Did you watch last night's episode of Arrow? Are you wondering what connections the episode has with the comics? Do you like Easter eggs (and not just the brightly colored kind?) Arrow Annotations is here to help, providing some additional notes and background info from last night’s episode. Arrow spoilers follow!
Geoff Johns - This episode was co-written by DC Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns. One of Johns' first big breaks was an acclaimed run on The Flash, and he wrote Flash: Rebirth, which reestablished Barry Allen in the DC Universe. Johns also wrote Flashpoint, which will be referenced a few times in this column. Johns wrote two episodes last season, "Muse of Fire" (which introduced the Huntress) and "Dead to Rights".
Barry Allen - Barry Allen makes his long awaited appearance on Arrow this week, played by Grant Gustin. Allen is best known as the Silver Age Flash, the second (and arguably the most well-known) character to take on the mantle and powers of the Scarlet Speedster. Created in 1956, Barry Allen's arrival as the Flash ushered in the Silver Age of superhero comics, a new age of superheroes featuring many of the classic DC (and Marvel) characters we know and love today.
Barry was the first of DC's attempts to reinvigorate its superhero line, which had largely shrank to books featuring its main trinity of characters: Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. DC Editor Julius Schwartz assigned Robert Kanigher and Carmine Infantino to reboot the Flash into a new, more modern character. Together, they envisioned a police scientist who gained the powers of superspeed after being doused with lightning charged chemicals in a lab accident.
Barry not only picked up a colorful cast of supervillains (which many consider to be on par with Batman or Spider-Man's rogue galleries), he also became a founding member of the Justice League of America, and was the first character to break the multiversal plane, teaming up with the Golden Age Flash, Jay Garrick, and leading to DC's storied multiverse.
Allen was killed in the 1985 event Crisis on Infinite Earths, after creating a speed vortex that destroyed an anti-matter cannon which the Anti-Montior planned to use to destroy the Earth. Barry's body was consumed in the process, unable to contain the power and kinetic energy accumulated during the run. That wasn't the end of Barry's story, though. Allen appeared several times to assist his former sidekick, Wally West, during West's time as the Flash, and was revealed to reside in the Speed Force, the mystical energy source which all speedsters gained their power.
Barry's body was reconstituted during the 2008 Final Crisis event, arriving in time to help DC's heroes defeat Darkseid and his forces. It was later revealed in the subsequent Flash: Rebirth series that his archenemy Professor Zoom (more on him later) was responsible for bring Barry Allen back to life as part of a plot to destroy him and his entire legacy. Zoom was thwarted by Flash and his various allies, and Barry returns to his old job in Central City.
Just as Barry ushered in the Silver Age of superheroes, he was also central to the New 52 reboot. During the 2011 event Flashpoint, Barry discovers himself trapped in a nightmarish alternate universe, in which most of his friends are either dead, evil or depowered. While he initially believes Professor Zoom is responsible, Allen discovers that he actually created the alternate universe when he tried to stop his mother's murder (more on that later). Barry partially reverses the changes by going back and stopping himself from altering history. However, as history reconstituted itself, it absorbed two other universes (the Wildstorm and Vertigo universes), creating the New 52 continuity that currently exists in DC's comics.
This isn't Barry's first appearance on television, he was also the main character in a short lived CBS Flash series starring John Wesley Shipp (which featured Mark Hamill as the Trickster in two episodes). He's also appeared in many of DC's animated properties, including Young Justice, The Batman and Batman: Brave and the Bold. However, he was not the Flash who appeared in the Superman, Justice League and Justice League Unlimited cartoons.
Grant Gustin, who played Barry in last night's episode is best known for playing Sebastian Smythe in Glee.
Particle Collider in Central City - Central City's particle collider is mentioned twice this episode. Barry uses a magazine featuring the collider on its cover to shield his head from the rain, and Channel 52 (which seems to devote 50% of its airtime to the collider) mentions the collider will be activated the next day.
CSU Tech Kelton - Kelton makes his first appearance this season, assisting Officer Lance at the scene of the break-in. Kelton made several appearances last season, usually helping Lance try to catch the Vigilante with his computer skills.
The Acolyte - Brother Blood's superstrong henchman is named Cyrus Gold, whom DC fans know as Solomon Grundy. In the comics, Cyrus Gold is a 19th century Gotham businessman who is murdered and dumped in Slaughter Swamp. His corpse is reanimated as a zombie like figure, made of swamp matter. Gold takes on the name Solomon Grundy, from a 19th century English nursery rhyme, and takes up a life of crime. While Grundy's body is frequently destroyed, it always reanimates, although sometimes with different levels of intelligence and cruelty. One version of Grundy even fought alongside Infinity Inc. and Starman before being killed saving the latter from a collapsing building.
Grundy was originally a villain of the Golden Age Green Lantern, and frequently fought Superman in later comics. Grundy has also been a staple member of various superhero teams fighting the Justice League over the years.
Solomon Grundy has appeared in numerous DC cartoons and video games over the years. He appeared in the Super-Friends cartoons as a member of the Legion of Doom (a famous Cartoon Network spoof of Super-Friends features the character proclaiming "GRUNDY WANTS PANTS TOO!), and he also appeared in the Justice League and Justice League Unlimited cartoons. Grundy also made a brief appearance in Smallville as a member of Toyman's Legion of Doom.
Grundy was created by Al Bester and Paul Reinman.
Kord Enterprises - The centrifuge stolen from Queen Industries was manufactured by Kord Enterprises. In the comics, Kord Enterprises is owned by Ted Kord, better known as the second Blue Beetle. Ted was first mentioned in "The Undertaking" last season.
Barry's Mother - The bizarre circumstances surrounding Barry's mother's death closely resembles a recently reintroduced element to Barry Allen's origin. In 2010, Flash: Rebirth revealed that Nora Allen, Barry's mother, was murdered in a grisly fashion, directly contradicting past comics, which showed both of Barry's parents alive and well. Barry's father was convicted of the murder, and the event led Barry to becoming a forensic detective, as he was unconvinced his father was actually responsible.
Later on, when Barry travels back in time and tries to stop his mother's murder, he inadvertently causes history to unravel, creating an alternate universe seen in Flashpoint.
"Man Inside the Tornado" - The man inside the tornado who Barry believes is responsible for his mother's death is Eobard Thawne, aka Professor Zoom. Thawne is a supervillain from the future, who becomes obsessed with Barry Allen and the Speed Force. Zoom's encounters with the Flash become increasingly more psychotic, and Thawne eventually kills Barry's wife, Iris. Barry later kills Zoom after he tries to murder Barry's second wife, Fiona Webb. Zoom is resurrected in Blackest Night, and sets out to make Barry's life miserable once again.
In Flash: Rebirth, it's revealed that Thawne had gone back in time and killed Nora, altering Barry's timeline (and explaining why Nora had appeared alive and well in past Flash comics). Professor Zoom explained that, as he was unable to kill Barry as it would simultaneously erase him from history, he had found other ways to torture Barry throughout his life.
Chemicals in the Lab - The scene featuring Barry rearranging chemicals on a shelf during a thunderstorm is a callback to Barry's origin story in Showcase #4. Barry originally gained his powers when a lightning bolt struck a chemical cabinet in a lab Barry was working in. The cabinet exploded and doused Barry with chemicals.
Director Singh - Barry is called back to Central City by his boss, Director Singh. In the comics, David Singh is Barry's boss at Central City's forensics unit. Singh is often frustrated by Barry's more tedious methods, and often accuses Barry of dragging his feet and not working hard enough, leading to the two having a tense relationship. Singh is secretly gay, and has a relationship with the Pied Piper, one of the Flash's reformed Rogues.
And that's it for this week. See you in a Flash! (Or in a week!)