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'The Flash:' What's the verdict?

By Henry Hanks and Breeanna Hare, CNN
updated 2:29 PM EDT, Wed October 8, 2014
Comic book-based movies are all over Hollywood in recent years ("Guardians of the Galaxy," anyone?). But this season, TV is following suit in a big way. The 2005 Keanu Reeves movie "Constantine" didn't exactly launch a franchise, so NBC is giving it a go with a new version of the comic book antihero, played by Matt Ryan (second from left with Harold Perrineau, Angelica Celaya and Charlie Halford). Comic book-based movies are all over Hollywood in recent years ("Guardians of the Galaxy," anyone?). But this season, TV is following suit in a big way. The 2005 Keanu Reeves movie "Constantine" didn't exactly launch a franchise, so NBC is giving it a go with a new version of the comic book antihero, played by Matt Ryan (second from left with Harold Perrineau, Angelica Celaya and Charlie Halford).
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The CW's "The Flash" premiered Tuesday
  • The network is hoping to have another success on par with "Arrow"
  • Critics have been largely positive

(CNN) -- [SPOILER WARNING: If you didn't see the premiere of "The Flash," you may not want to read any further.]

Speedy hero Barry Allen -- a.k.a. the Flash -- zoomed back onto TV Tuesday night.

The CW unveiled its highly anticipated new fall series about the Scarlet Speedster, reviving the story of how scientist Barry Allen came to be the uberswift superhero after being hit by lightning and doused with chemicals.

The freshman series, which stars Grant Gustin ("Glee") as the endearing lead, was introduced through the CW's other comics-inspired series, "Arrow." With that program in its third season, the CW surely hopes to find another success story with "The Flash."

Comic books invade the small screen

So far, the network's off to a great start. "The Flash" is The CW's highest-rated and most-watched series premiere since 2009, with 4.5 million viewers and a rating of 1.8 in the adult demo of 18-49 -- not to mention that critics were also willing to give it a shot.

"The CW's 'The Flash' is one of the most enjoyable, agreeable and infectiously exuberant new shows of the fall," applauded TV Guide, and USA Today's Robert Bianco predicted that "The Flash" could follow in "Arrow's" longevity footsteps if it "can maintain the quality of the plot." Besides, Bianco added, "How nice to see a superhero who counts optimism among his powers."

Alan Sepinwall praised the show's lighter tone at Hitfix.com: "Gustin — well-scrubbed, dimpled and forthright — tacks right into the fundamental good-natured decency of Barry and makes that into an asset."

That said, the last time "the fastest man alive" was on TV, it didn't work out so well. In 1990, it was John Wesley Shipp who wore the iconic red suit and raced around alongside co-stars Amanda Pays and Alex Desert. But that series was canceled after a single season.

Shipp is getting a second chance at seeing the Flash find a home on TV in his role as Barry Allen's father in the CW's new version.

According to "The Flash" actress Candice Patton, who plays Barry's love interest, Iris, everyone from the executive production team on down is "very aware of the love for Flash."

"Our series feels and looks like the comic book in a lot of ways," Patton said. "The design is so incredible."

Tuesday's premiere saw the Flash facing off against his very first supervillain, the Weather Wizard. (Future episodes will feature more comic book villains like Captain Cold and heroes like Firestorm.)

But what caught our attention the most was that surprising ending. Why is wheelchair-bound S.T.A.R. Labs boss Harrison Wells looking at a hologram of a 2024 newspaper that carries the headline, "Flash missing: Vanishes in crisis"? (That's a reference to the 1980s "Crisis on Infinite Earths" comic, where Barry died.)

Plus, what really happened to Barry's mother when she died? And when will Barry's longtime friend/crush Iris learn the truth about her longtime friend?

We're definitely on board to find out the truth about these mysteries.

Twitter users tended to agree: Neale Bastiaans wrote, "Really enjoyed #TheFlashpremiere tonight. Off to a great start. @grantgust seems like a lead you can build a series around."

@Miranda_Blu adored the show as well. "#TheFlashpremiere was the best new show premier I've seen in a long time!"

Echoing many critics was John Gholson. "#TheFlashpremiere was better than most TV superhero 1st episodes, thanks to embracing its comic roots & a generally upbeat vibe," he said.

We'll see if the positive reactions continue. So far, so good for the Scarlet Speedster.

So what can fans look forward to next? Executive producer Andrew Kreisberg told us about the villains and heroes we'll meet this season. "We've got Captain Cold in Episode 4; Plastique; in Episode 7 we have Blackout; and in Episode 8 we've got our big crossover with Arrow. We're really looking forward to that."

What did you think of the premiere?

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