Double Dead Comics Weekend: Heroes in Crisis 9 and Doomsday Clock 10


So I was right when I predicted, maybe six months ago, that I’d see Heroes in Crisis 9 before Doomsday Clock 12, for here is the former appearing the same week as issue 10 of the latter, with the penultimate issue due in another three months time and the final issue in sight of no published schedule at all. Let’s put the two together and talk about which is the biggest bust.

For me, it’s got to be Heroes in Crisis. I was expecting something interesting, thought-provoking, original and ground-breaking. I was expecting it to enslave me. I was expecting it to be good. Doomsday Clock has done nothing but live down to my expectations.

Last issue, Heroes in Crisis revealed that its villain was neither Booster Gold nor Harley Quinn, as had been trailed from the start, but instead Wally West, the series’ most controversial and unwelcome victim. What was so bad, as well as just dumbfuck stupid, about it was that whilst the multiple deaths were a tragic accident, Wally’s actions in covering up, concealing and fabricating evidence and framing innocents, placed him at or below the level of the most evil of supervillains.

Worse still than that, was the choice of Wally as the villain: Wally West, the victim of the New52, the wellspring of Rebirth in 2016, the character whose reappearance was a deliberate beacon, a symbol of hope, and who less than three years later has been trashed beyond recovery. And in choosing to make Wally such a manipulator of evidence, Tom King destroyed his own story: literally everything in issues 1-7 has been a fake, a red herring, a lie. None of it meant anything, except seven months’ waste of paper, ink and colour. Did nobody at DC realise this in advance?

The series has made Wally West irredeemable. The character is poisoned beyond any hope, except as a villin or a madman, for at least two decades: that was how long in took to bring Hal Jordan back after Emerald Twilight, and that only tenuously possible by having him be possessed by Parallax, the Fear-Demon. In the late 2030’s, assuming the comic book industry hasn’t disappeared up its own backside at last, someone can try to rehabilitate Wally. It would be nice if someone could come up with something that isn’t as cheap and casuall, or as blatant a rip-off, as having him be possessed, and not in his right mind.

Was this what Tom King planned all along? There’s been rumour, and circumstantial evidence, of editorial interference by Interferer in Chief Dan Didio. Who is known to dislike Wally West almost as much as he does Dick Grayson. Who was the force behind the conceptual approaches of the New52, which was rejected by Geoff Johns in Rebirth. Who has come out on top in a power-strugle with Johns, who made wlly the Hope of Rebirth.

Would DiDio be so petty? Are you kidding? He works in comics, doesn’t he? The industry is littered with the petty, the obsessive, the maladjusted.

You may by now be wondering why I am going on at such length on what is essentially a reprise of my comments on issue 8, but this is the bar that the last issue has to overcome when it tries to present the Redemption of Wally West, by doing more or less the same thing issue 8 did, that is, to wipe out what has gone before, and render the worst parts of issue 8 non-existent. It doesn’t work, not even for a second.

What happens is that, amongst another slew of single panel trauma investigations at Sanctuary, which we later learn is the new, repaired, publicly-known Sanctuary, the Booster-Beetle-Harley-Batgirl team catches up with Wally five days in the future where/when he’s about to strangle Wally West for his crime and take him back to Day Zero for his body to be found. Wally has decided against using time travel to, you know, like, stop himself from killing all those people in the first place, because of Flashpoint.

So, in the least convincing of manners and most cheap of reverses, Wally and Wally talk Wally out of it, Booster scoots into the future to grab a clone of Wally + 5 so that can be dumped at Day Zero, everybody hightails it out of Day + 5 before the Justice League get there,  and Wally can go back to Day Zero and confess his crime and get therapy, and go on to his bright and bountiful future in the DC Universe. The fact that in doing so he has now changed time in contravention of his principles in not changing time is not allowed to cross the mind of anyone except awkward readers.

It’s bullshit, pure bullshit from start to finish. Worse than bullshit, it’s pathetic. The series has been dull, static and uninvolving, and it has undercut itself over and over to the point where it holds no reality whatsoever. And to prove this yet further, Poison Ivy is returned to life is issue 9.

That leaves Roy Harper as the only prominent dead character, along with a bunch of neverwases, and that isn’t going to last.

I really had hopes for Heroes in Crisis but it disappointed from the outset. According to one of the spoilers that I’ve avoided until now, King, as the writer, submitted his outline story and had the characters to use dictated to him, but I’m still not going to let him off. That’s stupid nonsense. Look for a complete set on eBay from Sunday afternoon onwards.

As for Doomsday Clock 10, this armpit of a story has dragged on for so long that I no longer have the energy for any truly visceral commentary. At this late stage, on this attenuated schedule, you’d think that Johns and Frank would be making at least some effort to move the story towards its glacial conclusion, especially given that Doomsday Clock is meant to be the future of the DC Universe and nobody as yet has any idea what they have to do to get there, and that it supposed to be the springboard for the long overdue returns of The Justice Society of America and The Legion of Super-Heroes.

Issue 10 has been trailed for longer than prehistoric beasts have existed as heralding the return of the Justice Society, and it is true that we have some new dialogue from their first meeting, but in which version of reality that takes place is beyond determining. Essentially, Johns has decided to spend this issue in the head of Dr Manhattan, who does not perceive time in linear fashion, and using this to summarise what the Doc has been doing since departing the Watchmen Universe and arriving in DC’s.

It basically wanders about haphazardly whilst the Doc adjusts to the idea of being in a Multiverse in which time shifts at periodic intervals, until he realises that the DC Earth is actually not a Multiversal construct but a metaverse, whose history is constantly shifting.

I mean, ho-hum or what, so very rose by any other name. In the end, we get back to the same old conundrum we’ve had waved under our noses for about a year of real time, that Manhattan’s perception of the future ends with Superman throwing a punch at him, meaning that either Superman destroys him., or Manhattan destroys the metaverse. And aside from all other considerations, the odds of Manhattan destroying something Johns has only just named/defined this week are non-existent.

This latest instalment essentially writes the series off as a crossover series, as well as its already pronounced failure as a Watchmen fuck-with. We haven’t had any of that for an issue or two, so in one sense it’s cheering to see Johns flash back to Manhattan’s last conversation with Ozymandias in Watchmen 12, but really it’s not since Johns has to lie through his teeth about what Alan Moore had these two talk about, and invent something that never happened and which demeans the good Doctor yet more.

With Tom King’s run on Batman suddenly announced as ending twenty issues prior than we’d been led to believe, and the only other DC title I’m getting being The Terrifics, I foresee discarding the contents of each of these series asbeing beyond easy. I doubt I’ll even have to read anything in which they have consequences.

Will someone put this thing out of its misery? Before August and issue 11.

Heroes in Crisis 8


This, as the Stone Roses once memorably put it, is the One. The Revelation. The scene in the Library without the Library and without the villain being amongst the listeners because, to reference Agatha Christie for a moment longer, this is the Roger Ackroyd moment. The narrator dunnit. And, as has been forecast with increasing confidence over the past few months, the Sanctuary Killer is Wally West.

I don’t like it. That has nothing to do with critical responses and everything to do with Wally being my Flash, the one I used to buy, month-in, month-out, during Mark Waid’s tenure, with and without Brian Augustyn. I can’t like Wally West as the madman killer, nor the cold, calculating plotter, nor the suicide he already is in a time paradox that undermines the credibility of the time paradox.

I’ve never liked Heroes in Crisis. To me, it hasn’t for one moment or one panel lived up to the potential I imagined for it when first I learned of the series. Wally’s soliloquy here, taking up the entire issue, explaining every twist and turn, detail and deliberation, also undermines the entire concept of Sanctuary in the first place. It failed on Wally, and by extension, when you remember all those hero’s concerns, expressed in dozens of Watchmen pages, it failed all of them. All we ever saw were deep-rooted traumas, traumas specific to the conditions of a superhero universe, but we never saw any cures. We saw problems but not solutions. These were problems that had no solutions, but we didn’t even see healings, neither permanent nor sticking plaster.

The story is that wally has been committed to Sanctuary because he’s failing to cope with the simultaneous issue of having lost the woman who meant everything to him and the children they had together, in short everything that made his life what he wanted it to be, and being seen as the symbol of Hope, since it was his re-emergence three years ago, in DC Universe Rebirth that kick-started DC’s current phase (the one that will never end because it will all be explained in Doomsday Clock and that will never finish).

Wally comes to the delusion that Sanctuary has been set up for him alone, that nobody else is undergoing pain equivalent to him but that they’re saying so to humour him. So if all the data is being destroyed by being broken down into billions of scattered bytes, the Fastest Man Alive can re-assemble them in seconds. And seeing everybody else’s traumas broke Wally mentally, set off alarms and caused him to lose control of the Speed Force momentarily, killing everyone at Sanctuary, except Booster Gold and Harley Quinn, because they were a bit slow coming outside (seriously?)

So far, so disappointing. A man suffering from PTSD goes crazy and becomes a mass-murderer? Lovely message, so positive and life-affirming, people suffering from any kind of mental health issue will empathise immediately. I know I do (no, I’m lying). But it’s the aftermath that drops a leaden weight onto the scales and sends the pan for Absolute Fucking Disaster crashing to the ground, because Wally West, the bright spark, the kid who did it all, the sidekick who grew up to become the man himself, who’s just caused deaths in a second of lost control… starts plotting a superspeed cover-up that puts the frame on two completely innocent people, not to mention re-programmes the entire place, re-sites ALL the bodies and creates all manner of clues, red herrings and mindfucks just to fool his CSI Uncle and The Batman. No. Not in a million years can this be accepted. Not just because it’s Wally West and I have a soft spot for him. Not just because there isn’t a hair of continuity between any version of Wally West that ever existed before and who the hell this person is, and not even because it’s a kick in the face for all the readers who bought into Wally’s return at the beginning of Rebirth. Because it’s bullshit. Because it’s crude. Because it’s lame.

And it falls apart. You see, Wally, this Wally who’s been relating this confession, has also gone into the future, by five days, and found his five days in the future self, all to buy himself the time to do something good to make up for this doing bad. Wally-Now catches up with Wally +5, in the company of some green-skinned woman I can’t recognise, and after Wally +5 gives him the last piece, the rose in the river, Wally-Now kills him, by strangling him. Kills himself. Suicide. So Wally’s now dead for real.

Or is he? I’ve already read one theory that everything, the whole story, is actually a fantastically sophisticated VR construct by Sanctuary, curing Wally. It’s elegant, I grant you, and there is still one issue to go, and go it shall, but from this point, any attempt to undercut this, to explain it away as a Hoax, a Dream or an Imaginary Story, will be twice as hollow as this episode.

But there were rumours in 2018, before Heroes in Crisis first appeared, that Brian Azzarello would be launching a new Suicide Squad series, with Wally West as a lead character, not that anything has been confirmed. Other rumours current at the same time have come to fruition, not that that proves anything.

It doesn’t really matter. To be honest, no matter how Emerald Twilight this gets, I have never been able to believe in the story, and once the final issue is out and I’ve said about that what demands to be said about it, not only will I be selling theseries on eBay, as I’ve threatened, but I will be deleting it from my personal version of DC Universe Continuity. Should Never Have Happened will become simply Never Happened, as far as I’m concerned.

 

Heroes in Crisis 7


How much of this story has been a waste of space? How many of the pages of this issue are pointless, an abuse of the audience by getting them to read a lazy, needless fight between Harley Quinn and Booster Gold, observed in couch potato fashion by Batgirl and Blue Beetle, until the four decide to pool their approaches? How many pages are wasted by Batman and The Flash using very different approaches to locating Blue and Gold, The Flash dashing off for microsecond searches of areas of the world where they’re not to be found, and Batman sitting in his Batcave chair, watching his alarms, which are hidden in every safehouse either of the pair have ever had, knowing that sooner or later, being Beetle and Booster, one of them will do something stupid and trigger their alarm? How many pages are given over to the Watchmen grid of Wally West talking to Sanctuary, updating himself on the number of weeks he’s been there and his evidently false belief that he’s been improving?

The answers to these questions are 11, 3 and 4 respectively. That leaves 6 pages (including a double page spread) that might, we hope, actually advance the story, although not in any way that makes sense up to the end of issue 7. These involve Wally and Poison Ivy and a field of beautifully drawn and brilliantly coloured flowers that are a genuine aesthetic delight, and they seem to be leading towards the suggestion, which has been suspected by a lot of people for quite some time already, that the Sanctuary killer is Wally himself.

I really hope that this is still red-herringing.

Art this time around is split between three artists, twelve pages drawn by series artist Clay Mann, nine by Travis Moore and the remaining three by Jorge Fornes, whose more primitive style stands out like a sore thumb against the other two.

I mean, there’s not really that much else I can say about this issue. The main cover, an exasperated Superman shouting ‘Enough!’ and thrusting Booster and Harley out of the picture has nothing to do with this episode. The only thing I can applaud is that it’s coming out on time, and as Doomsday Clock 10 has now been pushed back into May, my prediction that I’d get to the end of Heroes in Crisis before DC’s premier fuck-up crossover is going to come true in spades.

Given that Tom King’s current arc in Batman, ‘Knightmares’, is as boring as fuck and seeming interminable, this is not a period in which I am favourably inclined towards him. I’d like that to improve.

Heroes in Crisis 6


Six of nine. It’s a sad commentary on mainstream comics publishing today that the much-trailed Heroes in Crisis mini-series is slowly developing its own mini-version of the logical disasters that have most thrillingly contributed to the miserable buffoonery of Doomsday Clock. First, it was supposed to be a seven issue series drawn by Clay Mann but, once Dan DiDio, still pining for the misery of The New 52, managed to claw back sole control, it spouted two extra issues drawn by another artist, and all but officially designated as fillers, extra pages had to be shoehorned in to issue 2 by another artist to ram home the unconvincing death of Wally West, and now all we have of series artist Mann in issue 6  are a first and last page with all the stuff in between drawn by Mitch Gerads.

Still, at least the trains run on time. The consistent monthly schedule means we can put this turgid disappointment behind us in three months, whereas Doomsday Clock will still be with us when the sun has gone nova and all that is left of the Solar System is one cubic inch of charred Charonic rock.

I’m in two minds about this issue. Once again, we don’t move an inch forward. The story stops dead, if such a phrase can be applied to a things that has never once been alive. What we get are Mann’s two pages, showing heroes being questioned about how many people they’ve saved and giving different answers, whilst in between we’re treated to Sanctuary at work, in virtual reality settings, in the form of the sessions relating to Wally West, Poison Ivy joined by Harley Quinn, and Gnarrk, who is a thawed-out caveboy associated with the Titans, Teen or otherwise, a holdover from the very early Seventies. Despite the intelligence with which he is treated herein, he really is a case of scraping the barrrel.

It’s just more, more, more relentlessly slow and inert ‘insight’, and at the two-thirds mark another entire issue of it is amateurish story-telling and dire pacing.

Yet I have a smidgeon of respect for parts of this story, or rather one part, being Wally West. King reruns the DC Universe Rebirth moment when Wally finally gets Barry to remember him, to break him out of the Speed Force, and to reset the Universe to the tune of Hope that was Geoff Johns’ rationale both for Rebirth and the egregious Doomsday Clock. Typically, King reverses this completely. Wally is greeted by everybody as not just the symbol of hope but as Hope itself, but he cannot accept himself in this role, feels massively pressurised by it, because he has no Hope. He’s returned alone, without the love of the family that has been inttegral to him, with Linda Park, his lightning rod, without Jai and Iris, his children.

This part is good, is seriously good, and it holds within it something of the structure that could have underpinned Heroes in Crisis and made it work. If you had started from this, if you had made this the basis upon which the series was founded, if you had focussed on it and not diffused it with dozens of heoes undergoing trauma counselling that, even two-thirds of the way through, we are not seeing at work. All we get are gnomic utterances by superheroes, cryptic soundbites with very often the depth of a puddle, because King is using too many people to have the space for anything but shallowness, and because he’s still not leaving enough space for an actual story to clad itself upon these bones.

Simultaneously with this issue, I also picked up the four-part crossover story, ‘The Price’, running between Batman and The Flash, written by Joshua Williamson, which gets far more out of Tom King’s story than King has managed to do by concentrating upon living characters affected by these deaths and their implications, where King is concentrating upon characters who we are being told, unconvincingly, are dead, meaning that their issues and traumas haave ceased to have any meaning. Like the victims, the problems are dead. If anyone really is.

Do we have any answers appearing in the murk? I mean, we’ve already been shown Wally’s moment of death at the hands of Harley Quinn and now we see it at the hands of Booster Gold but for it to be either of them would be lame. One major news and gossip site still reckons it’s Wally himself, which at least has the merit of being stupid, but in that case why has Wally’s death had to be so blatantly inserted by DiDio’s decree?

I repeat, three months from now, the complete set, first editions, mint condition, will be going on eBay, unless you want to make a private bid in the comments? Exorbitant offers will be listened to most carefully.

Heroes in Crisis 3


I so looked forward to Heroes in Crisis. It’s subject seemed to have infinite potential but, three issues in out of nine, it is already both a crashing bore and a disorganised mess. Whilst there’s still ample time for it to pull itself together, at the moment I can only foresee the immediate aftermath of reading no. 9 to be the offering of the complete set on eBay: get your preliminary bids in now.

The whole series bears the mark of editorial interference, stemming, I strongly suspect, from Dan DiDio. Originally, the story was to have run only seven issues but at a late stage, too late for this to predate completion of the first couple of issues, it was announced that two ‘fill-in’ issues – nos 3 and 8 – would be added. Then, after issue 2 had appeared, it was casually mentioned that these extra issues, not drawn by series artist Clay Mann, were tie-ins that had been decided to be added to the series itself.

This comes after three pages in issue 2 having been drawn by a different artist, to insert a scene about Wally West’s death that otherwise wouldn’t have been in the issue.

What I, and many others, am smelling here is an attempt by DiDio to claw back something of the atmosphere and approaches of the New 52, his baby, that was roundly rejected in 2016 by Geoff Johns and the whole DC Rebirth saga. Though it was initially a sales boost, very few people actually liked the New 52, with its ultra grimness and ultra grittiness, its emphasis upon death and destruction, its refusal to allow marriages (because that would mean characters being happy) and its general, overall shitness.

Rebirth was a cosmic breath of fresh air, as well as being Geoff Johns’ baby, and which character was the symbol of Rebirth? Wally West. But Johns is no longer Chief Creative Officer at DC, and DiDio has room to start resweing his serpent’s teeth, and the first sign of this is inserting Wally West’s death into Heroes in Crisis.

I’ve already said I can’t believe it, and even though issue 3 features the (apparent) murder, via Harley Quinn’s sledgehammer to the back of the skull, I’m still not buying it. I’m almost certain I’ve never seen a comic book death so utterly unconvincing, and I’m convinced that’s because it wasn’t part of King’s story and has had to be forced in at DiDio’s orders: it isn’t believable because the writer doesn’t believe in it.

I also find it significant that the forthcoming Batman/The Flash four-part crossover in which the DC Universe’s two leading detectives team up to investigate Wally’s murder is being wholly written by Josh Williamson (a tie-in to Tom King’s series in Tom King’s regular title that Tom king isn’t writing any part of? And is having to announce he’s still going to write 100 issues?)

Issue 3 is a flashback issue whose cover is completely misleading. Batnan and The Flash’s faces reflect in a blood-stained, gold face-mask that reminds me of the Psycho-Pirate, but neither they nor any investigation takes place within. Instead, we see Sanctuary in operation through three figures. Lagoon Boy, a minor, pre-Flashpoint Teen Titan, traumatized by the deaths of his team around him is trying to getover his fear by continually being shot by a laser, repeating his injury until the trauma disappears (he is disembowelled by a stick and dies laughing). Wally West sits in the Chamber, a Star Trek-like holosuite, rebuilding his life with Linda and his children around him whilst a somewhat patronising system asks why (bloody obvious, I would have thought, and given he’s a superhero who’s re-emerged out of a previous reality, not something impossible to resurrect). And Booster Gold, on his first day, conjures up a snarky Booster Gold to argue with him.

Then there’s an emergency, people die all over the place, Wally huddles over a dead Roy Harper as Harley Quinn sneaks up from behind, bang bang, Maxwell’s Silver Hammer comes down upon his head…

The truth is that in one-third of its length, Heroes in Crisis has travelled exactly six inches. It’s been distorted by a megalomaniac who’s trying to fight a battle with someone who’s only recently stopped having more influence over him, and who seems blind to the fact that his yar-boo-sucks, I’m killing Wally West, ner ner, ner ner, ner is not only pathetic and childish but fucking pointless because if someone wants to bring Wally back after DiDio’s gone they’ll do so and it won’t even be because they want to piss all over his chips. It’s like John bloody Byrne sprinting back to Marvel the moment Jim Shooter was fired so he could bomb Pittsburgh.

And I thought this was going to be better than Doomsday Clock.

Heroes in Crisis 1


I’ve been waiting a few months for DC’s latest crossover series, both for the concept and the fact it’s being written by Tom King, a writer who has brought me back into reading Batman comics again – Batman! – for the first time since, probably, the Seventies.

Heroes in Crisis was originally billed as a seven-issue mini-series, drawn by Clay Mann, though at a late stage it was bumped up to nine issues, with issues 3 and 7 to be drawn by a second artist, which is mildly worrying. nevertheless, the concept is fascinating, and well within King’s capabilities and experience as a former CIA analyst.

The idea is that there is a place known as Sanctuary, set up and managed by the Trinity, Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. It’s a refuge, a psychological refuge where traumatised superheroes can receive counselling over their experiences. Superheroes in counselling? It sounds ridiculous, but given the experiences they face on a daily basis, it’s not just logical but inevitable.

The set-up is that the series begins with a murder taking place at Sanctuary: not just a murder, but a massacre. I’ve been avoiding spoilers, especially about who dies, for weeks now.

So issue 1 is now to hand. To be honest, it’s a bit of a disappointment. What I’ve described above is, basically, about the whole of what we get. Nor is there any excessive amount of additional detail. There are dead bodies, including a number of no-marks, though the corpses include that of Citizen Steel, as in the one who’s been in Legends of Tomorrow this past two seasons.

But, and these are thrown away in a single panel without fanfare or follow-up in this issue, there are a couple of more substantial names: Roy (Arsenal) Harper… and Wally (Flash) West.

And the issue is plumped out by a running fight scene between Booster Gold and Harley Quinn, with the latter trying to stab the former, ending in a last page accusation that instead of it being Harley trying to complete her murder spree, as you would normally anticipate, she’s trying to bring in Booster because he killed everyone. She saw him.

I think we can safely assume there will be a few more twists along the way, but in terms of content, this is actually pretty thin stuff. I will be very surprised if Wally West is, or stays dead – he was ‘my’ Flash for a decade or more, through Bill Messner-Loebs and especially Mark Waid – and I will be equally surprised if Booster’s apparent culpability is the real deal, even under hypnosis, mental control, possession or any similar excuse.

It’s here, it’s begun, but given how it was sold to us, I don’t think Heroes in Crisis has travelled more than six inches yet. Roll on issue 2, and if King et al can actually keep a monthly schedule, I for one will be exceedingly grateful.

The Fall Season 2016: The Flash season 3

The Fall Season 2016: The Flash season 3

Now there's two of them
Now there’s two of them

I dunno.

I’ve spent the three months since Barry Allen, in an excess of grief over his father dying, went back in time to prevent the Reverse-Flash from killing his mother, Nora, thus changing time and history, in avoiding all but the most unavoidable spoilers for season 3, i.e., photos.

Thus I have seen Wally West in his Kid Flash costume, and Jay Garrick-the-real-one in his Earth-2 Flash uniform (which, in the DC TV-verse is going to be Earth-3 and I’m going to get a terrible headache because that’s just wrong) avoiding learning anything about what was going to happen.

Which meant that I had a lot of time to speculate for myself about how they might play this and what they would do, and how it would affect everything else, and how long they would run it for (privately, I was thinking four episodes, maybe three if they panicked.)

It’s already over. Not entirely, which I shall explain in a moment, but by the end of this episode the big Reset has been, well, reset. Bye bye alternate timeline, bye bye, and you were a hell of a lot less fun than the Earth-2 (DC TV-verse) version of Team Flash.

This is because, as I may have mentioned from time to time, all my fascination with time travel and alternate pasts and presents and futures stems at root from Justice League of America 37. I expected changes, big changes, unrecognisable changes. I got small, disconnected changes. Cisco is rich, owns what used to be STAR Labs. Caitlin’s a pediatric opthalmologist. Iris is a reporter for Picture News, Wally used to drive illegal souped-up cars (now, wait a minute….). Joe, admittedly, is a hopeless drunk, uncaring of his job, whilst Barry has changed the most of all. He’s a CSI with the Central City Police Department and he’s got super-speed. Now, come on.

The biggest thing I expected and which I decidedly didn’t get was that Barry would not have his powers and would not be the Flash. The show not only bottled that decision, they fudged it. Barry had his speed, he had all his memories, he was still the Flash except that, there being another Flash in town, he didn’t have to be a speedster (except for when he ran somewhere fast like he was always doing).

And I’m sorry it may be comic-book logic but I’ve had fifty years of this logic and it is logic, but if the alternate timeline had Cisco be very rich and have bought a STAR Labs not damaged by the proton accelerator blowing up, where did the accident that gave Barry his speed come from?

True, Wally’s ‘origin’ was completely different (illegal car, experimental turbo-mixture fuel, lightning strike, bongo, except that Wally doesn’t have supermetabolism for when villains stick a pole through your ribcage, for some unexplained, convenient and lazy reason).

What Barry did have was his parents back. Recently deceased Henry but, above all importance, long-gone Nora (played with charm, grace and a hint of calm MILFness by Michelle Harrison), for three idyllic summer months. What Barry didn’t have was any contact with the Wests. Ok, he’s been stalking Iris for three months whilst, in pure klutz-mode, working up the nerve to speak to her, but he doesn’t know either of the others and Joe doesn’t like him. But then Joe-the-drunk-fuck-up doesn’t like, or care about, anyone. Why was the alternate Joe a drunk duck-up? You expect that to be explained?

In terms of the story, there is a new speedster villain in town, the Rival (a very obscure Golden Age opponent of Jay Garrick, in the very last issue of Flash Comics in 1949, revived by Geoff Johns) who’s facing off with Kid Flash (don’t call me ‘Kid’), whilst Barry has got Eobard Thawne, the Reverse-Flash (wearing Matt Letscher’s face, not Tom Cavanagh’s, the latter being AWOL this episode) locked in a speedproof glass cage and intending to keep him there forever. Like that was thought through particularly well by Barry.

The thing is, Thawne is issuing apocalyptic warnings about Barry dooming them both, and Barry’s getting spasms in which memories of his former timeline are getting sucked out of his head until he realises he has to collapse this bubble of time before it becomes permanent and Wally dies. Which means that to do so, he has to ask Thawne to kill his mother.

One episode. I am not the only person to feel cheated by that.

So, back to life, back to reality. Everything is as it was. Except that Barry done fucked up again. It’s not all quite the same. Iris and Joe aren’t speaking to each other. Father and daughter are estranged and have been for no little time. Maybe it’s because Joe is, or was, a drunken fuck-up like in the alternate timeline, I don’t know, that would be neat, but for that we’ll have to wait and see.

By the way, there’s a new actor playing precinct Captain Mendez this year. He’s played by Alex Desert. Hands up who remembers the awful 1990 version of The Flash

So, given that I thoroughly loved season 2, this is for me The Flash‘s first major disappointment, making the whole cliffhanger thing into an annoying intrusion (still, Bary won’t mope about saving his mother any more). I’m going to pretend next week is the real start of the season. We have already got a twist coming: Edward Clariss, aka The Rival, was shot dead by Joe in Earth-A (for alternate) but is alive in Earth-1. He’s woken up by a mysterious voice and an invisible hand etching a word into his bedroom mirror. The word is ‘Alchemy’.

The Doctor will see you shortly…