Back in the Golden Age of comics (the early 1940s), when “costumed adventurers” became a Pop-Culture rage, I like to think that writer Gardner Fox (hey, “Gardner,” like in “Gerald”!) and artist Harry Lampert were looking through an art-book on Classical Mythology one day, when they came across a photo of the Roman God Mercury (Greek: Hermes)- messenger to the Gods, intermediary between the worlds, and fleet-footed God of Commerce (recognized most readily today as the Divinity-Representative to a floral-delivery company). I am fond of thinking that at that moment (in a blast of inspiration akin to a lightening-bolt from the heavens), they thought to themselves, “Mercury-as-a-Superhero”! Identified most readily by his winged petasos, the original Flash hot-footed it onto the pop-culture comics scene in 1940 as the original Super-Speedster Crime-Fighter.
Although a prominent member of the Justice Society of America (the first Super-Hero band), the Flash faded into comics obscurity by the late 1940s: to become the first Golden Age hero reintroduced by DC Comics in the late 1950s, heralding (kind of like the Messenger of the Gods) the Silver Age of comics. As before, the Flash became an anchor-member of the Justice League of America, and went on to undergo a series of reinventions in the vastly changing DC world; arguably, the notion of “Mercury as a Super Hero” proved so apt, Marvel Comics developed their own Quicksilver. In the Era of Super Hero Cinema Interpretations, the Flash again has been seen to be a character capable of stirring interest, appearing in a 1990s TV series, and as the first Super Hero to make a cameo guest-appearance on Smallville. For some years, the idea of a Flash movie has floated around, once again garnering interest due to the demonstrable popularity of Super Hero films. Clear to see: whether Deity or Super-Powered Crime Fighter, Mercury inspires the imagination of humanity.