Reverse-Flash is a name that has been taken by supervillains in superhero fiction published by DC Comics. Many of them have super speed and are enemies and foils of the superheroes known as the Flash.
The Rival first appeared in Flash Comics #104 (February 1949). He is Dr. Edward Clariss, a professor at the university attended by the Golden Age Flash, Jay Garrick. He believes he has recreated the formula that 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 wore a darker version of Flash's outfit and gave it 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 escapes, still in possession of Mercury's 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.
Eobard Thawne aka Professor Zoom, first appeared in The Flash #139 (September 1963). Originally, he is a criminal from the 25th century who found a time capsule containing the Silver Age Flash's costume. He is able to use a machine to amplify the suit's speed energy, providing the abilities of the Flash as long as he wears it. In the process, the colors of the costume reverse, with the suit becoming yellow, the boots and lightning bolt highlights turning red, and the chest symbol's white circle becoming black. He uses his speed to commit crimes. Flash had travelled to the future as he discovered an atomic clock in the capsule would become an atomic bomb due to the process. He defeated Reverse-Flash by making his friction-protection aura burn away and stopped the bomb from exploding. Despite destroying the costume, Zoom is still able to cause trouble for him. His knowledge of Allen’s dual identity enables him to strike at 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 Zoom’s neck, killing him.
DC later revamped its continuity following the 1985 series Crisis on Infinite Earths. Professor Zoom was one of many character to undergo renovation. As seen in "The Return of Barry Allen" storyline in The Flash (vol. 2) #74-79, Thawne started out as a 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, Thawne becomes mentally unstable upon discovering he is destined to become a villain. Though the true name of the Flash's greatest foe was not known in his time, it was known here. Zoom's mind—already disoriented by the stress of time travel as the Treadmill —had changed over the years. He arrives years after he had intended, while seeking escape by convincing himself that he is Barry Allen. However, his true, more violent nature is eventually revealed. "Barry" attacks Central City in 'revenge' for 'forgetting him', before he is defeated by Wally West, who tricks Zoom into returning to his proper time. Even though Thawne retained no memories of his journey, he felt "betrayed" by Barry and deeply hated him. Thawne began traveling back in time to seek revenge on the Flash, using his knowledge of "history" to his advantage.
Professor Zoom returns as the main villain in the mini-series Flash: Rebirth. Zoom claims to have a resurrection coming up soon, referencing the Blackest Night. In this appearance, Zoom claims to have not only traveled back in time, but also to have engineered Barry's return from Speed Force. Zoom 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 Zoom'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. Zoom 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.
Hunter Zolomon aka 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).
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 to 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' 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.
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.
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
- Reverse-Flash 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. In the episode "Twin Streaks", scientist Jason Bressell and assistant Ted Witcome create a clone of Barry they name Pollux. Though this blue-suited character bears a resemblance to the Reverse-Flash, Pollux has no direct relation to the character, instead being more along similar lines of Bizarro and lacks any true malice, instead being more childlike in his actions and mannerisms.
- A Reverse-Flash like character makes a cameo appearance in Justice League Unlimited, voiced by Michael Rosenbaum. In the episode "Divided We Fall", the look-alike is made when the fusion of Lex Luthor and Brainiac make robotic copies of the Justice League's villainous alternate universe counterparts. The Flash duplicate wears the Reverse-Flash's red-on-yellow costume and acts like Zoom while fighting Wally West.
- Reverse-Flash makes occasional appearances on Robot Chicken. In the episode "Losin' the Wobble", Reverse-Flash (voiced by Seth Green) is seen robbing a bank, while the Flash, Superman and Wonder Woman stand idly by, commenting about how "lame" they think opposite-themed villains like Reverse-Flash, Bizarro and Negative Wonder Woman are. In the Robot Chicken DC Comics Special 2: Villains in Paradise, Reverse-Flash (voiced by Matthew Senreich) is seen with the Legion of Doom.
- The Professor Zoom version of Reverse Flash made his first full on-screen appearance in the Batman: The Brave and the Bold, voiced by John Wesley Shipp. The episode "Requiem for a Scarlet Speedster!" is an allusion to the printed page "Crisis on Infinite Earths" mini-series in which Barry Allen has disappeared and is presumed dead after a large energy cloud crisis. Jay Garrick and Wally West have been protecting Central City since Barry Allen's disappearance. When Batman arrives in Central to subdue Captain Cold, Heatwave, and Weather Wizard, a ghost like apparition of Allen is seen by Batman and Garrick. Investigating Allen's "ghost", Batman, Garrick and West follow it into the 25th century (Professor Zoom's era) where they find Allen has been trapped by Professor Zoom and is being used as an enhancement to Reverse-Flash's own speed as well as proving enhanced speed to Zoom's army of stormtroopers. Batman destroys the enhancement devices while Garrick and West provide Allen with the means to defeat Reverse-Flash.
- Eobard Thawne/Reverse-Flash appears in the 2014 TV series The Flash played by Tom Cavanagh and Matt Letscher, marking the live-action debut of the character. Cavanagh portrays the character after being modified to resemble Harrison Wells, while Letscher plays Eobard Thawne's original look. Using Wells' identity, Thawne does not reveal his original identity until the 15th episode. Hailing from almost a century and a half into the future, Thawne is the archenemy of Barry Allen and travelled back in time to 2000 to murder him when he was 11 years old, so that the Flash will never exist. However, the Flash follows him through the speed force and they have a battle in the house of the Allen family. The Flash grabs his 11 year old self so that his future as the heroic scarlet speedster can remain intact, but Thawne realizes he can hurt the Flash by traumatizing his younger self irrevocably. Thawne therefore kills Nora Allen, only to realize he is now stranded in the past, unable to access the Speed Force without the power of the speed force. He later killed and assumed the identity of one Harrison Wells, a man he knew would create a particle accelerator in the year 2020 alongside his wife Tess Morgan. Using this knowledge and future technology, he founded S.T.A.R. Labs and created the particle accelerator. The accelerator explodes, releasing dark matter and unknown energies into Central City. He also worked with General Wade Eiling to create Gorilla Grodd. In the beginning of the series, when Barry becomes The Flash, Dr. Wells, along with his colleagues Caitlin Snow and Cisco Ramon become part of his team to hunt down metahumans and to assist Barry while fighting non-metahuman villains like Captain Cold, Heat Wave, Pied Piper, Golden Glider. He assists Barry in his showdown with Captain Cold and Heat Wave in Revenge of the Rogues. Dr. Wells serves as the team leader, his confidant and his mentor teaching him to increase his speed. Eventually, he resumes the Reverse-Flash identity and confronts Barry as a means to motivate Barry to increase his efforts. Joe West becomes suspicious of Wells and investigates him, enlisting Cisco to help, who eventually discovers Wells' secret. However, Cisco is killed by Wells before Barry accidentally travels back in time, and he inadvertently alter the events that led to Cisco's murder. The alteration of the event also causes Barry to stumble upon the Reverse-Flash's trail in Cisco's place and begin to become suspicious of Wells, eventually realizing that Wells is his mother's killer. In addition, Cisco retains his memories of his murder subconsciously despite the timeline's reset and distrusts his mentor. Eventually, the entire group discovers Harrison's true identity as the Reverse-Flash/Eobard Thawne, and he kidnaps their friend and Iris West's boyfriend, Eddie Thawne, who is revealed to be Eobard's direct ancestor. Eobard convinces the team to get him back to the future, which will also allow Barry to travel back in time and save his mother from dying when Barry was a child. However, Barry decides to keep the current timeline intact, and battles Eobard before he can escape. Right before Eobard kills Barry, Eddie fatally shoots himself, erasing Eobard Thawne from history.
This version of Eobard Thawne, while still a villain, is a much more morally complex and nuanced character. According to Andrew Kreisberg, showrunner of The Flash show, Eobard is not inherently evil and has a legitimate reason for his actions on the show. This version of Eobard Thawne justifies killing people in the present (his past) by stating that they were already dead from his perspective, and has shown remorse for killing them. As Harrison Wells, he also genuinely came to care for his fellow coworkers at S.T.A.R. Labs, even coming to see Cisco as a son and visibly upset at the idea of having to kill him, and also developed a newfound appreciation for Barry, replacing his once brutal and complete hatred for the young hero. He has also protected Grodd from General Eiling's inhumane experiments and later turned the latter over to Grodd, claiming that he 'takes care of his own', and has similarly helped save Dr. Martin Stein and Ronnie Raymond from Eiling later on in the series. However, his violent hatred for The Flash returns when the latter sabotages his attempt to return to his own time, causing Eobard to brutally assault and threaten to kill Barry, as well as Barry's friends and family. Upon Eddie's sacrifice (which was intended to remove Eobard from the timestream and, by proxy, save Barry, Iris, Joe and the rest of the S.T.A.R. Labs team), Eobard seemingly calmed down and merely asked Barry how the latter would get on with life without him manipulating and controlling Barry's life, soon before disappearing from existence altogether.
- The Professor Zoom version of Reverse-Flash is the main antagonist in Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, voiced by C. Thomas Howell. Inertia's costume is also seen in display inside the Flash Museum.
- The Zoom version of Reverse-Flash appears in the Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS game Justice League Heroes: The Flash as the fourth level boss.
- The Professor Zoom 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.
- Professor Zoom's Black Lantern appearance is an alternate skin for Flash (Barry Allen) in the video game Injustice: Gods Among Us.
- The Professor Zoom 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.
- Crimson Lightning - An online index to the comic book adventures of the Flash.
- Justice League Unlimited at the Internet Movie Database
- The Flash at the Internet Movie Database