NOTE: This article contains potential SPOILERS for The CW's INVASION!
It's a big week for The CW's roster of DC Comics superheroes, as they stand poised to make comic book-- no, television history, merging the characters of four different shows - Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, and Legends of Tomorrow - into a single story spanning four consecutive nights. And to make it not just possible, but necessary, the showrunners have turned to a global threat torn right out of the pages of DC Comics. The "Invasion!" is almost here, and Earth's heroes may soon face an "alien alliance" unlike any threat they have faced before.
Leading the charge will be, just as it was in the original 1988 comic series, the alien race known as The Dominators - a cruel, calculating race of aliens divided into a rigid class structure (they may all look to be sharp-toothed, bulbous-headed aliens, but the size of that red dot on their forehead determines their social status). The producers haven't revealed just how closely the TV version of "Invasion!" will be keeping to the comics, but we do know it will all hinge on The Dominators - so it's best for fans to know what they're in for.
Who Are The Dominators?
As mentioned above, The Dominators (members of a society dubbed The Dominion) are an intelligent race of aliens famous for their advanced technology and willingness to cross every ethical or moral boundary in pursuit of knowledge, or their own safety. Originally introduced as an opposing force to the 30th Century's "Legion of Super-Heroes, the most significant chapter in the Dominators' history was their role in "Invasion!", uniting an alliance of alien worlds and races in their assault on Earth.
Fans of the Halo video game series will instantly grasp the alliance's structure, with the Dominators leading this "covenant" of species as the brains and ruthless planners of the operation. For the rest of the war effort, they turn to a variety of other planets and races:
- The Khunds, a hulking, Viking-like race of space warriors act as shock troops.
- The Durlands, a race of shapeshifting aliens used to infiltrate humanity in disguise.
- The Gil'Dishpan, intestine-like worms encased in bubbles containing the atmosphere of their home gas giant, controlling supply lines.
- The Okaarans, famed warlords responsible for training the greatest warriors in the Vega system (including the Teen Titan Koriand'r) as weapons manufacturers.
- The Citadelians, citizens of a brutal, tyrannical empire putting their strength and discipline to work manning the alliance's prisons.
- The Psions, once test subjects of the Guardians of the Universe, the race evolved intelligence and scientific curiosity... usually in dissecting prisoners.
- The Thanagarians, the race to which (one version of ) Hawkman and Hawkgirl belong, brought as a police force.
- The Daxamites, present only to observe the proceedings... and unknowingly blessed with Superman's own Kryptonian gifts from the yellow sun.
Together, they formed a mighty army ready to invade, subdue, and control the population of Earth. Now, unless The CW is really going to get ambitious, we don't expect to see the full "Invasion!" suite of villains. But The Dominators can do a whole lot with less than you would expect, so even with a fraction of these forces, they could still pull off their plan...
What Do They Want?
Though The Dominators are powerful, they're not invincible. As a result, they have reason to fear other alien species possessing the same strengths or technology as their own... and genuinely worry about superhero blessed with gifts that can hardly be explained through rational science. That makes Earth something od a curiosity to them, covered in a race of human beings who, for some reason, possess a genetic propensity to develop superpowers. The Dominators want to know why, and make it their mission to solve the mystery.
They eventually do, after gathering dozens of human test subjects (read: prisoners) and putting them into a grotesque experiment. By placing them against an onslaught of deadly blaster fire, they reason, any and all genetic talent for becoming superhuman will manifest itself instantly, for their very survival. The test leaves just seven humans alive, having developed a variety of powers. The conclusion reached by The Dominators on hand is that human beings must possess some sort of "metagene" in their DNA, making members of their species more likely to gain special abilities than most other races.
That fact makes them hard to predict or defeat - which means The Dominators have no choice but to gather other races to put an end to the existence of superhuman superheroes.
What Will The CW Crossover Change?
As we mentioned above, the very first announcement that The CW would be turning to "Invasion!" for its four-night crossover was taken with some skepticism. After all, it doesn't seem too likely for a whole host of CG characters to suddenly be fleshed out, and each given their own missions around the world (especially when our heroes are mostly located in the continental United States). The first promos for the crossover seem to suggest that the villains are, in fact, only The Dominators (made more monstrous and threatening with the removal of their robes and implied physical strength).
Now, that may not actually be the case, but the fact that a majority of the "Invasion!" series itself focused on the villains, not the heroes, means there are going to be some differences. But that doesn't mean the larger plot beats won't be adapted - especially since a "metagene" would go a long way in unifying The CW's world of heroes and villains. Whether or not the Khunds, Durlans, Citadelians or Daxamites appear as they did in the comics.
But there are some key details to look out for in The CW's version: the idea of The Dominators' greatest strength being planning means they may always have a trick up their sleeve against our vigilantes and heroes. As for the Durlans, well... The CW's version of the DC universe is no stranger to shapeshifters or doppelgangers. Best not to trust anyone unless you've proven they're who they claim to be.
And then, there's the 'final solution' arrived at when the enemies fails, and one ingenious (but extreme) Dominator deems collateral damage completely acceptable: The Metagene Bomb.
Designed to detonate a massive amount of energy that would affect only those possessing the metagene (most of Earth's heroes), the Gene Bomb sent everyone's powers out of control, before dropping them into a coma and beginning their slow death. There have been a few objects seen in the promos for the Arrowverse crossover that could serve a similar purpose - or just drive them all crazy so they attack one another instead.
From the perspective of fans looking to see something genuinely new with this crossover, the chance for heroes like Flash, Firestorm or Citizen Steel to have superpower explosions is undeniable. And when they fall asleep for the long goodnight, it leaves only the alien or de-powered heroes to save the day - led, in this case, by Supergirl, Green Arrow, Martian Manhunter, Canary, etc.... a clever way of mixing the casts of heroes to an even greater degree, if you ask us.
After fan hopes were driven sky high by the adaptation of the "Flashpoint" storyline, and how it would completely rewrite the reality of the entire Arrowverse - amounting to less than an episode on The Flash alone - it's understandable that there's apprehension to do the same. Given just how large, how strange, and how villain-focused the original "Invasion!" really was, it may be best to expect some fun, as opposed to true world-altering events and twists.
Oh, and comic book scenes adapted down to the smallest detail - we're hoping for plenty of those.
The CW's "Invasion!" begins Monday, Nov. 28 with Supergirl @8pm, and continues with The Flash at the same time on Tuesday, Arrow on Wednesday, and Legends of Tomorrow on Thursday.