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The Flash Outruns the Competition

<i>The Flash</i> Outruns the Competition

With the great outpouring of Marvel films in recent years, superhero devotees might be tempted to think D.C. is on the losing end of the comic war. They would be mistaken. True, the graphic giant is noticeably thin in the movies department, but its signature heroes have found plenty of other areas to flex their muscle. Just look at shows like Arrow and Gotham, whichhave both achieved impressive followings despite their use of B-list characters. Now The Flash has made his debut on the CW, and it looks like D.C. is ready to break out their A-game.

Unlike, say, Batman or Superman, the average viewer might not be familiar with The Flash’s origin story. As a child, Barry Allen witnessed the unexplained murder of his mother and the wrongful incarceration of his father for the crime. The tragedy would drive Barry (played here by Glee’s Grant Gustin) to become a brilliant but socially awkward crime scene investigator for the Central City Police Department. The show opens with Barry’s return from the aforementioned Arrow series, just in time for the unveiling of the city’s new particle accelerator. Like all science projects in the D.C. Universe, something goes wrong, and the experimental radiation grants Barry the power of super-speed.        

From here, each episode chronicles Barry’s journey toward becoming the hero he was always meant to be. Helping him along the way are two inquisitive scientists, Caitlin Snow and Cisco Ramon (Danielle Panabaker and Carlos Valdes), Detective Joe West (Jesse L. Martin, Smash), and Dr. Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh) who may harbor sinister intentions for Barry’s future. Given the events of his childhood, viewers might expect The Flash to be another entry in the “brooding hero” archetype, but it’s actually quite the opposite. Barry is positive, energetic, funny, and selfless. He chooses to become a hero not out of some desire for vengeance but because he honestly and genuinely wants to help others.

The Flash’s decision to go against the current trend of dark superheroes is easily one of the show’s biggest assets. Gustin’s performance as the lovable Barry is pure genius and will instantly endear him to viewers. Also, it’s nice to see a show where the action takes place in the sunlight for a change, instead of on dark and stormy nights. It all comes together into a fun series, with a likable hero, and a positive message. Something Christian audiences will no doubt appreciate.      

If The Flash does have one thing going against it, it would probably be the show’s decision to implement a “villain of the week” format of storytelling. Superhero procedurals can get pretty dull if they don’t have an overarching quest connecting them all, and watching The Flash take on Captain Boomerang somehow just isn’t as entertaining as seeing Batman go against The Joker. Still, even this does little to dampen the show’s many positive qualities. Comic fans will love seeing their favorite speedster go up against his rogues, and even non-comic readers will find themselves investing in the outcome of each episode thanks to its colorful cast. Throw in the promise of upcoming crossovers, and The Flash is practically irresistible to anyone who’s ever dreamed of donning a cape.

In this year’s race for superhero dominance, The Flash wins hands down.

*Published 10/20/2014