The Flash

by Kiko Matsing

We are not just in a new Golden Age of TV, but perhaps also in a Golden Age of the Comic Book TV. Along with Arrow (based on DC’s Green Arrow) and Marvel’s Agents of Shield, two hot new shows opened this fall based on DC’s comic book universe: CW’s The Flash and Fox’s Gotham.

Detective Joe West (Jesse L. Martin) and Barry Allen/The Flash (Grant Gustin)
at the Central City Police Department

What is refreshing about The Flash is it dispensed with the grim seriousness that saddles recent big screen adaptations of Batman (Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy) and Superman (Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel). The Flash is set in a bright-lit world, and cast with a young actor who plays the part with a lightness of touch. While there is also a family tragedy in his past, Grant Gustin’s Barry Allen is no sullen Bruce Wayne.

I also love the use of Art Deco settings–like the iconic Central City Police Department where Barry Allen works in forensics–without it being too gratuitous and anachronistic. Art Deco, which flourished in the inter-war period, celebrated the modern and the sleek, and produced lofty architecture that was both grand and mythic.



Interior of elevator

Art Deco detail: a grand and mythic style

Finally, we also see a superhero costume that successfully straddles the line between being too understated and campy. It is no mere glorified hoodie like Green Arrow’s, but also forgoes the exaggerated rubber muscles in a previous reincarnation of the character.

The Flash costume circa 1990 and 2014

In fact, I love the slight nod to the aviator outfits from WWI, which also situates it within in the zenith of the Art Deco period–in the use of oxblood leather and stylized lightning bolts.

Aviator-style mask detail

Vintage aviator outfit (Source:

What better visual style for a mercurial superhero?

Fleet-footed Mercury, on the wall of the Rockefeller Center