“Elongated Journey Into Night” heralds tonight’s brand new addition to The Flash under the guise of clever wordplay and a vandalized front door. Ralph Dibny has been a long time coming to the show and it was awesome to be able to debut him as early in the season as the fourth episode! Plus, this episode was chock full of #DCTV Secrets that I am dying to get into.
I find it particularly great that Ralph Dibny made his #DCTV debut on The Flash because he was created in 1960 to be a supporting character in the Flash comic book series that was being published at the time. Although Barry Allen initially thought that Ralph was a villain who had perpetrated a string of robberies across Central City, it was revealed near the end of the issue that Ralph was totally a good guy with weird stretchy powers and had been framed by a bunch of meanies with a helicopter and a length of rope.
While this isn’t exactly how “Elongated Journey Into Night” plays out onscreen, there are a lot of cues taken from Ralph’s early origins present in the episode.
Maybe not the most hidden Secret was seeing Ralph as a detective. The first time Ralph Dibny ever got a solo story was in DETECTIVE COMICS where he and his wife, Sue, traveled all across the United States of America in a convertible solving mysteries and investigating conspiracy theories and strange tales. I loved that Ralph was featured in this premier episode working as a private detective—or private dick.
It’s not the subtlest joke of the episode, but it was maybe my favorite!
When it turned out that Ralph had previously worked with Barry and Joe at the Central City Police Department and had left under sketchy circumstances, I thought that was an interesting way to include the idea that Ralph might not have the best moral compass.
…Even though it does turn out in the end that Barry was wrong and Ralph is a pretty alright guy after all.
The animosity that brewed between Barry and Ralph really reminded me of the introduction of Julian Alpert on The Flash last season—particularly considering that it’s looking like Ralph is going to be filling Julian’s position on Team Flash for the foreseeable future. In the scene where Barry offered Ralph a position at S.T.A.R. Labs, there was another deep cut Ralph Dibny #DCTV Secret.
Ralph wiggling his nose and saying, “I smell a mystery!” is a classic staple of the Elongated Man that fans from the comic book surely recognized on sight. I also thought it was the best employment of the stretching effect in the entire episode.
The Flash has also established that Ralph Dibny did not get his powers from the same particle accelerator explosion that Barry Allen did. In fact, it was Barry’s return from the speed force that caused the event that granted him the power to stretch. From a certain point of view, Barry is now responsible for Ralph’s current state of being and it’s my hypothesis that this is why Barry felt compelled to welcome him onto Team Flash. This is a nice reminder of the heroic soul that possesses the lead of the show.
To put it another way: Barry was truly super.
Circling back to the comics, one of Ralph’s most defining characteristics is his romantic relationship with his wife: Sue Dibny. They were one of the first comic book couples during the Silver Age to get married and one of the few metahuman couples to remain married throughout their lives. They are notable for having a happy, healthy relationship in comparison to many others. If Jesse Wells is out of commission for the majority of the season, then I would love to see Sue brought onto The Flash as a guest star.
However, Sue and Ralph meet some real tragedy in a comic book event called IDENTITY CRISIS (which, if you haven’t read you definitely should), but he seems to have been set up as comic relief, so maybe they will escape that fate.
Fun fact: Ralph and Sue do really briefly become ghost detectives and have some involvement with paranormal investigations, and I’m just going to remind you that Constantine exists in this #DCTV Universe and that would make an amazing show…
…or maybe even an animated series?
Ralph seems like he’s going to be around for the long hall on Season 4 of The Flash and considering how awesome it was to watch Barry run up the length of Ralph’s super elongated arm, I can’t wait to see what shenanigans they are going to get up to saving Earth One in coming episodes!
What was your favorite Ralph Dibny moment from “Elongated Journey Into Night”? I want to read your comments!
Ashley V. Robinson covers The Flash as a part of the #DCTV Couch Club. You can find her on Twitter at @AshleyVRobinson and on the Jawiin YouTube channel. The Flash airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. (7 p.m. CST) on The CW.