John Ostrander: “My Mysteries are Many for I am TV’s ‘Legion'”

LEGION
by John Ostrander

And you may ask yourself
How do I work this?
And you may ask yourself
Where is that large automobile?
And you may tell yourself
This is not my beautiful house!
And you may tell yourself
This is not my beautiful wife!

• Talking Heads, Once In a Lifetime

Okay, I’ve finally found a TV superhero show I like more than The Flash, which is saying a lot. It’s Legion, Wednesdays at 10 PM (ET) on FX, and it stars Dan Stevens in a role that’s world’s away from his stint on Downton Abbey. He plays David Haller, a man who may be the world’s strongest telepath and, because of his schizophrenia – their diagnosis, not mine – perhaps the most dangerous.

The show is from 20th Century Fox in association with Marvel TV and is the first to link with the X-Men movie franchise which, for contractual and bureaucratic reasons, is separate from the Mighty Marvel Movie Franchise over at Disney. It’s not only unlike any other superhero TV show out there. In fact, it’s different from any other TV show, period.

What makes Legion so different is the use of the concept of the Unreliable Narrator. That concept means the reader/viewer cannot trust the facts of the story as presented. The device is most commonly used in fiction with a first person narrator, but it can be used in film and television and it’s being used very effectively here in two ways.

The show’s creator and showrunner, Noah Hawley (who also wrote and directed the first episode), wants the show to be told from Haller’s perspective. The story is about him, but since he can’t trust his own memories neither can we. His perception of reality around him may be off as well. David is an unreliable narrator.

At the same time, Hawley skews the design elements so that they match Haller’s mindset and are disorientating to us. His way of presenting David’s life cannot be wholly trusted either. Hawley is also an unreliable narrator.

There’s a key moment in the first episode when David’s being held at Clockworks Psychiatric Hospital (which itself seems to be a nod to A Clockwork Orange) where he is drugged, tested, questioned, evaluated. There’s a strong suggestion of a sinister governmental organization – as if there is any other kind – called Division 3 who seem ready to kill Haller.

David is eventually rescued by his sort of girlfriend named Sid and people connected with a place called Summerland run by Dr. Melanie Bird. There’s running and people shooting at them but, in the middle of the escape, David stops and begs of Sid, “Is all this really happening? Are you real?” She reassures them that it is happening, she is real, and they must run.

Those questions, for me, are the center of the episode and maybe of the series. Is this real? Is this happening? Can David trust it? Can we?

In the second episode, David – now safely (?) at Summerland, is being helped by Dr. Bird and her associates. Dr. Bird insists that David is not crazy; the voices he hears are part of his telepathic powers manifesting and always have been. One of her associates helps guides David through buried or forgotten memories but, again, we’re not certain how reliable those memories are and neither is he.

As I’ve been thinking about the show, I’m now questioning even what I think I know. What if Summerland is not the beneficial place we’ve been told it is? What if kindly Dr. Bird is not all that kindly and the evil Division 3 folks are really the good guys? What if David Haller himself is not a “hero” but more of an anti-hero or even an outright villain? He’s is the Legion of the title and I’m put in mind of the gospels of Mark and Luke where Jesus meets a man possessed of demons who says “My name is Legion for we are many.” David has a lot of voices inside him.

If you know my work, you can see why I’m fascinated by the show. It may not be for everyone; you may prefer your heroes and villains a little more clearly identified. Me, I’m fascinated by it. I like murky.

The character of Legion was created by Chris Claremont and Bill Sienkiewicz in Marvel’s The New Mutants #25 where he was the son of Charles Xavier, Professor X of the X-Men. The TV show doesn’t precisely follow the comics’ continuity but I think it’s very true to the concept, re-interpreting it for this day and age. I’m fine with that.

The show demands attention and some thought. I hope that it has some answers for the questions it poses, unlike such shows as Twin Peaks and The X-Files). Right now, I’ve settled in for the ride.

And you may ask yourself
What is that beautiful house?
And you may ask yourself
Where does that highway go to?
And you may ask yourself
Am I right? Am I wrong?
And you may say yourself, “My God! What have I done?”

Same as it ever was. Same as it ever was. Same as it ever was. Same as it ever was.


John Ostrander quite simply is one of LB’s favorite writers in any medium. Don’t forget to read his most excellent blog at ComicMix, where this piece first appeared.

Peggy Bechko’s World of the Innocent, the Eager & the Doomed

“My hopes, dreams and aspirations were no match against my poor spelling, punctuation and grammar.” Red Red Rover

Okay writers, is that you? It might be, even if you aren’t aware of it. Yeah, yeah, I know, it’s the STORY that counts, right?

Hmmm, well, yes. BUT, if you can’t get anyone to read your story because you just can’t handle the basics then your STORY won’t mean much.

People are busy… editors and producers even more so. They don’t have time to mess around with your work if it’s littered with spelling errors, grammar that makes no sense and punctuation that throws everything into a tailspin.

You can sit there at your computer and argue with me all you want in your head, but facts are facts (no, there are no ‘alternative facts’). If your material is all but unreadable it won’t get read.

Readers for screen scripts don’t have the time to mess with it and it sure won’t reach a producer’s hands (unless you know him personally and put it in his hands, in which case he won’t read past the first few pages). An editor will pitch a fit.

So, what to do if your skills are lacking. You can take some courses, not a bad idea in any regard. But there are helps out there.

You can try Grammarly.  Sign up for an account and get the free version to test out. If it’s really helpful and you really like it, there’s a fee-based version you can go with

No, I’m not associated with Grammarly in any way. I don’t get paid. Your choice. I have used it and found it helpful. Be careful not to take what it tells you too literally as you’re writing fiction, not staid business correspondence.

There are some of my favorite books as well. They’re small, slim volumes by Karen Elizabeth Gordon. Picked them up while working in a college bookstore so mine are kind of old and battered hardcovers:

The New Well-Tempered Sentence: A Punctuation Handbook for the Innocent, the Eager, and the Doomed

The Deluxe Transitive Vampire: The Ultimate Handbook of Grammar for the Innocent, the Eager, and the Doomed

Both of these books are amusing and helpful and have been on my writing shelf for years. Yes, you read that correctly. I can still get myself into a corner when it comes to spelling, punctuation and grammar.

Despite the fact that it’s obvious and a lot of you reading this will groan, pay attention to whatever writing software you’re using.

MS Word, Scrivener (you can get a 30 day free trial on this one!) and most dedicated script softwares have features that highlight errors in some way.

I’ve just begun using Scrivener and despite the learning curve I’m coming to love it. And it even has a ‘script’ writing element. Check it out if you’re interested. (Again, I’m not profiting from mentioning it).

These are the tools I use. You may have discovered equally wonderful, or even more wonderful ones you use. If you have suggestions go ahead and post them in the comment box. It never hurts any of us to have new tools in the tool box!


Peggy Bechko is a TVWriter™ Contributing Editor. blog. Learn more about her HERE. Peggy’s new comic series, Planet of the Eggs, written and illustrated with Charlene Brash-Sorensen is available on Kindle. And, while you’re at it, visit the Planet of the Eggs Facebook page and her terrific blog.

David Perlis reviews ‘Rogue One’

EDITOR’S NOTE: It’s begging a thousand pardons time as TVWriter™ acknowledges that we fucked up bigtime. We’ve had David Perlis’ review of Rogue One for months now but totally lost track of its place in our Secret Subterranean Vault, and it only re-surfaced yesterday.

Our apologies to David and Star Wars fandom as a whole for depriving them of David’s opinions back when they were timely. Forgive us – puhleeze!

Okay, David, we’ve abased ourselves enough, yeah? Over to you, dood:

Rogue One Review…Finally!
by David Perlis

THE ACCURATE AND NUANCED PLOT SUMMARY

A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away…

Young Ian McKellen blackmails bad-guy turned good-guy Galen Erso into building the Death Star. Fifteen years later, Captain-Rebel finds Galen’s daughter Jin (Jyn? Gin? Jen?), to help find Forest Whitaker (a sort of Che Guevara—whose name, I think, actually was Che Guevara), to find the pilot guy, to find Galen, to find the Death Star plans. Along the way, they pick up Donnie Yen and Donnie Yen’s friend. No one knows their names. Not even the writers. CGI Tarkin is taking credit for all of Sir Ian’s work, so Sir Ian complains to Vader, who has a mother fucking castle on Mustafar with a mother fucking BACTA TANK! That was cool. Vader calls Sir Ian whiney (I could have done without Vader’s puns), so Sir Ian flies to Deep Space 9. Galen dies. Jin flies to the planet that DS9 hovers over to steal the Death Star plans. Master switch and satellites abound. More rebels show up and botch everything. Master switch and satellite and a big battle—then Jin steals the plans. The Death Star arrives, and Sir Ian has this rather beautifully moment of realization that his life’s passion is about to pee all over him in the form of a big green Super Laser.

The entire cast is blown up.

And you think it’s over, right? NOPE! ‘Cause just as the rebels escape, Vader shows up, and I swear, it’s the best five minutes in cinematic history. Vader goes fucking ape shit, and even though you know they escape with the plans, you just keep thinking “Jesus Christ! They’re gonna lose! Vader is right there, and they’re gonna fucking lose!” And your concrete memories of exactly what happens in A New Hope are put into serious doubt, but then of course they escape, and the movie ends with a shot of CGI C-Fish saying “Hope.”

QUESTION FROM THE AUDIENCE

Got it. But how did yesterday’s far superior and inspired post give a respectable B- to a film that you, yourself, suggested can largely be ignored for a good romp in the sack?

Rogue One is good. Sex is better.

WHY SEX IS BETTER THAN ROGUE ONE

Good sex is better. The kind you have in the back of a packed theatre. With Red Hots. And THX.

The final five or so minutes alone make this movie a blessing in mine eyes. Vader slaughtering the rebels? My oh my!  And there were other moments throughout that really lit me up…can’t think of ’em right now. Anyhoo!—overall, the movie just didn’t suck me in the way a good ole’ garbage chute getaway does. I doubt I’ll be watching Rogue One yearly, as I do with the Original Trilogy—and I chalk that up to a few different things:

MISSED OPPORTUNITIES

Forest Whitaker’s Che Guevera was cool. Cool like Luke—from Cool Hand Luke. A rebel extremist at odds with our familiar band of heroes. A paranoid, maybe even schizo, cyborg. Hell yeah. I tell ya, I was prepared to watch an anti-hero test our protagonist’s morals and start fucking up best-laid plans in Acts II and III before succumbing to his fatal flaws. Greek drama at its finest. Instead, he’s killed off on the fringe of Acts I and II, never serving more than a hiccup of an obstacle, and adding twenty-odd minutes of “so what?”

I’m not sure what writers saw as Che’s dramatic purpose, but every hope I had for him basically fizzled out with an anti-climactic death. Boo.

By the way, that “fatal flaw” is known as “hammartia” in pretentious drama-speak. Yeeeeep.

MEGO

It’s a criticism one of my 4000-level writing profs turned me onto back in college. MEGO: My Eyes Glazed Over. Like when your mind just won’t process the logorrhea served up to you, but fuck it, you’ll fake it later.

I’m afraid I had my share of Rogue One MEGOs. It usually happens when there’s a lot of lateral plot points, without going deeper into the complexity of existing plot points.

QUESTION FROM THE AUDIENCE

Lateral plot points? Wut? MEGO, man! MEGO!

Just sayin, having to find this dude, to get to that dude, cause of this dude…it’s a set series of road bumps that I just want to get to the end of ’cause it could basically be condensed with no real change. I sorta ignored all of Rogue One‘s technical details for the same reason. Hyperdrive doesn’t work? Got it. Need to shut down a tractor beam? Right there with ya. But master switch, ’cause satellite, but the shield and oops tangled power cordwhatever, there’s laser beams, so I’ll just…Yeah. Hand me a Red Hot?

Miss a line of dialogue, and your understanding for the next ten minutes is reduced to “rebels vs Empire.” But it’s at least explosive.

QUESTION FROM THE AUDIENCE

You’re bummin’ me out, man! Can’t you give me something positive?! I already bought my ticket!

No problema! (I’d also like to direct you to my lighter, more respectable post from yesterday).

GALEN ERSO: THE GALAXY’S FIRST SCIENTIST

I bet you never even noticed that Star Wars was scientist-free before now. Didja? Didja?!

Had he spent too much time onscreen, I might have lost interest in Mr. Erso. But oh how those crafty writers kept him elusive and mysterious, perfectly balancing his evil deeds with his misgivings. I love his stoicism. I love his empathy. I love that I remember his name.

Yes, Mr. Erso adds a lovely shade of gray to our “light” and “dark” Star Wars arenas. Gray—just like his beautiful, thick locks. His engineering genius is a welcome addition to our normal cast of philosophers, pilots, smugglers, knights, politicians, bounty hunters, farmers, salesman, and 1960s fry cooks. I wish he would have worn a space visor, but, I can forgive that one.

Galen Erso. Solid A+ for me.

Shit. I just remembered those Kamino cloner dudes. That was pretty sciencey. They’ve ruined my point, and now I hate that movie even more.

Moving on? Moving on.

PILOT GUY

That’s all he will ever be to me: Pilot Guy. Just like “Oversized Munchkin,” Or “Stupid Podracer Kid.” He got us from A to Z by filling gaps other characters couldn’t. But that’s about it. Pilot Guy: Licensed Gap Filler. (I swear, if anyone makes a lewd comment…) And it’s not just Pilot Guy. He’s just the poster child for the others, like Donnie Yen, and Donnie Yen’s friend. Just kinda there. No real dramatic intention. Sometimes you toss him a problem only he can solve—maybe something with the master switch!—but that’s about it.

No, I didn’t much care for Pilot Guy—But this comes with one very important caveat. (“Caveat” may not be the right word, but I can’t think of the one I want. So we’ll stick with “caveat.”)

THE IMPORTANT CAVEAT TO DISLIKING PILOT GUY (AND EVERYONE ELSE)

The capacity to forget Pilot Guys does work beautifully in one way: He may be nothing more than Pilot Guy to me, but you can’t help but feel that, in the long run, that’s all he was to the alliance, too. One of the many forgettable pilot guys. Ya don’t see portraits of him, or Captain-Rebel or Jin Erso lined up at the altar when Luke, Han, and Chewie get their shiny medals, do ya? In our decades long war, lots of people die, and lots of people are forgotten. Rogue One is the story of unsung heroes, and I appreciate that about it.

Rest in peace, Pilot Guy.

The Greatest Success of Rogue One

I think the prime directive (someone’s going to murder me for that one) for Rogue One was to bridge the prequels with the Original Trilogy. A piece of a greater puzzle. From all the small continuity nods (killing off Red Five, anyone?) to the fan boy moments (seriously—Vader in a bacta tank), it satisfies all those little questions we ever had with little complaint. If that’s it’s only job, it does it brilliantly, and I give it an A.

But I feel compelled to look at a movie’s ability to stand on its own two legs, no matter its primary purpose. And for all the reasons I’ve already mentioned, I’ve gotta take it from the A down to the B-. Maybe a B if I’m high.

And there it is, my friends. A much too long, and unnecessary review of Rogue One. Be sure to comment below.


David Perlis is a screenwriter and former People’s Pilot Finalist doing his best to break into the even Bigger Time.

How Not to Be A Writer

This article about Westworld’s truly obnoxious writer character, Lee Sizemore, is in a word irresistible.

Don’t be like this, kids. No matter how much you wish you could get away with it…in real life, nuh-uh.

How Not to Be A Writer: Lessons from Westworld’s Obnoxious Writer Character Lee Sizemore
by Pinar Tarhan

Westworld is an impressive sci-fi, drama and mystery series on HBO. It recently completed its first season, and got nominated for a couple of Golden Globe Awards. I’ll be soon posting my review on my entertainment blog; I’m a huge fan.

The casting is pretty terrific: Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton, James Marsden, Ben Barnes, Anthony Hopkins and Ed Harris.

But for those who haven’t seen it, here is a brief rundown of what’s what: (No spoilers):

Westworld is an advanced theme park where guests mingle with (and do pretty much anything they want to or with) the park’s residents: Magnificent AI robots that look, act, think and feel like humans. The catch is that they don’t know they are AIs, and the “merciful” creator of the park, Ford (Anthony Hophins) has designed them and the rules so that they don’t remember what they have done or what they have gone through. This causes an infinite loop for them: living the same day over and over again, with the exceptions of what the guests have in mind.

The “main” AIs are Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) and Maeve (Thandie Newton). Dolores leads a peaceful existence in their Wild West town with her parents. Maeve runs the brothel.

While some guests prefer family friendly tours and activities, others love wrecking havoc and mayhem: Man in Black (Ed Harris) is on a quest to make the most of it by reaching levels not achieved by other guests. He commits murder, rapes, attacks, tortures….Whatever to get him closer to get to that level.

How Not To Be A Writer: 5 Important Lessons from Westworld

And behind it all is a corporation that has to deal with politics, and the board members are not always pleased with how Ford operates. There is also the work of Lee Sizemore (Simon Quarterman), the writer whose job is to come up with entertaining AI storylines.

Lee is pretty much a guide on how not to be a writer, man or a human being. He’s obnoxious, insincere, closed to criticism, immature, opportunistic, and insincere. Everyone either hates him, is annoyed by him, or just doesn’t give a damn about him.

Ford thinks he is a joke and mostly ignores or changes whatever he writes. The board sees him as a pawn they can use or discard according to what they need….

Read it all at Pinar Tarhan’s blog

Dennis O’Neil: Ha Ha Ha

by Dennis O’Neil

Here’s the plan. You’ll wait until the office is closed for the day and the lights are all out and then, possibly wearing a tool belt, you’ll sneak inside and remove the appliance from its place near the big chair and take it home and put it on the couch and sit next to it. Then you’ll tune in NBC’s new comedy, Powerless. (Did I mention that this will be on Thursday night?)

You’ll turn on the laughing gas machine, the one that belongs to your dentist and place the mask over your nose and mouth. This is necessary, according to you, because you might not find the show funny and yet it’s supposed to make you laugh and if it doesn’t you’ll feel frustrated and to avoid this ugly feeling you can sniff the laughing gas and have yourself a good chuckle and maybe a gas-induced laugh is better than none at all.

Enough of that.

I know very little about Powerless, not much more than it’s about an insurance company that deals with the collateral damage that would inevitably accompany the damage superheroes cause while doing their superstuff. Not the worst premise I’ve ever encountered.

This is not new, this conflation of humor with superheroics.

A few weeks back, I mentioned Herbie the Fat Fury, who appeared in the American Comics Group titles, and Hoppy the Marvel Bunny, part of the Captain Marvel posse,  and The Inferior Five which, if memory serves, was about a quintet of costumed goofballs who did superheroish feats of the goofball variety. And on television there were Captain Nice and Mr. Terrific, whose live action adventures may have been inspired by Batman.

Ah, Batman. Saving the best for last, were we? Batman, of course, was a comic book crusader for years before he made his way to the tube. He had also appeared in two movie serials, in newspapers, and as an occasional guest star on the Superman radio series. So it was probably no great surprise that he’d pop into your living room sooner or later.

But how he popped – that may have qualified as a surprise. This Batman was not merely a dark clad vigilante who prowled the city ever seeking to avenge his parents’ murder by assaulting crime wherever it was found – he was a dark-clad comedian who assaulted crime. Yep. Funny ha-ha kind of dude.

I won’t burden you with my opinions on how Batman’s comedy was achieved. Let’s just agree that is was achieved, for a while quite successfully. Then public taste moved on, leaving Batman to a protracted afterlife in rerun city. Quirky thing: Adults coming to the show for the first time tend to see it as what is was intended to be: funny. Kids, though, are more likely to enjoy it as action-adventure. I await explanations but not, I confess, on tenterhooks.

Meanwhile, we have a new show to sample.

Maybe we’re lucky.


Dennis O’Neil is one of the top writer-editors in comics, having guided the careers of just about every superhero the world has ever heard of. He’s also a damn fine writer of TV. LB still remembers that time he and Denny collaborated, without ever knowing they were doing so. Or knowing each other either. Ah, the magic of TV! This post was first published in Denny’s column at ComicMix.

Peggy Bechko’s World of Writing Myths

by Peggy Bechko

Here’s the first writing myth that needs exploding – “Being a writer is a good way to get rich quick!”

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA – need I say more?

Well, maybe I do. Yes, it’s true, there have been those rare souls whether through luck, talent, connections or some incredible combination thereof, have become ‘overnight’ writing successes in a big way. I guess that would be ‘get rich quick’.

But, TRUTH – that is so rare you might win the lottery first. Writing, whether script or novel or articles or anything takes time and disciple and it can take a while before the writer is paid anything! Submit, submit, submit. Look for an agent – convince him or her how great you are. Write more. Submit more. You get it and no doubt you’ve been there.

The ones who’ve ‘gotten rich quick’ have almost always taken years to do it. You’re a writer – so write. Write because you love films and want to be a part of it. Write because you love the well-plotted novel and creating one just as good as the best you’ve read is your ultimate goal. Don’t expect a nice safe life on either count and figure you’re probably going to have to have a day job for who knows how long.

Here’s another myth. “You don’t actually have to write that much.”

Really? How does that work? Okay, scripts look sparse, lots of white space and all that. That doesn’t mean the writer isn’t writing a whole lot. There are rewrites and notes and more writing. Ditto for writing novels.

On top of that, very short writing can be harder than writing long (sorry novelists, but I’ve done both and it’s true). Somehow, somewhere along the line almost everyone decided they could be writers. Yeah, well here’s a newsflash. Writers write. If one talks about it but doesn’t do it then one isn’t a writer. And you always have to ‘write a whole lot’. That’s just part of the gig.

Here’s the third myth I have to blast. “It doesn’t take all that much time to write a script. Not like a novel!”

Uh, well, that can be true. You can crank out a script quickly; there are a lot of folks who write for TV who do that, even some feature length writers. But let’s circle back to what I said above. You have to write. You have to write a lot. There are producers with notes. There are editors with revisions.

You think you’re done after you’ve slogged through your 6th draft? Nope. And if you’re on a tight schedule with a script because it’s actually sold – woohoo, yay for you! Go ahead now, make yourself crazy meeting deadlines. Seriously.

And all that is still time. You may be writing all night, all weekend, all month but just because it’s compacted into a tight time-frame doesn’t mean the hours weren’t put in. And, if it’s a novel, oh, boy. Yes, the rewrites and then the re-reading of the galleys takes plenty of time. Writing is one of the biggest time sinks of your life – hope you really love it.

Oh, and in the ‘time’ category, don’t forget the rejection. All writers get rejected – mostly over and over again. And, while that isn’t actual writing time, it is, nonetheless, career time. After all, getting drunk after that last painful rejection takes a chunk of time away from your writing.

So, my advice? Don’t even think about all those myths floating around out there.

Are you a writer? Then focus on your writing and get it out there.

The rest will, with considerable work, get taken care of.

Or not.


Peggy Bechko is a TVWriter™ Contributing Editor. blog. Learn more about her HERE. Peggy’s new comic series, Planet of the Eggs, written and illustrated with Charlene Brash-Sorensen is available on Kindle. And, while you’re at it, visit the Planet of the Eggs Facebook page and her terrific blog.

John Ostrander: TV ‘Flash’

by John Ostrander

My favorite superhero TV show these days is The Flash. Heck, it may be my favorite TV show period. Grant Gustin is doing a great job as Barry Allen/The Flash and the stories have wonderful “Easter eggs” for those who know DC continuity. One of the best is casting John Wesley Shipp, who played Barry/Flash in the earlier TV incarnation of The Flash, is in this version first as Barry’s dad and now as Jay Garrick, the Flash of Earth-2.

What also is great is the supporting cast on the show. On The Flash, they’ve even increased by one to include Tom Fenton (perhaps best known as Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter films) as Barry’s “frenemy”. He’s also joined “Team Flash” as it’s called, even on the show.

This is where the TV versions of the Flash (and the other superheroes) differs from the comics. In the comics, the hero is usually a lone wolf type; others in his circle don’t know his/her double identity and keeping that secret is considered vital. On TV, however, the superhero needs a circle of friends to help them function. Just as it’s been said that it takes a village to raise a child, on TV shows it takes a team to make a superhero. Actually, more than a team – the supporting cast acts a lot more like a family.

This isn’t true just on The Flash – it also holds true on Supergirl and Arrow as well. Legends Of Tomorrow is a team, as is Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. There are good reasons for this – any TV show needs a good supporting cast for the main character to act with (or against). Those interactions provide drama, comedy, their own storylines and, with a continuing series, that’s necessary. It also lets the lead not be in every scene which can really burn out an actor. As an audience, we invest emotionally not only with the lead character but with the supporting cast. (I’ll be honest – on Arrow I’m not all that invested in the lead actor; often it is the support characters that I like better, especially Felicity.)

On Flash, for example, they have a wonderful conceit; there’s the character of Dr. Harrison Wells, played by Tom Cavenaugh. He’s the same character in each of the three seasons so far but he’s also very different as each season we get a new Harrison Wells from a different dimension. In the first season, he was a villain, in the second season he was something of an asshole, and in the current season he’s a bit of a goof. That must be a lot of fun for Cavenaugh and it creates a different dynamic with the team for each season.

Some comics have family – the Fantastic Four functioned best when the writers and editors realized the FF were not just another team; they really were family. Also, I remember when DC would publish large giant comics for the “Superman Family” or the “Batman Family.” Superman, for example, had his best friend, his girl friend, his cousin, his dog, other super-pets, and the kids from down the timeline, a.k.a. the Legion of Super-heroes. However, it’s not quite the same thing as the TV shows. There’s a central location where they all meet and work out of – S.T.A.R. labs, the Arrow cave (or whatever they’re calling it), the DEO HQ, the Waverider. Home.

Needless to say, the TV shows and the comics are different animals, each with their own needs. It costs less to produce the comic books and the special effects and locations are limited only by what the artist can draw. Yet, I will admit that I’ve come to prefer the TV versions in most cases. I think that, overall, they’re a bit better thought out. OTOH, they don’t have to justify decades of continuity; they’re re-interpreting and re-inventing everything. There’s more freedom in that.

It’s good to keep in mind that no man is an island.

No metahuman is, either.


John Ostrander quite simply is one of LB’s favorite writers in any medium. Don’t forget to read his most excellent blog at ComicMix, where this piece first appeared.