(Re) Enter The Nightshade: Why The Flash Should Reintroduce this Character from the ’90s

With over 4.5 million viewers, The Flash has been one of this season’s most definitive breakout hits. Last night, the freshman series delivered a finale that had audiences wanting season two like yesterday.

While many, like myself, were skeptical, The CW drama brought its A-game right out the gates: an impressive affable cast; superb storytelling; and crossovers with its popular sister show, Arrow. Even an overarching mystery that has offered more than a few surprise twists that has left viewers (new casual fans and hardcore comic geeks alike) eager to find out what’s going to happen next.

Another component of The Flash’s success is that show runners haven’t hesitated to utilize the Scarlet Speedster’s rich mythos, be it the comics or CBS’ 1990 series.

John Wesley Shipp — who was the titular hero in the CBS version — is passing the torch in The CW incarnation in a recurring role as Barry’s father. Amanda Pays — who played Tina McGee in the 1990 series — appeared in several episodes playing a new version of the same character. Just as he did on CBS’ Flash and even in the Justice League animated series, Mark Hamill once again portrayed the Trickster in an episode earlier this season.

Another character from CBS’ Flash who would lend nicely for The CW adaptation next season is the vintage crime-fighter, Nightshade.

Portrayed in the previous series by late actor Jason Bernard, Nightshade was the alter ego of Dr. Desmond Powell, who upon returning home from the Korean War, found Central City to be plagued with corruption and organized crime. As Dr. Powell stated, knowing he’d be a black man working outside of the law during the 1950s, he would need another identity to be the hero the city needed. Designing his costume and equipment such as tranquilizer dart guns, Powell took to the streets as the mysterious Nightshade.

Battling all manner of criminals, the vigilante became a hero of the people and was instrumental in cleaning up Central City.

Thirty five years later, a retired Powell is forced to return as his alter ego and team up with The Flash on two separate occasions when enemies with ties to Nightshade re-emerge.

Powell served as both an ally and a mentor to his successor.

A new version of Nightshade in today’s The Flash series would provide for some excellent storytelling opportunities. A crime-fighter of the past would definitely be a person of interest to a time-stream monitoring Dr. Harrison Wells. Iris and/or Barry could stumble upon the myths of a previous vigilante while investigating a case.

Perhaps Dr. Powell had a nephew or a niece who has inherited the mantle.

A classic pulp hero in the spirit of Green Hornet, Kato, or The Shadow, Nightshade would certainly be a nice contrast to The Flash and Central City’s other metahumans.

Nightshade’s origins would not only enrich The Flash’s mythos but also Arrow’s. Powell could be another example of a previous era of vigilantes that predate Starling City’s Emerald Archer, a point made by Ted Grant this season on Arrow.

With an ever growing rogues gallery, Barry doesn’t exactly lack for enemies and could certainly use some backup. Along with Firestorm who is getting his own show in the fall, Nightshade could help even those odds.

It’ll be interesting to see if the new series does a take on Nightshade and if so, in what manner. In any event, can season two get here already?

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