The Reverse-Flash made reference to a number of classic comic stories, concepts, and characters while explaining the strange cube John Diggle found.
Warning: The following contains SPOILERS for The Flash season 8, episode 18.
Eobard Thawne gave a speech full of Easter eggs regarding the cosmic side of the DC Comics multiverse, hinting at the future of the Arrowverse and providing a setup for The Flash season 9. The imprisoned Reverse-Flash lived up to his comic book alias of Professor Zoom, offering viewers an educating lecture on a number of subjects. Just how Thawne knew about some of the things he spoke of is a mystery awaiting an explanation, but there is little about Barry Allen’s nemesis and the breadth of his knowledge that is shocking after eight seasons.
One of the biggest surprises in The Flash season 8 was the unadvertised appearance of John Diggle (David Ramsey) in episode 18, “The Man in the Yellow Tie.” Formerly the vigilante Spartan and right hand of Oliver Queen on Arrow, Diggle had spent the two years since the series finale of Arrow seeking the meaning of a strange box containing a glowing green object, which had crashed to Earth near him as he was preparing to leave Star City. Some believed that this was the payoff of a long-teased rumor that John Diggle would become the first Green Lantern of Earth-Prime.
With the most knowledgeable scientists of his era unable to find an explanation for the headaches Diggle had begun experiencing since acquiring the box or a way of opening the box a second time, he sought out the Reverse-Flash Eobard Thawne (Tom Cavanagh) in the hope that he might have some answers, being a scientist from 200 years in the future. Thawne did indeed know something of what the box truly was and agreed to help Diggle in opening it again and claiming the power it had to offer. This led to the ever-boastful Reverse-Flash pontificating upon the nature of the box, dropping the names of several characters and concepts from DC Comics’ cosmology in the process.
When Diggle first asked Thawne about the box and recounted how he had begun hearing voices telling him that “worlds await“Thawne described the box as a piece of transmatter technology, which had”the power to travel across realitiesIn the pre-Crisis DC Comics universe, both the Justice League and Justice Society of America used devices called transmatter cubes to travel to one another’s respective parallel Earths. In the post-Flashpoint DC Comics universe, a similar device called the Transmatter Symphonic. Array was used to facilitate interdimensional travel. By the 31st century and the time of the Legion of Superheroes, transmatter portals were available as a fast but expensive means of traveling the universe.
Orrery of Worlds
Thawne also claimed that Diggle’s box was forged in a place called the Orrery of Worlds. First introduced in the build-up to the Final Crisis event and further explored in the Multiversity series, the Orrery of Worlds is the name given to the 52 parallel Earths watched over by the Monitor race that emerged to protect the new Multiverse following the death of the original Monitor after the Crisis on Infinite Earths miniseries. Thawne’s mention of the Orrery of Worlds suggests that something similar happened in the new multiverse that formed in the aftermath of the Arrowverse Crisis on the Infinite Earths event.
Thawne explained to Diggle that cubes like the one he had only appeared to certain people with the potential to shape the future and that he would have to think of “all the cosmic odysseys that await“to open the box again. Cosmic Odyssey was a four-part miniseries published in 1988, which featured a rare alliance between Highfather and Darkseid of the New Gods, as they joined with a number of heroes from Earth to save all reality from a sentient version of the Anti-Life Equation. The story is notable for having given a major role to the Green Lantern John Stewart, whose hubris during the event caused the destruction of the planet Xanshi. Thawne’s choice of words does not seem to be a coincidence, given the many teases that John Diggle is the Arrowverse’s John Stewart and was a Green Lantern on at least one other Earth.
Once Diggle opened the box a second time, Thawne encouraged him to “drink of the Bleed“within. In the modern DC Comics multiverse, the Bleed is the name given to the empty space between realities, so named because of the red tint resembling blood that dominates the realm. The concept of the Bleed was first introduced in The Authority, where the titular team of antiheroes made their home aboard an alien ship, the Carrier, that could travel through the Bleed. The same concept of a limbo between realities also appeared in the Justice League of America comics of the 1960s and was retroactively declared to be the same space as the Bleed following the Flashpoint comic book storyline.
Thawne made mention of a being named Mandrakk, whom he said was responsible for hiding the Bleed within the cube Diggle was given. In the DC Comics multiverse, Mandrakk was a name given to being being originally known as Dax Novu, who was also called the Dark Monitor. Mandrakk was the ultimate villain of the Final Crisis storyline and sought to consume the entire multiverse, after developing the ability to feed upon the Bleed itself. This led to reality falling apart, as Mandrakk drained the Bleed to boost his own power.
The Source Wall
As Diggle opened the box a second time, Thawne commanded him to feel the power of the cube and “break through the Source Wall“As he contemplated all the worlds that awaited him. The Source Wall is a key part of the mythology of DC Comics’ New Gods, being the boundary between the Multiverse and the energy that created all that exists, which the New Gods call the Source The Source Wall is decorated with the petrified bodies of the legendary Promethean Giants, along with countless other dead gods, cosmic entities, and other foolish creatures who attempted to bypass the Source Wall and claim the power of the Source for themselves.
Based on Thawne’s instruction, it seems likely that he was hoping Diggle might be goaded into joining that collective and that Thawne might claim the box and the power if offered for himself. Unfortunately for Thawne, Diggle resisted the box’s allure and it disappeared after he rejected its power a second time. This seems to have set the stage for Diggle’s future as a mentor to a new team of heroes in the upcoming Justice U series.
More: The Flash Properly Resolves John Diggle’s Green Lantern Destiny
The Flash releases new episodes on Wednesdays on The CW.
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