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
The Acolytes of Zoom
|Notable aliases||Reverse-Flash, Black Flash|
Professor Eobard "Zoom" Thawne, otherwise known as the Reverse-Flash, is a fictional supervillain appearing in comic books published by DC Comics. Created by John Broome and Carmine Infantino, he first appeared in The Flash (vol. 1) #139 in September 1963. He is the archenemy of Barry Allen (the second superhero to be called the Flash), a descendant of Malcolm Thawne, and a maternal forefather of both Bart Allen and Owen Mercer. In 2009, the character was re-imagined as a major villain in the DC Universe by writer Geoff Johns in The Flash: Rebirth.
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, and Matt Letscher currently portrays the character on various TV shows set within The CW's live-action Arrowverse.
- 1 Fictional character biography
- 2 Powers and abilities
- 3 Other versions
- 4 In other media
- 5 References
- 6 External links
Fictional character biography
Eobard Thawne made his debut as the Reverse-Flash in The Flash #139 (September 1963). He found a time capsule in the 25th century containing the Flash's costume, and 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 Zoom", 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 Zoom 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, Eobard 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 as Eobard having erased her memory of the first time), Thawne (apparently) kills Iris at a party, vibrating his hand into her head. It took a long time for Barry to get his life back together after this. Shortly after Allen had found love again, Zoom reappeared, threatening to kill new fiancee Fiona Webb 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 the then-Kid 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.
Post-Crisis and Zero Hour origin
In a post-Crisis origin, the storyline "The Return of Barry Allen" in The Flash (vol. 2) #74-79, reveals that Thawne was an obsessive fan of the Flash before he found the time capsule. After gaining super-speed by replicating the electrochemical bath that gave Barry Allen his powers (losing years of his life in the process) and undergoing surgery to resemble his idol, Eobard traveled back in time using the Cosmic Treadmill to meet the Flash. However, the machine had broken down over the centuries, and Eobard became mentally unstable upon arriving several years after Barry's death at the Flash Museum, 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, his mind, already disoriented by the stress of time travel, convinced himself that he is Barry Allen, but his true identity is eventually revealed due to his violent nature. When Thawne (as "Barry") attacks Central City for "forgetting him", he is defeated by Wally West and sent back to the future with no memory of the incident (due to the trauma of the time-travel). Despite this, Eobard still managed to bring the remains of the costume that his older self used, cluing him further into his destiny.
After the events in Zero Hour: Crisis in Time, it is revealed that Eobard's ancestor, Malcolm Thawne, was Barry Allen's long-lost twin brother, thus making Eobard and Barry distantly related.
The Flash: Rebirth
Professor Zoom appears within the Speed Force in The Flash: Rebirth by Geoff Johns. 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 Iris). 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 the boy is Thawne's 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 Nora, 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 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
Professor Zoom uses his power to completely rewrite his history. In the story Professor Zoom uses his negative 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.
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, Professor Zoom 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. 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
Eobard's origin has been rewritten once again, with DC's New 52 reboot. Hailing from the Central City of a 25th century devoted to the The Flash, as a child, Eobard Thawne witnessed his father murder his mother, and subsequently get arrested. One day, he is struck by lightening and gains the ability to control the flow of time around him - making it appear as if he's 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 terrorise 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 worshipped 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 lightening" (Speed Force) across history, after "saving" them from situations he himself put them into, under the false pretence 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 realises how Thawne's powers work, and then proceeds to counter them by moving time forwards - finally defeating him. After talking Henry out of killing Thawne, Barry has him arrested and imprisoned at Iron Heights Penitentiary.
Eobard has thus far had sporadic appearances since the DC Rebirth relaunch. He appears in a Speed Force vision Barry experiences in the DC Universe: Rebirth and The Flash: Rebirth (Vol 2) oneshots, where he seemingly snaps his neck in a manner reminiscent to how he did so Pre-Crisis, and in yet another one in The Flash (Vol 5) #9, where he taunts Barry about his future when he is being dragged into the Speed Force upon the older and younger Wally Wests meeting. The serial-killing speedster Godspeed later attempts to kill Eobard and every other inmate in Iron Heights, only to be stopped by The Flash.
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 per 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. Aside from his metahuman abilities, Thawne's greatest weapon is his intellect, as even in the 25th Century, when vast scientific advancements have been made, he is still considered a genius.
In The Flash: Rebirth, it is discovered that when Thawne 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 has the ability to create multiple after-images ("speed mirages") and, unlike other users of the original Speed Force, can travel through and alter time, being able to erase people from existence (other speedsters cannot change the past without dramatic consequences). In addition, Thawne can create shockwaves across space and time simply by snapping his fingers, a skill he learned from Hunter Zolomon.
In the events leading up to Flashpoint, Thawne has developed numerous powers including the ability to absorb other people's memories and experiences, change the age of himself and others, as well as manipulate time and drastically alter history.
In the New 52, Thawne's abilities have been altered. Although he still derives his powers from the Speed Force, he now slows down time relative to himself, making it appear as if he is running at super-human speeds. After stealing the powers of one of his former associates, Thawne also gains the ability to alter the age of people and objects, something his pre-Flashpoint counterpart possessed.
In the final issue of the Batman Beyond arc "Hush Beyond", an elderly Amanda Waller informs Dr. Thawne, a head CADMUS scientist, that the world will always need a Batman, before unveiling numerous vats containing clones of the original Dark Knight and his allies. Thawne later makes a transaction with Inque, a villain with unstable mutagen powers, gaining a trigger that can adapt to any weapon with limitless range in return for helping Inque stabilize her abilities.
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 was alluded to in the 1990 live-action series The Flash. In the episode "Done With Mirrors", 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.
- Professor Eobard Thawne/Reverse-Flash is featured in The CW's Arrowverse, portrayed by Matt Letscher and Tom Cavanagh (in the form of "Dr. Harrison Wells").
- The character first appears in season one of The Flash. He is depicted as the Flash's archenemy from the future, who traveled back in time to kill his nemesis as a child. But when the Flash from the year 2024 intervened, an angered Reverse-Flash murdered Nora Allen and framed Henry Allen instead, hoping that a childhood tragedy would cause Barry Allen not to adopt the Flash persona. However, Eobard's connection to the Speed Force was completely depleted due to the massive time jump, leaving him unable to travel back to his time. Knowing that Dr. Harrison Wells was responsible for creating "metahumans" in the year 2020, Eobard killed and impersonated the scientist via a genetic modification device. Fifteen years later, he has already founded S.T.A.R. Labs and created a particle accelerator with Caitlin Snow and Cisco Ramon, which exploded as planned, thus achieving Barry's destiny seven years earlier. Now faking paralysis, Eobard pushes Barry to run faster, due to needing the latter's connection to the Speed Force in order to return to his own time. Eobard eventually resurfaces as the Reverse-Flash, and defeats the Flash twice in combat. After his secret is discovered, Barry attempts to capture Eobard to free Henry, but the villain escapes and abducts his ancestor, Detective Eddie Thawne. The Reverse-Flash is eventually defeated by the combined efforts of the Flash, the Arrow and Firestorm. Eobard then assists Barry in traveling back in time to save Nora, in exchange for a time machine to return to the future once the Speed Force wormhole is open. But Barry chooses not to save Nora and returns to destroy Eobard's time machine, enraging the villain. During their final battle, the Reverse-Flash once again bests the Flash and prepares for the kill, but Eddie sacrifices himself and seemingly erases Eobard from existence. The second season's episode “The Reverse-Flash Returns” features Eobard's origin story. Hailing from the future, Professor Eobard Thawne was once obsessed with the Flash. But after duplicating the accident that gave the hero his powers, Eobard grew to despise him upon learning that he was destined to become his archenemy. He then adopted the supervillain persona of the Reverse-Flash, and discovered that the Flash was active in the early 21st Century, thus beginning their rivalry. In the season finale, Barry travels back in time to save his mother, effectively altering all of history and restoring Eobard to the timeline. In the third season's premiere, Eobard is imprisoned by Barry in the new reality. At the end of the episode, Barry realizes the ramifications of his actions, and lets Thawne go back in time to kill his mother and primarily restore the timeline.
- Eobard appears in season two of Legends of Tomorrow. He acts as Damien Darhk's silent partner throughout history, through means of time travel, as he attempts to form his own team of supervillains.
Professor Zoom 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, Zoom 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 Zoom 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. Zoom 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, Zoom 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, Zoom 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, and a new reality appears, leaving Zoom's fate unknown.
- 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.
- Professor Zoom is a playable character in Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham, voiced by Liam O'Brien.
- Professor Zoom appears in various storylines in the PC and PlayStation 4 MMO DC Universe Online.
- In Injustice: Gods Among Us, Professor Zoom's Black Lantern design was a playable alternate skin for the Flash (Barry Allen) as part of a limited exclusive challenge. The 2.6 update introduced a Reverse-Flash card (based on his appearance in the TV series The Flash) that can be purchased in the Most Wanted Pack.
Eobard Thawne appears on Robot Chicken, voiced by Seth Green (in "Losin' the Wobble"), Matthew Senreich (in the Robot Chicken DC Comics Special 2: Villains in Paradise) and Tom Cavanagh (reprising his role from The Flash in "The Nerd on the CW"). In "Losin' the Wobble", 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. Professor Zoom is later seen with the Legion of Doom in the special "Villains in Paradise". He is mentioned by Brainiac when Composite Superman uses the Cosmic Treadmill, and makes a non-voiced cameo while fighting the Flash in the Robot Chicken DC Comics Special III: Magical Friendship. He also appears as Dr. Harrison Wells in "The Nerd on the CW".
- DC Direct released a Professor Zoom figure in their JLA Classified line.
- A Reverse-Flash figure was released in Wave 20 of DC Universe Classics' figure line.
- A DC Universe Action League figure of Professor Zoom was released in a two-pack with the Flash.
- DC Direct released a Reverse-Flash (labeled "Zoom") SDCC convention exclusive figure in their Flashpoint figure 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.
- Funko Mystery Minis has released a Reverse-Flash mini figure in their 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 series.
- In August 2016, DC Collectibles released a Reverse-Flash figure based on his appearance in the TV show The Flash.
- A GameStop exclusive vinyl collectible of the Reverse-Flash has been released in Dorbz's The Flash wave.
- 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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