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Reverse-Flash is a name that has been used by several fictional characters in American comic books published by DC Comics. Many of them have super speed and are enemies and foils of the superheroes known as the Flash.
Fictional character biography
Edward Clariss (a.k.a. The Rival) first appeared in Flash Comics #104 (February 1949). Dr. Edward Clariss, a professor at the university attended by the Golden Age Flash, Jay Garrick, has recreated the formula that gave Garrick his speed, which he calls "Velocity 9". He had 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 scientific community's rejection of his claims, Clariss becomes a criminal. He wears a darker version of Flash's outfit with a mask concealing his entire head and gives the formula to several other criminals. The Rival's version of the formula proves to be temporary, and he is defeated and jailed.
In JSA #16 (November 2000), a flashback shows a battle between the Rival and the Flash that took place several months after Clariss' first appearance. Through unexplained methods, Clariss has regained the power of super speed. During the fight, Clariss reaches light speed and vanishes into the Speed Force. Following the reformation of the Justice Society of America 50 years later, Johnny Sorrow retrieves Clariss from the Speed Force and invites him to join the new Injustice Society. The Rival, driven insane 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 absorbs 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/"Max Mercury" escapes via time travel to an unknown destination.
In The Flash: Rebirth #4, Max Mercury escapes from the Speed Force and is rejuvenated by Wally West's energy, allowing him to return to Earth in a new corporeal body. Following the events of Flashpoint that altered the timeline, it is unclear what happened to the Rival and Max Mercury's original body.
Another Golden Age Reverse Flash is 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.
Professor Eobard "Zoom" Thawne aka the Reverse-Flash, 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, providing the abilities of the Flash as long as he wears it. Considering himself the "reverse" of everything the Flash was, Thawne dyes the costume's colors in reverse, making the suit yellow, the boots and lightning bolt highlights red, and the chest symbol's white circle black. He uses his speed to commit several crimes. Flash had traveled to the future as he discovered an atomic clock in the capsule would become an atomic bomb due to the process. He defeated Reverse-Flash by making his friction-protection aura burn away and stopped the bomb from exploding. Despite destroying the costume, Reverse-Flash is still able to cause trouble for him. His knowledge of Allen’s dual identity enables him to strike at Allen by killing his wife Iris. He vibrates his hand through her skull after she refuses to marry him. Later, he attempts to kill his fiancée Fiona. While saving Fiona’s life, the Flash breaks his neck, killing him.
DC later revamped its continuity following the 1985 series Crisis on Infinite Earths. Reverse-Flash was one of the many characters to undergo renovation. As seen in "The Return of Barry Allen" storyline in The Flash (vol. 2) #74-79, Eobard started out as a devoted, obsessed fan of the Flash. He gained super-speed by replicating the electrochemical bath that gave Barry Allen his powers and undertook surgery to make himself look like Allen. He traveled back in time using the Cosmic Treadmill to meet his hero. However, the strain of using the aged Treadmill causes a slight mental imbalance in Thawne, which drives him into further insanity when he learns that he is destined to become Reverse-Flash and die at the hands of his hero (Reverse-Flash's name having been concealed from history to prevent Thawne becoming aware of his fate). Seeking to 'escape' his fate, Thawne 'convinces' himself that he is Barry Allen, aided by his knowledge of the Flash's history, but his true, more violent nature is eventually revealed, driving "Barry" to attack Central City in 'revenge' for 'forgetting him', before he is defeated by Wally West, who tricks Reverse-Flash into returning to his proper time. Even though Thawne retained no memories of his journey, he felt "betrayed" by Barry and deeply hated him. Eobard began traveling back in time to seek revenge on the Flash, using his knowledge of "history" to his advantage.
Reverse-Flash returns as the main villain in the mini-series Flash: Rebirth. Reverse-Flash claims to have a resurrection coming up soon, referencing the Blackest Night. In this appearance, Reverse-Flash claims to have not only traveled back in time, but also to have engineered Barry's return from Speed Force. Reverse-Flash once tried to stop Barry from originally becoming the Flash, hoping to get struck by the lightning. However, he nearly phases out of existence, causing the lightning to pass through him and transform Barry. He interprets this to imply that Barry needed to become the Flash for him to become the Reverse-Flash. He erased Barry's best friend from existence, and frames his father for murdering his mother. He is behind the reality changing event Flashpoint, and mocks 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. He returns in Flashpoint #4, confronting the Flash after Billy Batson is killed. He tells the Flash what really happened. Allen travels back in time to prevent his past self from stopping Reverse-Flash's murder of his mother and pulls the entire speed force into himself. This transforms history. He resets Barry's internal vibrations, allowing him to remember this. Reverse-Flash says this makes him a living paradox, because 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 that is similar but not identical to the original. That timeline's version of Thawne is revealed to be stuck in the Speed Force and eventually makes his return.
Hunter Zolomon, or Zoom, first appeared in The Flash: Secret Files & Origins #3.
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 cases, but he resented being stuck behind a desk.
He was severely injured in an attack by Gorilla Grodd, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down. He asked 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 timeline, giving the effect of super-speed.
Zolomon concluded that West would not help because, unlike 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 other 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. 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 uses this attack to cause Linda to miscarry.
The battle, the death of his unborn children and Linda's resultant despondency was too much for The Flash, 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 him, but became trapped outside of time when he tried to join forces with Professor Zoom to make Wally relive the deaths of his children. 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". He enlists with the villainous Mockingbird (later revealed to be a disguised Lex Luthor) and is responsible for disfiguring the hero Damage.
Following a brief 'alliance' with Iris West when she requests his aid to save the Flash – now Bart Allen – from a future catastrophe, Zoom attempted to enlist Inertia as his new sidekick. However, despite Zoom restoring Inertia's speed by giving him access to his own temporal powers, Inertia soon turned on Zoom, claiming that he just wanted to make the heroes suffer where Zoom actually wanted them to work through the damage he inflicted, Inertia unravelling Zoom's timeline to return him to a powerless Hunter Zolomon.
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. Later when Bart aged five years after Infinite Crisis and became the Flash, Inertia fought him again. Inertia was responsible for Allen's death and when Wally West returned he took revenge by paralyzing Inertia 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 blamed 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). The most character development came in #53: "Threats" (October 1999). Inertia wasn't featured again until Impulse #62 and #66: "Mercury Falling" (July, November 2000). Inertia would not be notably featured again for half a decade.
Inertia then began making regular appearances, 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). Inertia acted as an antagonist to Allen. In addition to his Flash appearances, Inertia made repeated appearances in Teen Titans (vol. 3). Teen Titans featured Inertia as part of an enemy team, Titans East. The story arc began in Teen Titans (vol. 3) #43 (January 2007). The arc concluded with Teen Titans (vol. 3) #46 (April 2007). Gathering the Rogues, he attempted to drain Bart's powers for himself, but this plan backfired when Wally West returned at the same time as Inertia's equipment drained the Speed Force, causing the Rogues to beat Bart to death by accident. As he tried to escape, he was captured by Wally, who literally drained Inertia's speed from him to such an extent that Inertia was permanently immobilised, forced to stare at a statue of Bart in the Flash Museum.
Inertia is primarily a speedster. He has not demonstrated any other speed-related powers, such as Bart's resilience to alterations in the time stream. For some time following Infinite Crisis, Inertia remained disconnected from the Speed Force. Instead, he injects himself with Velocity 9, a substance that helps him maintain his 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 before being killed by the assembled forces of the Rogues.
Daniel West appears at first in Flash #23 (of the New 52), garbed in a primarily black and red costume, as opposed to the yellow and red of previous Reverse-Flashes. Later, in Flash #23, he is revealed as Iris West's brother, who received his powers from a freak combination of a Rogues attack and an incident which involved the Speed Force granting powers to several individuals. He desires to help Barry. 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 that incident, altering the timeline and regaining Iris' affection in return.
While the previous Reverse-Flashes only wore a costume, Daniel West wears armor that he can control, made from shrapnel from the Speed Force-supercharged monorail that was destroyed in the incident which gave him his powers.
DC Rebirth #1 also retconned him into being the father of the New 52 Wally West (therefore retconning the youth as the cousin of the pre-Flashpoint Wally West), with both sharing the common name due to being named after the same great-grandfather.
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. This Reverse Flash only appeared in one issue, Tangent Comics: The Flash (December 1997).
In other media
- In Justice League Unlimited, the Brainiac/Luthor fusion creates robotic androids of Justice Lords. But since the Flash died before the Justice Lords came to be, a yellow-suited copy of the Flash was created instead, voiced by Michael Rosenbaum.
- The Eobard Thawne version of the Reverse-Flash makes occasional appearances on Robot Chicken.
- The Eobard Thawne version of the Reverse-Flash appears in Batman: The Brave and the Bold, voiced by John Wesley Shipp.
- Tom Cavanagh and Matt Letscher portray Professor Eobard Thawne/Reverse-Flash, the Flash (Barry Allen)'s time travelling archenemy from the future, bearing the physical appearance of Dr. Harrison Wells and in his original likeness respectively. He serves as the main antagonist of the first season of The Flash (portrayed primarily by Cavanagh, as "Wells") and as a major recurring antagonist in subsequent seasons of the show (portrayed primarily by Letscher). Letscher will also reprise his role in season 2 of Legends of Tomorrow, where the Reverse-Flash will serve as a member of the Legion of Doom.
- Teddy Sears portrays Hunter Zolomon/Zoom, from Earth-2 (the show's analogue of Earth-3), who serves as the main antagonist of the second season of The Flash, while Tony Todd provides his disguised voice when masked and Ryan Handley also portrays him in costume prior to the revelation of his true identity. However, his character is mostly based on the Rival (Edward Clariss), the first Reverse Flash, complete with a black mask covering his whole face, blue lightning, the creation and abuse of Velocity-9, hatred for (and owning a costume that is a darker version of that of) the Jay Garrick Flash, and an obsession with speed.
- Todd Lasance will appear in season 3 as another version of Dr. Edward Clariss / Rival, keeping the character's alter-ego, wearing another full body black costume but with orange streaks and an open mouth area.
- The Hunter Zolomon version of Reverse-Flash appears in the Game Boy Advance game Justice League Heroes: The Flash as the fourth level boss.
- The Eobard Thawne version of Reverse-Flash appears as a mini-boss in DC Universe Online in the Gorilla Grodd Duos instance. He also appears as a world boss roaming Central City in the "Lightning Strikes" DLC.
- Eobard Thawne has two alternate skins in the video game Injustice: Gods Among Us. Professor Zoom's Black Lantern appearance is an alternate skin for the Flash (Barry Allen) as an exclusive challenge. Later, Tom Cavanagh's Reverse Flash skin from The CW's TV series The Flash is playable in the mobile version of Injustice Gods Among Us via purchasing the Most Wanted challenge pack.
- The Eobard Thawne version of Reverse-Flash appears as a playable character in Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham.
- 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.
- Bucksbaum, Sydney (July 23, 2016). "Comic-Con: 'Legends of Tomorrow' to Tackle Legion of Doom Villain Team In Season 2". The Hollywood Reporter.
- The Many Faces of Zoom featurette. Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.
- Byrne, Craig (August 11, 2016). "The Flash Will Face Savitar In Season 3". Flash TV News.
- Prudom, Laura (August 11, 2016). "'The Flash' and 'Supergirl' to Stage Musical Crossover In Addition to Four-Show Team-Up". Variety.
- Bucksbaum, Sydney (August 23, 2016). "'The Flash': Who Is Savitar, Season 3's New Speedster Villain?". The Hollywood Reporter.
- Mitovich, Matt Webb (August 23, 2016). "The Flash Casts TVD Alum as The Rival — Plus: New Promo Teases Savitar". TV Line.