Reverse-Flash is a title that has been taken by a number of supervillains in superhero fiction published by DC Comics. All of them have super-speed and are enemies of the superheroes known as the Flash.
Fictional character biography
The Rival first appeared in Flash Comics #104 (February 1949). He is Dr. Edward Clariss, a professor at the university attended by the Golden Age Flash, Jay Garrick. He believes he has recreated the formula that gives Garrick his speed, which he calls "Velocity 9." He heard Joan one night talking about how the Flash gave his speed to another student, which helped him get the last formula. Bitter at the rejection of his claims by the scientific community, though he had become famous for other inventions in Europe, Clariss becomes a criminal, wearing a darker version of the Flash's outfit and giving it to several other criminals. He fakes his kidnapping to avoid suspicion. He then uses a machine to project his voice to the location. His men capture the Flash and bring him to the hideout. He tries to make the Flash the slowest man alive with a different formula, but the Flash uses his original formula to get his speed back. The Rival's version of the formula, however, proves to be temporary, and he is defeated with his crooks during an attempted bank robbery when it is expended and he is jailed.
JSA #16 (November 2000) reveals that the Rival battled the Flash several months after his first appearance; in doing so he reaches lightspeed and vanishes into the Speed Force. Following the reformation of the Justice Society of America 50 years later, Clariss is retrieved from the Speed Force (which had been revealed as the Valhalla of fallen speedsters, good or evil, as well as their source of power) by Johnny Sorrow, who invites him to join the new Injustice Society. The Rival, driven to insanity by his time in the Speed Force, races across the country on a super-speed killing spree. The Flash realizes that the Rival's path across the country spells out Clariss' name, and that the final murder will be Jay's wife Joan. The Flash is unable to prevent the Rival killing a young boy, but manages to absorb the Rival's speed before he can kill Joan.
The Rival returns in Impulse #88 (September 2002), posing as Joan Garrick's doctor. Now pure speed energy, he possesses Garrick's fellow Golden Age speedster Max Mercury. After battling Jay and Impulse, the Rival escapes, still in possession of Max Mercury's body. He has not been seen since.
There is another Golden Age Reverse Flash, a robot who wears a reversed-color version of Garrick's costume. The robot's only appearance was in one panel in The Flash vol. 2, #134 (February 1998), in which he is easily defeated by Garrick.
Eobard Thawne aka Professor Zoom, first appeared in The Flash #139 (September 1963). Originally, he is a criminal from the 25th century who found a time capsule containing the Silver Age Flash's costume. He is able to use a machine to amplify the suit's speed energy, giving himself the abilities of the Flash as long as he wears it. In the process, the colors of the costume reverse, with the suit becoming yellow, the boots and lightning bolt highlights turning red, and the chest symbol's white circle becoming black. He uses his speed powers to commit crimes. Flash had travelled to the future as he discovered an atomic clock in the capsule would become an atomic bomb due to the process, and he defeated the Reverse-Flash by making his friction-protection aura burn away, and stopped the bomb from exploding. Despite destroying the costume, Zoom is still able to cause trouble for him. His knowledge of Allen’s dual identity enables him to strike at him by killing his wife, Iris, by vibrating his hand through her skull after she refuses to marry him, and later attempting to kill his fiancée Fiona. It was in saving Fiona’s life that the Flash broke Zoom’s neck, killing him.
DC later revamped its continuity following the 1985 series Crisis on Infinite Earths, and Professor Zoom was one of many character to undergo renovation. As seen in "The Return of Barry Allen" storyline in The Flash (vol. 2) #74-79, Eobard Thawne started out as a fan of the Flash. After gaining super-speed by replicating the electrochemical bath that gave Barry Allen his powers—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 discovering he is destined to become a villain, though the true name of the greatest foe of the Flash was not known in his time it was known here, his mind - already disoriented by the stress of time travel as the Treadmill had changed over the years meaning he arrives years after when he intended to - 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 Wally West and he tricks Zoom into returning to his proper time. Even though Thawne retained no memories of his trip through time, he was now left with a deep and bitter hatred of Barry Allen. This was due to feeling "betrayed" by Barry. Thawne began traveling back in time to battle the Flash to get revenge on him, using his knowledge of "history" to his advantage.
Professor Zoom has returned as the main villain in the mini-series Flash: Rebirth. Zoom claims to have a resurrection coming up soon, referencing the Blackest Night. In this appearance, Zoom claims to have not only traveled back in time, but also to have engineered Barry's return from the speed force. Zoom once tried to stop Barry becoming the Flash, hoping to get struck by the lightning, but nearly phased out of existence causing the lightning to pass through him and transform Barry, and realized Barry needed to become the Flash for him to become the Reverse-Flash. He erased Barry's best friend from existence, and murdered Barry Allen's mother, framing his father. He is behind the reality changing event Flashpoint, and mocked Barry, who remembers how things should be, by placing a Reverse-Flash costume inside his ring. He appears briefly in Flashpoint #1, telling Barry's mother how nice it is to see her alive again, before appearing in the next panel traveling at superspeed. He finally appears in Flashpoint #4, confronting the Flash after Billy Batson is killed. He tells the Flash what really happened. Barry Allen travelled back in time to prevent Zoom killing his mother and pulled the entire speed force into himself. However this transformed history. He resets Barry's internal vibrations, allowing him to remember this. Zoom says this makes him a living paradox, he is not connected to any timeline and can kill the Flash. However he is stabbed by Thomas Wayne from behind and apparently killed. Later the timeline is restored to one which is similar but not identical to the original.
After arriving in Keystone City, Hunter Zolomon was hired as a profiler, working with the police in their Department of Metahuman Hostilities. His work put him in constant contact with the Flash (Wally West), and the two became good friends. His insight was critical in solving a number of cases, but he always resented being stuck behind a desk.
One day, Hunter was severely injured in an attack by Gorilla Grodd, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down. He asked Wally West to use the time-travelling cosmic treadmill in the Flash Museum to prevent this from occurring. West refused, saying that he could not risk damaging the timestream. Zolomon then broke into the museum and attempted to use the treadmill himself. The resulting explosion destroyed the museum (as well as his remaining sanity) and shifted Hunter's connection to time. He could now alter his personal timeframe, giving the effect of super-speed.
Zolomon concluded that West would not help because, unlike Barry Allen, he had never suffered personal tragedy. Zolomon decided that if he became the new Zoom and killed West's wife (Linda Park), this would help the Flash become a better hero.
Unlike previous speedsters Zoom's abilities lie not in speed but manipulation of time. For this reason he appears to be faster than The Flash and untouchable even by way of Wally's powers. This is betrayed in his speech patterns which ebb and flow at different speeds, almost entirely at random. His trademark attack is to snap his fingers creating a shockwave not just in space but across time. He used this attack to cause Linda to miscarry her twins while they were still in her womb.
The battle, the death of his unborn children and the resultant despondency Linda suffered was too much for The Flash to bear, so he enlisted the help of the Spectre (at the time, the spirit of Hal Jordan) to remove all memory from the world about the Flash's secret identity (including himself). Zoom, however, was unaffected and returned to plague the Scarlet Speedster. Teaming up with the Cheetah, Zoom stretched his influence to the Justice League, but stated repeatedly that his only interest was "making the Flash a better hero" and was soon enlisted by the villainous Mockingbird (later revealed to be an alternate reality version of Lex Luthor).
This version of Zoom has not appeared in DC's reboot following Flashpoint.
Inertia was a clone of Bart Allen. He originally fought Allen when he was Impulse, and then when Bart aged five years after Infinite Crisis and became the Flash, Inertia fought him again. Inertia was responsible for the death of Allen, and when Wally West returned to he took revenge by stripping Inertia of all movement and putting him in the Flash Museum. During Final Crisis: Rogues' Revenge, he was used by Libra and Zoom to try to get the Rogues to join the new Secret Society. He stole Zoom's powers, called himself Kid Zoom, and was killed by the Rogues, who blame him for making them kill Bart Allen.
When questioned as to who created Inertia, Ethan van Sciver wrote that he could only accept five percent of the credit. The rest was offered to Mike Wieringo (twenty percent), Grant Morrison (twenty-five percent), and Todd Dezago (fifty percent). He also states that Inertia's appearance is just Impulse's inverted, like a Reverse-Flash. This fits the character's original role as a "Reverse-Impulse" created to antagonize the title character.
Inertia's initial appearance came in Impulse #50: "First Fool's" (July 1999), followed by #51: "It's All Relative" (August 1999), with Dezago observing. Then, Dezago wrote for Impulse #52: "Tumbling Down" (September 1999). The most character development came in #53: "Threats" (October 1999), with Dezago also writing. Inertia wasn't featured again until Impulse #62 and #66: "Mercury Falling" (July, November 2000), by Dezago. After this, Inertia would not be notably featured again for half a decade.
About five years after his debut, Inertia began making regular appearances in the DC Universe again, mostly due to his twin Bart Allen becoming The Flash. Inertia appeared in The Flash: The Fastest Man Alive #5: “Lightning in a Bottle, Part 5” (December 2006) by Danny Bilson and Paul DeMeo. The formula was largely the same. Inertia acted as an antagonist to the title character, Bart Allen, who had changed greatly since his days as Impulse.
In addition to his Flash appearances, Inertia made repeated appearances in Teen Titans (vol. 3). A team-based series, Teen Titans featured Inertia as part of an enemy team, Titans East. The story arc began in Teen Titans (vol. 3) #43 (January 2007) written by Geoff Johns, with art by Tony Daniel and Jonathan Glapion. The arc concluded with Teen Titans (vol. 3) #46 (April 2007) written by Geoff Johns and Adam Beechen.
A partial clone of Bart Allen, Inertia is primarily a speedster. He has not demonstrated any other speed related powers, including Bart's resilience to alterations in the time stream. For some time following Infinite Crisis, Inertia remained no longer connected to the Speed Force. Instead, he has begun injecting himself with Velocity 9, a substance that helps him maintain his superhuman speed. Velocity 9 has been notoriously unstable in the past, but Deathstroke's new variant seems to offer no negative side effects. For a brief period before his death, he shares his powers with Zoom, who lends him his speed to pressure him into being a new Kid Flash. His attempt failed, Inertia turns into a maddened Kid Zoom, with absolute mastery over the individual timestream of a human being, able to revert Zoom to the powerless Hunter Zolomon and kill with a simple snap of his fingers before being killed by the assembled forces of the Rogues.
Daniel West appears at first in Flash #17, garbed in a primarily black and red costume, as opposed to the yellow and red of previous Reverse-Flashes. He's later, in Flash #23, revealed as Iris' brother, who, having received his powers from a freak combination of a Rogues' attack and Barry Allen spreading in Central City enough Speed Force to grant powers to several individuals, desires to kill the competition, steal their powers and travel back in time. Since in the current continuity Daniel broke his father's spine, making him a paraplegic and alienating Iris, he now desires to travel further back in time to kill his father before he had broken his spine, thus altering time and regaining Iris' affection.
While the previous Reverse Flashes only wore a costume, Daniel West got shrapnel from a Speed-Force supercharged monorail and his car embedded in his skin, and he's able to mold them as a body armor.
- In DC's Tangent Comics reality, Reverse Flash is an evil holographic duplicate of Lia Nelson (the Flash), created by a sinister government agency. She was charged with negative ionic energy to disperse Flash's photon-based form. However Flash's lightwave powers outmatched Reverse-Flash's and Reverse-Flash was destroyed. Reverse Flash only appeared in one issue, Tangent Comics: The Flash (December 1997), and was created by writer Todd Dezago and artist Gary Frank.
In other media
C. Thomas Howell voices the Professor Zoom incarnation of Reverse-Flash as the main antagonist in Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox. This is notably the first appearance of a Reverse-Flash as an individual character rather than an evil duplicate from previous appearances.
- Reverse-Flash was alluded in the live action series The Flash (1990). In the episode "Done With Mirrors", Barry Allen temporarily takes the false name 'Professor Zoom' while investigating the Mirror Master. In the episode "Twin Streaks", scientist Jason Bressell and his assistant Ted Witcome create a clone of Barry they name Pollux. Though this blue-suited character bears a resemblance to the Reverse-Flash, Pollux has no direct relation to any comic anti-Flash, instead being more along similar lines of Bizarro and lacks any true malice, instead being more childlike in his actions and mannerisms.
- In the Justice League Unlimited episode "Divided We Fall", Lex Luthor/Brainiac creates robotic copies of the Justice Lords, the Justice League's villainous alternate universe counterparts. Since the Flash of that alternate reality died before the Lords were formed, Brainiac/Luthor creates a Flash duplicate (voiced by Michael Rosenbaum) wearing the Reverse-Flash's red-on-yellow costume and acted like Zoom while fighting Flash (Wally West).
- In the TV show Robot Chicken, a Reverse-Flash (voiced by Seth Green) made an appearance robbing a bank, while Flash, Superman and Wonder Woman stand idly by, commenting about how "lame" they think opposite-themed villains like Reverse-Flash, Bizarro and Negative Wonder Woman are.
- Zoom appears in the Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS game Justice League Heroes: The Flash as the fourth level boss.
- Zoom appears as a mini-boss in DC Universe Online in the Gorilla Grodd Duos instance.
- Professor Zoom as a Black Lantern is an alternate skin for Flash (Barry Allen) in the video game Injustice: Gods Among Us.
- Blur, a White Martian/Human hybrid who appeared in the Son of Vulcan mini-series.
- Züm, a White Martian with super-speed and member of the Hyperclan.
- Johnny Quick, the Flash's evil counterpart from the anti-matter Earth.
- List of Flash enemies.
- "Inertia . . . ! - Page 4 - The Comic Bloc Forums". Comicbloc.com. Retrieved 2011-04-25.
- Crimson Lightning - An online index to the comic book adventures of the Flash.
- Justice League Unlimited at the Internet Movie Database
- The Flash at the Internet Movie Database