The Flash and Fatherhood

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The Flash season finale aired over a week ago, so this might not seem like the timeliest of articles. In my defense, however, I’ve been thinking on this since the show aired. I even live-tweeted during the show, as I frequently do.

But I really needed to give the matter more thought, before expounding on it. Fatherhood’s always been an issue for me, and probably always will be. My own father left when I was about the age my son is now, and I rarely saw him after. My mother’s subsequent choices of mate were so poor so as to make him look like a God amongst men. For most of my formative years, I didn’t see a man get up in the morning, go to work and earn a living. Certainly, I didn’t have one to regularly play catch with or teach me how to shave (for more on my childhood, read this and this). Fatherhood is the primary source of marital dissent in the Crisler home. We don’t argue about most of the standard issues, like money or intimacy, but parenting gives us enough grist to make up for those other areas. I’m most definitely not a television dad, and most days, in the back of my head, I’m 100% confident that I never should have spawned. Love me or hate me for it, it’s how I feel. I regularly envy those folks who figure out they’re unsuited for parenting before it’s too late. Like most parents, I’d die for my kids in a second, but the harsh reality is that dying for them is much easier than living for them.

I have three children myself. My first, from a historical perspective if not in age, will be eleven this year, lives in Canada with my ex-wife and her new boo (who rapidly impregnated her after they met on an otaku forum), and I haven’t seen her in about four years. I can email and Skype, and have a couple times, but it’s a one-way street and I’m not one to ram myself into someone’s life. I’ve basically resigned myself to being a willing and open book whenever she’s ready to talk to me. I adopted my wife’s daughter shortly after we got together, and she is now in college and starting a family of her own. Finally, my wife and I have a son together, who’s seven. He’s a lot like me, and a lot like I was as a child. This is by turns a source of pride and exasperation. Incidentally, we watch The Flash together, without fail. I don’t watch it without him, and even at an impatient seven years old, he won’t watch it without me–if I have duty on a Tuesday night, or even if I fall asleep in the middle of an episode after a long day at work, which I’ve done once.

All of this gives me a certain perspective through which to view a show like The Flash, which to even a casual observer has fatherhood as a major theme.

Barry & Henry

There’s only so much to talk about here, because their relationship is obviously strained by Henry’s imprisonment. Henry’s unjust incarceration took Barry’s father away at a time when he truly needed him most. The loss of a parent is horrible, but under most circumstances, the child at least as their other parent to anchor them. It would be very easy for Barry and Henry both to feel emotionally disconnected from each other, but they don’t–Barry’s drive to clear his father’s name is a major plotpoint in the show, and during the finale, Henry’s primary argument hinges on how proud he is of the man his son has become, and how changing the timeline might make him a different person entirely.

This is obviously no way to raise a kid…

Barry & Joe

Which brings us to the relationship between our hero and his surrogate father. Henry’s not a fully-developed, fleshed-out character, per se, and it’s not really his fault–he’s in the hoosegow, after all. So we really don’t see much of him in who Barry is, other than circumstantially. Joe, on the other hand, is a more realized character. He has a relationship with people other than Barry, and he has a career and some backstory. His influence on Barry is undeniable, starting with his chosen civilian career as a police forensic scientist (shades of Dexter, here, between the adopted cop-father and forensics career angles. But I digress). Joe is just as proud of Barry as Henry (and having Joe in his life is one of the things that Barry realizes is something good that came out of his childhood tragedy), but where Henry teaches us that a father’s pride and love can be unconditional and extend past any boundary, Joe teaches us about a father’s influence on his child. We wouldn’t have the same Barry (or the same Flash) without Joe West.

JOE: Run, Iris! Go get help! Barry, are you looking at my daughter’s ass?

Barry & Wells/Thawne

Sometimes, your father can be a challenge, an adversary to beat. Tough to measure up to, but when you do, that’s how you know you’re a man. Of course, on the flipside is the duty a good father has to push and motivate his children. This is exactly how I perceive the relationship between Barry and Thawne. Eobard Thawne is, unarguably, the father of the Flash. He went back in time and built the particle accelerator to create the Flash when he found himself stranded after killing Barry’s mother. Most of the first season of the show has been about Thawne, as Wells, pushing Barry to discover and exceed the limits of his abilities (for his own villainous reasons of course) and about Barry’s physical and emotional struggle with not being as fast as the Reverse Flash.

“Why you little…!”

Cisco & Wells/Thawne

Their relationship is similar to that between Thawne and the Flash, but it’s different in a few subtle ways. Thawne grew to look as Cisco as a son over the course of the past few years, as they worked together at STAR. It didn’t have to happen (i.e., he didn’t have the primal connection he has to Barry, though he’s not related to him, either) but it did. There’s a mutual admiration, at least for the first half of the season, and even when Thawne kills him in the alternate timeline Barry undoes, he seems to have genuine feelings for Cisco. When they have another solid chunk of time together in the finale, it’s Cisco again who lets us see some actual humanity in Eobard–one-percent of something to relate to in a character we otherwise love to hate. If I’m going to impute a moral to their relationship like I have with the others, I’d say it’s that our children–and being a father–can bring out the best in us, sometimes even despite ourselves.

“Aw, Dr. Wells, have some heart–urk!”

 

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Heroes Reborn Revisited

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I’ve written before about Heroeshow much I adored the first season, how disappointing the follow-ons were in comparison–and the closer we get to the relaunch, Heroes Reborn (anyone else think the title is extremely meta, by the way?) the more hope begins to swell in my breast.

“Whosoever holds this katana, if she be worthy, shall possess the power of Hiro.”

I don’t think at all that the superhero genre on television and film is going to die any time soon (the current slates for Marvel and DC easily put that thought to rest). However, there’s a sub-genre of the genre (which itself could be considered a sub-genre, but I digress) that could use some building up: original superhero material. By which I mean, of course, television and film not based on an existing comics property. Especially not based on one from the major companies, and already heavily exposed to the market.

I enjoyed the movie Hancock. I enjoyed Chronicle. For television, The Cape wasn’t too bad (though I’d probably have to watch through again to make sure it wasn’t simply a case of any port in a storm) and No Ordinary Family had potential (I still wish to God I could do something with that property). And I honestly think that more, and better stuff, in that vein would be a good way to capitalize on the existing trend without risking even more of a burnout with the fanbase then what’s already been predicted.

“Reunited, and it feels so goooood…”

My opinion is merely that of one man, of course, but it bodes well for my potential enjoyment of the show that I completely agree with some of the moves they’ve made early on. For instance, we knew pretty much that Horned Rim Glasses (HRG, or Noah, if you will) was coming back to the show. Later, Hiro Nakamura’s return was announced. They’d have likely had a hard time getting Zachary Quinto to reprise his role as Sylar even if the last couple seasons hadn’t completely boned the character. Likewise for Hayden Panettiere’s Claire Bennet, though how they’ll explain the lack of the latter gives me pause, considering HRG is her dad. We might not get Claire, but the other character that best makes sense when you consider HRG will be–Jimmy Jean Louis’ Haitian.  No other alumni returns have been announced, but the three we have remained popular throughout the original show’s run, and weren’t shit upon too heavily by the latter seasons’ writing.

My personal assessment of Heroes’ plunge hinges on two things that shouldn’t end up plaguing this new show: 1) the writer’s strike that completely screwed season two and 2) Creator Tim Kring’s departure from his original concept of each season being a completely different story with all-new characters. I can’t see him making the same mistake twice, personally–something that appears to bear out, with Reborn being advertised as a miniseries. Also, biting off small chunks at a time like this should help keep outside concerns from being big problems–if there was another disaster like the strike, they could simply push back the production of a second, separate miniseries.

All in all, I’m seriously excited about this, and you can totally expect I’ll be live-tweeting during every episode.

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Station Identification

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For those of you who’ve met me recently at World Horror, the Augusta Literary Festival, and a few other places:

I’m Lincoln Crisler. I write about unreal things (superheroes, zombies, killers with supernatural powers…you get the idea) in as realistic a manner as I can. I’ve been doing it since 2006, though I’ve been writing all my life. My most recent books are in the sidebar. Those, along with all the anthologies I’ve appeared in are available on my Amazon page via the header menu. I’ve edited a couple of anthologies, as well–one about dark rituals and another about dark superheroes. I’m dark. Oh so very dark. I am the night. Or Batman. Or something.

I’m married with three kids. I’m a staff sergeant in the United States Army, and I’ve served in South Korea, Qatar, Afghanistan and Iraq. On the side I moonlight a bit on web/graphic design, social media and document editing and formatting. I love talking about all the peripheral stuff that comes along with my writing, like blogging, Reddit and other promotional tools, and programs that help me sell books. These days, I’m liking Flint.

You can follow me here and on Twitter and Facebook for updates, cool things my author friends are doing, the occasional book reviews and sometimes, to be completely honest, just me going off about something stupid, funny, or truly frightening. These days my blogs are usually about comic books and superhero culture, with occasional forays into scary stuff and philosophical talk.

If you like what you see, please tell a friend about me, or suggest one of my books. If you’d like a good place to start, I have the first 25% of a serial novel up on Wattpad, and plan on getting back to it real soon.

Thanks for reading. I can’t do it without you.

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World Horror!

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If you’re into this sort of thing, you’re probably not hearing it here first, but WORLD HORROR’s in ATLANTA this year! I’ve only missed one World Horror since 2010 (last year’s in Portland, since I couldn’t convince them to change the venue to Seoul). Usually, it costs me a nice chunk of (tax deductible) dough for a plane ticket, but this one is two hours from my HOUSE. I’m pretty damn excited.

My schedule is pretty light this year, but I’m fine with that. I’ll have copies of all my newest books (the ones in the sidebar) and I’ll be sitting on a panel on Friday. Other than that, you probably can get me jaked on car bombs and get me to do a dramatic reading of a story about a ghostly bankrobber or a nascent serial killer losing his virginity. Yanno, if that’s your sorta thing.

FRIDAY, MAY 8

10-11 AM Panel: WEIRD SOUTH: From Voodoo to Rattlesnake Revival: Southern Folklore in Horror Literature – SARNATH

From the African Diaspora to Christian fundamentalism, Southern literature has been haunted by exotic religions, practices, and superstitions. Explore how writers have and are using the mythologies and belief systems of this diverse region to add to the disturbing dimensions of horror and Southern Gothic fiction.

Moderator: Thomas Drago. Panelists: Bill Bridges, Lincoln Crisler, Brad Hodson, Vic Kerry, Jana Oliver, Catherine Scully

6:30-8 PM Mass Author Signing – THE BARRENS

Convention guests and attending authors will be available to sign their books.

The PUBLIC are also cordially invited to attend, free of charge so, if you have friends in the metro Atlanta area, invite them!

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My Thoughts on Age of Ultron

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So, I went to see Age of Ultron on opening night, like one does. I was shocked as hell that my local theater had showings starting at 8PM on 30 April, despite opening night being advertised as 1 May. I went to the 10:15PM showing because it was after my kid went to bed (I didn’t want him to know where I was going, and keeping a 7 y/o up until 11 on a school night would have been fucked up). I didn’t get home and in bed until 1:30AM and had to get up at 6:30 for work, but it was so worth it.

  • I really enjoyed the rapport between Hulk and Black Widow. I haven’t followed Avengers comics as closely as the X-Men, so I’m not entirely sure if this has basis in canon or is something original to the movie universe, but I liked it. It’s obvious that at least those two have bonded some in between the first and second film. Now I do know in the comics she and Hawkeye have hooked up, so I’ll also say how nice it was to see a female lead just being friends with a guy instead of being there to be his love interest. It’s annoying how often the female lead is just there for sex appeal for one (or more) of the guys, and has no relationships beyond that.
  • On a related note, it seems like Hawkeye and the Widow got a bit more time in this film than the first. At least, I don’t remember them having as much of a role. And I’m glad that changed (if it did and I’m just not remembering things wrong). I mean, if you’re the Black Widow in a Captain America film, it’s not hard to shine–she’s as physically able as Cap, and it’s not an ensemble film. But on a team with Thor, Iron Man and Hulk…well, you see where I’m going. I thought for sure Hawkeye was going to eat shit by the end of the movie, the way they were building him up.

  • Which brings me to my next point. I can’t believe they wasted Quicksilver. I mean, it’s comics, so they can always bring him back (probably with the Infinity Gems). Since we’re talking about Quicksilver, I’m casting my vote in favor of Evan Peters’ version. But still, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver are part of each other’s identities. I don’t think for a moment it’ll last, but I’m still surprised they did it. It was a good little bit of redemption for the twins, though, and worked well for their arc.
  • The fucking Vision. Believe it or not, I actually forgot we were going to get the Vision in this film, so I damn near jumped out of my seat when he burst free of that capsule. It was freakin’ awesome. And his rescue of Wanda at the end seems to be a seed planted for a relationship similar to the one they had in the comic. That just makes sense. She’s really going to need an anchor after losing her brother.

  • And of course, Ultron. While I was waiting for the film to start, I read a few Tweets and comments on the film from people in my networks who’d seen earlier showings of the film. They weren’t all complimentary of the movie in general, or of how dastardly Ultron wasn’t. I thought they did Ultron well. One of the things about Ultron in the comics was that he always got progressively more difficult each time he appeared. He’s an artificial intelligence. Of course, he’ll learn and evolve (in theory, of course. We may never see him again in the movies). Presenting him at the threat level he had helped keep the movie more about our heroes themselves, which is as it should be.
  • Finally, the changing of the guard that happened at the end. I guess they had to accomodate in the script for the fact that some of the actors may only have one movie left in their contracts, and the Avengers lends itself to a rotating cast anyway. I’m not sure how the last Thor movie will play out–perhaps it will relate more to Guardians of the Galaxy 2 and the space-faring side of the Infinity War. Hawkeye’s departure was a good cap to his arc. It seems weird to have Tony take a sabbatical, knowing he’s going to be a big part of Captain America: Civil War, but whatever. I doubt we’ve seen the last of Ruffalo’s Hulk; I’ve read elsewhere that his departure could be a segue into a Planet Hulk adaptation, and I’d love the hell out of that.

The new group, though: War Machine, Vision, Scarlet Witch and Falcon, along with Cap and Widow? Can’t wait to see them in action.

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