“The Flash” comic adaptation hits Netflix, reveals complexities of father-son relationship

Dustin Gebel

People often say that we’re living in a golden age. Some say it’s a golden age of media in general. For others, it’s the golden age of television. For many, this is the golden age of comic book adaptations.

The CW’s breakout hit, “The Flash” adapted from the DC comic of the same name, is one of the most eager and faithful adaptations out there. The show, spinning off of CW’s “Arrow,” creates a shared universe between the two shows.

Unlike “Arrow,” which is focused on the dark and gritty quest for justice, “The Flash” strives to be more lighthearted and absurd than its sister show.

“The Flash” follows the story of normal forensic scientist Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) who, after being struck by lightning in his lab, becomes The Flash. But the same accident that gives Barry his superspeed alters other people, making them “metahumans.” It is Barry’s mission not only to protect his city but also to help these metahumans.

The show alternates between a procedural villain-of-the-week structure and episodes that progress the story of the first season, particularly the feud between The Flash and his nemesis, the Reverse Flash and the mystery of how he murdered Barry’s mother.

Watching scenes from the show (particularly fight scenes or anything with Gorilla Grodd, an enhanced gorilla with telekinetic abilities), viewers can see that, with the right writers and a good amount of computer generated special effects, there isn’t a need to tone down the fantastical parts of comics. With source material that features an entire city of gorillas, time travel, parallel universes and wacky science, the directors’ need to be willing to go above and beyond the realism of previous comic adaptations.

While the show’s intense and flashy visuals are a highlight, characters rein just as important. Gustin brings the titular character to life, making it just as interesting to watch the superhero deal with day to day life as it is to see him run into a burning building.

Gustin exhibits a certain vulnerability that makes his character seem like a natural hero from the beginning. Viewers can easily tell that Barry, Gustin’s character, allows the looming effects of his mother’s murder to influence his actions and help him to become the hero he needs to be.

The supporting cast of “The Flash” helps to carry the show just as much as Gustin. While friendships between Barry and scientists Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes) and Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker) are important and feel as natural as any real world friendship, one of the show’s heavier focuses is on family relationships.

The relationship between fathers is mapped complexly on “The Flash.” In the first season alone, Barry has three different father figures influencing his path. The first is his actual father, Henry Allen, played by John Wesley Shipp who is in prison framed for the murder of his wife. Shipp played Barry Allen/The Flash in the 1990 “The Flash” television show. The second is Joe West (Jesse L. Martin), the police officer who took Barry in after his mother died. The third is mentor of The Flash and disgraced scientist Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh).

With the first season currently streaming on Netflix, “The Flash” is a show that any fan of comic books, science fiction or good storytelling can enjoy. Moreover, “The Flash” is proof of the comic book adaptation golden age.