Superheroes in a Dangerous Time, or Fear and Loathing in the Arrowverse

Elseworlds

Best part of my year, TV-wise. Well, except for those two days when I have new BoJack Horseman to watch.
Image: CW

This has little to do with our larger theme, but it’s hard to talk about the Arrowverse and not mention the annual crossover, every one of which should have been required viewing for the writers of The Defenders.

Oliver Queen and Barry Allen wake to find they’ve switched places: Oliver is the Flash, Barry is the Green Arrow, and none of their friends and loved ones can tell that anything’s wrong, meaning they turn to Supergirl for backup, as being on another Earth means she wasn’t affected.

The annual Arrowverse crossovers have been steadily escalating, from Flash and Green Arrow simply popping by each other’s cities to the combined heroes of four series (minus almost everyone from Supergirl) fighting off an army of Nazis from Earth-X. So this year… this year they took a step back. Focused on what’s always been the core of the crossovers… a team-up adventure for Green Arrow and the Flash, and also Supergirl is here. (The Legends of Tomorrow took the year off, allowing them to do the incredibly fun time-caper “Legends of To-Meow-Meow,” and its three increasingly hilarious alternate title sequences.)

Yes, if this year’s crossover has a flaw, it’s that they sometimes struggled to fit Kara into the fun, as they mostly focused on Oliver and Barry. But given how well those two play off each other, and how fun their banter was throughout? It’s hard to blame them.

So no alien armadas, no armies, no evil doppelgangers–okay some evil doppelgangers in part three– just one disgraced psychiatrist given a book with the ability to rewrite all of reality. Okay, so, still kind of a major threat, one that takes all three heroes and chunks of their support staff to stop, but still… smaller scale.

Because, see, the point of Elseworlds was to set up next season’s crossover, and it is going to be a damn doozy. They’re taking on the biggest comics crossover of all damn time: Crisis on Infinite Earths. I don’t know how they’re going to tackle it, but hoo doggy I’m excited. But in the meantime, they gave us something lighter to bridge the gap between major Crises. Something with plenty of humour, meta-jokes at their own shows, the introduction of Ruby Rose as Batwoman (and confirmation that Batman exists in the Arrowverse, though he’s been missing for a spell), the first appearance of Arrowverse Lois Lane (Superman gets to play this year!), a comics-accurate Amazo five years after they changed him from a power-stealing android into a boat, Oliver refusing to believe Batman’s real, Remy Zero’s “Somebody Save Me” kicking in as Barry and Oliver head to Smallville (with its very familiar skyline and Kent farmhouse), a good villain turn from Lost/Justified’s Jeremy Davies, John Wesley Shipp back in his Flash suit from the 1990 Flash series, and introducing key Crisis players the Monitor and Psycho Pirate.

Hot damn this was a fun ride. Even if they did set up the possible… fine, extremely probable death of Green Arrow in the Crisis. I guess it needed to be, since the previous year’s crossover killed a beloved (by me) character and Crisis On Infinite Earths ain’t known for being gentle.

Okay, back on topic.

Next Page: Getting to the good stuff

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