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Reverse-Flash is a name which has been used by several fictional supervillains in American comic books published by DC Comics. Each iteration is an enemy of the hero known as The Flash. As each version of the Flash has the power to travel at super-speeds, each version of Reverse-Flash can also travel at super-speeds, allowing them to travel back and forth in time. The fact that the each two have the same power is much of the reason they are enemies.
Edward Clariss (also known as The Rival and Rival Flash) first appeared in Flash Comics #104 (February 1949), and was created by John Broome and Joe Kubert. Although not called Reverse-Flash, Dr. Edward Clariss was a professor at the university attended by the Golden Age Flash, and had recreated the formula which was behind Jay Garrick's speed via "Velocity 9". He hears Joan Williams (Garrick's girlfriend) talking about how the Flash's own speed was given to another student, which helped him develop the formula. Bitter at the scientific community's rejection of his claims, Clariss becomes a criminal. A darker version of the Flash with a mask over his head, he gives the formula to other criminals. The Rival's version of the formula is temporary, and he is captured and jailed.
JSA #16 (November 2000) contains a flashback to a battle between the Rival and the Flash several months after the former's first appearance. Now that he has inexplicably regained super speed, Clariss reaches light speed during the fight and vanishes into the Speed Force. After the Justice Society of America's reformation 50 years later, Johnny Sorrow retrieves Clariss from the Speed Force and invites him to join the Injustice Society. Driven insane in the Speed Force, The Rival races across the country on a killing spree. The Flash realizes that the Rival's path across the country spells out Clariss's name and the final murder will be Joan; Jay absorbs the Rival's speed before he can kill Joan.
The Rival returns in Impulse #88 (September 2002), posing as Joan's doctor. Now pure speed energy, he possesses fellow Golden Age speedster Max Mercury. After battling Jay and Impulse, Max time-travels to an unknown destination. In The Flash: Rebirth #4, Max escapes from the Speed Force and is rejuvenated by Wally West's energy; this allows him to return to Earth in a new body. Another Golden Age Reverse-Flash is a robot whose only appearance was in one panel of The Flash #134 (February 1998), where he is defeated by Garrick.
Hunter Zolomon (also known as Zoom) first appeared in The Flash: Secret Files & Origins #3 (November 2001). The archenemy of Wally West, he is the third supervillain to be called Reverse-Flash.
Thaddeus Thawne (aka Inertia and Kid Zoom) first appeared in Impulse #51 (August 1999), and was created by Todd DeZago and Mike Wieringo. Another character not called Reverse-Flash, he is a clone of Bart Allen. Inertia first fought Impulse. When Bart aged five years after Infinite Crisis and became the Flash, Inertia fought his genetic template again. Inertia was responsible for Allen's death; Wally West returned, taking revenge by paralyzing Inertia and installing him in the Flash Museum. In Final Crisis: Rogues' Revenge, he was used by Libra and Zoom to try to get the Rogues to join the Secret Society. Inertia stole Zoom's powers, called himself Kid Zoom and was killed by the Rogues who blamed him for making them kill Bart.
Asked who created Inertia, Ethan van Sciver wrote that he could only accept five percent of the credit; the remaining credit belonged to Mike Wieringo (20 percent), Grant Morrison (25 percent) and Todd Dezago (50 percent). According to van Sciver, Inertia's appearance is an inverted depiction of Impulse.
Inertia initially appeared came in Impulse #50: "First Fool's" (July 1999), followed by #51: "It's All Relative" (August 1999). His greatest character development was in #53: "Threats" (October 1999). Inertia was not featured again until Impulse #62 and #66: "Mercury Falling" (July, November 2000), and again for another five years.
He then began making regular appearances, primarily due to Bart being the Flash. Inertia appeared in The Flash: The Fastest Man Alive #5: "Lightning in a Bottle, Part 5" (December 2006). In addition to his Flash appearances, he appeared in Teen Titans (vol. 3) as part of Titans East, an enemy team, beginning in Teen Titans #43 (January 2007). The storyline concluded with #46 (April 2007). Gathering the Rogues, he attempted to drain Bart's powers for himself; the plan backfired when Wally returned when Inertia's equipment drained the Speed Force, making the Rogues accidentally beat Bart to death. As Bart tried to escape, he was captured by Wally who steals his speed leaving him immobile.
Inertia is primarily a speedster, remaining disconnected from the Speed Force after Infinite Crisis and injecting himself with Velocity 9. Although Velocity 9 has been unstable, Deathstroke's new variety seems to have no negative side effects. Inertia briefly shares his powers before his death with Zoom who lends him his speed to pressure him into being a new Kid Flash. As the maddened Kid Zoom, he masters human time streams and reverts Zoom to the powerless Hunter Zolomon before he is killed by the Rogues.
Daniel "Danny" West first appeared in The Flash #0 (November 2012). The younger brother of Iris West and the apparent uncle (biological father) of Wallace West, he is the most recent character to take up the Reverse-Flash mantle.
In DC's Tangent Comics, 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. The Flash's light-wave powers outmatched Reverse-Flash's, and she was destroyed. This Reverse Flash appeared in one issue: Tangent Comics: The Flash (December 1997).
In other mediaEdit
- Matt Letscher and Tom Cavanagh portray Professor Eobard Thawne / Reverse-Flash on The Flash. A scientist from the future, he duplicated the reaction behind Barry Allen / The Flash's powers and learned he would be his own hero's arch-enemy, the Reverse-Flash. Traveling back in time to kill Barry as a child but foiled by The Flash of his timeline, he instead murdered Nora Allen and framed Henry Allen but unintentionally severed his own Speed Force connection, thus stranded in the 21st Century. As season one's main antagonist, he impersonated Dr. Harrison Wells and founded S.T.A.R. Labs to create a particle accelerator to turn Barry into The Flash and regain his own link to the Speed Force while also being knowingly responsible for metahumans' existence. Faking paralysis, "Wells" pushes Barry to run faster in hopes of using his protégé's pure Speed Force connection to travel back to his time, unknown to Cisco Ramon and Caitlin Snow. After his secret is discovered, Thawne is captured by The Flash, Oliver Queen and Firestorm. Eobard then offers Barry a chance to travel back in time to save Nora and Henry from his past actions in exchange for a time sphere to return to the future, 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 Eddie Thawne kills himself and seemingly erases Eobard from existence. In season two, a younger version encounters The Flash but Barry is forced to send him back to the future when his presence endangers time. In season three, Barry temporarily creates a new reality which restores a time remnant of Eobard to the timeline in the process.
- Letscher plays Thawne's time remnant in season two of Legends of Tomorrow; Victor Garber and Sean MacLean also briefly play the character disguised as Martin Stein and NASA astronaut Jack Swigert respectively. Eobard forms his own legion of supervillains (composed of Damien Darhk, Malcolm Merlyn and Captain Cold) against the Legends to obtain the mystical Spear of Destiny to alter reality due to his nature as a "time aberration". However, Thawne is ultimately foiled by Sara Lance and erased from existence by the Black Flash.
- Cavanagh reprises his role in the 2017 four-part crossover event "Crisis on Earth-X". Somehow surviving his two erasures from existence, Eobard traveled to the parallel Earth-X universe where the Axis powers won World War II, and formed an alliance with the Earth-X versions of Oliver Queen, Kara Zor-El and Tommy Merlyn in an attempt to conquer Earth-1, confronting various superheroes, but escapes during the final battle and vowing to return.
- Teddy Sears portrays a loose adaption of Hunter Zolomon / Zoom on The Flash, where he serves as season two's main antagonist. Tony Todd provides the character's disguised voice, Ryan Handley plays Zoom's initial portrayal, and Octavian Kaul plays Hunter's child form in flashbacks. This version is depicted as a speedster from Earth-2 who produces blue lightning while running, and wears an all-black leather bodysuit with clawed gloves and a demonic mask resembling a face restraint. As a child, Hunter was forced to watch his father murder his mother and this traumatic event resulted in him becoming a serial killer years later before he was eventually captured and sent to a mental asylum. When Harry Wells's S.T.A.R. Labs particle accelerator exploded as Hunter was being electrocuted, the dark matter released gave him super-speed. Adopting the supervillain moniker Zoom, Hunter used his speedster powers to subjugate Earth-2, and further augmented his speed by creating a velocity serum. Although fast enough to travel through time and cross parallel universes, Hunter was slowly dying, forcing him to siphon other speedsters' Speed Force energy to survive. At some point, Hunter decided to publicly impersonate The Flash after capturing Jay Garrick of Earth-3 to give the people on any Earth a false sense of hope. Zoom proceeds to send numerous Earth-2 metahumans to challenge Barry Allen while presenting himself as the Flash of Earth-2 to Team Flash in order to push the Flash of Earth-1 to get faster. To avoid suspicion, Hunter used time-remnant copies of himself to ensure he could be on two different Earths at the same time. However, his romance with Caitlin Snow forced him to reveal his Earth-1 non-metahuman doppelgänger which lead to Team Flash learning about his identity. Hunter is eventually cured of his affliction when he steals Barry's speed after holding Wally West hostage, though his nemesis's powers are restored by the Speed Force. After killing Henry Allen, Hunter attempts to destroy every world in the Multiverse (except for Earth-1 for him to rule) but is defeated when Barry destroys his machine. The Time Wraiths then arrive and transform Hunter into the Grim Reaper-like enforcer known as the Black Flash before being dragged out of reality for corrupting the Speed Force. In season three, the Black Flash is sent after Savitar but Killer Frost freezes and shatters him before he can erase the time-remnant from existence.
- The Black Flash also appears in season two of Legends of Tomorrow. Able to sense the location of those who actively use the Speed Force, he pursues a time-remnant of Eobard Thawne due to the Reverse-Flash's nature as a "time aberration", and eventually manages to erase his target from existence.
- Todd Lasance portrays a heavily adapted depiction of Edward Clariss / The Rival on The Flash. Unaltered while displaying red lightning, the normal speedster is an enemy of Wally West in the Flashpoint timeline before being gunned down by Joe West. In the reset timeline, Doctor Alchemy restores his powers with the Philospher's Stone and sends him after Barry Allen and Vibe but is defeated again and he's soon thereafter killed by Savitar.
- Zoom (Hunter Zolomon) is alluded to in Justice League Unlimited, voiced by Michael Rosenbaum. In the episode "Divided We Fall", a fusion of Brainiac and Lex Luthor creates robotic androids of the Justice Lords to combat the Justice League; the Zoom-esque android attempts to make Wally West a better hero by fighting the Flash.
- Professor Zoom (Eobard Thawne) 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 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.
- Professor Zoom (Eobard Thawne) appears as the main antagonist 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 before betraying them by placing explosives on their belts to destroy the museum. However, the Justice League arrive to disarm the bombs and apprehend Zoom. When the Flash travels back in time to prevent Nora Allen's murder, all of reality is altered with Aquaman's Atlantean army at war with Wonder Woman's Amazonian forces to which Zoom enters this reality via the Speed Force. He saves Lois Lane from the Amazonians to alert Barry of his presence. While Cyborg's metahuman team tries to an end to the war, Zoom appears and fights the Flash. As the Atlanteans' doomsday device destroys the world, Zoom is shot in the head by Batman, thus allowing the Flash to tap into the Speed Force once more to stop Barry's past self from altering time but effectively creating a new reality similar to the original.
- The Eobard Thawne version of Reverse-Flash appears as the main antagonist in Lego DC Comics Super Heroes: The Flash, voiced by Dwight Schultz.
- Professor Zoom (Eobard Thawne) returns as the main antagonist in Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay with C. Thomas Howell reprising his role. It is revealed that Zoom is barely keeping himself alive after being fatally shot by Batman by consolidating his speed to draw out his moment of death, keeping himself alive despite having a large hole in his head. But this leaves him with only a limited amount of Speed Force energy to use before he will exhaust the last of his power which will kill him for good. He attempts to acquire a 'Get Out of Hell Free' card that would allow him to escape his fate, but Bronze Tiger and Deadshot are able to take the card from him; Deadshot attracts his attention before Bronze Tiger cuts off his fingers as he holds the card as Deadshot fires multiple shoots at Zoom (forming an "X" in the villain's body) and shoots his head, killing him once and for all.
The subsequent characters to use Reverse-Flash moniker appear in various video games.
- Zoom (Hunter Zolomon) appears in the Game Boy Advance game Justice League Heroes: The Flash as the fourth-level boss.
- Professor Zoom (Eobard Thawne) appears as a mini-boss in DC Universe Online in the Gorilla Grodd duos and as a world boss roaming Central City in the "Lightning Strikes" DLC.
- The Eobard Thawne version of Reverse-Flash appears a playable character in Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham and Lego DC Super-Villains.
- The Eobard Thawne version of Reverse-Flash appears as a DLC skin in Injustice 2.
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