Cover art to Time Masters: Vanishing Point #5
Art by Dan Jurgens.
|First appearance||The Flash (vol. 1) #139 (September 1963)|
|Created by||John Broome
|Alter ego||Eobard Thawne|
|Team affiliations||Secret Society of Super Villains
Black Lantern Corps
|Notable aliases||Reverse-Flash, Adrian Zoom|
Absorption of intelligence through physical contact
Eobard Thawne, who has gone by the codenames "Professor Zoom" and "Reverse-Flash", is a fictional character, a comic book supervillain in the DC Universe. Thawne is the Archenemy of the superhero Barry Allen, the second hero to be called the Flash. He is also the second of the Reverse-Flashes, as well as a maternal forefather of Bart Allen (the second Kid Flash and fourth Flash). He first appeared in The Flash (vol. 1) #139 (September 1963).
Created by John Broome and Carmine Infantino, Thawne first appeared in The Flash (vol. 1) #139 in 1963, and remained one of Barry Allen's most formidable adversaries in comics over the next quarter century. In Flash #324, the character was apparently killed by the Flash in an effort to save his fiancée, and spare her the death that Thawne gave to Flash's first wife, Iris. Largely unseen over the next 25 years except in sporadic appearances, Thawne was resurrected by writer Geoff Johns in 2009's The Flash: Rebirth, and reimagined as a major villain in the DC Universe with his reintroduction. Johns compares this to his similar treatment of Green Lantern villain Sinestro in an early outline of the Rebirth series. In 2009, Professor Zoom was ranked as IGN's 31st greatest comic book villain of all time.
Fictional character biography
The "Return of Barry Allen" storyline in The Flash (vol. 2) #74-79 reveals that Thawne started out as a fan of The Flash living in the 25th century and became desperate to meet him. After gaining super-speed by replicating the electrochemical bath that gave Barry Allen his powers, losing years of his life in the process - even undergoing surgery to make himself look like Barry - he traveled backward in time using the Cosmic Treadmill to meet his hero. However, Thawne became mentally unstable upon arriving several years after Barry's death- the Treadmill having broken down over the centuries- and discovering from the Flash Museum that he is destined to become Professor Zoom and die at the hands of his idol, resulting in his mind - already disoriented by the stress of time travel- seeking escape by convincing himself that he is Barry Allen. However, his true nature is eventually revealed due to his more violent nature, "Barry" attacking Central City in revenge for "forgetting him," until he is ultimately defeated by the Flash family and sent back to the future, his memory wiped of the incident due to the trauma of the time-travel and the beating he had received at the hands of Wally West.
He later became a criminal known as "The Professor," who found a time capsule containing the Silver Age Flash's costume. He was able to use a machine to amplify the suit's speed energy, giving himself the abilities of the Flash as long as he wore it. In the process, Thawne reversed the colors of the costume, the suit becoming yellow, the boots and lightning bolt highlights red, and the chest symbol's white circle becoming black. Taking the new name "Professor Zoom", Thawne used his speed powers to commit crimes, but was stopped by the Flash, who had travelled forward in time to witness the time capsule being opened because it also contained an atomic clock which threatened to explode like an atomic bomb due to the process with which it had been sent into the Future. The Flash, assuming his counterpart might know where the clock was, pursued Professor Zoom. After a destructive battle, the villain was finally defeated when he boasted how he used a chemical coating to protect himself from air friction. Betting that the invisible aura around his body would be superior protection, the Flash seized Zoom and began to push him forward so fast that the intense air friction overwhelmed the coating and the resulting burns forced Zoom to surrender. However, it all proved a waste of time, as Zoom knew nothing about the clock and the Flash was just barely able to find and remove it to an isolated area before it exploded. He also destroyed the costume to prevent such use again.
Blaming the Flash for his defeat, Thawne began travelling back in time to gain revenge, using his knowledge of history to his advantage. In his second appearance he hypnotized Doctor Alchemy, who was trying to go straight, into helping him. He also became obsessed with "replacing" Barry Allen, not only as the Flash, but as the husband of Iris West. After Iris finally made it clear that this would never happen (actually the second time she had insisted this, Zoom having erased her memory of the first time), Zoom (apparently) kills her at a party, vibrating his hand into her head. It took a long time for Allen to get his life back together after this. Shortly after he had found love again, Zoom reappeared, threatening to kill his new fiancee on Allen's second wedding day. Terrified that history would repeat itself, Allen instinctively and inadvertently kills his enemy, breaking Thawne's neck in a final struggle. After he was found not guilty of murder in the subsequent trial, despite the fact that Wally West (the then-Kid Flash and future Flash) testified that Barry could have stopped Thawne without killing him, Barry went to the 30th century to retire and live with the resurrected Iris, as it was revealed she was really an inhabitant of that era sent back for protection and that her mind had been taken from the moment before death, only to later die during the Crisis on Infinite Earths.
It was revealed that the Thawnes and Allens had a long-standing feud by the time of the 25th century. Eobard was descended from Malcolm Thawne, a.k.a. Cobalt Blue, Barry Allen's long lost twin brother. The Thawne/Allen feud was apparently ended in the 30th century by Meloni Thawne's marriage to Don Allen, and the birth of their son, Bart Allen. However, Meloni's father created a "Reverse-Impulse"; a clone of Bart called Thaddeus Thawne, who took the name Inertia. Inertia made several attempts to replace Impulse before rejecting his role as an instrument of vengeance.
Zoom also returned to battle Wally West, working side-by-side with his own successor, former police profiler Zoom, having been pulled out of time shortly before Barry broke his neck. Using the cosmic treadmill, the two Reverse-Flashes intended to force Wally to watch the aftermath of his first battle with Zoom (when his wife Linda Park miscarried) over and over again, but the intervention of Barry Allen, from a time shortly before his death in Crisis on Infinite Earths, transferred Professor Zoom back to his present- in the moments before Barry broke Zoom's neck-, allowing Wally to not only defeat the new Zoom, but also to undo Linda's miscarriage. During this return of Thawne, it was hinted that he retained some vague memories of his time as Barry Allen, as he admitted to having a lost memory in the back of his mind about Wally that drove him to want to see Wally hurt.
The Flash: Rebirth
Professor Zoom appears within the Speed Force in The Flash: Rebirth. It is revealed that he would be resurrected in a near-future event, as his corpse is still buried in the present. He is apparently the one responsible for Barry's return and transformation into the Black Flash. He apparently kills the Black Flash and attempts to transform Barry into its replacement. When he appears again, he murders the revived Johnny Quick. It is revealed that Thawne recreated the chemical bath that originally gave Barry his speed, allowing Thawne to lure Barry out of the Speed Force during Final Crisis and, by using that, to create a negative Speed Force, affecting Barry and temporarily turning him into a Black Flash.
He then traps Barry and the revived Max Mercury inside the negative Speed Force, and goes to attack Wally West's kids, Jai and Irey. He attempts to kill them through their connection to the Speed Force before Linda Park-West, only to be stopped by Jay Garrick and Bart Allen. Professor Zoom hates Bart's existence even though his mother is a Thawne which made him his descendant, since he is also a descendant of Barry, whose legacy Zoom is intent on destroying. Bart, in turn, expresses no affection to his maternal forefather, fully aware of the psychopath Zoom really is. He defeats Jay and prepares to kill Bart before Max, Barry and Wally arrive, and take the fight to him. The fight is soon joined by Jesse Chambers and Irey, now with a full connection to the Speed Force and taking up the mantles of Jesse Quick and Impulse.
Zoom pulls Barry away and reveals that everything horrible that happened to Barry, including the death of his mother was caused because of Zoom. He then decides to destroy everything by killing Barry's wife, Iris, before they even met.
As Barry chases after Zoom, Wally joins him in the time barrier. Doing so, they reach Zoom, becoming the lightning bolt that turns Barry into the Flash as they are able to stop Zoom from killing Iris. The Flashes pushes Zoom back through time, showing Zoom his past and future. They return to the present, where the Justice League, the Justice Society, and the Outsiders have built a device originally intended to disconnect Barry from the Speed Force, when he was the Black Flash. Barry tosses Zoom in and Jay activates the device, severing his connection to the negative Speed Force. As the Flashes tie him up to stop him from running, in the past, Iris discovers Thawne's weapon and keeps it.
In the present, Zoom is imprisoned in the Iron Heights, Hunter Zolomon speaks to him, saying they can help each other be better. In Gorilla City, one of the apes warns that Professor Zoom has done something horrible to their jungles, something even they don't know.
Zoom's broken-necked corpse was reanimated as a member of the Black Lantern Corps. The black power ring downloaded the corpse's memories, resulting in it not knowing about Barry's death and resurrection. Declaring itself the new Black Flash, the Black Lantern Zoom attacks Barry, who manages to elude it for the moment. When Black Lantern Rogues attack Iron Heights, they encounter the living Zoom, their rings strangely malfunctioning, and displaying a strange symbol. When the Black Lantern Zoom approaches his living counterpart, he stops moving, and is then frozen by Captain Cold's "cold grenade". In the final issue of the series, future Black Lantern Zoom is brought back to life by the white light of creation, and manages to escape through the negative Speed Force. It is assumed this Reanimated Professor Zoom went back in time to complete the events of Flash: Rebirth, which causes this Reanimated Professor Zoom to become the present-day Professor Zoom (from The Flash: Rebirth).
In the Brightest Day crossover, the present Professor Zoom is still imprisoned in Iron Heights. When Deadman activates the White Power Battery, the Entity speaks to the twelve heroes and villains resurrected at the climax of the "Blackest Night" and tells each of them of their mission that must be accomplished in order to restore 'life' to the universe and prevent the Blackest Night from ever restarting. Zoom becomes the first to inadvertently fulfill his mission, which occurred when he freed Barry Allen from the Speed Force. The Entity proclaims Professor Zoom has completed his task, and his life is restored to him, later revealing that Zoom, having fulfilled his task, is now fully purged of all trace remnants of his Black Lantern ties - both present and future. Professor Zoom is released from Iron Heights by Captain Boomerang, who had hoped to better understand his version of the Entity's message. Zoom does not answer him directly, giving a cryptic response and eventually escaping as Captain Boomerang is confronted by the rest of the Rogues.
Post-Infinite Crisis origin
Professor Zoom's origin was written by Geoff Johns (also titled The Reverse Flash Rebirth). Professor Zoom uses his power to completely rewrite his history. In the story Professor Zoom uses his reverse Speed force powers to wipe his younger brother and rival Professor Drake from history as well as killing his parents when they try to interfere with his research.
Eobard then falls in love with a reporter who had been hired to interview him and his future self at first kills and then wipes the reporter's fiance (and eventually every man who she had ever dated) from existence. However after finding out she did not return Eobard's affections, his future self traumatized the reporter when she was a child, causing her to be mute and institutionalized for the rest of her life so that he never met her.
Finally he had his younger self find the Flash uniform all to make himself the 25th century Flash. As the altered Eobard Thawne runs past him Professor Zoom sheds a tear saying "It won't last long. You will never find love. You will never be the Flash. Barry Allen destroyed my future. It's time I destroyed his."
Professor Zoom appears impersonating the young boy with the police mistakenly believing that the child was a witness of mysterious murderers who killed the victims that had drastically aged. Later, Professor Zoom revealed to Patty Spivot, Barry Allen's assistant, that he was impersonating the child and tells her that to change the new timeline. He attempts to kill Patty, but is thwarted by the Flash, Kid Flash and Hot Pursuit; Professor Zoom killed Hot Pursuit and escapes to continue impersonating anyone. Elsewhere, Professor Zoom says, "It changes. It all changes." and a lightning bolt strikes from the skies, leading directly into the Flashpoint event, that has begun.
Zoom later reveals he escaped from prison as his body was permanently connected to the Speed Force, enabling him to create the negative version of it. He plans to ruin Barry's life. It is revealed he was unable to alter Barry becoming the Flash as that would erase him from existence, which he discovers when he nearly phases from existence when attempting to stop the chemicals spilling over Barry when he hopes to become the only Flash ever by making this his origin. Realising that he is unable to erase Barry without erasing himself, with his actions merely causing the lightning bolt to pass through him and strike the chemicals that triggered the transformation, Zoom decides to ruin Barry's life during childhood, removing his best friend from existence to make Barry more introverted, stalking Barry and doing minor things to annoy him like making him miss ball-catches, and killing his mother.
After the Earth is changed into an alternate timeline, Zoom mocks Barry, who remembers how reality should be but has lost his powers, by stalking his mother (who in this reality is still alive), and placing a Reverse-Flash costume inside his ring, causing Barry to realise Zoom is watching him. Later, Professor Zoom finally appears in front of Barry in the middle of the Amazon/Atlantean war just after Billy Batson is killed. He reveals to Barry that the Flashpoint timeline was created by Barry himself going back in time to stop Professor Zoom from killing his mother. He pulled the entire speed force into him to stop Zoom, transforming history, but his amateur attempt to change history shattered it, destroying and twisting the lives of his allies. Zoom resets Barry's internal vibrations so he can remember this. Barry's actions also transformed Zoom into a living paradox, no longer requiring Barry to exist. Zoom continues to taunt Barry with this knowledge and revel in the fact that he can now kill him at his leisure, until he was stabbed in the back and killed by Batman (Thomas Wayne) using an Amazon's discarded sword, Batman grimly informing Zoom that he should never stand still in a battlefield. Barry later travels back in time to stop his younger self from altering time and the timeline is apparently restored. Professor Zoom's status in the new timeline is unknown.
Powers and abilities
Professor Zoom is able to move and travel at super-human speeds. Professor Zoom can travel up to speeds of 671,000,000 m.p.h. (the speed of light), deliver many different types of blows a second, run on water, create cyclones, and vibrate his molecules to pass through solid objects.
In The Flash: Rebirth, it is discovered that when Zoom duplicated the incident that granted Barry Allen his powers, he created a negative Speed Force by corrupting the positive version of it. Through this Speed Force, he also has the ability to create multiple after-images like Hunter Zolomon, the modern day Zoom, and can travel through and alter time. He also can erase people from existence.
In the events leading up to Flashpoint, Professor Zoom has developed numerous powers including the ability to absorb other people's memories and experiences, change his age, and drastically alter time.
In the final issue of the Batman Beyond arc "Hush Beyond", an elderly Amanda Waller informs a head CADMUS scientist Dr. Thawne that the world will always need a Batman, before unveiling vats full of clones of the original Dark Knight and his allies. He is later seen making a transaction with Inque, a recurring villain with unstable mutagen powers, gaining a trigger that can adapt to any weapon and with limitless range in return for helping Inque remain stable.
In an alternate timeline created when Impulse killed an insect in the Devonian Age, most super-villains were government bureaucrats. Professor Zoom was the National Science Advisor to President-for-Life Julian Tremain. Although he claimed that his superspeed gave him superior intellect, his advice tended be extremely obvious.
In subsequent changes to the timeline, Zoom defected to the rebellion against Tremain led by Gorilla Grodd; turned into a gorilla fighting against an army of turtles led by Grodd, now a turtle himself; and was a gorilla in a modern society identical to that of ancient Egypt.
In other media
- In The Flash television show, Barry Allen pretended to be the scientist who "created" the Flash in a discussion with Samuel Scudder and is called himself "Professor Zoom".
- Professor Zoom appears in the Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "Requiem for a Scarlet Speedster!" voiced by John Wesley Shipp (the actor who played Barry Allen in the live action TV series). He became the evil ruler of the 25th Century after being chased there by Barry Allen. By using a time traveling treadmill, the other two Flashes (Jay Garrick and Kid Flash) and Batman journey to the future to stop him.
- In the Arrow episode "The Scientist", it is heavily implied that Professor Zoom killed Barry Allen's mother even though he wasn't mentioned by name.
- Professor Zoom appears as the main antagonist in Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox voiced by C. Thomas Howell.
- Professor Zoom as a Black Lantern is an alternate skin for Flash (Barry Allen) in the game Injustice: Gods Among Us.
- Flash: Rebirth outline in the hardcover collection of the story
- "Professor Zoom is number 31 - IGN: IGN's Top 100 Comic Book Villains of All Time". Comics.ign.com. Retrieved 2011-04-25.
- The Flash (vol 1,#139) 139 (September 1963), DC Comics
- Flash (vol. 1) 324
- The Flash: Rebirth #1 (April 2009)
- The Flash: Rebirth #2 (May 2009)
- The Flash: Rebirth #3 (June 2009)
- The Flash: Rebirth #4 (August 2009)
- The Flash: Rebirth #5 (November 2009)
- The Flash: Rebirth #6 (February 2010)
- Blackest Night: The Flash #1 (December 2009)
- Blackest Night: The Flash #2 (January 2010)
- Blackest Night: The Flash #3 (February 2010)
- Blackest Night #8 (March 2010)
- Brightest Day #0 (April 2010)
- Brightest Day #7 (August 2010)
- The Flash (vol. 3) #7 (December 2010)
- The Flash (vol. 3) #8 (February 2011)
- The Flash (vol. 3) #10 (April 2011)
- The Flash (vol. 3) #11 (April 2011)
- The Flash (vol. 3) #12 (May 2011)
- Flashpoint: Reverse-Flash one-shot (June 2011)
- Flashpoint #1 (May 2011)
- Flashpoint #2 (June 2011)
- Flashpoint #4 (August 2011)
- Flashpoint #5 (August 2011)
- Batman Beyond Vol.3 #6 (November 2010)
- Batman Beyond Vol. 4 #8
- Impulse #35
- "Comics Continuum by Rob Allstetter: Wednesday, January 27, 2010". Comicscontinuum.com. Retrieved 2011-04-25.
- Professor Zoom at the DC Database
- Professor Zoom at Those Who Ride the Lightning
- Professor Zoom at the DCU Guide