The Flash season 5 has slowly revealed Cicada's origin, making the season 5 villain much more tragic that he initially appeared. The Arrowverse has a long history of altering its source material in bringing various characters to life and Cicada has been no exception to this. Yet the chief villain of The Flash this season has been changed to the point that he barely resembles his comic book counterpart.
A serial killer who targets metahumans, Cicada first appeared in The Flash's season 5 premiere, where he made short work of the villain-of-the-week, Gridlock. Possessing a lightning-shaped dagger that allowed him to negate a person's superpowers, Cicada proved more than a match for The Flash, Elongated Man and Vibe. Details as to Cicada's identity were slowly revealed as the season progressed. The biggest clue Team Flash uncovered came from a conversation Cicada had with Joe West regarding the power children have to transform your life - a statement Joe believed could only have been uttered by a father.
This information combined with the assumption that Cicada had gained his powers during The Flash season 4 finale and had a child injured during the same incident led Barry Allen to a comatose girl named Grace Gibbons, in the opening scene of this week's episode, "O Come, All Ye Thankful." When Barry inquired as to Grace's father, he was informed by the attending pediatrician that both of Grace's parents were dead. This statement was technically true, but Grace did have a legal guardian the doctor did not mention - her uncle Orlin Dwyer, who was identified at the episode's end as Cicada.
The Cicada of The Flash comic books was also a serial killer who utilized a lightning-shaped dagger, but his name, targets and methodology were completely different. Originally a 19th century preacher named David Hersch, Cicada gained the ability to drain the life force from others after being struck by lightning while in the middle of attempting suicide, after he accidentally beat his wife to death in a jealous rage. After living for over a century, David learned about the Flash and how he too gained his powers after being struck by lightning. This sparked an obsession and a belief that the two men were connected, as the insane Hersch began killing people whom Flash had saved and draining their life force in a bid to resurrect his wife.
Fans of the comics presumed that Cicada's killings on the show were motivated by a desire to use the life force of dead metahumans to try and heal his sick daughter. However, there has been nothing so far that suggests Cicada has that ability or even attempted such a thing. The show has also suggested that Cicada has no motivation beyond murdering metahumans as a form of revenge on the people he blames for putting his adopted daughter into a coma.
While the twist is a novel one, it matters little whether Cicada is a grief-stricken father or a grief-stricken uncle. In either case, the Arrowverse version of the character has a far more compelling and sympathetic story than his comic book counterpart. It will be interesting to see how The Flash and the rest of Central City's heroes react when they realize Cicada's precise motivations for doing what he does are more heavily steeped in avenging an innocent than personal revenge.