David Hersch (Cicada)

Other news from the Arrowverse, as the main villain of The Flash Season 5 has been announced in the SDCC trailer. As problems with the timeline (again…) are being faced by The Flash and his team, a new threat plots from the shadows, wielding a lightning-shaped dagger that the comic readers know well: that’s Cicada, portrayed by Chris Klein. In Season 3, Tracy Brand referred to David Hersch as to one of the professors who made her fail her doctoral dissertation, and now is ready to be introduced as an obsessed man whose family has been wiped out by metahumans, and who’s ready for a big payback by killing each and every one of them as if they were a plague. This is quite a leap from the comics, where Hersch’s relation to his family wasn’t exactly idyllic, and where he rather starts a cult worshiping metahumans rather than hating them. Let’s see together.

David Hersch was born in Keystone City, but in 1890. He was an architect, but also worked as a preacher, helping the local priest in St. John’s Catholic Church. He was married to Elizabeth, a woman he was convinced to love with all his heart… but apparently there was something wrong with his idea of love, or maybe he didn’t get something from the Gospel he preached every Sunday: paranoid and bent on rage bursts, he frequently abused his wife, beating her everytime he saw something wrong in the world, an occasion that repeated itself quite often. Eventually, one night, he beat his wife so hard that he killed her. After the murder, going mad with grief, he tried to kill himself, but moments before committing suicide he was struck by a bolt of lightning, that hit the dagger he wanted to use for the act. Miraculously, he survived the experience, and not only that: he had also had a vision of himself, destined to an immortal life and accompanied by his beloved Elizabeth, risen from the dead by his side. Hersch believed this to be a message from God, and he was convinced even more so the moment he realized that he had also acquired supernatural abilities that allowed him to absorb people’s life force, to be transferred to others, himself included. He had been given a purpose, and the means to achieve it. He put his wife’s body into a metal coffin, hidden deep under what would have become years later Keystone Motors, and then used his experience as a preacher to start his own cult, promising everlasting life to his followers. He named himself Cicada, as the insect who was said to be able to hibernate itself for centuries and then be reborn anew, and his cult, the Children of Cicada, became a constant yet hidden presence in Keystone City’s history. Unfortunately, God wasn’t speaking to him anymore. Not until many, many years later.

For more than a century, Cicada used his powers to absorb the life force of his followers, gaining the immortality he wanted, but he still lacked the higher purpose he had been promised. Then, finally, he learnt that the heroic Flash had gained his powers from a lightning bolt, just as he had: he believed The Flash to be his “brother”, and presented him to his Children as the promised savior. Cicada instructed his followers to pay attention to The Flash’s daily deeds, as the ones he saved were the ones destined to be sacrificed to achieve immortality. He gave his Children a lightning-shaped dagger, that he imbued with his power so that they were able to absorb life force just like he did, and then sent them in every street, road and alley of the city, letting them murder every person who had been previously saved by The Flash. This turned out to be a success, as Cicada amounted an unprecedented quantity of life force… but it also brought an unwanted attention from the authorities. Wanting to prevent the hero, Cicada enlisted the help of Magenta, and had her kidnap Flash and bring him to his lair. Here, he told the “savior” that they were one and the same, as he himself had been hit by lightning just after his wife had been killed (apparently, age and insanity had made him rewrite some parts of his own story). Finally, using the energy he had collected from the “sacrifices” and from Flash himself, he was able to resurrect Elizabeth… but the woman wasn’t exactly happy to see him, and she revealed to everyone that it was David the one who had killed her in the first place. Enraged, denying the truth, Cicada attacked Elizabeth, and killed her once again by draining her of her life force with one last kiss. Then he was finally stopped by Flash, who had been freed by detectives Jared Morillo and Fred Chyre. He was sentenced to death and put in Iron Heights in death row… but first S.T.A.R. Labs had to determine if he was able to die at all, with all the energy he had stored. Cicada lifted them of this doubt, as he escaped from prison exploiting the commotion created by Gorilla Grodd some time later…

David Hersch is a maniac, a deranged man driven mad by guilt, paranoia and religious fanaticism; despite being totally crazy, he’s still charismatic and magnetic, able to fascinate hundreds of people in his cult. As Cicada, he’s a “lightning rod for souls”, able to absorb other people’s life force to expand his life span indefinitely, to heal from any possible wound, even lethal ones, and to resurrect the dead by redistributing the life force he’s stolen; he wields twin Lightning Daggers, weapons imbued with his power that can steal or release life force acting as catalysts of his power. A beloved leader followed by a group of fanatics who believed his promises of immortality and who hang off his words, Cicada is a dark, secret shadow looming over Keystone City’s history, an immortal threat driven by a mad righteousness that makes him all the more dangerous.