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 and White Lantern Corps
|Notable aliases||Reverse-Flash, Zoom, Harrison Wells|
Superhuman speed, rapid cellular regeneration and accelerated perception
Professor Eobard "Zoom" Thawne, or "Professor Zoom" and "Reverse-Flash", is a comic book supervillain in the DC Universe. The second version of the Reverse-Flash, he is the archenemy of and a foil for Barry Allen, the second iteration of the superhero Flash. He is also a maternal forefather of Bart Allen/Kid Flash and Owen Mercer/Captain Boomerang. Created by John Broome and Carmine Infantino, he first appeared in The Flash (vol. 1) #139 in September 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, and in 2015, he was ranked #2 on their Top 5 Flash Villains list. Eobard Thawne/Reverse-Flash made his live action debut in 2014 in the CW's The Flash, portrayed by Tom Cavanagh and Matt Letscher.
- 1 Fictional character biography
- 2 Powers and abilities
- 3 Other versions
- 4 In other media
- 5 References
- 6 External links
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 who lived in the 25th century and became desperate to meet Allen. After gaining super-speed by replicating the electrochemical bath that gave Barry Allen his powers, losing years of his life in the process, and even undergoing surgery to make himself look like Barry. He traveled back in time using the Cosmic Treadmill to meet his hero. Thawne became mentally unstable upon arriving several years after Barry's death—the Treadmill having broken down over the centuries—and discovered from the Flash Museum that he is destined to become Reverse Flash 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 identity is eventually revealed due to his more violent nature. Thawne, as "Barry," attacked Central City in revenge for "forgetting him," until he was 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 known as "The Professor", who found a time capsule containing the Silver Age Flash's costume. He was able to use a Tachyon device 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 highlighting the red color, and the chest symbol's white circle becoming black. Taking the new name "Professor," Thawne used his speed powers to commit crimes, but was stopped by the Flash, who had traveled 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 Thawne and began to push him forward so fast that the intense air friction overwhelmed the coating and the resulting burns forced him to surrender. It proved a waste of time, as Thawne 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 it from being used again.
Blaming the Flash for his defeat, Thawne began traveling 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, Thawne having erased her memory of the first time), Thawne (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 Allen 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 breaking his neck, 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 Barry who 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.
Reverse Flash 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 Thawne'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 the 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 in front of 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 Bart 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 that Thawne is a psychopath. Thawne 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, both of whom now have a full connection to the Speed Force and who take up the mantles of Jesse Quick and Impulse.
Thawne pulls Barry away and reveals that everything horrible that happened to Barry, including the death of his mother, was caused because of Reverse Flash. He then decides to destroy everything by killing Barry's wife, Iris, before they even met.
As Barry chases after Thawne, Wally joins him in the time barrier. They reach him, and in doing so they become the lightning bolt that turns Barry into the Flash as they are able to stop Thawne from killing Iris. The Flashes push Thawne back through time, showing 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 Thawne 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, back 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 do not know.
In the 2009–2010 storyline "Blackest Night", Thawne's broken-necked corpse is 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.
In the follow-up "Brightest Day" storyline, 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 recurring. Zoom becomes the first to inadvertently fulfill his mission, which occurred in the events of The Flash: Rebirth when he freed Barry Allen from the Speed Force following his resurrection. 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 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. 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".
In the 2011 Flashpoint storyline, a new timeline is created through the alteration of history. Zoom reveals that his body is permanently connected to the Speed Force, enabling him to create the negative version of it, with which he escaped prison. He was unable to alter Barry's becoming the Flash, as that would erase Zoom himself from existence. Zoom decides instead to ruin Barry's life by during childhood, removing Barry's best friend from existence to result in greater introversion on Barry's part, and various other torments such as killing his mother. Zoom reveals to Barry that the new timeline was created by Barry himself going back in time to stop Professor Zoom from killing his mother. After Zoom is killed by the Batman of this reality with an Amazonian sword, Flash travels back in time to stop his younger self from altering time but instead, under the manipulations of Pandora, a third, new timeline is created, in which DC Comics' continuity takes place from 2011 onwards.
The New 52
In the new timeline, Professor Zoom is revealed to be trapped in the Speed Force.
Powers and abilities
Professor Zoom is able to travel at super-human speeds faster than 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. Essentially he has all the same powers as The Flash or other speedsters, and can thus fight with blinding swiftness.
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 or "speed mirages" and, unlike The Flash and other users of the original Speed Force, can travel through and alter time, and can erase people from existence (Flash cannot change the past without dramatic consequences). He paradoxically exists backwards in time.[volume & issue needed]
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 kills an insect in the Devonian Age, most super-villains are government bureaucrats. Professor Zoom is the National Science Advisor to President-for-Life Julian Tremain. Although he claims that his superspeed gave him superior intellect, his advice tends to be extremely obvious.[volume & issue needed]
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 flying turtles led by Grodd, now a flying turtle himself; and was a gorilla in a modern society identical to that of ancient Egypt.
In other media
Batman: The Brave and the Bold
- Professor Zoom appears in the Batman: The Brave and the Bold, voiced by John Wesley Shipp. In the episode "Requiem for a Scarlet Speedster!", he has captured the Flash (Barry Allen) in the 25th century which he had conquered. Professor Zoom had imprisoned Flash on a treadmill, and was using his nemesis's speed to power wrist-worn devices that increased his own speed, as well as that of his soldiers. Despite this, Flash uses speed to send illusions of himself to the present time to call for aid to Batman, the Golden Age Flash and Wally West. Professor Zoom captures the other versions of Flash as well, then imprisons Batman in a holding cell. However, Batman breaks out and steals the speed devices of several guards to match up to Professor Zoom's speed, and while he is distracted, the other version of Flash run even faster to approach light speed and generate a wormhole. Flash uses the wormhole to escape and then engages Professor Zoom where they run around the world doing battle. The fight ends up with Flash using speed to glaze some sand to form a wall of glass before tripping up Professor Zoom.
- The Eobard Thawne iteration of Reverse-Flash appears as the main antagonist of the first season of the 2014 TV series The Flash, portrayed by Tom Cavanagh (present day) and by Matt Letscher (in his original form). A descendant of Eddie Thawne hailing from the future born in the year 2151 (136 years from now), he is a criminal known as the "Reverse-Flash" who traveled to a point in time where the Flash (Barry Allen) was alive and formed a grudge against the hero. After learning Flash's identity, he traveled to the year 2000 to kill Barry as a child, only to be stopped by Flash's older self and Reverse-Flash murders Barry's mother Nora Allen out of rage. During this trip, Reverse-Flash loses his connection to the Speed Force, leaving him unable to travel back to his time. Eobard murders Dr. Harrison Wells and steals his identity as the scientist would create a particle accelerator in the year 2020 which created the Flash. As Harrison Wells, he founds S.T.A.R. Labs and creates a particle accelerator years sooner in late 2013 which explodes, killing civilians and creating metahumans as well as achieving Barry's destiny 7 years earlier. Now faking paralysis, he helps Barry run faster and fight metahumans, because he needs Flash's speed in order to return to his own time. Wells kills Cisco Ramon after Cisco discovers he is the Reverse-Flash, but this death is erased after Barry travels back in time; however, Cisco retains the memories of the murder subconsciously and distrusts Wells. With his secret is discovered, the S.T.A.R. Labs team attempts to capture Wells, but he uses Hannibal Bates as a decoy. It is then revealed that he has set up cameras throughout Central City, and has been watching them for all their lives. Although he attempts to distract them by releasing Grodd — an old experiment augmented by the particle accelerator — and then triggering a massive break-out of the pipeline prison where the team has been containing the captured metahumans, Flash eventually defeats Reverse-Flash with the aid of Oliver Queen and Firestorm. The three heroes banded together to inject Reverse-Flash with speed-negating nanites that knock him out. Eobard assists Barry in traveling back in time to save Nora in exchange for a time machine to get back to his own time. However, Barry chooses not to save Nora and destroys the time machine, leaving the two fighting each other again. Eobard once again bests Flash and prepares for the kill, but Eddie heroically sacrifices himself, causing Eobard to be erased from existence. This version of Eobard Thawne is only referred to as the Man in Yellow and the Reverse-Flash. He also has connections to many future DC heroes and villains, usually by employing them at S.T.A.R. Labs as scientists and engineers.
- Eobard Thawne/Professor Zoom appears as the main antagonist in Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, voiced by C. Thomas Howell. He first hires the Rogues to ambush the Flash at the Flash Museum. After revealing himself as the mastermind of the attack, Thawne betrays the Rogues, placing bombs on their belts. Although his 25th century explosives are powerful enough to destroy a large part of Central City, Professor Zoom's plan is thwarted by when the Justice League arrive to help disarm the bombs (Cyborg and Captain Atom disarm Captain Boomerang's, Wonder Woman disarms Captain Cold's, Aquaman disarms Top's, Superman disarms Heat Wave's, and Batman and Green Lantern disarm Mirror Master's) which ends with Thawne being arrested. After Flash travels back in time to prevent Nora Allen's murder, all of reality was altered, creating an alternate timeline which Professor Zoom also entered via the Speed Force. While a metahuman group tries to stop the World War between the Atlantians and the Amazonians, Professor Zoom appears and confronts Flash once more. Despite a fight between the two speedsters, Professor Zoom bests Flash. As the world was about to end due to a doomsday device, Professor Zoom is shot in the head by the alternate reality Batman. As Flash taps into the Speed Force once more to stop his past self from altering time, a new reality appears which leaves Professor Zoom's fate unknown.
- Professor Zoom as a Black Lantern is an alternate skin for the Flash (Barry Allen) in the game Injustice: Gods Among Us.
- Professor Zoom is one of the villains hired by Brainiac to collect Starites in Scribblenauts Unmasked: A DC Comics Adventure. He teams up with Doppelgänger to compete against Barry Allen and Maxwell.
- Professor Zoom appears as a playable character in Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham, voiced by Liam O'Brien.
- Professor Zoom appears as a non-playable character in various storylines in the PC and PlayStation 4 MMO DC Universe Online.
Toys and Collectibles
- A Professor Zoom figure was released as part of the JLA Classified line, being one of the only villains in the series.
- A Funko POP version of the Reverse Flash (Professor Zoom), has been released based on his appearance in the CW television series The Flash Another Funko POP was also released depicting the Reverse Flash from the comics. Whether this is Zoom or the Hunter Zoloman version is unknown.
- Flash: Rebirth outline in the hardcover collection of the story
- "Top 100 Comic Book Villains of All Time: 31. Professor Zoom". IGN. Retrieved January 19, 2015.
- Schedeen, Jesse (January 13, 2015). "Top 5 Flash Villains". IGN.
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