On ‘The Flash’s’ Metahuman Problem

The Flash has a serious metahuman problem. That much is a given but the one I’m referring to depends entirely on how invested you are in the show. I like The Flash a great deal and I’m still fully onboard with it even though I’ve been less than impressed with the last few episodes. It’s because I like it so much that I’d like to see the writers tackle this telepathic gorilla in the room: what is up with Barry Allen and his friends running a secret prison under S.T.A.R. Labs?

This is something that’s been an issue since season one, but now that the captured meta population has doubled in light of this week’s episode, in which Flash and the gang subdued all of the rampant Earth-Two villains, it’s laughably impossible to ignore. There are now a substantial number of super-powered people imprisoned in a high tech dungeon without due process by four STEM geeks, only one of whom has any connection to law enforcement (Barry is a forensic scientist). No one on the show appears to be aware of this moral quandary.

What the hell, Flash? Assorted musings below:

  • These cells are very small and they do not have beds or toilets.
  • There is no reason to believe the imprisoned metas are getting any sunlight, which is awfully harsh. There’s no yard for these guys to shoot hoops or lift weights in. They’re just living in a glass and steel box 24/7.
  • Do you know what else regular inmates have that these prisoners don’t? Showers.
  • S.T.A.R. Labs must have some extremely powerful ventilation and air refreshers; because there’s no way that the metas aren’t pissing and shitting in the corners of their cells.
  • Are the metas even getting fed? What about water?
  • Provided they haven’t perished from a gruesome combination of malnourishment and dehydration or asphyxiated from the fumes of their own bodily waste, all of these prisoners have most certainly been driven insane.
  • Can we please get a whole episode devoted solely to the starving, smelly, now insane prisoners of S.T.A.R. Labs? I’d be fascinated to know more about their day-to-day existence.
  • Maybe The Flash actually takes place in Earth-Three (or the Anti-Matter Universe in Post-Crisis comics) and Barry and his friends are all villains except their evilness is only manifested through their brutal and callous treatment of captured badguys? Eh…I’m really reaching on that one.

Listen, Flash writers, I get it; this is another one of those things you just don’t want to deal with because it might slow down the story and maybe you guys didn’t even realize the implications of the S.TA.R. Labs prison, but at this point it can’t be glossed over anymore. I know I have zero right to give professional TV writers advice, but you guys really ought to address this in season three. And if you think that’s a boring waste of screen time, know this: one of the all-time greatest DC graphic novels has a substantial chunk of its plot devoted to the imprisonment of rogue metahumans. If Mark Waid and Alex Ross can pull a mesmerizing tale out of that, I don’t see why Flash can’t.

Season three’s finale airs this upcoming Tuesday. Here’s the preview:

‘Flash’ Season Two to Feature Two Flashes

Perhaps the most pleasurable thing about The Flash is the way it has been delightfully unafraid of showcasing the weirdest and silliest aspects of its title character. Throughout the initially bumpy but overall brilliant first season, Barry Allen has traveled through time, ran through worm holes and even threw down with an evil psychic gorilla. It may not be the perfect Flash show, but it’s far better than I ever could have hoped.

And now there’s this latest promo, where Barry meets his Earth-2 counterpart, Jay Garrick, the superhero that your dad could probably cosplay. This isn’t exactly surprising; Jay’s distinctive helmet made a super conspicuous cameo in season one’s finale and sharp-eyed viewers may also have spotted a figure on the Central City Police Department’s mural that bears a striking resemblance to him. Once Flash made it clear (from the very first episode, no less) that it wasn’t going to shy away from the time travel and alternate universe stuff, I expected Jay to show up at some point in the series.

So who is Jay Garrick? Simply put, he is the original Flash, having first appeared in Flash Comics #1 all the way back in 1940. Created by Gardner Fox and Harry Lampert, Garrick was a key member of DC Comics’ Golden Age lineup and was also part of the Justice Society of America, the first ever superhero team both in real life and in DC Universe continuity. Jay’s solo series was cancelled in 1948 and DC rebooted the Flash eight years later in the form of Barry Allen. The two Flashes famously teamed up in The Flash #123 (September 1961) by Fox and Carmine Infantino. More so than the team up itself, that story is best remembered for introducing the concept of multiverse to DC Comics, which is where things get interesting…

Will Earth-2 (Jay’s native world) appear in The Flash’s second season? Will we be introduced to the multiverse? Hell, is the freaking JSA going to show up? That I’m asking all of these questions should indicate to you that I’m yearning for Flash to come back on the air almost as much as Star Wars: Rebels. To my knowledge, no live action DC movie project has ever tried to take a crack at the dense and endlessly confusing multiverse. It may have come up in Smallville at some point during its decade run but that would require me to actually watch Smallville, which is a fate I wouldn’t wish upon anyone except for maybe these people.

The Flash season two will premiere on Oct. 6 on The CW.