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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 both of them 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
- Tom Cavanagh and Matt Letscher portray Professor Eobard Thawne / Reverse-Flash in The CW's live-action Arrowverse in the form of Dr. Harrison Wells and in his original likeness, respectively. The character is introduced as the main antagonist of The Flash's first season, and has been featured in subsequent seasons as well. Letscher has also played Thawne's time remnant in season two of Legends of Tomorrow, while Cavanagh has reprised his role in the 2017 crossover "Crisis on Earth-X" and the 2018 crossover "Elseworlds".
- Teddy Sears portrays 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 when masked, and Octavian Kaul plays Hunter's as a child in flashbacks. This version is depicted as a black-clad demonic speedster from Earth-2 who produces blue lightning while running. He is ultimately transformed into the Black Flash by the Speed Force's Time Wraiths, and subsequently appears in this form in season two of Legends of Tomorrow.
- Todd Lasance portrays Edward Clariss / The Rival in season three of The Flash. He first appears in an alternate reality created at the end of season two. Clariss later regains his speed in the reset timeline, though he is ultimately killed by Savitar.
- Zoom (Hunter Zolomon) is alluded to in Justice League Unlimited, voiced by Michael Rosenbaum.
- Professor Zoom (Eobard Thawne) appears in Batman: The Brave and the Bold, voiced by John Wesley Shipp.
- Professor Zoom (Eobard Thawne) appears as the main antagonist in Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox and Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay, voiced by C. Thomas Howell.
- The Eobard Thawne version of Reverse-Flash appears as the main antagonist in Lego DC Comics Super Heroes: The Flash, voiced by Dwight Schultz.
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
- The Eobard Thawne version of Reverse-Flash appears as a DLC skin in Injustice 2.
- The Eobard Thawne version of Reverse-Flash appears as a playable character in Lego DC Super-Villains, and The Flash version of Zoom appears in the DC TV Super-Villains DLC pack.
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