In October 2014, The Flash took off running following a brief introduction on mother series Arrow. The show rapidly (pun intended) set itself apart from The CW’s original DCTV series, presenting viewers with a lighter superhero affair. The first season saw Barry Allen come up against his most fearsome foe, the Reverse-Flash, leading the show to reach fan-favorite status in no time thanks to its healthy blend of superspeed antics, humor, drama and warmth.
While the second season performed strongly, some fans complained of a dip in quality, lamenting the fact that the basic story was very reminiscent of the previous season, a retread of sort — but it was still a strong effort. Then, Season 3 continued that trend, once again offering similar developments and story beats. The series had become formulaic, with a story that seemed to lose track of what it wanted to tell. Now, the fourth season has arrived, and it appears as though everyone involved has course corrected, promising something new and different from the citizens of Central City.
Season 4 began with an episode titled “The Flash Reborn,” a title indicating the strong possibility that the series might once again look to the source material — the comic books — to begin anew.
Season 3 started with Barry creating a new “Flashpoint” timeline, albeit one very different from the comic books of the same name. After Barry decided to play God and change time itself, he spent the rest of the season trying to fix his mistakes, ending up with no other choice but to sacrifice himself to the Speed Force in order to right his wrongs. While this is much different than the way Barry sacrificed himself to save the entire world from the Anti-Monitor in the Crisis on Infinite Earths 1985 maxiseries, the end result is still the same: Barry was believed dead.
While it took decades for Barry to come back to life in the comics, in the Arrowverse, Barry was gone for a mere six months. While the show’s return was fairly low key compared to his comic book resurrection (Barry returned to life in the thick of a battle for the fate of the entire planet in the pages of Grant Morrison’s Final Crisis), there’s no reason The CW series cannot look to the comics for inspiration as he regains his footing. Specifically, it would be a wise choice to pull from Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver’s The Flash Rebirth, a series that explored the impact Barry’s return had on the entire Flash family.
Like the show, the comic series started during a dark time for the DC Universe. But over six issues, as Barry cemented his return amongst the living, he brought with him a glimmer of hope, a joy and a happiness that the DCU hadn’t felt in a long while. The producers of the series have promised Season 4 will go back to the roots of the series and focus on the fun of being a superhero, which is the right move. Yes, Barry is allowed his moments of darkness, but he is, at his core, a lighter character who has more moments of levity than despair.
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