Black Lightning & The Flash Get Lit

I’ve finally seen all the Leprechaun films! Only the Warwick Davis ones count, mind you. I’ve learned Leprechaunitis is transmitted by biting. This is unrelated to the rest of this entry. I just thought you should know.

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Black Lightning just had its second season finale, so it’s time to check back in on it! The headline spoils I discuss The Flash afterwards! (It also signals “get lit” is over as a hip idiom.) Both Jefferson Pierce & Barry Allen are family men with lightning bolts on their costumes.

Riverdale’s Principal Weatherbee & Deadly Class’s Master Lin are lousy headmasters & should be replaced by Jefferson Pierce! (The Magicians’ Dean Fogg is probably inferior as well, but I have a soft spot for him.) Jeff’s family telling him his cobbler is terrible made him cry. They’re meanies! His flight can be defeated by hugs.

Rookie Principal Lowry has a huge chip on his shoulders. His draconian rule is bad for Garfield High’s students. He’s also the voice actor for Justice League Action’s Firestorm, so portraying an authoritarian dick shows P.J. Byrne has range. Jefferson is canny enough not to call Lowry’s policies outright racist while trying to convince him to ease off the students, but Lowry is still too defensive to relent.

Jefferson made a bad decision for good reasons. He’s right that he can’t can’t devote his full attention to Garfield High like it needs, but letting Lowry continue is still ill-advised. (His security is also ineffective if LaLa can slip in with a gun.) Surely there’s a third option for principal?

This show may not be as guano mad as Gotham, but it sure is weird! Thunder finds a half-eaten horse! A man dressed as Super Grover is shot by cops. There’s a Romeo & Juliet race war in wooded South Freeland, but Jeff will pay Anissa to stop trying to scientifically explain Looker’s mercury-thrall powers. (Looker was mentioned in season one as a potential superheroine cosplay for Anissa, but she & her dad were completely unaware of the Looker in South Freeland? This one has almost nothing in common with her comics namesake.) LaLa’s victims appear as burning tattoos & start berating him. Cutter slaughters an entire police convoy offscreen using knife-telekinesis. Perenna gives her would-be kidnappers brainfreeze & casually strolls off. Somehow none of this derails the program though. (Maybe we’re just in an era where genre shows can’t jump the shark?) It still does grounded superheroics better than The Gifted because this time grounded is an electricity pun not a tone.

The Masters of Disaster are a real supervillain team! Too bad they didn’t get out of their pods sooner. Without an evil tailor, they look nondescript. Brooke Ence, half of the hammer Amazons from Justice League, is New Wave. Heatstroke was genderswapped into a bloke. They’re defeated disappointingly fast.

Lightning has the best suit out all the Pierces, hands down. Jeff’s original suit is second. Florescent orange for the win! Tobias isn’t wrong when he calls Thunder “Banana Girl!” Anissa needs to wear her Thunder goggles when she’s being Blackbird, a double-secret vigilante, so crooks can’t mace her.

Jen jumps to the conclusion (out of Gambi’s self-driving van) that if she can hover in her sleep she can fly while she’s awake. Luckily it turns out she’s right! After she had so much trouble adjusting to her powers while being micromanged, it’s keen when she finally figures it out by herself.

Even Latavius didn’t want to be alive again, but a pep talk form a literal resurrectionist who loved Lady Eve convinces him he should have a redemption arc. He even helps Black Lightning because he cares about the community he sold drugs in (though not enough to keep from shooting Jefferson Pierce on flimsy pretenses). I thought the writers might’ve brought LaLa back so Tobias could get murdered without blotting Jen’s moral escutcheon. When he confronts Tobias, Whale simply overloads his Tattoo Man non-power! (I still don’t know why he didn’t pay to resurrect someone he liked such as Tori or Syonide.) Him failing to kill a Big Bad each finale ought to be a running gag!

Jeff’s proud dad memories of Jennifer while Gambi made her a supersuit was a wonderful moment. It further justifies not setting the series as Black Lightning’s origin. They daughter-daddy tag-team take down Tobias! (They wouldn’t have had to if the cops remembered to take any witness statements or dying declarations from Khalil.)

The season finale had lots of balls in the air, but doesn’t juggle them as well as last time. The 100-incited riot, Masters of Disaster, & release of the pod kids all seem like afterthoughts when squished together. They didn’t even explain what’s up with Grace Choi being a shapeshifter who may or may not be a weird spin on Metamorpho. Poisoned Reverend Holt & spineless Painkiller (Tobias is a Mortal Kombat fan!) are still alive, which seems like a cop-out. That teleporting assassin finally reappears to extract Dr. Jace for Markovia. The last book definitely could’ve used another chapter.

Despite some stumbles, Black Lightning still feels like a better version of a Netflix Defenders series. Instead of dragging one story out for the whole season, this is split up into mini-arcs delineated by illustrated title cards. It has a reverse bottle episode where the Pierce family has a simultaneous yet separate bad day. That doesn’t mean the pacing is perfect. After getting the ASA briefcase last finale, Whale has to find somebody to work the computer inside, find, the pods, & get the pods open. Rather than being greater than the sum of its parts, I found the episodes to be more enjoyable separately than as a whole.

The tease for next season is that Agent Odell rudely insists Markovia is going to declare war on Freeland (just Freeland, not the rest of the nation) during a heartwarming Pierce family dinner. So far the Markovians characterized like original Klingons. We’ll probably meet versions of Geo-Force & Terra who aren’t just Malcolm Merlyn’s earthquake machines.

Will Black Lightning get integrated into The CW’s Earth-1 after Crisis On Infinite Earths? On one paw, it’s a strong enough show that it could continue being self-contained. It would, however, look racist if the black DC show remains segregated form the rest.

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I suppose I should talk about The Flash again so my upcoming review of the finale will be relatively concise. This season is good so far! I say that about every season though so I may be untrustworthy.

“All Doll’d Up” was the best episode for Barry & Iris as a couple, plus Rag Doll was gnarly too! (Aw, they let him keep his bowtie in prison!) Unlike the Pierces, the West-Allens & their daughter don’t share a lot of happy family memories because of time travel shenanigans. Does “schway toy bat for faster mean West brother” on the Scrabble board foreshadows Nora’s brother (making her half of the Tornado Twins)? Since they made Dawn Nora XS, perhaps he’ll be White Zoom Godspeed or the Red Death namedropped by Captain Singh in The Flash Museum (since they’re not going to be allowed to use an altverse Bruce Wayne).

Vibe suddenly wanting to give up his powers to start a family is dumb. Psychometry & teleportation would be extremely useful in civilian life! You could find out where you lost your keys & instantly retrieve them.

It’s amazing that Elongated Man stopped being sleazy once they fired the sexual harasser. Hartley Sawyer & Cory Michael Smith look like they could be baby giraffe brothers. I like Tom Cavaghnagh’s Quebecois accent as Sherloque & how so many people assume it’s a bad French accent.

This season has introduced meta-tech, objects infused with superpowers by shrapnel from The Thinker’s satellite. It’s unclear whether anybody can use a piece of meta-tech or if it bonds with a specific user. Both Cicadas can wield his Mjolnir-like knife, but that may be because they’re related.

It’s odd they’re setting up Young Rogues when we haven’t even gotten a proper “old” Rogues team-up. I DON’T HAVE TO LOVE REMOTE DETONATION!

Goldface is played by the MCU’s original Thanos, Damion Poitier. Can we get an episode with both him & Blacksmith? Did Norvock regrow his snake-eye or is he a powerless metahuman now?

“King Shark vs. Gorilla Grodd” needed more Grodd. This also applies to the series as a whole. I suppose Grodd’s brief appearance makes this season superior to last by default. I thought he’d at least make mobs of citizens attack the speedsters, but they’re saving that for next time. King Shark still hasn’t sung the epic theme song Gail Simone composed for him. What’re the show’s writers waiting for? (Maybe James Gunn will let him sing it in the Suicide Squad sequel?) I guess they recast Dr. Tanya Lamden because he ate the original.

The way they’ve reimagined Cicada has been interesting, although not so much that he deserves to be such a constant menace. (Chris Klein’s adorably one-note growl undercuts much pathos he could’ve generated.) Every time the team has him on the ropes, they let him escape for no reason. Quit letting him fly off! That bastard killed the only Psybarat anyone vaguely recalls! R.I.P. Razorsharp!

Killer Frost is immune to Cicada’s power-negating power because her metahuman powers weren’t caused by the particle accelerator. This both clears up prior continuity errors (that I’d shrugged off as Flashpoint hijinks) & makes her backstory more confusing! Caitlin’s skating sweater was a hand-knit replica of the one worn by Killer Frost in Bombshells. If her season three jacket doesn’t return, can she make this her official costume?

Barry “Cicada is too powerful!” Caitlin & Iris “Have you tried stabbing him?” Then he gets slain with his own lightning dagger by his successor! Those who live by the lightning-dagger shall die by the lightning-dagger! Being stabbed was truly Cicada’s Achilles heel! Grace Gibbons, collect your Stabby Babs award!

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The pen is mightier than the lightning-dagger!

Having Cicada’s adopted daughter take his mantle in the future is a good idea that fits with the cicada theme & mirrors XS. Now Supergirl’s not the only DCTV series with female Big Bads! Unless it turns out Reverse-Flash is really the Big Bad again who specifically engineered this whole scenario. It’s very likely! (The last time he corrupted the timestream he cured global pollution, thereby inspiring LoT’s “Sometimes we screw things up for the better!” motto.) Of course Cicada II could easily be nullified if the cure was administered to comatose Grace in the present, but the Flash is adamant about getting consent from unrepentant serial killers.

Ezra Miller is rewriting the script for The Flash film (that plan didn’t work out so well for Batfleck) with Grant Morrison! Scottish Mirror Master for the win! Oddly Miller supposedly wants a darker movie than the newest directors, who made the superlative Game Night, pitched. So I guess we’re back to needlessly grimdark DC movies?

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Grodd damn! Doom Patrol debuted Animal-Vegetable-Mineral Man! Well now I’ve got to pirate watch it! With the goofiest comic character brought to life onscreen, Marvel Studios officially has no excuse for depriving the world of the classic Supreme Intelligence!

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 Nakia & M’Baku Vs. Doppelgangers: We Were The Real Monsters All Along Us looks like it’ll be stupendous, but I’ll finally be showcasing my long foreshadowed custom action figure next week! I expect a big drop off in views!

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