Elseworlds Review

Elseworlds

The 2018 Arrowverse crossover was a different kind of beast than the previous two, being less focused on all-out action between teams of people, and more interested in doing three things: explore the psyche of Barry and Oliver, create a backdoor pilot for a Batwoman series, and set things up for 2019’s big crossover. It does all these things well, but it also makes for a less interesting crossover, especially as I’ve had my fill of “evil” versions of the established cast…Let’s take a look, anyway!

Synopsis:

On Earth-90, the Flash manages to escape as a mysterious figure uses a powerful book to destroy that Earth. On Earth-1, the figure gives the book to Arkham Asylum psychiatrist John Deegan, who uses it to rewrite reality according to his will. The following day, Oliver Queen and Barry Allen wake up in each other’s lives; Oliver is the Flash and Barry is the Green Arrow…

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

Cast of Characters:

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Superman takes centre stage! … Not really what the crossover was about, but whatever.

Oliver Queen / Green Arrow (Stephen Amell) – Waking up in Barry’s apartment and being kissed by his wife is somehow not too surprising, it just means Barry’s screwed up the timeline again, somehow… though it soon turns out something far worse is happening…

Barry Allen / The Flash (Grant Gustin) – Barry thinks it’s quite cool to be the Green Arrow and have Oliver’s abilities… until he realises his old friend woke up in the same bed as his wife. Now Barry is in a hurry to get things back the way they should…

Kara Danvers / Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) – Kara is having a hard time on her Earth, being thrown out of the DEO for not revealing her identity. Still, at least her cousin Superman and his wife are back from their visit to Kandor city! Time to have a relaxing visit… or not.

Kate Kane / Batwoman (Ruby Rose) – Kate Kane has been trying to hold what’s left of Gotham city together after her cousin Bruce Wayne and the Batman both mysteriously vanished a few years ago. So when Oliver Queen and Barry Allen suddenly appear in her city, she begins to get worried they’ll only make things worse…

Clark Kent / Superman (Tyler Hoechlin) – Clark has spent a few months in Kandor city with his wife Lois, and the two have decided to move there to raise their child, though before his can say anything about this to his cousin Kara, all hell breaks lose… on another Earth entirely.

John Deegan (Jeremy Davies) – John Deegan is a failure, his crazy idea of psychiatric care has got him more trouble than success. So imagine his surprise when an all-powerful deity gives him a book that allows him to re-write reality to how he sees fit…

The Monitor (LaMonica Garrett) – The Monitor is an God-like entity that exists across the multi-verse, and he knows a major threat is looming, and he needs to find the right people to fight for him…

John Diggle (David Ramsey) – John is used to weird situations, but Barry and Oliver switching bodies is a hard one for him to take. Still, that’s the least of his troubles when Mr. Deegan starts to play with his new toy more…

Iris West (Candice Patton) – The thought of her husband being inside another body is hard for Iris to accept, at least until she hears what she thinks in Oliver Queen give her a beautiful speech…

Felicity Smoak / Overwatch (Emily Rickards) – Felicity also finds it hard to take the news that Barry and Oliver have switched, but given the tough time she and Oliver have been going through recently, it’s just one more thing for the list.

Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes) – Cisco is the laidback funny one of the group, but even he finds it hard to believe the mind-swap… at least until they discover a man with a magic book…

Caitlin Snow / Killer Frost (Danielle Panabaker) – Caitlin is used to mind swapping, at least in terms of her dual personality, but two separate people swapping minds is news to her!

Alex Danvers (Chyler Leigh) – The Alex Danvers of Earth-1 didn’t have Kara as a sister, as her and her cousin’s pod never made it to Earth. She still has the same grit and determination though, or maybe that was just the book talking…

Barry Allen / The Flash (of Earth-90) (John Wesley Shipp) – After faithfully serving Earth-90 for several decades, The Flash saw his world torn apart by the Monitor. Now he must run and warn the other Earths of the upcoming threat…

and many, many more!

The Good:

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As much as it was shoe-horned in, Batwoman was actually a welcome addition to the cast.

When I saw the posters for this event I wasn’t that excited, the idea of a body swap storyline making my eyes roll. I’ll give them credit though, they didn’t go down a super obvious route by making Barry Allen act like Oliver Queen because Oliver is suddenly inside Barry’s body, instead Oliver Queen as we know him wakes up with Barry’s life and powers, and everyone thinking that’s how Barry has always looked like, and visa versa. It immediately stopped the “look at Grant Gustin trying to act like Steven Amell!” joke out of the equation, which given the length of the story, is a good thing. It also lead to both of the characters gaining greater respect and appreciation for each other after dealing with what makes their powers work, mentally (Oliver having to deal with Barry’s hopefullness and humour, and Barry having to deal with Oliver’s tendency to go to a dark place when he needs too) It further solidified the two main male heroes of the Arrowverse.

Another thing Elseworlds did well was introduce us to the Arrowverse version of Gotham, which is even more lawless than it’s normally depicted as being thanks to the Earth-1 version of Bruce Wayne / Batman having gone missing several years ago. Kate Kane is at least a different kind of lead character, with Episode 2 of this crossover serving as a pilot for her own show. She’s more of a tough “bad ass” kind of hero, but cocky and brash, with less broody-ness, so not just a female Oliver Queen. It could work well on its own, though after the TV series Gotham nailed the Batman rouge gallery so well, I don’t fancy the Arrowverse version of the villains’ chances of living up to those performances… Batwoman herself though, was good, both in and out of costume.

It was once again a pleasure to see Tyler Hoechlin’s Superman, so full of hope and smiles (like a good Superman should be!) and the debut of Earth-90 Flash, which is indeed the Flash from the 1990 TV series, once again played by John Wesley Shipp. This of course confuses everyone as he has now played Barry’s Dad from Earth-1 and Jay Garrick from Earth-3 on top of returning to his original role of Barry Allen. Earth-90 Flash was barely a cameo mind you, which was sort of disappointing given he was the focus of the teaser for this crossover…

While the few bits of action were good, like everyone fighting A.M.A.Z.O., who was thrown in for the hell of it, or the breakout at Arkham, and of course the final showdown with John Deegan (who had rewritten reality to make himself the Earth-1 Superman, literally down to the body and voice) was good fun, I think my favourite bits were the  teases for next year’s “Crisis on Infinite Earths” crossover. I’ve actually read the original comic story, and if the Arrowverse version is even half as crazy as that was, I’m really looking forward to it!

The Bad:

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“Now I give to you the power to rewrite reality in any way you see fit!”  “Wow! .. Why me?”   “I don’t know. Bit of a laugh, I guess.”

I enjoyed the central premise of the story, that some random, somewhat crazy man has suddenly got the power to re-write the world as he sees fit thanks to the all-powerful Monitor giving him the ability to, but I do have to ask why? The Monitor wanted to test the people of this Earth, apparently, but in that case why didn’t he use the book himself and directly test them, not leave it to the whim of a random person. We see him literally destroy Earth-90 personally, so why didn’t he do this on this Earth? More to the point, why did John Deegan swap Barry and Oliver’s lives for? Let’s face it, it was John Deegan who works at Arkham Asylum for no other reason than to get out heroes to Gotham so they can tease the new Batwoman series, and logic had to take a backseat.

Speaking of taking a backseat, it has to be said that Kara / Supergirl was in this for the sake of having the three shows crossover, and nothing more. She didn’t really do anything other than help out with the fights, the core story was about Oliver and Barry, plus the debut of Batwoman. Sure, she met a reality-altered version of the Earth-1 Alex Danvers, which would have been great if this finally answered the question of what Earth-1 Alex is doing (but it doesn’t, because again, reality-altered!) and we now have an answer to the “why doesn’t Superman help?” question for the rest of the Supergirl as Superman and Lois are having a child and are going to raise it on Kandor City, but in general, she was just tagging along. The Legends of Tomorrow were left off of the crossover entirely, maybe they should have done the same here…

In the final half of the story we saw loads of “evil” versions of our heroes working for Deegan, and it just reminded me of “Crisis on Earth-X” from last year again, which in turn reminded me of a lot of the Earth-2 evil doppelgängers that appeared before that… and not to mention a seemingly evil version of Supergirl that’s being teased on that show right now! They need to come up with a different plot device…

Overall Thoughts:

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Nothing can beat the 90s Flash for padded muscles and the square-ist of square jaws.

Elseworlds was a fun watch, but it was also a far more lower key affair, and felt more of a way of establishing a new show and planning for 2019 than it did a proper, all-guns blazing cross-over like the previous two stories. Plus the central premise just didn’t make sense to me, which does hurt the story a lot. I guess this lands somewhere in the middle, there were bits I liked and bits I didn’t, but hopefully “Crisis of Infinite Earths” will be a better pay-off because of Elseworlds’ existence…

3 Star Watch

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