Here's my review of the recent ELSEWORLDS event. Anyone else have thoughts on it?

_____

It's far beyond the scope of this blog to address the many successes and failures of the so-called "Arrowverse," overseen by producer Greg Berlanti. My most basic overviews is that the most positive aspect of the "Berlanti-verse" is that it gets so much of the look and spirit of DC Comics right, while the greatest flaw is Berlanti's constant virtue signaling, trumpeting diversity as if it were going out of style.

There were four "crossover events" before this, but the first two focused only on bringing together the casts of ARROW and of THE FLASH. By the time the third one came about, SUPERGIRL had left CBS and was incorporated into the CW verse, even though her "universe" remained on a separate Earth from that of the other two CW heroes. The second crossover also set up the fourth CW-DC synthesis, LEGENDS OF TOMORROW, and so this motley crew joined the other three heroes (and all of their ensembles) in the next two crossovers, INVASION and CRISIS ON EARTH-X. Both of these I found mildly entertaining but as badly bloated as most comic-book smorgasbords.

ELSEWORLDS changes things up in that the LEGENDS are excluded from the plot proper (although their episode, aired in between parts two and three of ELSEWORLDS), though the time-traveling protagonists comment about giving the annual crossover "a hard pass." This helped Crossover Number Five maintain a little more consistency, like the comic books on which they're modeled.

Those comics, though, are not those published under the ELSEWORLDS rubric, which were all in the nature of "alternate reality" stories. Instead, this crossover is closer to the model of the annual Justice League-Justice Society crossovers of the 1960s, particularly with respect to the trope of "heroes (or other people) switching powers." This was a trope that was astoundingly popular at DC Comics, meaning that the editors of the time must've thought that the buyers really grooved on figuring out, say, why an issue of JUSTICE LEAGUE showed a bunch of scruffy crooks in the costumes of the League:

The TV ELSEWORLDS starts off with a similar, reality-rewriting situation. One day both Barry Allen (Flash) and Oliver Queen (Green Arrow) wake up, and find themselves occupying one another's domiciles. Moreover, everyone in the world looks at Barry and sees Oliver, and vice versa. Further, Oliver has the powers of the Flash, while Barry has archer-abilities, and both have to figure out how the other masters these proclivities. After much comic confusion, the two heroes decide that they may get some help in another universe, and cross over (heh) into the domain of Supergirl and her cousin Superman.

The immediate culprit proves to be mad scientist John Deegan, who in the comics goes by the supervillain name "Doctor Destiny," but he's only the catspaw of an alien plotter known as the Monitor, best known in comics for his role in the world-reshuffling event known as CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS. In fact, when ELSEWORLDS wraps up, Berlanti stokes fannish expectations by announcing next year's big event, which is none other than-- CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS: THE TV VERSION.

LIke the comics that seem to have inspired this narrative, ELSEWORLDS is thinly plotted, so there's not much point in cogitating each and every plot-twist. Like the regular episodes of the Berlanti shows, the main emphasis is always upon soap-operatic concerns, whether it's the current state of Green Arrow and his girlfriend or the ways in which gloomy Oliver is uncomfortable with Barry's sunny disposition. The big attraction is the way Berlanti's scripters play with the tropes of comics and the TV shows's mutations of them.  DEN OF GEEK outdoes me by listing all of the Easter Eggs, thus making it possible for me to concentrate only on those I deem the best:

*The fact that the Monitor gives Doctor Destiny a "Book of Destiny." The Monitor of the comics did not operate this way, but while he's holding the book, he looks like a character called Destiny-- who was the literal incarnation of fate-- who started out as a horror-comic story-host but graduated to a major player in Neil Gaiman's SANDMAN universe.

*The brief use of the theme from SMALLVILLE, also one of Berlanti's early superhero-adaptation successes.

*The attempt of the three main heroes-- Flash, Arrow, and Supergirl-- to make contact with Batman in Gotham, and their diverse reactions to his legendary status, with Green Arrow proving rather prickly about the idea of another hardcore non-powered vigilante. In comics, of course, the Golden Age Green Arrow was a tacit knockoff of Batman, and the version of Green Arrow that appeared in SMALLVILLE was allegedly second-choice when Berlanti couldn't get the rights to Batman.

*Shout-outs to the 1966 BATMAN teleseries.

*The main heroes don't meet Batman, but they do meet Batwoman, who's scheduled to join the Legends in future. At one point, Supergirl and Batwoman have a satisfactory teamup, after which the latter remarks that it was the "World's Finest" teamup.

*The visit to Arkham and a hallucinatory sequence brought on by Scarecrow's fear gas.

*The use of the name "Trigger Twins," one of DC's old western concepts.

*Good Superman meets Evil Superman (Deegan). Former's only comment: "Nice suit."

Though it's not as good as the best of the comics-crossovers, the fact that almost everything comes off well bodes well for next year's CRISIS.

__

Views: 278

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Is Oliver this much of a jerk on his own show all the time?

Somewhat. Honestly, this is how I picture Batman: At heart a decent guy, but completely unsocialized. I mean, as opposed to Bat-psycho. I'd honestly prefer a Batman who is a decent guy, but maybe stoic to the extreme.

And locking Barry and Oliver in the Pipeline? Harsh!

That actually made sense to me. These guys have been fooled by a familiar face before. (See: Harrison Wells.)

So there ARE toilets in the Pipeline cells!

And somewhere that I missed, they moved all the criminals out of the pipeline to Iron Heights. Whew. The whole illegal jail bit really bugged me.

I got a charge out of seeing how much The Monitor looked like his comics counterpart. The braids worked on screen better than I would have thought.

Yeah, I thought he looked kinda goofy in the comics. But he actually works on TV. Probably thanks to the actor's physical stature and stentorian voice.

Nice touch bringing in The Flash from the 1990 TV series.

LOVED that. And props to Old Man Shipp for getting in shape to make ths suit work. He's no spring chicken, so he deserves credit.

I suppose it was nice to have Barry and Oliver find Kara on the Kent farm from Smallville. I suppose it would mean more to me if I ever watched that show, but I never did. 

I sympathize. I never watched Buffy, and have gotten endless crap from fellow geeks for that. And our corner of pop culture takes it as a given that you've watched Buffy.

So Bruce Wayne just up and bugged out? Funny, that was the premise of the Birds of Prey TV series ... maybe that show is one of the wayward worlds in the upcoming Crisis?

The Birds of Prey scenario occurred to me as well. I hated it then, and I hate it now. Bruce Wayne wouldn't leave Gotham while he was still breathing. And if he was imprisoned somewhere, he'd have escaped in less than three year. ("World's Greatest Escape Artist.") Two things you can't change about Batman: He doesn't use a gun, and he doesn't leave Gotham.

Nice that all the geeky characters -- Cisco, Mr. Terrific, Barry -- understood the difference between a Freaky Friday situation and a Quantum Leap situation.

It was specifically the geeky characters who debated the difference. The other characters are like "What?"

And I'm old school enough that it doesn't sit right that Superman is having a child out of wedlock.

Me too. When they announced the pregnancy, I assumed they were married (until they told me otherwise). Not because I'm a traditionalist, but because Superman is.

Captain Comics said:

The whole illegal jail bit really bugged me.

Same here. When the DEO does it in Supergirl it’s bad enough, but Barry and company are straight arrows.

….props to Old Man Shipp for getting in shape to make ths suit work. He's no spring chicken, so he deserves credit.

Playing three different characters on The Flash, he’s closing in on Tom Cavanaugh’s record. After watching the Earth-90 scene four(?) times I still didn’t pick up on the identities of the other characters on the ground.

I watched all of Smallville and Buffy. The telling thing is that I have all of the DVD sets for Buffy and never considered getting the ones for Smallville. The best thing about Smallville was Michael Rosenbaum’s Lex Luthor.

When they announced the pregnancy, I assumed they were married (until they told me otherwise). Not because I'm a traditionalist, but because Superman is.

It didn’t bother me personally, but I think it’s a poor editorial choice. The same with the movies Superman II, Superman Returns and the 1966 movie Batman-The Movie. When they’ve marketed the characters as for all ages for so many years it’s not smart to offend and blindside a large segment of your audience. A Dark Knight movie is obviously not a brightly colored all-ages movie, so that isn’t a problem.

Captain Comics said:

And somewhere that I missed, they moved all the criminals out of the pipeline to Iron Heights. Whew. The whole illegal jail bit really bugged me.

That happened a couple of seasons ago. Joe asked District Attorney Cecile what it would mean if, hypothetically, some people were hypothetically being kept in a secret place and needed to be moved, secretly. Cecile blew up at him. Not exactly the best way to begin a romance.

Captain Comics said:

So Bruce Wayne just up and bugged out? Funny, that was the premise of the Birds of Prey TV series ... maybe that show is one of the wayward worlds in the upcoming Crisis?

The Birds of Prey scenario occurred to me as well. I hated it then, and I hate it now. Bruce Wayne wouldn't leave Gotham while he was still breathing. And if he was imprisoned somewhere, he'd have escaped in less than three year. ("World's Greatest Escape Artist.") Two things you can't change about Batman: He doesn't use a gun, and he doesn't leave Gotham.

I didn't like that, either, and it thought it hobbled Birds of Prey terribly. It built in the expectation that Batman would come back to save the day, some time, when they weren't going to have him in the show at all. And with that expectation built in, it made the adventures of the title heroines less compelling.

I get that they needed to do a Batman show without Batman, but I wished they had come up with a better answer. The possible pending Batwoman spinoff is starting off putting the same shackles on.

Captain Comics said:

When they announced the pregnancy, I assumed they were married (until they told me otherwise). Not because I'm a traditionalist, but because Superman is.

Richard Willis said:

It didn’t bother me personally, but I think it’s a poor editorial choice. The same with the movies Superman II, Superman Returns and the 1966 movie Batman-The Movie. When they’ve marketed the characters as for all ages for so many years it’s not smart to offend and blindside a large segment of your audience. A Dark Knight movie is obviously not a brightly colored all-ages movie, so that isn’t a problem.

I once saw someone suggest that Superman is the kind of guy who would save himself for marriage. That's probably true of at least some versions of the character.

Reply to Discussion

RSS

Welcome!

No flame wars. No trolls. But a lot of really smart people.The Captain Comics Round Table tries to be the friendliest and most accurate comics website on the Internet.

SOME ESSENTIALS:

RULES OF THE ROUND TABLE

MODERATORS

SMILIES FOLDER

TIPS ON USING THE BOARD

FOLLOW US:

OUR COLUMNISTS:

Groups

© 2019   Captain Comics, board content ©2013 Andrew Smith   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service