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Saturday, July 16, 2016

CW Reveals Kid Flash & a New Bad Guy for The Flash

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Edited by Robert Beach

It is now mid-July, the summer half over, and Fall’s long shadows have begun to creep across the unsuspecting face of geek news and media blogs like this one.  That’s a very fancy way of saying that the first news, set photos, and announcements about the upcoming fall slate of superhero shows are finally starting to filter through.  The biggest decision so far has to be from CW’s The Flash, the current gold standard for network superhero fair (with apologies to Supergirl, which is a great show but still not quite at Flash’s level of confidence in the material.) 

The big news for the show is that Wally West, played by Keiynan Lonsdale, will be dawning the mantle of Kid Flash in the upcoming season.  In addition to the first character posters of Kid Flash, we’ve also received some interesting set photos of what appears to be the new villain for the upcoming season based on the infamous Flashpoint comic. 

So, let’s start with the big news; Wally West is Kid Flash. Something the show has been building up to forever and I’m glad they’re finally pulling the trigger on it.  The big reason The Flash has become such a powerhouse series is that the Flash’s mythos is such a vast and rich tapestry of elements thanks to the whole family of heroes that it’s come to encompass. 

I’ve spoken about this before but DC superheroes, the big name heroes, have been centered around the idea of a “family” of characters since the late ‘50s.  At the time, an explosive display entitled Seduction of the Innocent put forth that Batman and Robin were a gay couple, which prompted DC to give them both female counterparts and love interests in the form of Batwoman and Batgirl.  Those characters were hits for DC, so they decided all their heroes would have families, hence Supergirl, Superboy, Aqualad, Speedy, and Kid Flash. 

Most of these hero families faded away or ended up downplayed in the modern era save for the Flash, whose community of supporting heroes only increased.  A lot of this has to do with how DC ended up structuring itself over the years and the way it tried to incorporate some characters from their 1940s backlog into the main universe.  Heroes like Jay Garrick, Max Mercury, and Johnny Quick ended up part of the DC mainstream and, to yoke them all together, they ended up part of the broader Flash Family, a group of speedsters who were all eventually revealed to be tapping into the same source: the Speed Force. 

As a result, all things relating to those characters ended up under the Flash banner, and the show has been slowly bringing them into live action one by one.  In season 2 we got Jay Garrick, season 3 is promising Kid Flash, and the series has already set-up Jesse Quick as a character in season 2 and Mercury Labs (IE Max Mercury) has been in the wind since season 1.  What’s more, with all the time travel shenanigans on the program I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw Impulse, Barry’s grandson from the future, any day now. 

The big question surrounding this reveal is how much of Kid Flash’s origin is influenced by Barry’s time travel shenanigans.  At the end of season 2, Barry went back in time and stopped Reverse Flash from killing his mom, thus altering the timeline we’re unaware of.  While CW has teased that change will impact its fellow shows, it’s a little unclear the breadth of the changes at hand or how it will function as time travel on The Flash makes no sense. 

The big thinking seems to be that Kid Flash was the result of Barry’s time meddling, which certainly seems possible and it would leave CW with a way to drop him from the show if audiences didn’t gravitate to his character.  However, I’d like to hope that even if he is an altered timeline character Kid Flash gets to stick around was the whole Flashpoint situation is resolved as it’s well past time the show got itself a secondary hero.  

All of which leads us to the mysterious new speedster, sporting a freaky black and orange costume that looks like the bizarre hybrid of Zoom and the Reverse Flash.  No one’s sure who this guy is and though theories abound I’m fairly certain he’s not from the comics.  There aren’t many other villainous speedsters in the books and the ones that there are aren’t series villain material.  He could be Rival, an evil version of Jay Garrick, but I kind of doubt it. 

What seems more likely to me is that he’s the Black Flash, an avatar of death from the speed force similar to the time wraiths of season 2.  After all, Season 3 is all about Barry trying to change the time for his benefit so it makes sense the speed force would send its minions after him.  What’s more, the costume design looks a lot like Barry’s revamped costume when he was possessed by the Black Racer, the god of death. 

There’s still a lot of uncertainty about The Flash season 3, mainly owing to the fluid nature of time travel mechanics on the show and it’s loose connection to the CW’s other shows, but for the moment things are definitely looking good.  More of the Flash Family is no bad thing and the fact The Flash is willing to stick with their vision of Wally West as a black guy rather than bowing to the more common red headed white guy version of the character is definitely to their benefit.  

What’s more, the new villain seems threatening though I do have to wonder if the show’s reliance on evil speedsters is finally reaching a breaking point, after all there are only so many times you can pull this particular stunt.  Hopefully, between Kid Flash and Jay Garrick we’re on our way to more heroic speedsters but only time will tell. 

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