- The Washington Times - Monday, September 28, 2015

One of the best, super-hero themed television shows of last year arrives on Blu-ray in The Flash: The Complete First Season (Warner Home Video, rated TV-14, $60.10).

Specifically, fans get a whopping 23 episodes, originally presented on the CW network, starring DC Comics’ famed speedster, as they zoom into an emotional story of courage, sacrifice and plenty of heart.

Actor Grant Gustin shines in the title role of the boyish, 25-year-old Barry Allen, a nerdy but brilliant forensics expert working for Central City Police Department who survives being struck by a lightening bolt after S.T.A.R. Labs’ particle accelerator project goes horribly wrong.

The accident infuses Barry with super speed and accelerated healing powers. That disaster also affected many other individuals in the city causing a new group of metahumans to develop who demonstrate other unusual powers, usually used for criminal activities.

The Flash and his team of scientists at S.T.A.R. Labs now work together to contain the new danger of these super-powered mutants.

For the DC Comics’ geek in the family, viewers get adapted, live-action versions of such sequential-art luminaries as Killer Frost, Iris West, Green Arrow, Vibe and Felicity Smoak, and awesome villains including Weather Wizard, Gorilla Grodd, Captain Cold, Multiplex, Plastique and The Mist.

For the nostalgic television fan, the show offers a return of some of the stars from “The Flash” television show from 1990. They include John Wesley Shipp (who played the original Flash) as Barry’s father, in prison and wrongly accused of killing his wife, and Mark Hamill as the older Trickster. It’s a classy touch on the part of the show’s producers.

The digital transfer, filling televisions screens, offers some glorious and colorful moments tied to the fantastic special effects that show the Flash hyperspeeding through the city and dealing with fires, a tornado, a massive train crash and skyscraper collapse to name a few disasters.

Owning the Blu-ray set to leisurely watch a great show is more than enough reason to purchase. However, Warner sweetens the deal with just enough extras.

Best of the bunch is the optional commentary track starring co-developer and DC universe architect Geoff Johns along with executive producers Greg Berlanti, Andrew Kreisberg dissecting the origins of the pilot episode.

The most important part of the discussion comes when Mr. Johns talks about the comics history of the Flash.

In addition to covering how he brought Barry Allen back after dying in the 1980s comics, Mr. Johns explains the new backstory of the character introduced in 2009 that was carried over to the TV pilot. All three gentlemen talk with great enthusiasm about the television series and each are obviously big fans the Flash.

Next, watch a 30-featurette with the cast and crew describing more of the Flash’s pop-art roots and the clever way the comics’ ancillary characters and villains were incorporated into the show.

Viewers learn about the death of the Flash in the famous comics series “Crisis of Infinite Earths,” what version of Flash television audiences get (a mix between the Silver Age Barry Allen and Wally West) and comparisons to Batman and the Green Arrow, all highlighted with some great artwork from the books.

Also, a welcomed 26-minute look at the visual special effects features interviews with supervisor Armen Kevorkian and lead artist Stefen Bredereck as they break down the onscreen magic.

Storyboards, concept art, animatics (moving storyboards), live-action plates, green-screen work, original comic art as reference and a digital model of the Flash detailed down to the pores of his skin help bring a supersonic being virtually to life.

I also could not resist watching roughly eight minutes with Mark Hamill talking about his love of comics and return as the Trickster, a role he embraced in the original “The Flash” television show. Mr. Shipp also stops by and assists with the memories by offering some words on the old days.

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