Crisis on Infinite Earths (parts four and five)

I had originally planned to watch the final two parts of “Crisis on Infinite Earths” – presented as Arrow 8.8 and Legends of Tomorrow 5.0 – over two nights, but part four was so lousy and uninspired that I decided to stampede to the end, and I’m really glad that I did, because part five was downright fun.

So the big changes to the Arrowverse are that the Superpeoples’ Earth was merged with the Arrow/Flash/Batwoman/Legends Earth and Black Lightning’s Earth, and now Supergirl’s National City is on the other side of the river from Flash’s Central City. Atop that, Diggle’s daughter is alive again, Superman and Lois have two kids, Lex Luthor has been a good guy who’s just won the Nobel Prize, and Lynda Carter’s no longer the president. A bunch of other DC shows now have their own Earths, and at the end of the story, seven of the heroes (Barry, Kara, Sara, Kate, Clark, J’onn, and Jefferson) get together to hang out in the Hall of Justice (the building was introduced in the 2016 crossover), where there’s a monkey named Gleek running around and the old Super Friends theme plays. Best ending possible, I’d say.

Otherwise, part four was a last roundup for Stephen Amell to have yet another death scene and to marvel at how months apparently passed at the Vanishing Point but Kate kept her hair perfect. Part five was what I understand is the usual Legends of Tomorrow mayhem, with enough violence and superhero action to keep our son completely riveted and enough romance novels and fifty-foot teddy bears to keep the grownups baffled. Lots of the usual Arrowverse talk about how tough it is being a hero as well, but balanced with the show’s playful and silly spirit.

So I reckon they’ve left the big impacts on the Batwoman storyline for us to learn about in a few days, so stay tuned for that. Hopefully the next time we see the Hall of Justice, Barry will have cleaned the place up. And if any of you readers happen to see any fan art with our new seven Super Friends drawn in the classic style of the Alex Toth originals, won’t you please drop me a line? I’d love to see this cover below done with the TV gang. (Bonus points if they have somebody redraw Tyler Hoechlin’s face in a Curt Swan style.)

But fun aside, did it work? Well, I honestly don’t know that they did everything that they could or should have done. The spit-n-cough cameos from Ashley Scott, Burt Ward, and Robert Wuhl were cute, but the actors could have been given more substantial roles to play somewhere in the narrative, couldn’t they? There’s a brief bit in part four where “our” Flash meets the Flash played by Ezra Miller in the current movies, which was nice. I suppose Zachary Levi or Gal Gadot or Margot Robbie are outside the TV shows’ budget, so it was nice to see somebody from the big screen show up on TV, where I think DC’s superhero stories are told better.

But speaking of Levi and Gadot, this really was a fine opportunity to introduce DC’s other big hero names into the Arrowverse, and I think I’m disappointed that they didn’t give us the chance to meet Shazam, Wonder Woman, and Green Lantern. Some footage which may have been from the Ryan Reynolds GL film is in the “new worlds” montage at least, but there should be a Green Lantern on the new combined Earth, not on his own world, because that’s precisely the problem that this story solved. And TV is long overdue a Wonder Woman. I hope some of the big names start appearing as guests on the Arrowverse shows in the future.

Anyway, wonder what they’re going to do for the November 2020 crossover? Hopefully something a shade smaller…?

Super Friends cover credit: Pencil Ink Blog

The Flash 6.9 – Crisis on Infinite Earths (part three)

First things first: our son was furious about the month-long wait before the next episode. A whole month! I’d make a crack about the age of instant gratification, but then again, when Disney+ launched, at least three people I follow on Twitter whined about having to wait a week between episodes of The Mandalorian.

Anyway, much like episode two, this part was agonizing talk-talk-talk while all two hundred actors with speaking parts got their names onscreen, and then it got entertaining. We got a far shorter cameo from one member of the cast of Birds of Prey than I expected, and an incredibly surprising appearance by Tom Ellis from the Fox/Netflix series Lucifer. He and John Constantine share some dialogue that’s certain to please anybody familiar with Neil Gaiman’s Sandman comic.

John Wesley Shipp also shows up as the Flash from his 1990-91 series, and not only gets that great theme song, but an actual clip from his series. Cress Williams gets to cross over from Black Lightning, because it was about time he met the rest of these characters. The most dramatic moment in the story comes when Supergirl is about to do something very dangerous and stupid with the Book of Destiny and Batwoman stares her down.

So it cruises to a cliffhanger that was pretty much in line with what I was expecting, but there’s a downright brilliant twist right before we were set to go to the credits. Jon Cryer may have just overtaken John Shea as my favorite Lex Luthor, put it that way.

So since we’re pausing this story for a month, I guess my only real complaint is that they missed a serious trick in identifying the seven essential “paragon” characters. Five of them are from the regular casts of these shows. We see these characters every week. Instead of just giving playful winks with cameo appearances from Burt Ward and Ashley Scott and Tom Welling, it would have been smashing to have them play substantial parts as the paragons (maybe adding Teri Hatcher and Lynda Carter?) and let the regular cast members be tasked with protecting them. It just seems like a missed opportunity, but it’s pretty fun anyway.

Batwoman 1.9 – Crisis on Infinite Earths (part two)

The second episode of this crossover was much, much better than the first… eventually. It starts with an endless all-talk opening about the new goal to track down seven “paragons” who will save the day in the end, but things get a lot better. I particularly enjoyed how the stakes kept getting higher with each cut to what the heroes on their missions were doing. The structure was very similar to the time-heist second hour of Avengers: Endgame.

Anyway, this time we got to catch up with Tom Welling, from Smallville, as he stares down Jon Cryer’s Lex Luthor. Brandon Routh gets to play Superman again, but this time his Superman has gone down the same path as the Superman in the popular comic series Kingdom Come. There was a fine fight between the Routh and Hoechlin Supermen, and a subplot involving John Constantine (played by Matt Ryan) leading some of the other heroes to a life-restoring Lazarus Pit.

But the meat of the story came with Kate and Supergirl tracking down the Bruce Wayne of one of the Infinite Earths, finding him visually similar to the Batman from Kingdom Come who wore a steel rod exoskeleton to make up for all the bones in his body being broken in combat. But this isn’t Kingdom‘s honorable Clark, it’s one of those gone-crazy Batmen from comics that invariably have to kill Superman with kryptonite. This Bruce is played by Kevin Conroy, who’s been the voice of Batman in hundreds of cartoons, and his appearance left me hoping that when Batwoman finally introduces us to the sane Bruce of Kate Kane’s world, they invite Conroy to play the part.

It’s mostly splendid and unpredictable and done with a lot of love for the characters, but whoever is in charge of the music is set on stealing the show. This time, we get the themes from the nineties Batman cartoon and John Williams’ legendary music from the Christopher Reeve Superman movies dropped in at key intervals. How could you not smile?