10 Things This Comics Noob Learned About The Flash From Watching the CW Pilot

The CW

As a member of the Television Critics Association, I am starting to get all the pilots of the new fall shows; we’ll all be doing interviews in July so now is the time to start binge watching. I’m still waiting for the Gotham pilot to show up but I was very excited to see The CW’s The Flash pilot this early, as it won’t be on until the fall, although I suspect everyone will get to see it at Comic-Con. As a television fan I’m excited to tell you all about the Flash show, but I have to admit I’ve fallen way behind on my DC Comics reading. The Flash was so good, however, that it made me want to renew my subscription.


I suppose now is also the time to say this is not a review of The Flash. Reviews are not allowed at this early stage, but for informational purposes, there’s no reason I can’t share the things I learned from watching The Flash. This’ll tell you how close The CW is adhering to the comic books – pretty close, as far as I can tell – and where they are going the Smallville route of reinventing their own canon.

10. Barry Allen Is a CSI.

We knew this from the episode of Arrow featuring Grant Gustin’s first appearance as Barry Allen. He is a Crime Scene Investigator, and that is true to the comic books. Actually, when I looked it up to double check, I learned that Allen was a police scientist in the very earliest issues. Now there’s a whole industry, and franchise of television shows, that call such a job CSI.

Also like the comic books, Allen seems perpetually late to his job. Crime doesn’t happen on a schedule, so when Allen rushes to be the last one on the scene in the pilot, his bosses let us know that this isn’t the first time. So they got the job right. It would be awesome if they just did CSI: Central City where instead of taking off his sunglasses Caruso-style, Allen would just use his super speed to find clues.

9. He Gets His Powers From a Particle Accelerator.

When Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh)’s particle accelerator breaks down, the lightning bolts shatter Barry’s windows and put him in a coma for nine months. When he wakes up, he can run really fast. This is a little different than the original comic books, where regular old natural lightning shatters a chemical case and spills them all over Allen. Honestly, it’s cooler that the Flash’s origin is more destructive than a simple coincidence.

Harrison Wells is a new character. They talked about him on Arrow, but this is the first time we see him. He is the CEO of S.T.A.R. Labs, which I knew sounded familiar. It was first introduced in Superman #246 in 1971, so I surely read about S.T.A.R. Labs at some point in my life. In the show, there are protests going on outside of S.T.A.R. Labs the night Wells launches the particle accelerator. What’s wrong: are they protesting against awesome?

8. A Supervillain Is Already On The Loose!

New 52 Issue of The Flash

Now I know an easter egg when I see one, and when Wells and Allen walked by a wrecked and open cage with a sign that bore a clearly visible name, that looked like an easter egg to me. The name is so prominent that any DC fan will recognize the supervillain who was once a lab subject at S.T.A.R. If you Google it, like I did, you’ll quickly see lots of comic book covers featuring this supervillain’s rampage.

The characters don’t make any verbal mention of or reference to this name: it’s just passing by in the background. Well, not even so much background. It’s midground. Also, S.T.A.R. Labs is not the original origin of this villain, though it would be so cool to have this foe show up in season one that I think we’d all forgive them for making him a creation of Wells. Yeah, this is one spoiler I’m still saving and you’ll be glad I did.

8. The Weather Wizard Multiplies

The Flash battles the Weather Wizard in a classic cover

Again, when I hear names like Clyde Mardon and the Mardon Brothers, I figured those weren’t just randomly picked out of the phone book. I was surprised to learn though that Mark Mardon is the Weather Wizard of the comic books. I would have assumed it was Clyde Mardon, since he’s the character we see in the pilot who gets the power to control weather from the same particle accelerator accident that gives the Flash his good powers.

Clyde does have a brother and they are referred to as The Mardon Brothers, so that must be Mark. I bet we’ll be seeing Mark later in the series. I don’t want to spoil what happens to Clyde, but let’s say they are separated so there would be good reason for Mark to come around looking for his brother later.

6. Iris West Is His CW Romance.

The CW
The cast of The Flash at the CW upfronts

All right, I pretty much watched The Flash with Wikipedia open, so when we’re introduced to Allen’s female BFF in the pilot, I found out Iris West (Candice Patton) was Allen’s fiance in the comic books. Well, The CW doesn’t deal with married couples, so now she’s his platonic friend who clearly doesn’t get his awkward attempts to confess his love for her. After the accident, Iris is dating Eddie Thawne (Rick Cosnett), a new cop transferred from Keystone.

Look, The CW gets a lot right with their comic book shows, but this is the one thing that reeks of The CW. There’s got to be a love triangle, so Allen can pine away at Iris while she’s with another man, and he can’t tell her his secret to keep her safe. At least the love triangle will be against one of the Flash’s mortal enemies. Eddie is a reasonable nickname for Eobard Thawne, plus this means the Flash might be visiting Keystone City in some of the later seasons too.

5. They Take a Trip to Ferris Air

I knew this one, from that Ryan Reynolds Green Lantern movie. Ferris is the name of the jet magnate Hal Jordan works for, and he dates Ferris’ daughter Carol (Blake Lively). So when the remnants of S.T.A.R. labs take Barry Allen to a Ferris Airfield to test out his new powers, I liked the reference even if it did bring back memories of Peter Sarsgaard with a gelatinous mutant head.

So Ferris has airfields in Central City, which is still where The Flash takes place, you’ll be happy to know. We’ve mentioned Keystone, and we already know that Allen visited Starling City in the last season of Arrow. Now we learn that it’s a 600 mile an hour jog to Starling, but it’s starting to look like the DC Universe is pretty cohesive under The CW.

4. Singh Has Been Promoted to Captain

The CW
The Flash is coming this fall to The CW

David Singh (Patrick Sabongui) is on The Flash and he’s gotten promoted. In my further fact-checking mission, I learned that Singh was was director of the crime lab in the comic books. Now he’s the Captain, which is a step up. He’s also working with Det. West (Jesse L. Martin), who is Iris’s father. I was surprised I couldn’t find a mention of Iris’s Father in any of the Flash or DC Wikis.

Missing is Darryl Frye, the former captain of Central City PD. Yet we have some entirely new characters, Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker) and Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes), Wells’ remaining two S.T.A.R. Labs employees who appeared on an episode of Arrow. This may be sacrilege for the comics, but seriously, I say go for Caitlin. Iris likes bad boys; you can’t fix her. Caitlin is smart enough to work at S.T.A.R. Labs, she already knows your secret and she gets you without any complicated explanations.

3. A Lightning Storm Killed His Mother, and Framed His Dad.

How I Framed Your Father would be a good substitute for the How I Met Your Mother spinoff that didn’t get picked up. We sort of knew this already from the Arrow episode with Barry Allen. He talks about seeing a blur kill his mom and his dad is serving time for it. Now we actually see the scene in a flashback.

This seems lifted directly from the current Flash comic books in the New 52, only there’s no spelling bee and it looks like the same lightstorm that happens at S.T.A.R. Labs 15 years later. Detective West is now the cop who always suspected Mr. Allen until he became privy to powers of speed lightning and weather control. West still knows the public won’t believe this so it’s for him alone to know Barry’s anguish over his father’s unjust conviction. Moping, moping, moping, brooding, brooding, brooding. Actually, Gustin seems pretty happy in the pilot so let’s hope he won’t go full emo.

2. Green Arrow Names the Flash.

Well, he doesn’t so much say, “You will be called the Flash”; he just uses the turn of phrase “in a flash” at a pivotal moment and it’s clear that’s what Allen is going to call himself. This is obviously a pure invention of the TV universe, and only because Green Arrow (Stephen Amell) got his own show before the Flash did, and Barry Allen was a guest star on that show. So who else would he confide in when he first gets powers?

There is a really cool moment that’s not integral to the plot at all, after Flash and Arrow meet as equals for the first time. It’s just a moment of mutual admiration where they both look at each other’s superheroics. It’s a superhero bromance. Seriously, if they have crossovers, Arrow and Flash will make a good duo.

1. Does Harrison Wells Have the Cosmic Treadmill Already?

The CW
Grant Gustin is The Flash

Okay, so there’s a spoiler at the end of the pilot. I’m not going to give it away, but it’s the first episode and you’re likely going to keep watching the show, so I can hint that it sets something up that’s going to be very, very important for the rest of the series. I wanted to know if this secret reveal was something from the comic books, and I think I stumbled onto it.

The cosmic treadmill was a time machine that Allen invented. So in the series, Allen maybe isn’t the inventor. They’ve got the two sidekicks, Caitlin and Cisco, to do the inventing, but this device seems to be Wells’ own entirely, and he’s keeping it a secret from everyone. I mean, Eddie Thawne is already on the show. I think they’re already setting up something to do with the future and time travel, though I don’t think it’s going as far as 2287. Look, I could be wrong. I’m a newbie here, but when you see the pilot, probably as early as Comic-Con, you can come back and either say I called it…or I got pwned.

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