DCAU #155: Speed Demons

IN THIS ONE... The Superman-Flash race is interrupted by the Weather Wizard's machinations.

CREDITS: Written by Rich Fogel; directed by Toshihiko Masuda (Anamaniacs, Bleach, Ponyo, Howl's Moving Castle...).

REVIEW: A team-up with a major superhero who has yet to appear and NOT that character's introductory story? And not just using an established Flash, but one of his rogues (though on his first supervillain job) as well? It seems to open the DCAU up in a way the Batman series never did. I didn't get this feeling from Lobo, but Flash? That's big! And doing the classic race bit, as well. What fun! There's a nice spectrum of international locations during the event, and a beautiful appearance by a sperm whale. Just lovely.

Okay, my favorite version of the story would entail the heroes actually finishing the race, even if they do have to take detours to help people. The stakes of the race aren't such that this needs to happen, and I do like the open-ended final scene, but there's too much time spent off the race course for my tastes. And maybe the Flash is too arrogant, a jerk really, more than impulsive, cocky. But so long as he gets to do various superspeed tricks and Superman does too (the Man of Steel gets into the Weather Wizard's base using a combination of strength and speed), I'm mostly happy.

And though you'd think the Weather Wizard would be a fairly weak foe for Superman, they make his powers rather more epic than normal (and yet, make it clear his wand won't be that powerful in whatever Central City rematches we're not priv to), with remote access to any part of the world. He also proves an able manipulator, complicit in this distraction (which also powers his equipment) and tracking the heroes all the while. The stormy seas, the coldsnap blizzard, the storm front hitting the muddy road, and the hurricane are all well realized and create ample opportunity for superheroics. Though this isn't the Flash's show, he's not left out in the cold, and gets to complement and sometimes surpass Superman, while also allowing for moments where he's outclassed and the Man of Steel must save the day. That's a well-balanced team-up. Here's to more.

IN THE COMICS: The Superman-Flash race is a comics tradition and happened several times. Superman first raced Barry Allen for charity in Superman #199 (1967); they broke the finish line tape simultaneously. The rematch came, that same year, in Flash #175. This time, they were forced to by alien gamblers threatening to vaporize their home cities; they turned out to be Abra Kadabra and Professor Zoom, and the heroes quit the race in favor or stopping them. World’s Finest Comics #198 (1970) brought us a third race, this one across the universe, set up by the Guardians. The Flash won, but no one was there to witness it; it was more about keeping some kind of cosmic balance, yadda-yadda. A race in TIME happened in DC Comics Presents #2 (1978) to prevent history from being changed. Then, Superman switched partners. Races against Wally West include a Mxyzptlk event held in Adventures of Superman #463 (1990) - Flash won in a photo finish - and a three-way with Jay Garrick in DC 1st: Flash / Superman #1 (2002) in which both Flashes were faster than Superman. The is Flash is this story is definitely Wally West based on costume and attitude, and more or less confirmed, despite the change of voice actor, in Justice League. The Weather Wizard is more powerful than he normally was in the comics, but essentially the same character, right down to having a brother (but named Clyde, not Ben).

SOUNDS LIKE: The voice of the Flash in this episode is Charlie Schlatter's, he was TV's Ferris Bueller, but is mostly known for voice work. Michael Rosenbaum took over the role in Justice League. The Weather Wizard is played by Miguel Ferrer (Robocop, Mulan, Iron Man 3). The Mayor is noticeably Carl Lumbly from Alias and MANTIS, the DCAU's future Martian Manhunter. General Richter is voiced by Marion Cunningham herself from Happy Days, Marion Ross.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-High
- A cool, classic comic bit.

2 comments:

LiamKav said...

It's interesting that the Flash in Justice League is written pretty much the same way, but manages to do the charming/obnoxious balancing act so much better. Is it just because we spend more time with him? Or is Rosenbaum just that more charming?

One thing people forget is that when Wally originally took over from Barry, he was still using his costume. It took a bit of time before he made his own adjustements (namely, changing the belt, removing the wings from the boots, darkening the colour, and getting Batman-style white irises, although they'd be gone again after a few years.)

Siskoid said...

The Wally in Justice League was much more intimidated by the established heroes around him, so less arrogant. He came off as immature, but couldn't sustain a "better than you" stance.

 

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