A DC-TV Primer: the CW Network’s superhero lineup,
Note: I have never been sure of the proper way to stylize the names of books, movies and television shows. Some say to italicize the titles of books and put the titles of TV shows and movies in quotes. Some say it is the other way around. I do not care, frankly, I never have. As long as it is consistent throughout the piece I am reading. If the next blog or article or book then does something different – it doesn’t bother me as long as it is consistent within that same text. I italicize both comic book titles and movie and TV program names in this exercise. It may be wrong, but at least it is consistent.
When I think of the CW Network’s lineup of DC Comics superheroes my mind goes back to the fall of 1976.
At that time DC created what we would now call an imprint line of four comic books. An “imprint” is a series of comic books that are not necessarily part of the line’s mainstream comic. The imprint books share a similar theme. There have been imprints aimed solely at children, for example. The Image imprint featured comics with mature themes and art – not for the kids – with creator-owned characters. The Milestone imprint from DC comics was set in a comic book universe outside that of Superman and Batman and featured African American characters and creators.
In 1976 four comics were published by DC with a television theme. DC-TV they called it, and the company even changed its logo for these comic books. The four comics featured television shows that aired at the time (or were about to debut): Superfriends, Welcome Back Kotter and Isis (no, not that Isis) debuted. The fourth was Shazam (the adventures of the original Captain Marvel – but DC dare not use his name on any comic book covers lest Marvel Comics finally get their sweet litigious revenge on National Comics … but that is a whole other story), a comic that had been around for a few years but was on hiatus until the Saturday morning live-action show aired. Kotter and Isis lasted ten and eight issues respectively, Shazam started their TV run with #25 and lasted through #33; after that it changed its style for the next two issues before cancellation (although the character and title continue to be revived these forty years later). Superfriends lasted for several more years – until 1981 over 47 issues – boosted not only by the successful cartoon but also by the familiarity of the characters – Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman and Robin.
Reviews and commentary of those four comics would make a fun blog series … maybe given time I will do it!
Forward to 2016. Forty years on I am tickled to see history repeat itself with another DC-TV connection.
This fall season the CW network will air a superhero program based on DC characters each weeknight Monday through Thursday (the rumor of Constantine being added on Fridays are unfortunately untrue).
DC has published comic books based on the shows – or has added some of the television regulars to their existing continuity (in the Flash comic book for example).
This blog series will be a primer for those who (like me) are finally jumping into the new DC-TV pool of programs. I hope to discuss and review all four (maybe five) shows that are soon to begin their new seasons on the CW.
Starting your viewing at this point (particularly Arrow, which begins its fifth season) will only make you … Lost, if you get my meaning.
I promise that I will use spoiler alerts. But you will generally learn nothing that you won’t be able to find out on IMDB and on the “Previously on …” front tags of each show.
My only child turns seven in October, right around the time the CW will begin its new season. She loves to read and play games – whether board games or on the computer.
This means that my days of staring at a parade of purple dinosaurs, child explorers and a prime-colored Australian singing quartet are done. Oh, I still have to sit through Frozen every few days, or some other Disneyanic Princess derivation, but shows aimed at children … no more.
So of course I fill my time watching TV shows about super-heroes!!
Hey, you can’t watch the Sopranos all the time …
I heard good things about the CW line-up from Facebook and “real” (haha) friends and I was finally able to see what all their posts and comments were about.
Netflix has the first three seasons of Arrow and the first season of Flash available for binge-watching. The entire run of Constantine is available on the CW’s website, and the network is rerunning Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow until their new seasons start. CW is only running a few episodes from seasons four and two of Arrow and Flash respectively. I hope the entire season will soon be on Netflix or elsewhere before or during the new seasons. I don’t mind keeping the shows on Tivo for a few weeks while I catch up.
The only trouble is these shows are linked.
Don’t stop reading! By that I mean that the shows cross over, but they are not one long continued story. You won’t have to jump from one program to another! So don’t panic. In comic book terms, they share the same universe.
(They WILL do have a continued storyline during November sweeps – Supergirl will be chasing a villain through all four shows during one week.)
It’s been done. Remember when Murder She Wrote and Magnum PI had a continued story? There were two (I think) great Law & Order/Homicide shared storylines too. NBC was notorious for this in the 1980s and 1990s: one example is a hurricane hitting Florida affecting the plots of the Golden Girls, Nurses and Empty Nest all in one evening’s programming.
And who can forget the universal nexus of Sam’s General Store in the Beverly Hillbillies/Petticoat Junction/Green Acres? (Try as I might … )
Here’s what I mean:
The explosion that opened the Flash series is mentioned in Arrow. When the character Arrow (note that the TV show is italicized, the character is not) changes his costume slightly, Flash mentions it. Flash and Arrow regular Felicity Smoak had a brief romance. Heroes, side-characters and villains would pop up in each other’s programs.
I watched Flash first. By the time of Flash season one, Arrow was in season three. It did not make for confused viewing, but it gave away some of the plot points when I later watched early Arrow episodes (we meet Felicity and Diggle in Season One of Arrow – will they be allies or enemies? It was fun to watch the development, but I already knew the outcome). And there WERE some spoilers, “I’m sorry to hear about so-and-so’s death.” Arrgh!
I will do my reviews in the order in which the episodes will air: Supergirl first, then Flash, Arrow, Legends of Tomorrow and finally Constantine (as of the writing of this blog series, Constantine has not yet been officially added to the line-up. I’ll discuss it anyway; I am a big fan of the show having finally seen it and would LOVE to have it added).
Original Material Copyright 2016 Michael Curry
Characters mentioned and their images are copyright their respective holders. Thanks to DC Comics, the CW Network and Berlanti Productions and the actors portrayed for the use of their images.
I also thank the original creators of all characters mentioned, whether or not they have been properly compensated (gratmens during the credits aside).