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Eobard Thawne, otherwise known as Professor Zoom and the Reverse-Flash, is a supervillain appearing in comic books published by DC Comics. Created by John Broome and Carmine Infantino, he made his debut in The Flash #139 (September 1963). The most well-known character to assume the "Reverse-Flash" mantle, Thawne is 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. He has been established as one of the fastest speedsters in the DC Universe.
Textless cover of Batman vol. 3, #22 (July 2017).
Art by Jason Fabok.
|First appearance||The Flash #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
Legion of Doom
|Notable aliases||Professor Zoom|
Harrison Wells (Arrowverse)
Skilled hand-to-hand combatant
Negative Speed Force grants:
IGN ranked Eobard Thawne as the 31st Greatest Comic Book Villain Of All Time in 2009 and #2 on their Top 5 Flash Villains list in 2015. Tom Cavanagh and Matt Letscher have portrayed the character on various television series set within the CW's live-action Arrowverse.
Fictional character biographyEdit
Eobard Thawne found a time capsule in the 25th century containing a costume of the Flash (Barry Allen) and with a Tachyon device amplified the suit's speed energy, giving himself speedster abilities. Reversing the costume's colors, he adopted the moniker of "Professor Zoom" (a.k.a. the "Reverse-Flash") and went on a crime spree. However, the time capsule also contained an atomic clock, and to prevent a nuclear explosion, Flash pursued and defeated Zoom, hoping he knew where the clock was. Unfortunately he did not, but Flash later found the clock, detonated it safely, and destroyed Thawne's costume.
Blaming the Flash for his defeat, Thawne became obsessed with "replacing" Barry and traveled back in time to exact his revenge. When Iris West (Barry's wife) rejected his romantic pursuits, Thawne killed Iris. After Flash had found love again, Thawne threatened to kill Fiona Webb (Barry's new fiancée) on their wedding day. Fearful that history was repeating itself, Barry killed Thawne by breaking his neck.
Post-Crisis and Zero Hour originEdit
The post-Crisis extended origin "The Return of Barry Allen" storyline revealed that Eobard was once a scientist obsessed with the Flash, even undergoing cosmetic surgery to resemble his hero. Obtaining the Cosmic Treadmill from an antique shop, Eobard gained all of the Flash's powers after replicating the electrochemical accident that created Flash. Seeking to use the Cosmic Treadmill to travel back in time and meet his idol, Eobard arrived at the Flash Museum several years after Barry's death, discovering that he was destined to become "Professor Zoom" (a.k.a. the "Reverse-Flash") and die at his idol's hands. As a result, the unstable Eobard convinced himself that he was Barry and subsequently attacked Central City for "forgetting him". Wally West ultimately tricked Eobard into returning to the 25th century with no memory of the incident. Despite this, Eobard still managed to bring the remains of his older self's costume with him, cluing him further into his destiny.
The Flash: RebirthEdit
In 2009, 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. It is later revealed that Thawne's recreation of the accident behind Barry's powers made Thawne able to lure Barry out of the Speed Force during the Final Crisis and temporarily turn his nemesis 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's children through their Speed Force connection 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 Nora Allen (Barry's mother). Thawne then decides to destroy everything the Flash holds dear by killing Iris before they even met.
As Barry chases after Thawne, Wally joins Barry in the time barrier. They reach Thawne 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 as 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, Iris discovers Thawne's weapon back in the past, which she keeps.
In the present, he 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, but just what he has done is 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 him not knowing of Barry's death and resurrection. Declaring himself the new "Black Flash", he attacks Barry who manages to elude him for the moment. When Black Lantern Rogues attack Iron Heights, the living Thawne is encountered and the Black Lanterns' rings strangely malfunction, displaying a strange symbol. When Thawne's corpse approaches his living counterpart, he stops moving and is then frozen by Captain Cold's "cold grenade". Thawne's corpse 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 Allen from the Speed Force following the resurrection. The Entity proclaims 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. 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 originEdit
Eobard uses his powers to completely rewrite his own 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, thus his future self wipes all of the reporter's romantic interests from existence. After finding out his would-be love interest did not return his affections, Eobard's future self traumatized the reporter as a child, causing the woman to be mute and institutionalized so that they never met each other. He later had his younger self find the time capsule containing Barry's costume to make himself the Flash of the 25th century. He sheds a tear as his altered past self runs past him while 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 a negative version, 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 a best friend from existence to result in greater introversion on Barry's part, and various other torments such as killing Nora. Thawne later reveals that the Flashpoint timeline was created when Barry went back in time to stop the Reverse-Flash from killing Nora. After Thawne is killed by this reality's Batman with an Amazonian sword, the Flash travels back in time to stop Barry's younger self from altering history but instead, under Pandora's manipulations, a third, new timeline is created, in which DC Comics' continuity takes place from 2011 onwards.
The New 52Edit
In The New 52 reboot of DC's continuity, Eobard's origin is re-established as hailing from the Central City of a 25th-century devoted to the Flash. As a child, Eobard 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 as the Flash's replacement, Eobard dons a costume similar to the hero's and begins to terrorize the Gem Cities as "Zoom", demanding the citizens accept him as a King. However, he is enraged when people rebel against him in the Flash's name. Jealous and bitter that the Flash is worshiped and loved by the people despite their similar powers, 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" of the Flash.
Eobard then makes an acquaintance with Dr. Henry Allen (Barry's father), funding Henry's research lab. But when Henry refuses to help him with an unknown cause, Zoom subsequently murders Nora in order to make Barry endure and give them both an "equal start", and forces Henry to take the blame for his deed, with the threat of Barry's life. Laying low for many years, Zoom reemerges following William Selkirk's defeat, recruiting 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 nemesis's legacy. Eobard then kidnaps Henry when some inmates' prison escape in order to divert Eobard's attention away from Barry, and forces Henry to construct a power-stealing glove. But when his closest "ally" Magali (who has been keeping Eobard alive for centuries via powers) discover the truth about him, he uses the glove to steal Magali's 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 be 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 until the Flash realizes how Eobard's powers work, and then proceeds to counter by moving time forward – finally defeating him. After talking Henry out of killing Eobard, Barry has him arrested and imprisoned at Iron Heights Penitentiary.
In the DC Rebirth relaunch, Eobard first appears in Barry's Speed Force vision, where the latter snaps Eobard's neck as he once did in Pre-Crisis. He is subsequently featured in another vision where he taunts Barry about the 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. Sometime later, Thawne's memories of his pre-New 52 self are restored after a mysterious wave of energy strikes him, and he recalls being killed by Batman (Thomas Wayne) during Flashpoint. Seeking to teach the Dark Knight's son a lesson, Thawne attacks Bruce Wayne in the Batcave and destroys Thomas's letter as retribution. Thawne brutally beats and verbally taunts Bruce 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." 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. 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 Nora but he is seemingly killed and teleported back to the Batcave. Eobard's corpse is subsequently taken to S.T.A.R. 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's house when Iris arrives following Multiplex's attack at Barry's birthday party, shocking and terrifying the pair.
Eobard brutally beats Wallace West who he denounces as a fake, and then brings Iris to the future while Barry pursues them. Eobard shows the couple's future, and attempts to imprison Barry in the negative Speed Force. This backfires as it leads to Barry absorbing the negative Speed Force power to strip Thawne of his speed. Barry declares that their rivalry is done but Eobard vows that he will get back his powers and keep coming back to torment Barry before being seemingly killed by Iris.
Powers and abilitiesEdit
Eobard Thawne already possessed genius-level intellect by the standards of the 25th Century even prior to gaining his metahuman abilities, making him possibly one of the smartest individuals when in the 21st century. The Flash: Rebirth revealed that duplicating the accident behind Barry Allen's powers created a negative Speed Force by corrupting the positive version. The Reverse-Flash is therefore able to travel at superhuman speeds faster than the speed of light, deliver blows of extreme force by hitting the victim hundreds of times a second, run on water, generate vacuums, create after-images ("speed mirages") of himself, and vibrate his molecules to pass through solid objects. Unlike original Speed Force users, 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. Thawne has also displayed low levels of superhuman strength, as well as electrokinetic abilities. The presence of his lightning is able to disrupt and fry nearby electronics, in addition to allowing him to manipulate magnetism. During the New 52 reboot, Eobard gained the ability to slow down time similar to Hunter Zolomon. He retained his pre-New 52 counterpart's age altering abilities. In the DC Rebirth relaunch, however, Eobard regained his negative Speed Force connection and therefore all of his original powers.
DC Animated Universe ComicsEdit
Eobard as Reverse Flash appears in Justice League Adventures #6 (June, 2002).
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 mediaEdit
- The character is 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, the Flash (Jay Garrick) and Kid Flash (Wally West) later arrive to free Barry, and the two nemeses then engage in a fight around the world. The battle ends when the Flash glazes some sand to form a wall of glass to trip Zoom.
- On The Flash, Thawne is portrayed primarily by Cavanagh and occasionally by Letscher. He is introduced in season one as Barry Allen/The Flash's archenemy from the distant future known as the Reverse-Flash. When his plan to travel back in time to kill Barry as a child was foiled by the Flash of 2024, Eobard murdered Nora Allen and framed Henry Allen instead, inadvertently severing his own Speed Force connection and stranding himself in the 21st century. Eobard then killed Dr. Harrison Wells and assumed his identity to found S.T.A.R. Labs and build a particle accelerator with Cisco Ramon and Caitlin Snow, thus creating metahumans and turning Barry into the Flash. Having regained his own powers, "Dr. Wells" feigns paralysis as he pushes Barry to run faster in hopes of using his protégé's pure Speed Force connection to travel back to the future. After his secret is discovered, Eobard is captured by Barry, Oliver Queen, 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, but Barry ultimately refuses and destroys Thawne's machine. As Eobard prepares to kill Barry, his ancestor Eddie Thawne commits suicide and seemingly erases him from existence. Thawne's origin is expanded upon in season two: Once a scientist who recreated the accident behind Barry's powers, Thawne developed an intense hatred towards his former idol after learning via time travel that he was destined to become the Flash's nemesis. Eobard manages to survive his erasure due to time travel vagaries and returns in season four during the 2017 crossover event "Crisis on Earth-X", where he travels to the eponymous parallel world and forms an alliance with the Nazi doppelgängers of Oliver and Kara Zor-El there in an attempt to conquer Earth-1, only to escape while his inter-dimensional allies are killed by the heroes of Earth-1, Earth-38, and Earth-X. In the 2018 crossover event "Elseworlds", Thawne appears as a fear gas-induced hallucination in Gotham City's Arkham Asylum. In the show's 100th episode, Thawne is revealed to be orchestrating season five's events from Iron Heights Penitentiary death row in 2049; he is the secret mentor of Nora West-Allen who convinced her to travel back in time to meet Barry in exchange for help in executing his master plan, eventually teaching her how to tap into the negative Speed Force.
- Thawne's time remnant (created from timeline changes in season three of The Flash) appears in season two of Legends of Tomorrow, portrayed primarily by Letscher while Victor Garber and Sean MacLean briefly play the character disguised as Martin Stein and NASA astronaut Jack Swigert respectively. Eobard forms his own cabal of supervillains (composed of Damien Darhk, Malcolm Merlyn and Leonard Snart) to obtain the reality-altering Spear of Destiny, but is ultimately erased from existence by the Black Flash due to his existence as a "time aberration".
- The Reverse-Flash appears as the main antagonist in Lego DC Comics Super Heroes: The Flash, voiced by Dwight Schultz.
DC Animated Movie UniverseEdit
- Thawne first appears as the main antagonist of Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox (2013). He hires the Rogues to ambush the Flash (Barry Allen) at the Flash Museum before betraying them by placing explosives on their belts. The Justice League then arrive to disarm the bombs and apprehend Thawne. Barry travels back in time to prevent Nora Allen's murder and inadvertently alters all of reality, creating a world where Aquaman's Atlantean army is at war with Wonder Woman's Amazon forces. Thawne also enters this reality via the Speed Force and saves Lois Lane from the Amazons to alert Barry of his presence. While Cyborg's metahuman team tries to put an end to the war, Thawne appears and subdues Barry. As the Atlanteans' doomsday device destroys the world, Thawne is shot in the head by this reality's Batman, thus allowing the Flash to tap into the Speed Force once more to stop Barry's past self from altering time, effectively creating a new reality similar to the original.
- Thawne returns as the main antagonist in Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay (2018), set in the new reality. It is revealed that Thawne managed to stretch his last moments before death by months, consolidating his speed to keep himself alive despite having a gaping gunshot wound in his head. Living on "borrowed time" due to only possessing a limited amount of Speed Force energy left, forced to use his powers sparingly or accelerate the time until he dies, Thawne attempts to acquire a "get out of Hell free card" that would allow him to escape his fate, only to be killed by Deadshot and Bronze Tiger when the dying Bronze Tiger cuts off his fingers so that he drops the card before Deadshot kills him.
- Professor Zoom appears in various storylines in DC Universe Online.
- Professor Zoom is one of the villains in Scribblenauts Unmasked: A DC Comics Adventure. Recruited by Brainiac to collect Starites, he teams up with Doppelgänger to compete against the Flash and Maxwell.
- The Reverse-Flash appears as an unlockable playable character in Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham, voiced by Liam O'Brien.
- The Reverse-Flash appears as a main character in Lego DC Super-Villains, where he is voiced once again by C. Thomas Howell.
- Eobard Thawne is featured in Injustice: Gods Among Us. His Black Flash design is 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 featured the Reverse-Flash (based on Tom Cavanagh's portrayal and likeness on The Flash) that can be purchased in the Most Wanted Pack.
- The Reverse-Flash appears as a "premier skin" playable character in Injustice 2, voiced again by Liam O'Brien. After being trapped in a paradox when one of his ancestors is killed by the Regime, Reverse-Flash is left stranded in the 21st Century and joins Gorilla Grodd's Society. He attempts to kill the Flash with Captain Cold and Deadshot before being defeated by Wonder Woman at a bar in Metropolis.
Eobard Thawne has made sporadic appearances on Robot Chicken; Professor Zoom is voiced by Seth Green (in "Losin' the Wobble") and by Matthew Senreich (in Robot Chicken DC Comics Special 2: Villains in Paradise) while Tom Cavanagh reprises his role from the TV series The Flash as Harrison Wells (in "Ants on a Hamburger"). 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. In Robot Chicken DC Comics Special 2: Villains in Paradise, Zoom is with someone in front of the Flash and Iris West, and is seen with the Legion of Doom. Zoom makes a non-speaking cameo appearance, fighting the Flash in Robot Chicken DC Comics Special III: Magical Friendship. In the episode "Ants on a Hamburger", he appears as Wells.
- "Top 100 Comic Book Villains of All Time: 31. Professor Zoom". IGN. Retrieved January 19, 2015.
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