Comics On TV

The Flash Takes a 'Graphic Novel' Approach for Season 6

New showrunner Eric Wallace discusses the changes he's making at the helm of The CW's fastest superhero show.

by | October 8, 2019 | Comments

The Flash‘s sixth season premiere feels like a soft reboot of sorts: Barry’s (Grant Gustin) suit is a little brighter, Cisco’s (Carlos Valdes) smile is a little wider and the drama is — well, it is still the drama of The Flash, so Barry and Iris (Candice Patton) are still grieving the erasure of their daughter Nora (Jessica Parker Kennedy) from the timeline.

But beyond exploring the West-Allen’s grief, The Flash is a different show thanks to new executive producer and showrunner Eric Wallace. A veteran of genre TV (Eureka, Teen Wolf) and comic books (DC’s Mister Terrific), he came to the show with a distinct plan.

“Usually one of about two or three things happen in the sixth season of a hit show,” he said when he spoke to Rotten Tomatoes and other reporters ahead of season 6’s October 8 premiere. The first option? “Snoozeville — and it goes into cruise mode. No one really cares, but you kind of watch it because it’s habit.” Another key possibility: “Crash and burn,” leading the viewer to think, “Oh my! That used to be my favorite show, and I can’t stand it anymore.”

The third option is, of course, reinvention.

“I’m trying very hard, my staff’s trying very hard, the cast, the crew, everybody, to reward all of the fans who have been watching for five years. And as a thank you, we’re going to try and not give them the exact same thing that they’ve gotten for five years,” he explained. “As a reward, we’re trying some new things.”

Those new things are poised to make The Flash a different show from what it was. Here are just a few ways Wallace plans to give the series a new energy.

The Graphic Novel Format

The Flash -- Image Number: FLA_S6_1080x1350.jpg -- Pictured: Grant Gustin as The Flash -- Photo: The CW

(Photo by The CW)

The Flash is known for its season-long plots and season-long villains. It was absolutely thrilling in the first couple of seasons — particularly in the first year with the mystery of the Reverse-Flash — but some of the villains definitely overstayed their welcome in subsequent seasons. Wallace plans to combat that fatigue by breaking season 6 into two major stories, or, as he put it in honor of his days in comics, “graphic novels.”

“It’s a self-contained story. It’s only eight episodes,” he explained of the first half.

The story will revolve around Ramsey Rosso (Sendhil Ramamurthy), a more recent villain from the comics also known as “Bloodwork.” He has a specific plan for metahuman powers that differs in a very different way from the speedster villains or The Thinker, but it also relates directly to Barry’s predicament ahead of the “Crisis on Infinite Earths” crossover. And thanks to the way Wallace and his writers plotted the story, Bloodwork “burns very hot” as his story wraps up in just ahead of the “Crisis” event.

“By the time we get to [episode] 603 [and] 604, we’re in cuckoo-town, essentially,” Wallace said.

The change in momentum is a major departure for the series. Usually, the fourth episode of the year is more of a standalone story and the eighth puts the season-long villain on pause so that Team Flash can join the annual Arrowverse crossover. Wallace noted the pace of previous seasons was “part of the fun” of a 22-episode season, but at the same time, he added, “sometimes me and my wife and my child will watch and go, ‘Dude, shouldn’t you have caught [the villain] by now? It’s episode 17.’”

The attempt to pick up the pace of the overarching plot means the show will feel more serialized than ever before.

“A lot of the episodes — especially two, three, and four — they end and [the next] picks up one second later because I want the immediacy that audiences get when they’re watching a streaming show, and they’re watching something that’s eight or 10 episodes,” Wallace said. “That’s our competition, quite frankly. I want that same immediacy brought to The CW.”

And after Bloodwork’s story is wrapped up?

“We go to [“Crisis on Infinite Earths”], and then starting in [episode] 610, it’s a brand new story — graphic novel No. 2,” Wallace said.

The details of the second story are still under wraps, but there’s a possibility that Keiynan Lonsdale will return as Wally West for an episode or two — provided schedules sync up, of course. Additionally, the second half of the season will see the introduction of Sue Dearbon, Ralph Dibny’s (Hartley Sawyer) eventual wife in the comics.

New Cases Of The Week

The Flash -- "A Flash of the Lightning" -- Image Number: FLA602a_0035b2.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): Grant Gustin as Barry Allen, Hartley Sawyer as Dibney, Danielle Panabaker as Killer Frost and Carlos Valdes as Cisco Ramon -- Photo: Sergei Bachlakov/The CW

(Photo by Sergei Bachlakov/The CW)

Another longstanding Flash tradition is the metahuman criminal of the week, which introduced characters including The Shade, Trajectory, and the Turtle. Some would return for a follow-up or graduate to the Rogues tier like Captain Cold and Heat Wave, but for the most part, they served the same function as Smallville’s or The X-Files’s “monster of the week” plot lines. And in almost all cases, these guest characters used their abilities to commit crimes.

Though Wallace wanted to “honor the old of the first five seasons,” he said it was important to find new ways for Team Flash to encounter metas. One debuts in the Tuesday night premiere — keep a steely eye out for some free-range dark matter — while another new method appears the week after.

“It is bearing so much fruit,” he teased. “It’s a new way to get stories in because it’s based in character.”

Cisco’s Relationship Will Actually Matter

The Flash -- "Into The Void" -- Image Number: FLA601b_0020r.jpg -- Pictured: Carlos Valdes as Cisco Ramon -- Photo: Jeff Weddell/The CW

(Photo by Jeff Weddell/The CW)

In the past, Cisco’s relationships have been short-lived (remember Kendra Saunders?) or little more than joke fodder (the entirety of his time with Earth-19’s Gypsy). But this time, his relationship with photographer Kamilla Hwang (Victoria Park) will be a substantial part of Cisco’s story across both halves of season 6. And though Wallace said some of the other relationships on the show will be tested through crises and “Crisis,” Cisco and Kamilla will be “just fine.”

“That’s one of the themes of his season arc that plays over all 22 episodes,” Wallace said. “Can you be happy being human? Can you be happy not being meta? Can you be happy not saving the world every week?”

For Cisco, those questions pose a struggle as he tries to become a person who can punch out at 5 p.m. and “let The Flash handle everything from 5:01 to 8:59 [in the morning].” And from Wallace’s comments, it seems Kamilla will be instrumental in Cisco’s new perception of his work/life balance.

Wallace added that characters like Cisco may get the focus of episodes more often: “Look for that because it’s happening. We have such a talented cast. Let’s use them.”

A Stronger Scientific Foundation

The Flash -- "Into The Void" -- Image Number: FLA601b_0066r.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): Candice Patton as Iris West - Allen, Grant Gustin as Barry Allen, Danielle Panabaker as Caitlin Snow, Hartley Sawyer as Dibney and Carlos Valdes as Cisco Ramon -- Photo: Jeff Weddell/The CW

(Photo by Jeff Weddell/The CW)

While the “Speed Force” powering Barry is an element of absolute science fantasy, Wallace hopes to give other concepts on the show a more concrete backing in actual current science.

“Science is my friend,” he said. “And I like to [use a] Stephen King rule of writing: You come up with the crazy idea, and then find the facts to support it.”

Of course, those facts lead to explanations Wallace and his team have to whittle down to the bare essentials both for brevity — there are only so many seconds to devote to an explanation of a black hole, for example — and to the keep the momentum of a given episode alive.

“It is a balancing act, but I do like to put as much real science into the stories as possible because there might be young people watching this going, ‘I want to be a scientist like Kaitlin’ [or] ‘I want to be a scientist like Cisco,’” Wallace said. “And I want them to maybe ask, ‘What is temporal mechanics?’ And then they go Google it. Suddenly maybe we have one more scientist in the world. That’s really awesome.”

Placing Iris In A Journalistic Context

The Flash -- "Into The Void" -- Image Number: FLA601a_0149ra.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): Candice Patton as Iris West - Allen and Grant Gustin as Barry Allen -- Photo: Katie Yu/The CW

(Photo by Katie Yu/The CW)

From the moment her dissertation went missing in the pilot episode, Iris’ relationship to journalism has vacillated across the seasons. She’s been a reporter at the Central City Picture News, the full-time leader of Team Flash, and founder of the Central City Citizen, but her career ends up falling away if it does not help the season-long plot. Wallace said the current plan, which began last season with the Citizen’s founding, is to establish her as major journalistic presence in town.

“We have very urgently done that this season,” he said. Kamilla works as a Citizen photographer, and a new staffer will be introduced “very soon.” A further expansion of the paper will depend on the available budget for the second half of the season. “[It] might be a small staff at first, but it’s very much about seeing her take charge of what we refer to as ‘Team Citizen,’ and they will appear, and they will be getting into trouble, especially in the back half of our show.”

Wallace also discussed some key character changes on the horizon that reflect his overall vision of the show (and are too spoilery to include here). Though he may be changing the pace — and some other aspects — The Flash is still a show about science heroes using their impossible knowledge and abilities to hold back the tide of chaos.

The Flash season 6 premieres Tuesday, October 8 at 8 p.m. on The CW.

Like this? Subscribe to our newsletter and get more features, news, and guides in your inbox every week.

Tag Cloud

Cartoon Network reboot Lifetime psychological thriller facebook debate BAFTA PaleyFest indiana jones sequels Pop TV renewed TV shows dramedy nbcuniversal period drama comics jamie lee curtis reviews boxoffice serial killer Tarantino Quiz Kids & Family Superheroes olympics universal monsters sports Winter TV Heroines CBS All Access biography E3 Black History Month rt archives Photos nature Tomatazos Esquire romance all-time slashers Legendary Box Office Character Guide Infographic Polls and Games Biopics Hallmark social media video kong police drama Logo Epix Holidays BBC One Peacock series MSNBC Crackle basketball Schedule Lucasfilm natural history IFC MTV 2015 Apple Sundance Now Pet Sematary werewolf Countdown Film critic resources DirecTV theme song Disney+ Disney Plus Awards joker australia Set visit singing competition hispanic talk show kids Star Trek Certified Fresh Drama docuseries Song of Ice and Fire Ovation based on movie versus supernatural spider-verse unscripted blockbuster mutant dexter Food Network First Reviews game show deadpool romantic comedy independent sitcom women saw dogs Christmas Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Turner Classic Movies Lifetime Christmas movies sequel Amazon Studios Wes Anderson Holiday See It Skip It richard e. Grant casting TLC Acorn TV telelvision Family RT History Pop cancelled Starz action-comedy anime stoner A&E new york Shondaland sopranos Lionsgate remakes Year in Review Creative Arts Emmys cars Cosplay YouTube Red canceled TV shows TV Land television gangster CNN dc cats cartoon king kong Nominations Dark Horse Comics biopic Mudbound cinemax President WGN 007 comedies heist movie 21st Century Fox Fox News National Geographic rt labs Academy Awards Premiere Dates Showtime X-Men marvel cinematic universe war football Funimation Paramount TCA 2017 hidden camera Syfy FOX aliens thriller GLAAD Paramount Network hollywood VOD PBS game of thrones Action 2021 Universal Pictures Spike Hear Us Out Anna Paquin 90s 4/20 toronto Neflix spanish language cancelled TV series free movies indie cops blockbusters Television Academy ghosts Emmys San Diego Comic-Con strong female leads justice league New York Comic Con Amazon Captain marvel 71st Emmy Awards comic books slasher Interview dragons black Spectrum Originals nfl rotten movies we love Rock HBO Hulu space Country Pirates IMDb TV ID The Witch TCM Awards Tour 73rd Emmy Awards technology docudrama streaming Summer Arrowverse Freeform Red Carpet The Purge CMT TBS VH1 science fiction MCU stand-up comedy rt labs critics edition anthology ABC The Academy First Look ITV Mary poppins Valentine's Day award winner TV One 72 Emmy Awards Teen Television Critics Association marvel comics sag awards IFC Films pirates of the caribbean golden globes Horror Disney streaming service Oscars Travel Channel harry potter Shudder Apple TV+ DC Comics Tubi christmas movies trophy golden globe awards APB fresh Thanksgiving mission: impossible DC Universe Amazon Prime crime drama RT21 miniseries Mindy Kaling Mary Poppins Returns Writers Guild of America crime worst movies live action Netflix Christmas movies Netflix GIFs SundanceTV Musical witnail LGBTQ TV popular Pacific Islander a nightmare on elm street comic Superheroe Walt Disney Pictures streaming movies concert blaxploitation target japan Marvel The Arrangement YouTube mcc diversity south america latino movies Exclusive Video ABC Signature mob Film Festival superman young adult comic book movie trailers true crime Rocketman movie Women's History Month AMC Plus Comedy Central CW Seed Trivia Marvel Television directors SXSW superhero Classic Film TCA 2018 emmy awards Rom-Com Comedy Martial Arts Endgame OWN monster movies Reality Nat Geo french die hard Fox Searchlight italian Mary Tyler Moore elevated horror Winners mockumentary TV renewals AMC Stephen King Tumblr foreign Comics on TV king arthur 93rd Oscars Comic Book royal family Sundance new star wars movies ESPN The Walking Dead 1990s transformers Broadway fast and furious composers new zealand adventure 99% Turner know your critic boxing asian-american films El Rey E! Star Wars green book cancelled television Marvel Studios 2019 parents TruTV Sneak Peek spy thriller USA Network Fall TV screen actors guild godzilla Adult Swim ratings Binge Guide batman child's play zero dark thirty live event finale hist Musicals suspense book FX comiccon Masterpiece NBA scene in color Rocky Opinion archives crossover Mystery Baby Yoda 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards quibi laika posters BET zombie Pride Month Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt BBC America breaking bad History travel Election Discovery Channel Disney leaderboard Extras video on demand Elton John Emmy Nominations Spring TV The CW cancelled TV shows Amazon Prime Video DC streaming service zombies halloween tv kaiju critics halloween ABC Family Instagram Live Reality Competition venice Grammys VICE jurassic park discovery Trophy Talk WarnerMedia Music Calendar Cannes YA Hallmark Christmas movies japanese chucky Tokyo Olympics doctor who twilight high school criterion Podcast Trailer Nickelodeon Vudu binge historical drama YouTube Premium Apple TV Plus Sony Pictures BBC children's TV TNT book adaptation documentaries Disney Plus scorecard what to watch documentary spanish spain dark BET Awards Watching Series screenings rotten Ellie Kemper OneApp psycho Alien dreamworks razzies Sundance TV The Walt Disney Company festival political drama spinoff NBC 2016 Image Comics cooking feel good Comic-Con@Home 2021 Crunchyroll HBO Max Disney Channel Video Games legend canceled disaster Bravo 24 frames scary movies A24 vampires lord of the rings prank LGBT GoT spider-man Fantasy Warner Bros. Chernobyl Pixar Animation Brie Larson Super Bowl wonder woman Ghostbusters SDCC ViacomCBS best TCA Awards Fargo worst international FXX james bond USA tv talk black comedy Britbox vs. Toys DGA 2020 adaptation hispanic heritage month franchise classics NYCC Marathons TV movies obituary politics comic book movies rom-coms HBO Go Avengers crime thriller revenge scary animated 45 American Society of Cinematographers TIFF satire aapi 20th Century Fox name the review Western news festivals Black Mirror FX on Hulu robots Paramount Plus Best and Worst toy story art house CBS Universal TCA Winter 2020 teaser Columbia Pictures Sci-Fi dceu cults PlayStation medical drama adenture 2017 genre stop motion