien language.  All the while, she notices that she is being watched by one of the train attendants.  Turns out he’s an FBI informant, who has called in the FBI, who have been on the hunt for Kory, ever since the incidents at Rachel’s house and with the Russian mob. I’m glad that even with the Raven/Trigon story ramping up, the producers and creatives haven’t just dropped this plot point.  When Starfire realizes that they are being set up for capture at a checkpoint, she tells Raven, her mother and Beast Boy to get off the train.  After they and the rest of the passengers are cleared off the train, the FBI storms the train,  When cornered, Kory goes into Starfire mode and essentially torches the train from the inside out.  That distraction allows Kory to escape.  It seems to me, that the Starfire effects keep improving with each episode they are used.

When the team arrives at Rachel’s mothers home, she calls Kory out on her headaches. When Kory says she seems to be having visions of her past, Raven offers to use her powers to try and heal her mind, like she did to the wounds of the deer and Dr. Adamson.  Kory accepts and when Raven does her thing, Kory once again goes into Starfire mode and grabs Rachel by the neck, as if she’s going to choke slam her, Undertaker style, before suddenly ending.  Each week with this show, I never want it to end and yell “WHY” at my screen, when it does!  This episode continued that trend, with another fantastic installment.

Score: A

SUPERGIRL:

“Nia has a powerful dream about Agent Liberty but refuses to look at it as aprophetic dream and pushes it aside. After noticing something is bothering Nia, Kara enlists Brainy’s help, and the two try to persuade Nia to embrace her destiny. Meanwhile, Manchester Black pays Ben Lockwood a menacing visit.” (The CW)

As the description implies, Nia Nal has a dream about Agent Liberty killing a woman which leaves her distraught, which is why she is frazzled at work, tells Kara, who then tells Braniac – 5.  Braniac -5 hints at knowing that Nia is more than she lets on, so he and Kara confront her at her home.  Here, with reassurance from Kara, Nia reveals that she is an alien and her superpower, is having prophetic visions of the future.  Braniac – 5 then uses his powers to help Nia revisit and recall her dream.  She is able to decipher a specific location, which takes the three of them to a town called Collingwood.  As the 3 search for Agent Liberty, Kara notices three Children of Liberty and their alien sniffing dog there. Kara concocts a scheme, whereby they get captured, figuring the Children of Liberty, will take them right to Agent Liberty. First off, given this is directed by Kevin Smith, I figured the episode would be overly verbose and too revelatory too soon.  I was pleasantly surprised, that Nia’s heritage and power reveal was concise, giving us just enough and according to Brainy, still leaving mystery to unfold for Nia Nal. I though Kara was very clever to get herself captured to get to Agent Liberty. She’s channeling her investigative reporter skills, while taking cues from Lois Lane.  By the way, Lois Lane gets a shout-out here.  While captured,  Kara uses her super hearing to hear the Children of Liberty talking about Agent Liberty. She puts two and two together, when she discovers they are being held at a defunct Lockwood Steel factory.  After causing a distraction, she transitions to Supergirl, and she, Nia and Braniac-5 escape.

Meanwhile.  Manchester Black, posing as an old school friend to Ben Lockwood, gets into his home. When Ben gets home, Manchester Black threatens to kill Ben’s wife, if he doesn’t admit in front of her, that he is Agent Liberty,  Before killing him, Manchester Black wants Ben Lockwood to put on his costume.  Manchester using and threatening to kill Ben’s wife, brings things full circle, since Agent Liberty killed Manchester’s fiancé Fiona.  He would have killed both of them, had Martian Manhunter not mind linked with him long enough, to distract Manchester.  Agent Liberty and his wife head to a nearby Nth Metal factory.  Once again, just as Manchester Black is about to get his revenge, Supergirl intervenes.  However, Manchester is undeterred, using a moon dust smoke bomb to temporarily dampen her powers.  He take it one step further, by causing an Nth metal liquid spill, leaving Kara literally stuck where she stands.  The rest of the scene plays out like Nia’s dream. Agent Liberty and Manchester Black stand across from each other, on a high rise catwalk, pointing weaponry at each other, with Ben’s wife standing between them.  Nia uses a crane hook to knock Manchester unconscious. Meanwhile, Supergirl forces herself to fly upward, cracking the adhesiveness of the Nth Metal.  This took so much strength, that the factory lifts off the ground.  The visual effect for this was very impressive.  Supergirl now free, rescues Agent Liberty’s wife from a near catastrophic fall from the catwalk, before apprehending Agent Liberty.  To me this was David Ajala’s best performance to date. This is the Manchester Black from the comics.  No moral compass in terms of killing to get justice and absolutely ruthless.  He still doesn’t have powers but I like that the writers substitute that for DEO weaponry he stole.  That is vintage Manchester Black.

It looks like Supergirl won the day.  However, when she arrives at the DEO, a furious President of the U.S. , recounts how campaign backers and some members of the media, are furious over Agent Liberty’s arrest, saying it goes against human rights, since he was captured by an alien operative of the government, who hasn’t disclosed her identity to the world.  As she is technically a government employee, the President says she must reveal her identity to the world.  When she refuses, to protect the identity of those she loves. The President relieves her of her duty.  The fact that there are those who vehemently support Agent Liberty and also many who vehemently despise him, is a metaphor for how American’s, and the world, view the current American President. This back and forth has been hammered into our head via various news outlets.  So much so, we’ve gotten apathetic to it.  Though, when this topic is couched within sci-fi and superhero entertainment, your guard is down and it becomes amazing at how divisive one powerful figurehead can be.  On purely an entertainment level, this divide over Agent Liberty, is fascinating because this is not an issue she can resolve with her powers or fists.   It’ll be interesting to see where this goes from here. In terms of Supergirl, this is the best episode of the season I’ve discussed thus far, in my RTF Review: Tales From the DC MulTVerse column.

Score: A+ 

ARROW:

“Felicity stands by her recent decisions regarding her family. Meanwhile, Diggle and Lyla continue to look into the Dante painting that Curtis found.” (The CW)

Oliver re-enters society, by being honored and  attending a Gala for  a new prisoner reform initiative.  It’s funny how when he tried to save the city as Green Arrow, he was hated and hunted for it.  After his rescue initiative in the prison last episode, and now that everyone knows he was the Green Arrow, they’re inviting him to gala’s and honoring him. There’s so much irony in that. During the gala, the lights go out and a Green Arrow pierces the heart of a rich business man and benefactor of the glades.  When a second rich business man is killed in the same manner, the mayor places blame on the new Green Arrow.  Dinah questions the mayor’s position, thinking this eagerness to pin these crimes on the new Emerald Archer, so she enlists the help of Rene and Oliver to find out who’s framing the new Green Arrow.  Rene sets up a meeting with her, but the minute she sees Oliver and Dinah there, she makes a run for it.  Oliver takes off after her and what ensues is a fantastic  chase that sees the former hooded hero and current hooded hero, in a chase that traverses hoods of cars and roof tops.  While that wasn’t as good as the prison fight from last episode, it was a pretty fast and furious scene, with the current Green Arrow getting away! Oliver enlists Felicity’s help in finding a lead on the actual killer. While she does so, they are attacked by one of the Longbow Hunters.  As Oliver fends him off, Felicity pulls out a gun, shoots him in the leg, giving Oliver time to knock him out. Oliver is shocked at this development and calls her out on it.  She responds by telling him, that when he went to prison, it forced her to toughen up. Oliver can’t believe what he sees and hears.  I’ll say it again, if all the main characters on the show can’t take “hard @$$” Felicity seriously, how can you expect the audience to?

 Regardless of this argument, the group realizes this killer is a businessman killing off one time partners, who decided to cut him out of a deal.  In this episode, the who wasn’t important. It was all about seeing Oliver back in action.  To apprehend the killer, Oliver works with the police. Oliver hunts him down, holding him a arrow point, as it were, while, Dinah arrives to make the arrest. While the villain of the week is inconsequential here, we do get a hallway fight that leads to his apprehension. How many times have I mentioned hallway fights in this column? Are hallway fights becoming the new train fight, in superhero media?  As Hallway fights go, this isn’t the best, but a worthy entry.  After the killer is apprehended, the Mayor orders Dinah to arrest Oliver, for violating the Anti-Vigilante Act. Dinah refuses, saying she has hired him to assist the SPD, and has the full backing of district attorney, Laura Lance.  It was nice seeing that power hungry D.A., with an axe to grind for Team Arrow get one upped, in an official capacity.  Given my history and understanding of the Green Arrow, it’s going to be really weird seeing him working for and with the police department. Throughout the season, there’s been a secondary story featuring Diggle and ARGUS tracking terrorists, with a fixation for particular pieces of art, specifically works by Dante.  They’re using the artist as a means of communication with each other and with the Longbow Hunters.  To take down these terrorists, ARGUS turns to Ricardo Diaz, who thy have in a secure holding cell! I want to know the who, what, where, why, when and how of it all, but we shouldn’t really be surprised that he escaped death last week.  After all, the actor is a series regular this season.

 The big reveal isn’t even that though! We finally learn the identity of the new Green Arrow! It is indeed a woman.  We see her training and working out, before suiting up to go meet Rene an the others. At episodes end, we see her sitting by a grave.  She talks to her father, telling him about Oliver. As the camera pans around, it reveals the head stone of Robert Queen!  The new Green Arrow is the comic book half sister of Oliver Queen!  This is incredible! Given that this show has deviate from comics lore so often with a character like Black Canary., it’s nice to see them honor this aspect of continuity.  I can’t wait to see more of her back story reveal and her interactions with Oliver Queen.  While this episode of  isn’t absolutely perfect like last week, it’s pretty close!

Score: A

THE FLASH:

“In the 100th episode, Barry and Team Flash come up with a plan to stop Cicada. However, the plan calls for Barry and Nora to travel back in time to gather some key necessities. However, Barry hesitates, concerned about his daughter seeing certain parts of his life. Meanwhile, Sherloque takes his concerns about Nora to Iris, and Caitlin turns up a key asset in the fight against Cicada”  (The CW)

Unfortunately the 1990’s version of The Flash only got 1 season worth of episodes, let alone 5 season’s and 100 + episodes. So the fact that the character has gotten a second lease on life on the small screen and has done so well, is reason to celebrate  As the description suggests, the episode calls for Barry and Nora to travel back in time, after Nora suggests obtaining materials from the past to create a device that will disarm Cicada of his dagger, render it powerless and allow them to take down Cicada, without full use of his powers.  To achieve this, the device would need a piece of super magnetic alloy, be infused with dark matter energy from the particle accelerator, and would need to be able to absorb the stolen abilities from the dagger, returning them to Team Flash.  Barry and Nora head to Season 3’s finale, to collect lost shards of Savitar’s armor. From there, they head to Season two, to steal the speed force transmitter from Zoom.  They end there time trip through memory lane, returning to season 1, the night of the particle accelerator explosion, to infuse the transmitter with some of that good stuff.  I enjoyed seeing scenes from the 3 seasons of The Flash that I loved.  We saw certain scenes from different angles as Nora and Barry looked on and waited for there moment to strike, without getting caught.  Seeing Nora being shocked, surprised and frightened by some of these moments reminded me of how I felt watching each of them play out, for the very first time. The great thing about this episode is that it’s not just a glorified clips show of The Flash: Greatest hits. On a couple of occasions, our father and daughter duo, interact with Barry’s past foes.

 When he tries to steal the Speed Force transmitter from Zoom, the villain realizes this Barry is from the future and that Nora is  a speedster.  So he chases them through the time stream, probably hoping to steal their speed.  He would’ve caught them had he not been apprehended by a Time Wraith.  I forgot how much I liked the design of those ghost/zombie like creatures.  In fact, I love seeing characters race through the time stream.  That will never get old.   Their close call with Zoom knocks Barry and Nora off course, damaging the transmitter, so the two head to another moment in Season 2, to get Eobard Thawne/Harrison Wells’ help to fix it.  Thawne realizes that this Barry is a future version and initially refuses to help him.  He only agrees, after Barry threatens to damage this timeline, so Thawne won’t be able to get back to the future.  As he fixes the transmitter, he realizes that Nora is Barry’s daughter, he taunts Barry about at least having one Nora left, boasting about killing his mother.  The hatred within Barry for Thawne, rekindles instantly.  The way both Grant Gustin and Tom Cavanagh slip back into that emotional dynamic, especially since Tom is playing a vastly different character now, in Sherloque Wells. After re-experiencing the particle accelerator explosion and imbuing their device with dark matter, Barry hides the device in the past, in the hospital that Cicada’s niece will eventually stay at. 

When they return to present day, Team Flash suits up, with the device in hand and confronts Cicada.  It seems to work, as the dagger’s power dampening effects become nullified.  As The Flash takes the fight to Cicada, Cisco uses his powers to create a breach, throwing Cicada’s dagger in to space.  Just as Cicada looks to be beaten, he musters all of his internal dark matter energy to will the dagger back to him.  He hurls it on the ground towards our heroes, rendering them powerless.  As he kneels over The Flash,  ready for the killer blow, Killer Frost arrives and is able to beat him back, to the point where he flies away!  We knew Cicada was becoming more powerful but he’s almost at the point of being unbeatable, it would seem.  Not to mention his sudden ability to fly, which I absolutely did not see becoming a thing.  As for Killer Frost, it makes sense that she is not affected by dark matter, or his dagger. Her powers were not born of the particle accelerator incident like everyone else.  I’m pretty sure she will be a big player in eventually defeating Cicada, which is great, since I love the actress and character.

All of this greatness and yet, the best part of the episode, was the revelations about Nora.  We see Nora in the time chamber inside Star Labs, uploading and sending entries in her journal about recent events via Gideon, to someone in the future. She was about to send personalized message but decided to send it in person.  To end the episode, she races to 2049.  She tells a figure in the shadows; we need to talk.  Out of the shadows steps EobardThawne, once again saying; Yes, we do! WOW! What an ending! Kudos to Brandon Alvarado, who called this a while ago.  Also, you should read his column dedicated to our super fast hero, “The Final Lap”, at this very website.  This is the best episode of this weeks RTF Review: Tales From the DC MulTVerse column.  More over, when you compare this 100 th episode to Arrow‘s 100th episode, The Flash comes out ahead! As of this moment, it is the best episode of this season of The Flash for me!

Score A+

BLACK LIGHTNING:

“Jennifer’s disappearance roils the Pierce family. The family discusses the best way to find her. Lynn asks Detective Henderson to arrest Khalil after she learns Jennifer is with him.” (The CW)

This episode of Black Lightning, is the absolute most mundane episode of the entire series.  Did you want more stories involving the fallout of the Green Light/Pod Babies? Well it’s not here!  How about more story involving who put a hit out on Gambi? Nope. None of that this episode either. This is all about Khalil and Jen on the run. The majority of the episode plays like a non superhero show, where two teenagers run away, while the family does exactly what you’d expect.  First they contact her friends and when that lead bears no fruit, thy turn to the cops.  Lynn is so distraught that she starts drinking.  That’s two weeks in a row, where Lynn resorts to drinking to cope with pain.  Could an alcoholism plot be coming for Lynn later in the season?  When Jefferson learns that Anissa knew Jennifer was talking to Khalil, he blames her,suggesting they could have prevented this. To fire back in the blame game, Anissa blames her parents, for being so strict with Jen and treat her differently, which has led her to running away with Khalil.  These types of troupes felt generic and obvious of a story running away from home and provided for lackluster TV.

There were some intriguing moments,  One of which, involves Khalil trying to fleece money for their get away, from the bar which is under Tobias’ control  However, they have been alerted to a bounty on Khalil’s head, so they try to kill him.  What happens next, is a shootout in an alleyway, where Jennifer has to create a ball of electricity , fire it at electrical wires causing sparks, which temporarily blind Khalil’s attackers, allowing him to get away.  The two runaways travel to Khalil’s aunt’s house on the outskirts of town.  Unbeknownst to them, Tobias has planted a tracker in the back of Khalil’s neck and has now set a bounty hunter after him.  When the woman arrives Khalil’s aunt’s house, the assassin known as Cutter, goes full Bullseye, and starts throwing knives at Khalil.  While she doesn’t kill him, she does cut him. Thanks to Khalil’s mother, Black Lightning and Thunder discover where Khalil and Jen are and arrives just in time to stop Cutter from killing Khalil.  This allows Jen and Khalil to escapes.  There was this great scene,where Black Lightning uses his lighting ability to create a rope made of lightning, to get the knife away from cutter, while Thunder uses her breathe/super clap to knock’s Cutter through the house. The problem with this action set piece, is that it ends with Khalil and Jen on the run again, as well as Cutter escaping Black Lightning and Thunder. So basically, this episode leaves us exactly where it started.  So, what was the point? Black Lightning has its mid season finale next week and it needs to be much better than this disappointing installment.

Score: D

That brings RTF Review: Tales From the DC MulTVerse # 9 to a close. With the exception of one show, this was a stellar week in television. With the Elseworlds event being next week, I’m expecting bigger and even better!  I may decide to slightly alter the column next week to accommodate Elseworlds, but if I do, I’ll mention it at the beginning of the article. 


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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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