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A SOURCE IS A SOURCE
One of the things Tony and I discuss in this week’s CCU podcast (The Nuclear Man) is The Flash’s willingness to adhere to the source material…so long as it suits them. It’s a tricky road to walk (run?), but the writing team has learned to navigate it masterfully.
For several years in the early 2000s, I dove into the Flash comics like they were a refreshing pool and I was on fire. Geoff Johns focused on the men behind the masks. The Flash was ancillary to Wally West, a mechanic w/ Keystone City’s police force. He loved hockey, his wife, and his city. Captain Cold would set down his cold gun, remove his parka, and become Leonard Snart…a coffee-drinking weisenheimer with a fierce, if unique, moral code and equally fierce loyalty to his friends. He also loved hockey.
I bring all this up because the cornerstone to truly exceptional television is the character work. CW’s Flash draws from decades of source material and wields it with great skill. Firestorm is indeed Ronnie Raymond AND Dr. Martin Stein, just as his is in the comics. Barry got his powers just as he did in the comics. Wally’s mother was killed by a yellow-clad speedster, just as she was in the comics. BUT Wally and Iris growing up together, under Joe’s watchful eye? Totally new. In the comics, Barry met Iris when they were both adults. In fact, instead of Barry pining for her for years, in the printed page Iris asked Barry out after their first encounter. She pursued him, despite his tendency to always be late.
And then there’s our pal Harrison Wells. There’s no Harrison Wells in the comics. BUT he does share aspects of many characters. Could he be the CW’s equivalent of Hunter Zolomon, a wheelchair-bound friend of Wally’s who yearned for Wally’s speed? He also has the scientific expertise and apparent future-origin of one Eobard Thawn aka Professor Zoom aka Reverse-Flash. But his teaming up w/ others, running S.T.A.R. Labs…that’s all brand new.
I guess the point I’m making is…there are those who will always be upset when you mess w/ the source material. And in no way do I mean to dismiss that. People are gonna get upset about stuff; it just happens. But for me? Look, I adore the source material. I honestly think it’s some of the finest storytelling in comic history. But the CW’s willingness to diverge gives me something I hadn’t quite expected: Mystery. I can’t begin to predict this show. It’s at once familiar and all new. I love it. They can lay breadcrumbs from the comics, but they tend to lead to something completely unexpected.
Yeah, I’m hooked. Big time. Feed me all the bread crumbs you want. I’ll follow that trail.
See ya next week!
PS – for a look at the Firestorm costume we discussed during the podcast, CLICK HERE!