This year, the creators set the stakes higher – as they planned a big crossover event that spanned across Arrow, The Flash, Legend’s of Tomorrow AND Supergirl. Based on the Invasion comic of the same name, Invasion! tells a story of aliens called the Dominators coming to Earth. And only the heroes of the DC Universe can stop them! After seeing the trailers I was pumped! Whilst not the hugest fan of DC, I do love the Arrowverse. They have a great creative team behind them and this universe is, on the whole, extremely well written and entertaining. And I like a good crossover. If done right it can be really powerful and fun!
So it will take a bit too long to explain ALL the major points leading up to this, so I just give the important points to remember. In The Flash, Barry Allen travelled back in time to stop his mother being killed, creating an event call Flashpoint. After this was restored, Barry discovered things in his universe weren’t as they seemed. Sisqo’s brother was now dead – and on discovering this Sisqo no longer wants anything to do with Barry – Catlin now has Killer Frost powers, Iris and her father were at odds (though they did eventually make up) and, strangest of all, Barry has a new work partner – who seems to secretly be the villain Doctor Alchemy. Not only this, but in Arrow, Diggle now has a son instead of a daughter.
In Legend’s of Tomorrow, the Legends have defeated Vandal Savage and are now clearing up “aberrations” that threaten time. With Rip Hunter now gone (No! I love Rip Hunter!) Sara has assumed command of the Waverider. Stein and Jackson find a secret compartment on the Waverider from a future Barry Allen, with a message from him that they have kept secret. Also, Professor Stein (one part of the hero Firestorm) has visions of a woman that he apparently knows, but doesn’t. Could this be another aberration?
Phew! That’s a lot to take in! Don’t worry; it’ll all make sense later I promise. Ok, so let’s get to the Invasion of the Dominators! Each part of Invasion! follows on in a different episode of each show. Now technically this all started with the ending of Supergirl, but as I don’t really watch that show (even though I will admit Melissa Benoist is fantastic in the role) I’ll start off from The Flash.
In The Flash, an alien space ship lands in Central City. Lyla from ARGUS explains to them that they have known these aliens for a long time, but thought they had a peace treaty. Knowing that he can’t take them on his own, Barry enlists the help of Oliver Queen, Diggle, Felicity, the Legends and – having previously met her during her first season – Supergirl. The first episode involves them training for the fight ahead. Stein and Jackson reveal the message to Barry they found on the Waverider. As you may have expected, Barry learns that him messing with the timeline will have disastrous consequences, and he eventually tells the team what he has done. This angers the Legend’s especially, seeing as it’s their job to preserve the timeline – Sara has been seeking revenge on Damien Darhk for murdering Laurel, but she can’t kill him as it will affect the future. With this in the mind the team is almost instantly splintered. But after a mind control attack by the Dominators that put the team against each other, they pull together – only for some of them to be kidnapped.
There is also a couple of interesting sub-plots involving Wally West (Iris’s brother) who had recently discovered he had speed powers. The alternative universe of Harry West agrees to secretly train him to use his powers when the others won’t – which I’m sure will be an interesting storyline in The Flash later. Also, Professor Stein discovers that the woman in his visions is actually his daughter. Turns out that after a harsh discussion with his younger self in a previous Legend’s of Tomorrow episode, Stein became a much more doting husband and sired a daughter – something he is both happy and horrified with (don’t worry, I’ll get to that).
In Arrow, Oliver, Ray Palmer, Sara, Thea and Diggle are held in a “Matrix” like fantasy whereby everything is going right for them. Here Oliver’s parents were alive and he was about to marry Laurel. However, things quickly unfold for the team and they must decide whether they want to stay or leave. During this, Team Arrow (with the help of Supergirl and Flash) try to locate where they are, using some stolen alien tech.
Surprisingly, this is actually one of the more emotional episodes – as Oliver has to face up to all the people he has lost. Strangely enough, he actually has a chance to stay here and be happy, but in the end he has to make the choice to carry on. Thea, however, wants to stay as she’s happy here, even though she knows it’s an illusion. It’s actually quite a sad episode – and also involves the return of Oliver’s Mum and Dad, and even Tommy! It was nice to see characters for Oliver’s past return here and really demonstrates the conflict that Oliver has – choosing between a happy life and a superhero life. Eventually rescued by the Legends, the Dominators plan a full scale attack on Earth
Finally, in Legend’s of Tomorrow, the Legends try to capture a Dominator from the past to try and learn about what the attack is about. Turns out that the Dominators are scared of metahumans – and seeing the damage that The Flash did when he altered the timeline, they are seeking to wipe out all metahumans before their world is invaded. They offer them a choice – give up The Flash or be wiped out. It’s now time for Earth’s Mightiest to fight back!
Stein and his daughter try to work on a weapon against the Dominators. Stein’s daughter is every bit as brilliant as him, but he is unfatherly distant, knowing that she is an aberration that must be removed to preserve the timeline. However, fatherly instincts take over and he and his daughter work on the weapon together, leading to an awesome battle on all fronts in which the Dominators are defeated. In the aftermath of it, Supergirl is given a device that allows her to return to their world (for the next crossover I assume) and Stein has decided to keep the knowledge of his daughter from the rest of the Legends.
And that’s Invasion! in a nutshell. Was it any good? Short answer – Yes!
The creators work on this series was nothing short of amazing. With so many characters to include, you’d be forgiven for thinking this is overstuffed – but it isn’t. Whilst some characters come and go as the plot pleases, they all have a reason for appearing and everyone does their duty. Not one of the roster is left to hang back whilst the others do their work. Everyone gets their time in the sun.
The subplots that no doubt will become major issues in later series of the Arrowverse were interesting, but they never overtook the main storyline – so newbies that have only decided to watch this crossover event will keep up easily. And who knows, it might even convince new watchers to follow the other shows. The idea of each episode being on a different show was a good idea – kinda reminded me of how the comics used to do that, having events span several comic series rather than stick to just one. It added a sense of continuity and made the Arrowverse that more larger.
The writing was very good as always, with a good balance of humour and drama. My personal favourite bits were the talks between Rory and Supergirl. Sure, they could be considered casual sexism – but Rory is always one of the more entertaining characters in the Legends. You gotta admire the balls on this character calling Supergirl “Skirt”, when she could easily just punch him into space. Thankfully, this Supergirl is far more mature than that!
Another good in joke I liked was when Ray Palmer said of Supergirl “She kinda looks like my cousin.” Brandon Routh, who plays Ray Palmer, played Superman in Superman Returns, and as we all know, Superman is the cousin to Supergirl. It’s a subtle joke that only hardcore fans may notice, but it made me chuckle.
The Dominators I thought were handled really well – and I liked the idea that they weren’t just invading Earth for, well Domination. They invaded because they were scared of the metahuman threat and wanted to stop it before it got out of hand. It made their reasons a little bit different to the usual “alien invasion” storyline. Their designs were pretty scary as well, adding to the threat they possessed. They did for the most part feel like a real threat to the heroes and so I’d say they were good antagonists.
My only nitpick was with Thea. As those who saw Arrow will know, Thea was killed and resurrected using The Lazarus Pit. But in doing so, Thea was filled with a rage and desire to kill that she couldn’t always control. As such, she decided to stop being a hero because she was scared of what she might become – something that she had said a few times during the recent series. But all of sudden, aliens come and she wants in. Kinda felt like that contradicted what she had said earlier. Also, she kinda disappears after the Arrow episode with little explanation as to why, save for a minor comment made by Oliver. Either use Thea to the end or don’t use her at all!
But that aside, this was a highly enjoyable crossover event. I would go so far to say that this is on part with The Avengers with how awesome it was – and I don’t say that lightly. It’s a self contained story, but continues on with themes that the previous episodes had, so regular viewers and newcomers alike with enjoy it. Also, I liked that old characters from previous series came back – even if it was just as a flashback. And the stories that Invasion! has set up are no doubt going to have very big consequences in the long run for all our heroes. And I’m excited to see them.
So in conclusion Invasion! gets a solid 5 out of 5 for me!