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
|Full name||Eobard Thawne|
|Team affiliations||Secret Society of Super Villains
Black Lantern Corps
The Acolytes of Zoom
|Notable aliases||Professor Zoom, Reverse-Flash, Black Flash|
Eobard Thawne, otherwise known as Professor Zoom and the Reverse-Flash, is a fictional supervillain appearing in comic books published by DC Comics. He serves as the archenemy of Barry Allen (the second superhero to be called the Flash), a descendant of Malcolm Thawne, and a maternal forefather of Bart Allen, Thaddeus Thawne and Owen Mercer in the DC Universe.
IGN ranked Professor Zoom as the 31st greatest comic book villain of all time in 2009, and #2 on their Top 5 Flash Villains list in 2015. C. Thomas Howell voiced him in the 2013 animated feature film Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, while Tom Cavanagh and Matt Letscher have portrayed the character on various television series set within The CW's live-action Arrowverse.
- 1 Publication history
- 2 Fictional character biography
- 3 Powers and abilities
- 4 Other versions
- 5 In other media
- 6 References
- 7 External links
Fictional character biography
In Eobard Thawne's first appearance, he found a time capsule in the 25th Century containing Barry Allen's Flash costume, and was able to use a Tachyon device to amplify the suit's speed energy, giving himself speedster abilities as long as he wore it. Reversing the colors of the costume, Thawne adopted the moniker of "Professor Zoom", the "Reverse-Flash", and went on a crime spree. However, the time capsule also contained an atomic clock, the timer of which was activated upon being opened, thus beginning a countdown sequence to detonation. The Flash, who had traveled forward in time, found the device and brought it to an isolated area before it exploded, and subsequently destroyed Thawne's costume.
Blaming the Flash for his defeat, Thawne became obsessed with "replacing" Barry Allen and began traveling back in time to exact his revenge, using his knowledge of history to his advantage. When Barry's wife, Iris West, rejected Thawne's romantic pursuits, the latter apparently killed her by vibrating his hand through her skull. Shortly after Barry had found love again, Thawne returned and threatened to kill Allen's new fiancee, Fiona Webb, on their wedding day. Fearful that history was repeating itself, Allen inadvertently killed Thawne by breaking his neck.
Post-Crisis and Zero Hour origin
In a post-Crisis extended origin, the storyline "The Return of Barry Allen" in The Flash (vol. 2) #74-79 revealed that Eobard Thawne was once a scientist from the 25th Century who was obsessed with the Flash, even undergoing cosmetic surgery to resemble Barry Allen. After obtaining the Cosmic Treadmill from an antique shop, Thawne gained all of the Flash's powers after replicating the electrochemical accident that created the hero, seeking use the Treadmill to travel back in time and meet his idol. But due to a malfunction, Thawne arrived at the Flash Museum several years after Barry's death, where he discovered that he was destined to become "Professor Zoom", the "Reverse-Flash", and die at the hands of his idol. As a result, the unstable Thawne convinced himself that he is Barry Allen, and subsequently attacked Central City for "forgetting him". The current Flash, Wally West ultimately tricked Thawne into returning to the 25th Century with no memory of the incident. Despite this, Thawne still managed to bring the remains of his older self's costume with him, cluing him further into his destiny.
After the events of Zero Hour: Crisis in Time, it is revealed that Eobard's ancestor, Malcolm Thawne, was Barry Allen's long-lost twin brother, thus making Barry Eobard's great uncle.
The Flash: Rebirth
In 2009, Eobard Thawne was re-imagined as a major villain in the DC Universe by writer Geoff Johns in The Flash: Rebirth. His resurrection is foreshadowed to occur in a near-future event, after which he would be responsible for Barry Allen's return and transformation into the Black Flash. It is later revealed that because Thawne recreated the accident that gave Barry his powers, he was able to lure Barry out of the Speed Force during the Final Crisis and temporarily turn him into the Black Flash.
When Thawne reappears, he murders the revived Johnny Quick, before proceeding to trap Barry and the revived Max Mercury inside the negative Speed Force. Thawne then attempts to kill Wally West's children through their connection to the Speed Force in front of Linda Park-West, only to be stopped by Jay Garrick and Bart Allen. Thawne defeats Jay and prepares to kill Bart, but Barry, Max, Wally, Jesse Quick, and Impulse arrive to prevent the villain from doing so. In the ensuing fight, Thawne reveals that he is responsible for every tragedy that has occurred in Barry's life, including the death of his mother. Thawne then decides to destroy everything the Flash holds dear 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", Eobard 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 of 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
Eobard Thawne uses his powers to completely rewrite his history; he erases his younger brother from existence and kills his parents when they try to interfere with his research. Eobard later falls in love with a reporter who had been hired to interview him, and his future self wipes all of the reporter's romantic interests from existence. After finding out she did not return his affections, Eobard's 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. He later had his younger self find the time capsule containing Barry Allen's costume to make himself the 25th century Flash. As the altered Eobard Thawne runs past him, he sheds a tear for his past self, 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. The Reverse-Flash 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 transformation into the Flash, however, as that would effectively erase himself from existence. Instead, Thawne decides to ruin Barry's life during the latter's childhood, erasing his best friend from existence to result in greater introversion on Barry's part, and various other torments such as killing his mother. Thawne later reveals that the new timeline was created by Barry himself, who went back in time to stop the Reverse Flash from killing his mother. After Thawne is killed by the Batman of this reality with an Amazonian sword, the Flash travels back in time to stop his younger self from altering history 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 52 reboot, Eobard Thawne's origin has been rewritten once again. Hailing from the Central City of a 25th century devoted to the Flash, as a child, Eobard Thawne witnessed his father murder his mother, and subsequently get arrested. One day, he is struck by lightning and gains the ability to control the flow of time around him - making it appear as if he is moving at superhuman speeds. Believing himself to have been "chosen" by the Speed Force to replace the Flash, Eobard dons a costume similar to the hero's and begins to terrorize the Gem Cities as "Zoom", demanding the citizens accept him as "King". However, he is enraged when people rebel against him in the name of the Flash. Jealous and bitter that, despite their similar powers, the Flash is worshiped and loved by the people, Eobard uses Rip Hunter's notes to travel back in time, where he starts recruiting four individuals "touched by the lightning" (Speed Force) across history, after "saving" them from situations he himself put them into, under the false pretense that he requires their help in order to vanquish the "evil menace", Flash.
Thawne then makes an acquaintance with Dr. Henry Allen, the Flash's father, funding the research of his research lab, but when he refuses to help him with an unknown cause, Zoom subsequently murders his wife Nora, in order to make the Flash endure what he had to and give them both an "equal start", and forces Henry to take the blame for his deed, with the threat of his son Barry's life. Laying low for many years, Professor Zoom reemerges following the defeat of William Selkirk, recruiting him as an "acolyte" of his. Zoom and his acolytes then cause havoc in the city and put the blame on the Flash, desiring to destroy his legacy. Eobard then kidnaps Henry when he escapes from prison with some inmates in order to divert Thawne's attention away from Barry, and forces him to construct a power-stealing glove. However, when his closest "ally", Magali (who has been keeping Eobard alive for centuries via her powers), discover the truth about him, he uses the glove to steal her abilities of affecting the age of organic and inorganic matter, leading to his true nature being exposed to the rest of his acolytes, who join forces with the Flash to destroy the device.
After the failure of his plan to become a "god", Zoom then takes Henry to the Allen house, with Barry in pursuit. Revealing his backstory to Barry, Eobard proceeds to best Barry in combat, and is about to kill him until the Flash realizes how Thawne's powers work, and then proceeds to counter them by moving time forward - finally defeating him. After talking Henry out of killing Thawne, Barry has him arrested and imprisoned at Iron Heights Penitentiary.
In the DC Rebirth relaunch, Eobard Thawne first appears in Barry Allen's Speed Force vision, where the latter snaps Thawne's neck as he once did Pre-Crisis. He is subsequently featured in another vision where he taunts Barry about his future. The serial-killing speedster Godspeed later attempts to kill Eobard and every other inmate at Iron Heights, only to be stopped by the Flash. Thawne is reverted to his pre-New 52 self after a wave of energy strikes him, and he recalls being killed by Thomas Wayne/Batman during Flashpoint. Seeking to teach the Dark Knight's son a lesson, Thawne attacks Bruce Wayne in the Batcave and destroys Thomas' letter as retribution. Thawne brutally beats Bruce and verbally taunts him before picking up the Button, which teleports him away to an unknown location. Thawne is then teleported back to the Batcave, having been bathed in radiation by a mysterious entity. As he collapses, Thawne says "God...I saw...God." In the following issue, Batman and the Flash come across Thawne in possession of the Button shortly before his apparent death, and follow him in an attempt to prevent it. As he follows the traces leading to the entity, Thawne muses that he may go back in time to raise his nemesis as a "family friend" after killing his mother, but he is seemingly killed and teleported back to the Batcave.
Eobard's corpse is subsequently taken to STAR Labs for further examination, but it is revealed that he was able to survive his near-death experience via his connection to the negative Speed Force, the energy of which grants him accelerated regeneration and healing. He is present at Iris West's house when she arrives with her nephew following Multiplex's attack at Barry's birthday party, shocking and terrifying the pair.
Powers and abilities
Even prior to gaining his metahuman abilities, Eobard Thawne already possessed genius-level intellect by the standards of the 25th Century. In The Flash: Rebirth, it is discovered that when he duplicated the accident that gave Barry Allen his powers, he created a negative Speed Force by corrupting the positive version of it. The Reverse-Flash is therefore able to travel at superhuman speeds faster than the speed of light, deliver blows of extreme force, run on water, generate vacuums, create after-images ("speed mirages") of himself, and vibrate his molecules to pass through solid objects. Unlike users of the original Speed Force, Thawne has the ability to travel through and manipulate time, being able to drastically alter history and completely erase people from existence (other speedsters cannot change the past without dramatic consequences). Thawne developed numerous new powers in the events leading up to Flashpoint, including the ability to cross over to other dimensions, create shockwaves across time and space at the snap of his fingers, absorb another's memories via physical contact, and alter the age of anyone or anything.
Professor Zoom's powers were changed for The New 52 reboot; he has the ability to alter time relative to himself, manipulating the speed at which it flows around him. With every step he takes, he uses time travel to control his personal timeline; he slows it down to move faster and speeds it up to move slower. He retains his pre-New 52 counterpart's age altering abilities. In the DC Rebirth relaunch, however, Thawne regains his connection to the negative Speed Force and therefore all of his original powers.
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.
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
- The character is alluded to in the episode "Done With Mirrors" of the 1990 live-action series The Flash, when Barry Allen temporarily takes the pseudonym 'Professor Zoom' while investigating the Mirror Master.
- Professor Zoom appears in Batman: The Brave and the Bold, voiced by John Wesley Shipp. In the episode "Requiem for a Scarlet Speedster!", Zoom has conquered the 25th Century and captured the Flash (Barry Allen). Batman, Jay Garrick and Wally West later arrive to free Barry, who then engages Zoom in a fight around the world. The battle ends when the Flash glazes some sand to form a wall of glass to trip Zoom.
- Tom Cavanagh primarily portrays Professor Eobard Thawne/Reverse-Flash on The Flash in the form of Dr. Harrison Wells, while Matt Letscher plays the character's original likeness. He is depicted as a scientist from the distant future who duplicated the reaction that gave Barry Allen/The Flash his powers and became the hero's archenemy, the Reverse-Flash. Eobard eventually traveled back in time to the year 2000 to kill his nemesis as a child. When the 2024 Flash intervened, the Reverse-Flash murdered Barry's mother and framed his father instead, thus erasing this Flash from existence while unintentionally severing his own connection to the Speed Force, leaving him stranded in the 21st Century. Knowing that Dr. Harrison Wells would be responsible for creating metahumans in 2020, Eobard killed the scientist and took his identity, subsequently spending the next thirteen years founding S.T.A.R. Labs and creating a particle accelerator to "recreate" Barry Allen as the Flash and regain his own link to the Speed Force. Faking paralysis, "Dr. Wells" constantly pushes Barry to run faster in hopes of using the latter's pure Speed Force connection to travel back to his time. After Eobard's secret is discovered, he is defeated by the combined efforts of the Flash, the Arrow and Firestorm. Eobard then offers Barry a chance to travel back in time to save his mother in exchange for a time sphere to return to the future once the Speed Force wormhole is open, but Barry ultimately chooses not to do so and returns to destroy Eobard's machine. As the Reverse-Flash prepares to kill the Flash, his ancestor Detective Eddie Thawne kills himself and seemingly erases Eobard from existence. A year later, Barry temporarily creates a new reality and restores Eobard to the timeline in the process.
- Letscher reprises the role in season two of Legends of Tomorrow. Victor Garber and Sean MacLean briefly play the character disguised as Professor Martin Stein and NASA astronaut John Swigert, respectively. Eobard forms his own legion of supervillains (composed of Damien Darhk, Malcolm Merlyn and Leonard Snart) to obtain the mystical Spear of Destiny to alter reality. However, Eobard is ultimately erased from existence by the Black Flash due to his nature as a "time aberration".
Eobard Thawne appears in Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, voiced by C. Thomas Howell. He hires the Rogues to ambush the Flash (Barry Allen) at the Flash Museum. Once the hero is subdued, Thawne betrays the Rogues and places 25th Century explosives on their belts, hoping to destroy the museum. However, the Justice League arrive to disarm the bombs, and Thawne is subsequently arrested. When Barry travels back in time to prevent his mother's murder, all of reality is altered, and Aquaman's Atlantean army is engaged in a war with Wonder Woman's Amazonian forces. Thawne also enters this reality via the Speed Force, and saves Lois Lane's life when she is about to be killed by the Amazonians, hoping that the reporter's camera would catch a glimpse of him and alert Barry of his presence. While Cyborg's metahuman team tries to put an end to the war, Thawne appears and beats Barry, while stating that his nemesis' attempt to save his mother was the cause of all the chaos and destruction. As the Atlanteans' doomsday device destroys the world, Thawne is shot in the head by this reality's Batman. The Flash then taps into the Speed Force once more to stop his past self from altering time, effectively creating a new reality similar to the original.
- Professor Zoom appears in various storylines in the PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4 MMO DC Universe Online.
- 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 the Flash and Maxwell.
- The Reverse-Flash appears as a playable character in Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham, voiced by Liam O'Brien.
- In Injustice: Gods Among Us, Eobard Thawne's Black Lantern design was a playable alternate skin for the Flash as part of a limited exclusive challenge. The 2.6 update for the iOS and Android mobile app introduced a Reverse-Flash card (based on Tom Cavanagh's portrayal and likeness on the TV series The Flash) that can be purchased in the Most Wanted Pack.
- The Reverse-Flash appears as a playable character in Injustice 2, voiced again by Liam O'Brien. He is playable via "premier skins" (which transform existing characters into other DC Comics characters with unique voices and dialogue). It is revealed that he became trapped in a paradox after the Regime killed one of his ancestors, thereby leaving him stranded in the present and unable to return to the future. After that, Reverse-Flash joined Gorilla Grodd's "Society" in order to get his vengeance against the Regime members, especially the Flash. With help of Deadshot and Captain Cold, he attempted to kill the Flash, but failed. He is then seen fightning Wonder Woman in a bar at Metropolis, but is defeated by Wonder Woman.
Eobard Thawne has made multiple appearances on Robot Chicken. Seth Green voices him in "Losin' the Wobble", where he robs a bank while the Flash, Superman and Wonder Woman stand idly by, commenting on how lame they think opposite-themed villains like the Reverse-Flash, Bizarro Superman and Negative Wonder Woman are. Matthew Senreich voices him in the Robot Chicken DC Comics Special 2: Villains in Paradise, where he is seen with the Legion of Doom. He makes a non-speaking cameo while fighting the Flash in the Robot Chicken DC Comics Special III: Magical Friendship. Tom Cavanagh reprises his role as Thawne from the TV series The Flash in the episode "Ants on a Hamburger", where he appears as Dr. Harrison Wells.
- A Professor Zoom figure was released in DC Direct's JLA Classified line.
- A Reverse-Flash figure was released in Wave 20 of DC Universe Classics' figure line.
- A DC Universe Action League mini figure of Professor Zoom was released in a two-pack with the Flash.
- A Reverse-Flash (labeled "Zoom") SDCC convention exclusive figure was released in DC Direct's Flashpoint line.
- A Reverse-Flash collectible statue was included in the Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox Blu-ray combo pack.
- A Reverse-Flash mini figure was released in DC Direct's Blammoids line.
- A Reverse-Flash mini figure was released in Funko Mystery Minis' DC Comics wave.
- Funko has released three POP! vinyl figures of Eobard Thawne. The first being based on his appearance in the comic books, the second a Black Lantern exclusive, and the third a The Flash television series version.
- A 2-inch keychain of the Reverse-Flash was released in series 2 of the DC Comics Figural Keychain line.
- A Retro Re-Action figure of the Reverse-Flash was released based on his appearance in The Flash TV show.
- An Amazon exclusive DC Collectibles Reverse-Flash figure was released with the Blu-ray edition of the complete first season of the TV series The Flash in December 2015.
- A GameStop exclusive vinyl collectible of the Reverse-Flash has been released in Dorbz's The Flash wave.
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