A DC comic came to a DC television show, but it only “flashed” on screen for a couple of moments. In this week’s episode of The Flash on the CW (CTV in Canada), we catch a glimpse of super-hero-in-training Ralph Dibny (not yet dubbed the Elongated Man) reading a comic book. I spied right away that it was an issue of Young All-Stars, a 1980s comic set during World War II.
A quick search online yielded a screen capture (seen above), and then a perusal of the Young All-Stars cover gallery on the Grand Comics Database uncovered a match to issue #20 (released January 1989), written by Roy and Dann Thomas, with art by Michael Bair, Ron harris and Tony DeZuniga. Its appearance as a prop in “When Harry Met Harry,” episode six of Season Four of The Flash, was a delight for this longtime DC reader.
As the producers of the show are clearly fans of 1980s DC comics as well (judging from the source material and characters that have been incorporated into CW’s DC shows), it makes sense for a book from that era to turn up, but that particular choice struck me as a little odd. Young All-Stars was a title that arose to replace All-Star Squadron in the wake of Crisis on Infinite Earths, and it introduced new characters to replace the Golden Age incarnations of Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman. That’s because Crisis ended with the merging of the multiverse into one universe, one continuity.
But CW’s DC shows — dubbed the Berlanti-verse by many, after the producer who’s spearheaded these shows, or the Arrow-verse, for the show that started the CW super-hero line — are set in a multiverse, and The Flash in particular makes great use of that concept. To incorporate a comic book set in the aftermath of the elimination of the original DC multiverse seems to run contrary to one of the show’s core premises.
Of course, the upcoming Berlanti-verse crossover, “Crisis on Earth-X,” will take the DC/CW heroes to an alternate Earth where Nazis won the Second World War, so YAS #20 could be a nod to that. Or, to posit another theory, we know this TV Flash will eventually face a similar “red skies crisis” as depicted on Crisis on Infinite Earths, so perhaps there’s a long-term plan afoot to merge the TV multiverse. I see also that actor Hartley Sawyer (whose portrayal of Ralph Dibny has been a hammy delight) appeared in 56 episodes of The Young and the Restless, so perhaps the comic in question serves as a symbolic bridge between his previous work and his new role.
Or maybe someone just had the back issue lying around on set, and Sawyer just happened to grab it on a whim as they were about to shoot a scene. Regardless, it was just another tiny nugget in a rich vein of fun airing Tuesday nights.
Addendum: I just saw another issue of Young All-Stars as a prop in tonight’s episode of Young Sheldon! Two instances of the same, obscure, 1980s DC title on mainstream TV in the span of two days?! What are the odds?
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