Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Flash Episode Guide: Season 4, Episode 10 - The Trial of The Flash

For a summary of the episode guide layout & categories, click here.




Plot

As Barry goes on trial for the murder of Clifford DeVoe, Joe and Iris must decide how far they're willing to go to free Barry as Barry considers revealing his secret identity as The Flash to the world. Meanwhile, the rest of Team Flash must deal with a new metahuman who emits radiation.


Influences

The Trial Of The Flash (The Flash #323-350)


Goofs

Barry's argument that he can't reveal his secret identity because it would place Iris and everyone at STAR Labs in danger doesn't really hold water. Ignoring that they're all part of a superhero team that routinely face down dangerous metahumans and that half of them are metahumans, police officers or super-geniuses with access to advanced weapons, most of the most dangerous enemies they've faced already know who they are. Reverse Flash? Zoom? Savitar? The Thinker? Heck, most of the metahumans in Central City who were held in The Pipeline in Season One can probably identify Cisco or Caitlin as "those guys who brought us our meals."

Joe's plan to plant evidence in The DeVoe house is idiotic considering that he should know full well that The DeVoes have a security system, with cameras, since that is what captured Barry breaking into their home back in 407.

On that note, doesn't it seem odd that The DeVoes have security cameras but not a door alarm that is triggered by Ralph opening their front door?

Fallout's generation of 3000 rads is far worse than Harry and Cisco let on. A dose of 1000 rads is considered to be incurably fatal to a normal human.

While there may not be any law that requires Barry Allen to be present for the closing statements at his trial, it does seem odd that he'd be allowed to leave the courtroom considering he's supposed to be under house arrest!

What the heck was Barry running into the middle of a radiation-filled area supposed to accomplish?

Somehow, Cisco is unaffected by Fallout's radiation despite standing closer to him than the police officers who passed out trying to build a cordon around him.

How is Barry allowed to walk off, unattended, in the middle of the courthouse?

So the police saw The Flash run into danger to deal with the radioactive man but they didn't see Killer Frost and Vibe?  Or did they just not think they deserved an award?


Flash Facts

The episode takes its title from a classic Flash storyline - The Trial of The Flash - which ran for over two years from The Flash #323 through The Flash #350.

The Trial of The Flash
closed out the Barry Allen The Flash comic, leading into Crisis On Infinite Earths. The story saw The Flash put on trial for murder, after he snapped the neck of The Reverse Flash while trying to prevent him from killing Barry Allen's then love-interest, Fiona Webb.

It is worth noting that The Trial of The Flash storyline introduced the character of Cecile Horton, who acted as The Flash's defense attorney. This version of Cecile Horton was a Caucasian woman with red hair who worked as a lawyer in private practice, as opposed to the Cecile Horton of the DCTVU, who is employed as a district attorney in Central City and is of African-American heritage.

The prosecutor trying the case against Barry is a man named Anton Slater. This was also the name of the prosecuting attorney in the original The Trial Of The Flash story.

Neil Borman aka Fallout first appeared in The Flash: Iron Heights (August 2001) and was created by Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver. A stone-mason by trade, Borman was working at a nuclear power plant in Central City when an explosion during a test caused him to fall into the reactor cooling system. This triggered his metagene, altering his molecular structure so that he was transformed into a being made of high energy electrons - in essence, a walking nuclear reactor. Borman was unaware of the danger he posed, until his wife and son died from radiation poisoning. Borman turned himself into the authorities and was sent to Iron Heights prison, where he was turned into a power-source for the facility against his will. The Flash discovered this and arranged for STAR Labs to develop a more humane method of treatment for Borman.

The DCTVU version of Fallout has the same powers, name and was similarly oblivious about his nature as a metahuman. Rather than a stone mason, he is a truck driver who hauls nuclear waste.

Barry is able to briefly allow Iris to perceive things as quickly as he does as he moves so quickly that nobody sees him move when she tries to tell the court that he is The Flash. In the comics, Wally West developed the ability to lend his speed to other people or drain the speed from other objects in motion.

Harry Wells refers to Earth-15 as being a dead Earth. This is generally true for most versions of Earth-15 in the DC Comics cosmology. The pre-Crisis On Infinite Earths Earth 15 was home to a race of stone giants.  The post-Infinite Crisis Earth-15 and New 52 Earth 15 were both originally near-Utopian worlds which were destroyed by Superboy Prime. 


Technobabble

Barry Allen's fingerprints and DNA are found on Clifford DeVoe's body.

Cisco hacks the monitoring anklet that Barry is required to wear while under house-arrest so that it will always show him either being at Joe West's home or the courthouse..

Cisco now has a hand-held device that he can use to scan for dark matter residue to detect if a metahuman had been within the area of a crime scene recently.

Caitlin notes that all the victims at the bank were suffering from fatigue, vomiting, abdominal pain, skin rashes - all symptoms of radiation poisoning. This also explains why the security cameras at the scene of the bank were fried.

Harry says the levels of radiation generated by the metahuman at the bank are high enough that he could potentially become a living nuclear bomb.

Cisco uses the STAR Labs satellite to track Fallout's radiation signature.

Fallout's radiation signature is measured at 3000 rads when he first notices his own powers. To put that in perspective, whole body dosages of 1000 rads are considered invariably fatal.

Cisco says that 10,000 rads will result in a Hiroshima level disaster.


Dialogue Triumphs

Barry: My name is Barry Allen and I'm an innocent man.

Joe: Ralph! Hold up. Listen, I'm not going to let Barry go to prison. I failed his dad. I'm not going to fail him. I need your help.
Ralph: My help, huh? As in the, uh "stretchy" kind?
Joe: As in the under-handed private investigator kind.
Ralph: Oh. Ha! No offense taken.

Iris: Why are you so hell-bent on destroying our lives?
The Mechanic: I am doing what I have to do for my husband, Mrs. West-Allen. The question you should truly be asking... is what are you willing to do for yours?

Iris: I would rather run forever with you than stand alone without you.

(Cisco is trying to get Caitlin to transform into Killer Frost.)
Cisco: The city is about to explode! Everyone, everything you know and love - the birds, the trees, the fish! The puppies! Puppies are going down because you didn't want to show up for work!


Continuity

Harry deduces that Dominic Lanse's power must have given DeVoe an outlet for taking-over his body. This is indeed what happened in 409.

Iris makes reference to Barry's gibberish talk from when he emerged from The Speed Force in 401. Specifically how he said something about not killing anyone.

Cecile Horton takes a leave of absence from the Central City District Attorney's office to act as Barry's lawyer.

The Thinker now has Dominic Lanse's telepathic powers in addition to his own enhanced intelligence

The Mechanic is uncomfortable with the thought of her husband being in a new body.

The prosecutor refers to Barry's breaking into the DeVoe home in 407.

Captain Singh is called to testify against Barry at his trial.

Captain Singh says that he hired Barry Allen over CSIs with twice as much experience because Barry was more concerned about helping the victims of crimes find closure than prosecuting criminals.

Reference is made to Barry having taken a six month sabbatical to the Czech Republic. This was the excuse used to explain where Barry was in the gap between Season Three and Season Four.

Barry was late for work 72 times in the past two years.

Ralph takes pictures of The Thinker in his new body kissing The Mechanic. She later claims that Domnic Lanse acted as a sexual surrogate, with her husband's approval, after he was no longer able to see to her physical needs because of his disease.

Barry is somehow able to lend his speed to Iris so they can have a conversation while the rest of the room is frozen in time, relatively speaking.

Ralph can stretch is finger-tip into a key-shape to unlock doors.

According to Harry, Earth-15 is a dead Earth.

Barry Allen is found guilty of murder in the first degree.

Fallout is sent to Tracy Brand's lab to see if his DNA matches that of the bus metas.

The Flash is given a special award for heroism at the same time that Barry Allen is sentenced to life in prison.

Barry is locked in the same cell that belonged to his father, Henry Allen, in Iron Height's Penitentiary.


The Boomerang Factor

See Goofs for multiple examples of how stupid everyone was in this episode.


The Bottom Line


Simply the worst. Our heroes act like idiots. The villain isn't really a villain and his subplot only seems to be here to pad out the episode. The trial is completely unengaging because Barry doesn't even bother to mount a defense and if the hero can't be bothered to take the trial seriously, why should we? And Killer Frost and Vibe deserve that plaque more than The Flash, dammit!

Black Lightning Episode Guide: Season 1, Episode 1 - The Resurrection

For a summary of the episode guide layout & categories, click here




Plot

Once the vigilante known as Black Lightning, high-school principal Jefferson Pierce comes out of retirement when a new gang called The 100 threaten his community and his daughters.


Influences

The Black Lightning comics of Tony Isabella, Black Lighting Year One, the Outsiders comics of Judd Winick and the JSA comics of Geoff Johns.


Goofs

It seems unlikely that the police wouldn't notice Black Lightning posing dramatically next to the neon sign overlooking the crime scene.

This is not quite as unlikely, however, as Jefferson Pierce hanging around in the first place.


Performances

Cress Williams nails the part of Jefferson Pierce, portraying the character's sensitive nature but also his toughness.

James Remar doesn't have much screen time as Paul Gambi, but he steals what few scenes he has.

Likewise, Marvin "Krondon" Jones III doesn't have much time on screen as Tobias Whale, but he is quite intimidating from what little we see of him.


Artistry

The effects work for the various electrical effects is well-played.

The Black Lightning costume looks fantastic.


Trivia

Justice, like lightning 
Should ever appear 
To some men hope, 
And to other men fear!

This poem opens the episode, quoted by Jennifer Pierce. It was written by Tony Isabella for the first Black Lightning comic, paraphrased from a poem by Thomas Randolph. It was written by a young Jefferson Pierce in the comics.

The 100 were first introduced in Superman's Girl Friend Lois Lane #105 (October 1970) and created by Gerry Conway and Curt Swan. Originally founded in Aragon, Spain in 1462, a group of 71 men and women from around Europe dubbed themselves El Ciento in honor of themselves and their 29 fallen comrades. The group discovered a means of magically extending their lives that required them to draw upon the suffering of people who lived on land that they owned. This led to them scattering around the globe and building their own places of power. One of them settled in the Suicide Slum neighborhood of Metropolis and developed the local gangs into a syndicate under their control, which was also dubbed the 100. This Metropolis gang came to be run by a man named Tobias Whale.

The character of Inspector Henderson was first introduced into the 1940's Superman radio show, as a police man who was Superman's contact with the Metropolis Police Department. He was formally introduced into the comics in Action Comics #442 (December 1974)  and was created by Elliot S! Maggin and Curt Swan. Given the full name of William Henderson, the Inspector appeared in the original Black Lightning comics as a foil for Black Lightning, determined to bring the vigilante to justice when it appeared that Black Lightning had killed one of the criminals that he fought in his first major case. His opinion on the hero softened, however, when Black Lightning saved him from crime-boss Tobias Whale and Henderson determined that Black Lightning was innocent. Later comics depicted William Henderson as the Police Commissioner of Metropolis.

The TV series version of Inspector Henderson is described as a 23-year veteran of the Freeland Police Department. He is black whereas the Inspector Henderson in the comics was white. He appears to have a similarly adversarial relationship with Black Lightning as the series opens.

Jefferson Pierce aka Black Lightning first appeared in Black Lightning #1 (April 1977) and was created by Tony Isabella and Trevor Von Eeden. A former Gold-Medal winning decathlon star, Pierce went to college to become a teacher and returned home to the Metropolis neighborhood called Suicide Slum to teach at Garfield High - the inner-city high school he'd attended as a teenager. He ran afoul of a gang called The 100 after running a drug dealer out of his school with the aid of a star athlete pupil. Later that night, the 100 killed the pupil as a message to Pierce.  Pierce got the message, and elected to deliver one of his own. Donning a costume made by his foster father, a local tailor named Peter Gambi, Jefferson began fighting The 100 and everyone else who threatened his school as Black Lightning.

Historically, Black Lightning was an important character in several respects. He was the first black superhero to headline his own series at DC Comics. He was also, by design, the first black superhero born of a professional background. Isabella had a hand in developing other black heroes at Marvel Comics and noted, with dismay, that the only black characters chilren had to look up to in superhero books were either African royalty (ala Black Panther, Storm) or street-wise characters inspired by Blaxploitation movies (Misty Knight, Luke Cage, The Falcon) with nothing in between.

In the original comics, Jefferson Pierce was an ordinary human albeit one in peak physical condition due to his training as a Gold Medal-wining Olympic decathlon star rather than a meta-human. His powers originally came from a special belt, which generated an electric force-field that deflected bullets and allowed Jefferson to run a charge through metal objects by touching them. The belt was later determined to have activated Jefferson's metagene, which gave him full electrical generation and manipulation powers. Later retcons eliminated the belt and had Jefferson always having been a metahuman with electric powers.

We find out that Jefferson Pierce is the principal of Garfield High School in Freeland. In the original Black Lighting comics, Jefferson Pierce was a teacher at Garfield High School.

The TV series version of Jefferson Pierce is also a former Olympic Gold winner. We are not told what sport he won it for, however.

Anissa Pierce first appeared in Outsiders #1 (August 2003) and was created by Judd Winick and Tom Raney. The never-before-mentioned eldest daughter of Jefferson Pierce, she was a metahuman with the power to control the density of her body. This made her super-strong and invulnerable and also allowed her to create sonic waves by stomping the ground. This led to her superhero codename, Thunder. She made a deal with her father, who did not want her following in his footsteps, that she could become a superhero, if she wanted, after she graduated from college. She donned her first costume and went on her first patrol the night of her gradation.

The TV series version of Anissa Pierce is said to be a medical school student who teaches health studies three days a week at Garfield High. In the original comics, Anissa Pierce was a fully qualified medical doctor. At the end of the episode, she is depicted as having the super-strength of her comic-book counterpart, accidentally breaking a ceramic sink while having a panic attack thinking about the events of the past few days.

Jennifer Pierce first appeared in Justice Society of America #12 (March 2008) and was created by Geoff Johns and Dale Eaglesham, though her look was based on a character from the 1997 mini-series Kingdom Come by Mark Waid and Alex Ross, who was said to be a future daughter of Black Lightning. The youngest daughter of Jefferson Pierce, she inherited her father's powers to manipulate electricity. Wishing to avoid the mistakes that he made with Anissa, Jefferson placed Jennifer in the care of the Justice Society of America, trusting them to oversee his daughter's training in controlling her powers. She took the code-name Lightning, despite being fearful of her sister's reaction.

The TV series version of Jennifer Pierce is still in high-school. She is said to be an outstanding scholar-athlete, much like her father.

Until Outsiders #1, it had never been suggested in any story that Jefferson Pierce had children. The idea did not please Black Lightning creator Tony Isabella, who maintained that a man of Jefferson Pierce's moral character would have tried to work things out with his wife for the sake of the children rather than seek a divorce. Isabella also said that Jefferson Pierce would never have taken up the life of a vigilante in the first place if there was any chance he'd leave orphans behind.

This was one of many clashes Tony Isabella would have with writer Judd Winick, who also introduced Black Lightning's niece into a Green Arrow storyline despite Jefferson Pierce having been an only child! Winick also depicted Jefferson Pierce using his powers to commit an act of cold-blooded murder, striking down the corrupt executive responsible for killing his niece with a freak lightning bolt at the end of the same storyline, despite Jefferson Pierce being a man of such strict moral character that he retired from crime-fighting when he thought he could no longer use his powers safely. The story was later retconned so that while Jefferson did strike the man, the bolt he used was non-lethal but his death was facilitated by Deathstroke, who just happened to be there and just happened to decide to mess with Black Lightning and make him think that he'd killed. For some reason.

Jennifer Pierce says that Thunder and Lightning were a witness to her father's rebirth as Black Lightning. In the comics, Anissa and Jennifer Pierce used the codenames Thunder and Lightning when they became superheroes.

Lady Eve first appeared in Batman And The Outsiders #24 (August 1985) and was created by Mike W. Barr and Alan Davis. A member of the Kobra cult, she served as the sinister cult-leader's lover and right-hand.

The TV series version of Lady Eve is introduced as Ms. Lady Eve and owner of the Black Bird Funeral Parlor.

In the original Tony Isabella Black Lightning comics, Lynn Stewart was Jefferson Pierce's ex-wife. This is also the case in the TV series, but the reason for their divorce is quite different.  In the comics, the two divorced long before Jefferson Pierce became Black Lightning. In the TV series, Lynn Stewart left Jefferson because of his life as Black Lightning.

Curiously, in the comics, Lynn Stewart figured out that Jefferson Pierce was Black Lightning but she approved of what he was doing rather than condemning it, as she does on the TV series.

Peter Gambi first appeared in Black Lightning #1 (April 1977) and was created by Tony Isabella and Trevor Von Eeden. A tailor who ran the store under the apartment in which Jefferson Pierce and his mother lived following the death of Jefferson's father, Gambi became a second father to a young Jefferson. When Jefferson sought help in finding a way to strike back at The 100 after the death of one of his students, it was Gambi who designed the Black Lightning costume for Jefferson and acquired his special power belt that was designed by associates of his brother.

Peter Gambi's brother, it should be noted, was Paul Gambi. In the comics, Paul Gambi was a tailor in Central City who designed costumes for super-villains as a side-business. The Rogues Gallery were his most frequent customers and treated Gambi like a member of their extended family, never telling the police who it was that provided them with the specialty clothing they often required.

In the comics, it was revealed that Peter Gambi was the trigger-man who accidentally killed Jefferson Pierce's father, Alvin, who ran a small grocery store. The incident scared him straight, and he opened his tailor shop and made Jefferson's mother a partner in his business as a means of atoning for his past crimes. He finally sacrificed himself to save Jefferson's life from an attack by the villain Syonide.

The TV series version of Peter Gambi is also a tailor and says that he thinks of Jefferson Pierce as a son, having known him since he was 12.

The TV series version of Alvin Pierce, Jefferson's father, is revealed to have been an investigative journalist. This was the background given to Alvin Pierce in the Black Lighting: Year One mini-series. Jefferson says that his father was killed by the gangster Tobias Whale, literally having an article about Whale's crimes shoved down his throat until he died.

Tobias Whale first appeared in Black Lightning #1 (April 1977) and was created by Tony Isabella and Trevor Von Eeden. An albino African-American of considerable girth, Tobias Whale was often called "The Great White Whale" behind his back. As leader of the Metropolis branch of The 100, Whale was the closest thing Jefferson Pierce had to an arch-enemy and the two would fight many times over the years. He had no super-powers beyond heavily developed muscles.

The TV series version of Tobias Whale is a crime boss who leads The 100 and he is an albino. He has a miniature harpoon with which he shoots people he wishes to torture but not kill. He is not morbidly obese nor does he seem to have super-strength.

The costume we see Black Lighting wearing in the security camera footage on the news report where the shop owner talks about how Black Lighting saved his life appears to be based on the character's costume design in the animated Young Justice cartoon.

The new Black Lighting costume appears to be bullet-proof.

Though not identified by name in this episode, the two minions of Tobias Whale who pick up Lala are Synoide and Joey Toledo.

In Black Lighting #1, Joey Toledo was the operative with The 100 who was responsible for killing one of Jefferson Pierce's students, inspiring him to become Black Lightning.

The name Syonide was used by three confirmed different villains. It is possible there was a fourth Syonide as well, but we'll get to that.

The first Synoide appeared in Black Lightning #3 (July 1977) and was created by Tony Isabella and Trevor Von Eeden. A master hunter and brewer of poisons, he was hired by Tobias Whale to capture Black Lightning. He succeeded but balked upon learning that he was expected to kill the hero as well. Fearful of opposing the will of The 100, he attempted to do the job using a gun that poisoned him as he fired that shot that would kill Black Lightining - a shot that was taken by Peter Gambi instead in Black Lightning #7 (November 1977).

The second Syonide was created by Mike W. Barr and Jim Aparo and first appeared in Batman And The Outsiders #19 (March 1985) This Syonide was a woman and every bit the vicious killer the first one wasn't. Given the equipment of the original Syonide, which included a special gun that shot poisoned bullets or stun rounds and an electrified whip, she worked for Tobias Whale as a bodyguard and assassin. Her real name was never given.

The third Syonide was woman named Nikki, who first appeared in Outsiders #16 (March 1995) and was created by Mike W. Barr and Paul Pelletier. She was part of the all-female Strike Force Kobra, run by Lady Eve. She was depicted as the lover of Fauna Faust - the sorceress daughter of JLA baddie Felix Faust. This Syonide died in the same issue where she made her first appearance, seemingly strangled with her own whip by The Eradicator.

Curiously, a woman called Syonide was seen in Action Comics #817 (September 2004) among the many villains trying to take down a weakened Supeman. This Syonide wore the leotard-style costume of the second Syonide but had the shorter hair of the third Syonide. It is possible, but was never confirmed, that this was a fourth Syonide.

Strangely enough, a version of Syonide who seemed to be the third one appeared in Firestorm #17 (November 2005) as part of a team including Black Adam, Queen Bee, The Royal Flush Gang and The Parasite. She is addressed as Nikki at one point, but no explanation is given for her apparent survival. It seems likely that her girlfriend may have resurrected her somehow, but this was never officially explained and she never appeared again after this story.

It is too soon to say which version of Syonide the TV series version is most closely modeled on.


Technobabble

We see that Black Lightning has the power to drain electricity from nearby electrical objects, killing a police car's battery and disrupting the power at Club 100, knocking out most of the dance-floor lights and the sound system while causing the safety lights to flicker.

We also see Black Lightning shoot lighting bolts and add an electric charge to his punches.

Black Lightning is immune to the effects of tasers. He can absorb the electrical charge from one and redirect it back to the person holding the taser.

Black Lightning is capable of discharging enough static electricity to make a car explode.

Black Lighting is capable of lifting a human body electromagnetically. We see him do this as he is questioning Will on the whereabouts of Lala.


Dialogue Triumphs

Jennifer: This was the night, in the rain, with Thunder and Lightning as a witness, that Black Lightning was born again.

Kiesha: Ain't nobody got time to be waiting on the Queen of Garfield High.
Jennifer: Kiesha, stop calling me that.
Kiesha: What?! Girl, embrace it! It's true!
Jennifer: Yeah, but when people say it they're just low-key hating on me for something I can't control. Like, my dad's the principal. I get it!

Henderson: You should start a church, Jefferson. At least you would make more money.

Lynn: Heard your daughter got arrested tonight. It's not a good look, Jeff.
Jefferson: My daughter? Oh, you're funny. Yeah, we have joint-custody, which means half of her attitude is your responsibility.
Lynn: Jeff, Anissa has not been in "our custody" for quite some time now. Now, I know it's hard for you to swallow but she's not a child anymore. She's a grown woman.
Jefferson: Yeah, legally true. But emotionally and financially, she is still in my care. And always in my wallet.

Peter: Do you remember why you became Black Lighting? You wanted to give the people hope. You wanted the evil that's out there to have something to fear. Right now there's nothing to fear and evil's running rampant like a plague through this city... hell, through this world!
Jefferson: Okay. You know what? Let's cut through the poetry and just talk real. Now, the purpose of Black Lightning was to kill Tobias for literally shoving my father's article down his throat until he died. Then it was because of crime bosses! Crooked politicians! Every small-time street-thug that had snatched a purse or robbed a store! You see, there's no end, Gambi! There's no bottom for Black Lightning... and the only loser in all of it is me!

Store Owner: When you're staring down the barrel of a gun, you don't care if the person saving you is a Christian, Muslim, Jew, black or white or some guy in a weird Parliament Funkdaelic get-up. You just want to be saved!

(Black Lighting approaches the motel room as Will emerges, holding Anissa and Jennifer at gun point. There is a momentary pause as they regard each other.)
Will: Nice suit.
(Will shoots Black Lightning. The bullet catches in the material of his costume. He picks it up and regards it before looking at Will.)
Black Lightning: Now you should at least give a brother a moment to say something heroically clever. Now you've just pissed me off.


Continuity

Inspector Henderson is described as a 23-year veteran of the Freeland Police Department, who came up through the ranks fighting Black Lightning.

As the series opens, Black Lightning has not been seen for nine years.

Anissa Pierce is arrested for civil disobedience after attending a protest of The 100 gang that turned violent. She is politically active and criticizes her father for not being more involved in the community outside of his job.

Jennifer Pierce is a star track athlete and scholar, though she longs to get out from under her controlling father's thumb.

Jefferson Pierce is pulled over on suspicion of being the suspect of a liquor store robbery, despite wearing a suit and tie. This is, he notes, the third time in the past month he'd been pulled over.

Jefferson Pierce has a friendly relationship with Inspector Henderson in his secret identity. Henderson promises to look into the cops who pulled him over and used his influence to get Anissa released early.

Club 100 is a Freeland club frequented by gang members. It is run by a man called Lala, who is part of The 100.

The 100 run a brothel through a motel called The Seahorse Motel.

Jefferson Pierce has been principal of Garfield High for seven years. They have not had one incident of violence in all that time and have a 90% graduation rate.

Jefferson Pierce had approached various gang leaders in Freeland about keeping the peace around the school. That apparently comes to an end when he approaches Lala about keeping his man Will (who is his cousin) away from his daughters after Will shows up at the school trying to hook-up with Jennifer.

Lala has been running his territory for The 100 for five years.

At the end of the episode, Annisa Pierce breaks a sink with her bare hands.


The Fridge Factor

Jennifer's sneaking out to go to a club that is a popular gang hang-out spurs her father into action to save her. This, coupled with Annisa and Jennifer being taken hostage by The 100, leads to his becoming Black Lighting again.


The Winick Factor

Jefferson uses a criminal as a human shield to block the gunfire of another 100 member. While this isn't quite the same as shooting them himself, it's still something hard to imagine the classic Black Lightning doing.

The idea of Jefferson Pierce trying to balance being a vigilante when he has kids at home flies in the face of everything Tony Isabella's take on the character preached about personal responsibility.


The Bottom Line

Shockingly good, pun very much intended. Overall, this is a solid pilot episode that does a fantastic job of drawing upon the various conflicting mythologies of the character to build something solid for modern audiences. Though the purist in me rankles on a few points here and there, as a comic fan I found it most entertaining and plan to keep watching it.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Supergirl Episode Guide: Season 3, Episode 10 - Legion of Super-Heroes

For a summary of the episode guide layout & categories, click here




Plot

With Kara knocked into a coma following her battle with Reign, Mon-El summons his ally, Braniac-5, to restore Kara's mind while he, Saturn Girl and the DEO confront Reign.


Influences

The Legion of Super-Heroes comics of Otto Binder and Al Plastino. The Empire Strikes Back (the healing tanks used by The Legion resemble the bacta tanks used by the Rebellion medics to heal Luke Skywalker)


Goofs

The cliff-hanger at the end of the last episode, in which it was implied that Samantha was about to turn on Ruby, turns out to have an artificial fake-out.

Why didn't J'onn use any of the weapons from The Sundown Protocol back during the battles with the rogue Kryptonians in Season One or the Daxamites in Season 2? Even without Kryptonite (which they let Superman dispose of in Season 2 and which wouldn't work on Daxamites anyway), sound bombs and red sun light grenades would have been incredibly helpful in both fights.

Based on the timeline of the episode (it's clearly dark when J'onn goes to Kara's apartment), either National City has banks that are open 24 hours a day, complete with open lobbies and teller service, or The DEO counted on Reign not noticing that a fully-staffed bank was being robbed at night when setting their trap.

Wouldn't it be possible for The Legionaries to make copies of their DNA information and lock it in a time capsule in case something should happen to one of them, just in case?

Winn points out, when Alex suggests injecting Reign with Kryptonite right in the jugular vein, that they don't have anyone strong enough to drive in the needle. A more worrying point is that they don't have any material capable of piercing a Kryptonian's skin, regardless of the force behind it.

Winn also seems to forget that Mon-El had super-strength on par with Supergirl, despite Mon-El being there in the room.

How the heck did Thomas Coville escape from prison?

For that matter, how did he make the journey to The Fortress of Sanctuary?


Performances

There is something oddly amusing about the way in which David Harewood says "Oh no, not again." upon finding out he has to play Kara in order to protect her secret identity.

That is not quite as amusing, however, as Melissa Benoist playing J'onn pretending to be Kara.

The non-verbal acting as Melissa Benoist plays Kara discovering her glasses and the key out of her apartment is a magical thing to behold.


Artistry

Good special effects work on having the walls around Kara's front door "bounce" as she tries to escape her mind prison.


Super Trivia

The episode's title comes from the classic comic series and team The Legion of Super-Heroes.

In the original comics, the teenagers who built The Legion of Super-Heroes were inspired by Superman's tenure as Superboy. They first appeared in Adventure Comics #247 (April 1958), when Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl traveled back in time to test Superboy's worthiness to join The Legion. Their tests, which Superboy failed, turned out to be a hazing ritual of sorts and The Legion had already voted to allow Superboy membership on their team.

In the comics, Supergirl was later given membership in The Legion of Super-Heroes as well and spent some time living in the 31st Century while serving as part of the team.

Brainiac-5 first appeared in Action Comics #276 (May 1961) and was created by Jerry Siegel and Jim Mooney. Born Querl Dox on the planet Colu in the 31st Century, he was a hero who joined The Legion of Super-Heroes and sought to atone for the sins of his ancestor - the villain known as Brainiac who fought Superman in the 21st century. A brilliant inventor, Brainiac-5 created The Legion of Super-Heroes flight rings, a force-field belt and the anti-lead serum that allowed Mon-El to survive outside The Phantom Zone.

We later see Mon-El, Saturn Girl and Brainiac-5 don Legion Flight Rings as they go to confront Reign.

Brainiac-5 is a 12th Level Intelligence. By way of a comparison, 21st Century Earth is considered to have an average Intelligence of the 6th Level and the average Coluan of his time has an intelligence of the 8th Level.

The DCTVU version of Brainiac-5 seems to be statistically precisely like his comic-book counterpart. His name is Querl Dox and he claims to be half-organic and half-computer  but all Coluan. He goes by "Brainy" for short. He is also a 12th Level Intelligence

Brainiac-5 and Supergirl were romantic linked in some incarnations of The Legion of Super-Heroes. In the DC Animated Universe, Supergirl elected to stay in the 31st Century after an adventure sent her, Green Lantern and Green Arrow into the future. This was partly due to the historical record showing that only two Justice League members returned to their own time after coming forward to help The Legion and partly due to her newfound love with Brainiac-5.

Brainiac-5 makes reference to a third-degree extinction event in 2455 that brought about the collapse of all human civilization and the loss of most historical records, culture, art and music. This could be a nod to The Great Disaster - the unspecified future event from the Kamandi - The Last Boy On Earth comics created by Jack Kirby - that destroyed all civilization. The setting of Kamandi was an unspecified future where humanity had descended to savagery and evolved animals ruled the Earth.

Mon-El speaks of a planet called Winath from the 31st Century, saying it is a farming planet that went dark. In the original Legion comics, Winath was an agrarian world described as the bread-basket of the United Planets.

Mon-El pronounces Winath as "Win-ath". The question of Winath's pronunciation has long been a matter of debate among Legion fans. As a nod to the three most popular theories, writer Geoff Johns revealed in Final Cirsis: Legion of Three Worlds that all three versions of the Legion in DC Comics Continuity had a different way of pronouncing Winath. In the Reboot universe, it is pronounced "Win-Athe", in the Threeboot universe it is pronounced "Win-Ath", and in the post-Infinite Crisis universe it's pronounced "Wine-Ath".

Mon-El speaks of a friend named Ayla who is from Winath. This is a reference to the Legion member Ayla Ranzz - a.k.a. Lightning Lass/Light Lass/Spark. Her twin brother is Garth Ranzz a.ka. Lighting Lad.

For some reason, most of the children born on Winath are fraternal twins - one boy and one girl.

Saturn Girl speaks of Winath being decimated by beings called The Blight who consume everything in their path. This is a nod to The Blight - a techno-organic race whose bodies were composed of rotting flesh and technology. Basically cyborg-zombies, The Legion of Super-Heroes fought them in the 1999-2000 storyline Legion of the Damned.

The Sherlock Holmes line to which Kara refers comes from A Study In Scarlet - the first Sherlock Holmes story by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - "I consider that a man's brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose."

Kara makes reference to having a pet cat as a teenager named Streaky. In the original Supergirl comics in Action Comics, Kara Danvers also had a pet cat named Streaky, named for the white lighting-bolt shaped streak in his orange fur. Streaky first appeared in Action Comics #261 (February 1960) and acquired superpowers after being exposed to a piece of X-Kryptonite, which gave superpowers to animals. Streaky had super-strength, super-speed, super-vision flight and human-level or better intelligence.

Since that time, various versions of Supergirl have owned a pet cat named Streaky, but only the original version of Streaky had super-powers in the original DC Comics universe. However, super-powered versions of Streaky have shown up in other comics and cartoons, most notably the Krypto The Super-Dog show, Tiny Titans and the DC Super-Pets books.

The DCTVU version of Streaky has black fur, instead of orange fur.

At one point Brainiac mentions an Aloian attack formation. The Aloai are an alien race who appeared in Action Comics #517 (March 1981). They have blue skin and rigged foreheads and appeared in a Superman story where they were at war with another race of aliens, The Margoi, fighting over a device which they called "The Grayl".

Braniac-5 uses the word "sprock" as a curse at one point. In the original Legion comics, "sprock" is also used as a curse word in the 31st century.

Saturn Girl is depicted as having telekinetic abilities, throwing heavy weights at Reign as a distraction as Mon-El attempts to move in close with a Kryptonite knife. She also creates a telekinetic force-field that protects Mon-El from Reign's ice-breath. While primarily depicted as a telepath in the comics, some versions of Saturn Girl in the comics and cartoons have been shown to have telekinetic abilities as well.


Technobabble

Brainiac-5 notes that he is a 12th Level Intelligence.

31st century technology allows doctors to communicate telepathically with coma patients. In this case, Brainac-5's crown connects to his internal AI core, translating Kara's brainwaves into English while sending his thoughts to her as electronic signals her brain can understand.

Brainiac-5 makes reference to a third-level extinction event.

The DEO has access to sound bombs and red-sun grenades capable of hurting a Kryptonian.

Brainiac-5 claims to have envisioned 4,237,642 versions of his first meeting with Supergirl. None of them involved her describing it as torture.

Brain damage in a psychic simulacra can manifest as various forms of decay - mildew or mold. Rats typically indicate neurological issues.


Dialogue Triumphs

Reign: This man was a thief, condemned by his own actions. You've allowed sin to take root and fester like a weed. And worst of all, you have looked away. Apathy is the greatest sin of all. From now on it will be punished in kind. There will be no mercy. There will only be justice. (pauses) I am here to help.

(J'onn is in the middle of adjusting some kind of sonic gun as Winn walks up.)
Winn: Hey! Boss! So, uh... uh... James just called.
(There is a long pause as J'onn continues working.)
J'onn: I fail to see the relevance.
Winn: Well, it seems that he might have put Kara into a little bit of hot water with Lena Luthor. And since we have an hour...
(There is the briefest of pauses as J'onn realizes precisely why this is relevant.)
J'onn: Oh no. Not again.
(Winn smiles and gives J'onn a double thumbs-up as J'onn sighs in annoyance and leaves.) 

J'onn: (as Kara) You have no idea how much I am not feeling like myself.

J'onn: No Supergirl. No cavalry. Reign is strong, but she doesn't know what we're capable of. Let's show her.
Alex: You ready?
(Alex tosses J'onn a sonic gun, which he catches easily.)
J'onn:
I just had a conversation about James Olsen's extraordinary kissing ability. This will be a Sunday picnic.

(Kara is cleaning her trashed psychic apartment. Brainiac-5 is pacing around her, impatiently.)
Brainy:
Why are you cleaning? None of this real.
Kara: I don't know. I guess I just like putting things back in order. And... my brain, originally, is like an empty little attic and you must stock it with such furniture as you choose. That's Sherlock Holmes.
(Brain just nods as Kara picks up a book and flips through it. Suddenly she stops and looks at the room, thoughtfully.)
Kara: This is the furniture I chose.
Brainy: Hmm. An oversimplification
(Kara just gives him a side-eyed look. Brainy seems to realize he was being rude and tries to look apologetic.)
Brainy: But ah, yes. Go on.
Kara: So there must be something in here that my subconscious wants me to see!
Brainy: Mmm... that's.... that's actually not a bad idea. Why didn't I think of that?

Alex: (to a comatose Kara) I'm so sorry. I did this. I mean, I'm the one that pushed you into that fight. I told you that Kara Danvers was my favorite person. And then I told you to forget who you were. And now I'm... I don't know if we can do this without you.

(Kara sorts through some of the debris and finds a picture of her teenage self, holding a cat.)
Kara: Huh.
(Brainiac-5 walks over and looks at the picture.)
Brainy: You had a pet?
Kara: Yeah. But if this is my subconscious trying to tell myself something, I don't get it.
Brainy: Could be a random neuron firing. What's it's name?
Kara: Streaky. I, uh- I found him on our street. Right after I came to Earth, actually. He was a stray too.
Brainy: You felt an emotional kinship.
Kara: Yeah. (chuckles) Yeah. We were friends.
(Kara looks up and suddenly tops laughing. Brainiac-5 follows her gaze and sees Streaky, as he was in the picture, lying on a chair, watching them. Kara slowly approaches Streaky as she continues talking to Brainy.)
Kara: I used to go out every night and feed him. (Kara kneels down and begins to pet Streaky) I didn't want to touch him. I was so strong I could have hurt him. So I practiced being gentle. And then one day I pet him. (Kara picks Streaky up and sits down, stroking his back.) And he purred. And everything was okay. I felt like an alien on Earth for so long and... and he made me feel like a human.
(Brainiac-5 watches this, comprehension dawning on his face.)

(We see Braniac, in a rotating chair on the bridge of The Legion ship.)
Brainy: Engaging cannons!
(Cut to Brainy, still inside Kara's psychic apartment. He is seen sitting down, typing furiously at buttons in the air, with his eyes closed.)
Brainy: Aoian attack formation!
(Kara is still in her chair, stroking Streaky. She looks at Brainy as like he is crazy.)
Kara: Are you fighting?!
Brainy: Oh! Sprock! Did I say that out loud?!


Dialogue Disasters

The Legion's spaceship blaring "Living On A Prayer" by Bon Jovi as Reign is contemplating killing or sparing Thomas Coville as he prays to Rao.


Continuity

The events of this episode start two days after the events of 309.

Kara's psyche resembles her loft apartment.

Curiously, for all the emphasis she claims to place on being Kryptonian over human, Kara's inner-self dresses in Earth clothing like Kara Danvers but without glasses. This turns out to be a bit of foreshadowing, as Kara must clean her glasses and put them on before she finds the key that unlocks the door out of her apartment, allowing her to wake up.

Brainiac-5 notes that Kara is in remarkable mental health for someone in a coma.

Mon-El says that The Legion can't get directly involved in the battle with Reign because their deaths could doom the 31st Century.

Mon-El also speaks of The Legion having a mission of which he cannot speak of the particulars and that getting involved with the fight against Reign might jeopardize their mission.

Mon-El does say that Supergirl will survive the war with Reign and that Reign will eventually "leave" but he does not know the particulars beyond that. While the historical record shows what events may have happened, there is no way of knowing precisely how they came to happen.

Braniac-5 speaks of a third-level extinction event in 2455 that caused catastrophic destruction. While humanity came together as a result, most historical records, music, art and culture were destroyed in the cataclysm.

Apparently most of what the people of the 31st century know of the 21st century and what came before came from Mon-El's knowledge. It was he who told them about Aristotle, Shakespeare and Bon Jovi.

The Sundown Protocol is a highly-classified contingency plan the DEO crafted if it ever had to take-down Superman or another rogue Kryptonian. It allowed for the use of red-sun grenades, Kryptonite darts and sound bombs.

Winn refers to Superman destroying all of the DEO's Kryptonite in 202.

J'onn makes reference to the Kryptonite from "Coville's probe" from 304 and confirms the DEO still has it.

Mon-El eventually reveals the circumstances of how he and his team came back to the past and why it is important they remain safe to preserve the future to Alex. In the 31st Century, there is a race of cyborg-zombies called The Blight, who destroyed the farming world of Winath. Braniac-5 found a way to defeat The Blight, but before they could use it, they were forced to time-travel to escape from The Blight. The secret of defeating The Blight is encoded into the DNA of all of the time-lost Legionaries, meaning they must all survive and make it to the future in order to stop The Blight in the 31st Century.

J'onn refers to the events of 113 and how he once had to impersonate Kara to protect her secret identity.

Reign appears to be resistant to the effects of Kryptonite, for some reason.

Alex's lower leg is broken during the fight with Reign.

Kara is enough of a fan of the original Sherlock Holmes' stories to know a specific quote from A Study In Scarlet.

Kara had a pet cat named Streaky when she was a teenager, who taught her how to control her strength shortly after coming to Earth.

Reign attacks Albatross Bay - the Alcatraz-style high-security prison in National City.

Brainiac-5 made himself look taller when he was inside Kara's mind.

Brainiac-5 signed Alex's cast in binary.

Reign is informed that there are others like her on Earth - a fact that the AI in her Fortress of Sanctuary kept her ignorant of until she had proven herself worthy.

Thomas Coville joins with Reign and tells her that he can help her find the others like her.


Location

The Fortress of Sanctuary.


Untelevised Adventures

The Legion speak of their battle with The Blight in the 31st century and how it devastated the world of Winath.


The Bottom Line


Proof that there are few things worse than a Supergirl episode that is light on Supergirl. It's telling that the best moments of the episode are the ones that involved Melissa Benoist either playing against type as J'onn as Kara, her interactions with Brainiac-5 or her monologue on learning to be human.

That being said, this episode isn't all that bad and Brainiac 5 proves a welcome addition to the cast.  It's just irritating that the audience likely figured out the lesson Kara was meant to learn several episodes ago and it's blindingly obvious that Kara will defeat Reign by encouraging Samantha to remember her humanity and her daughter at some point before the end of the season. Taken for what it is, this episode is amusing enough if you ignore that none of the Legion members besides Brainiac-5 really do anything.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Black Lightning Episode Guide - Format Key



As with my other episode guides, I'll be using a form based on what I think is the finest episode guide ever written - Doctor Who: The Discontinuity Guide by Paul Cornell, Martin Day & Keith Topping.  Here is the quick rundown.

Plot: A quick summary of the main story.

Influences: Specific media which may have inspired or otherwise influenced a particular episode.

Goofs: Holes in the plot, visible wires during the stunts and other things that don't work the way they should.

Performances: The actors and their craft - how well the characters are played, ignoring how that character may have been differently portrayed in another story.

Artistry: Anything on the technical side of things that is notably well-handled, such as set-design, lighting, sound effects, cinematography, etc.

Trivia: Random things of interest and references to the comics.

Technobabble: Pseudoscience terminology used to justify the unlikely.and/or impossible things that sometimes happen in superhero shows.  I'm not expecting to get much use out of this one but am including it just in case some of the dodgier trick arrows are brought into play.

Dialogue Triumphs: Anything the characters say that make you want to put on a cape and fight for justice!

Dialogue Disasters: Anything the characters say that make you roll your eyes or snort in disbelief.

Continuity: Direct references to previous episodes.

Location: If the story is set someplace other than the usual setting.

Untelevised Adventures: Stories that take place off camera, but are referred to.

The Fridge Factor: How badly any female character on the show is manipulated by the story in order to create angst for the male cast.

The Winick Factor: How badly the heroes are manipulated to look incompetent and badly trained compared to whatever villain they're facing off against or how horribly out of character they act relative to their behavior in the comics.

The Bottom Line: Is it good or bad?  Why is it good or bad?  How can they make it better/not make it worse?


Got any suggestions on a category to add?  Let me know in the replies.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Doctor Who: The Twelfth Doctor: Year Three #11 - A Review

Stumbling across a powerless cargo ship in the middle of deep space is par for the course when The Doctor takes The TARDIS out to run a simple errand. It turned out to be far worse than a dead battery, however, as Bill quickly discovered the ship's cargo included 500 Heavenly Hosts and the ship's crew were mysteriously disappearing. Has this batch of Hosts gone bad?  Or is there something even more sinister on the ship?


Francesco Manna's artwork continues to be the worst aspect of this series. As in last month's issue, the level of detail varies wildly from panel to panel as does the quality of inking. Some pages such as the one above, are well-done. Others, like the one below, feature backgrounds that are ornately displayed with characters that seem to have escaped from a quick sketch! Another problem is there's often very little relation between a character's expression and the mood indicated by the dialogue.


I'd like to say that Richard Dinnick has redeemed himself this month after a rather static and cliched opening. Unfortunately, this issue sees The Doctor spending most of the issue pushing buttons while Bill gets into trouble. Cliched? A bit. And I'm afraid I jinxed myself with a comment in last month's review that has me actively dreading the next issue.

The Final Score: 5 out of 10. Competently done, mostly, but only the most devout of Whovians can stomach this one.