As many fans had expected, tonight's episode of The Flash, the third chapter of the epic "Crisis on Infinite Earths" crossover, the cosmic being known as The Spectre finally made his first Arrowverse appearance. That may be a controversial statement, since Jim Corrigan and his green, spectral aura appeared on NBC's Constantine, but it is not clear exactly how 1:1 Matt Ryan's John Constantine is here versus on his solo show -- and also, Corrigan never fully transformed on that series (although it was something the producers had planned). The character is essentially the vengeful right hand of God in the comics, and first appeared way back in 1942 and co-created by writter Jerry Siegel of Superman fame.
But there's something a little bit different about The Spectre in this incarnation. What? Well, you'll have to wade past our giant white antimatter wall of spoilers to know...
Spoilers ahead for tonight's episode of The Flash, titled "Crisis on Infinite Earths Part Three."
His name is Oliver Queen, and after five years in Hell, he came back to his city...ah, nevermind. You get the idea. When Oliver was on Lian Yu -- the island where he honed his archery skills and learned to survive. The series has mentioned again and again over the years that the Mandrain translation of the island's name is "Purgatory."
It turns out, in order to save his family, he has to become something else.
"Purgatory," it turns out, is a perfect place for The Spectre to reside. And as far as Oliver Queen is concerned, the literal, spiritual realm of purgatory looks just like Lian Yu. And so it is that in this episode, Oliver Queen's soul -- separated from his body, which was revived in a Lazarus Pit but not reunited with his spirit -- finds itself in purgatory, making another deal with another cosmic being that will give him anotehr shot at saving the universe from the Anti-Monitor.
So when Jim Corrigan shows up and introduces the concept of The Spectre, Oliver is almost immediately transformed into a magical being of immense power, disappointing those who would hope to bring him back to life.
Whether or not it worked, we'll have to wait until January to find out.
In the comics, The Spectre (Corrigan's version) played a small but significant role in the battle against the Anti-Monitor, providing muscle on a cosmic scale that could match the Anti-Monitor's and giving a group of heroes gathered at the dawn of time an opportunity to turn the tide.
The "Crisis" event brings together the heroes from multiple Earths to battle against the Anti-Monitor (LaMonica Garrett), a godlike villain who threatens to destroy all reality. In the comics, the story ended with the deaths of The Flash and Supergirl, and the destruction of DC's multiverse, leading to a single Earth with a complex history packed with hundreds of heroes.
The event is the most ambitious thing DC has ever attempted in live action, bringing together characters from all six of the current DC Comics adaptations on The CW (Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, DC's Legends of Tomorrow, Batwoman, and Black Lightning), along with characters and actors from Titans, the 1990 version of The Flash, the short-lived Birds of Prey, Smallville, Superman Returns, Tim Burton's Batman, and the iconic 1966 Batman series.
"Crisis on Infinite Earths" kicked off this week with Sunday night's episode of Supergirl, ran through last night's episode of Batwoman and tonight's episode of The Flash. That serves as the midseason cliffhanger, as the shows go on hiatus for the holidays and return on January 14 to finish out the event with the midseason premiere of Arrow and a "special episode" of DC's Legends of Tomorrow, which launches as a midseason series this year and so will not have an episode on the air before the Crisis. And while Black Lightning's midseason finale -- which airs tonight after Batwoman -- is not technically part of "Crisis on Infinite Earths," there are red skies, and the episode's title is "Earth Crisis." So things are not too far removed.