The Flash Subverts Identity Crisis With Sue Dibny’s Origin Story in "A Girl Named Sue"

Tuesday night's episode of The Flash gave fans something they've been waiting quite some time for with the introduction of Sue Dearbon, the woman Ralph Dibny has been looking for since the end of Season 5 and who, in comics becomes his wife, Sue Dibny. But The Flash isn't the comics which means that sometimes characters debut on the show with some interesting twists, tweaks, and references to their comics histories that are just a little different than the way they played out in print. That's definitely the case in "A Girl Named Sue" who just introduced a variation of a classic comic book character with one clever twist that subverts one DC's most controversial stories.

Spoilers for Tuesday's episode of The Flash, "A Girl Named Sue" below.

In the episode, Ralph's monitoring of Sue Dearbon's financial accounts finally gets a hit and he discovers that she's put a deposit down on an apartment in Central City. Thinking he's going to go find the girl and save the day, Ralph shows up only to promptly be blasted when the apartment explodes. There she is, though, Sue Dearbon, alive and well. Back at Ralph's office, he tries to find out what exactly has been going on with Sue as she just disappeared -- hence his being hired to find her -- and that's when she reveals that she has been missing because she made the mistake of falling in love with a murderer and arms dealer and now, she's essentially hunting him (as he hunts her) to make sure he goes away for his crimes so she can finally go home again. This really bad dude's name? John Loring.

For fans of DC Comics, this a huge twist as John Loring is a gender bent version of Jean Loring. You see, in comics, Jean Loring was the one-time wife of Ray Palmer/The Atom and a friend of Sue and Ralph Dibny along with many other heroes. She filled mostly a supporting role in comics but was a major player in the controversial 2004 Identity Crisis storyline.

In Identity Crisis, Jean suffers a mental breakdown and, after realizing that heroes always come running back to the people they love when they're in danger, she decides to put one of those loved ones in danger to bring Ray back to her. She takes one of Ray's old suits, shrinks down, and enters Sue's brain. Her plan to just cause a minor stroke but she ends up killing Sue instead. That, and other developments in Identity Crisis, remain some of the most controversial in DC Comics history which is, in part, what makes Sue's The Flash origin pleasantly subversive. By having "John Loring" be a murderer even though there ends up being far more to the John Loring story -- he's not actually after Sue, she's actually trying to steal from him -- it still makes for one wild subversion. It feels a bit like justice for Sue, offering an unexpected twist that is surprisingly satisfying.


Of course, this also isn't the first time that we've seen a take on Jean Loring in the Arrowverse. The character, as Jean, appeared a few times on Arrow as the Queen family lawyer though it's unclear what that character's status is post-"Crisis on Infinite Earths". This also isn't the only time this season we've seen a character remix on The Flash. Earlier this season, the show referenced Victoria Vale as not a journalist as she's known in comics, but as a high-end designer with Sue last being seen wearing one of her one-of-a-kind designs.

The Flash airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on The CW.