Other Aliases: Professor Zoom
Occupation: Criminal Mastermind
Past Group Affiliation: Secret Society of Super Villains
Hair: White (originally brown)
First Appearance: Flash v.1 #139 (September 1963)
Base of Operations: Central City of the 25th Century
Origin: c. 2450
Death: Neck snapped by Flash in attempt to prevent murder.
Resurrection: Blackest Night #8 (2010)
See Also: The Cobalt Blue Legacy, Zoom II
There are several conflicting accounts of how Eobard Thawne of the 25th Century became the Reverse-Flash. Since his origin lies in the future, the “true” events may still happen differently.
According to one account, Thawne was a criminal with a fixation on the second Flash who stumbled across a time capsule with his chosen enemy’s costume. He amplified residual speed energy in the costume, granting him super speed when he wore it. He embarked on a crime spree only to be stopped by the coincidence of his nemesis traveling ahead to find the time capsule when it was opened.
Another account explains why he was drawn to Barry Allen in particular: The Thawne-Allen feud, five hundred years running by Eobard’s lifetime, had its roots in the separation of twins Barry Allen and Malcolm Thawne.
A third account has it that Thawne was fascinated by superheroes (who did not exist in his era), especially Barry Allen, the second Flash. He went to great lengths to make himself look like his idol and even duplicate his powers. Finally, he found the Flash’s cosmic treadmill. He used it to travel back in time to meet his idol, bringing along a copy of his biography. The calibration, however, was off, and he was deposited, disoriented, in Central City years after Barry had died. Wandering toward the Flash Museum, and discovering that he was destined to be the most evil of the Flash’s enemies, he went into psychological shock, convincing himself that he was Barry Allen.
Whether this tale of idol-worship gone bad was true or not, he did convince even Wally West and Jay Garrick that he was a resurrected Barry Allen. Eventually, his anger broke through, ostensibly at Wally for replacing Barry, but really at Barry for betraying Thawne. He went on a destructive rampage, and it took a coalition of all the other speedsters to keep him in check. Once Wally determined his true identity, he shocked Thawne’s memory back, and tricked him into returning to his own time in fear. The disorientation of the trip through time left him again amnesiac, save the deeply-ingrained hatred for Barry Allen. (Flash v.2 #74–79: The Return of Barry Allen, 1993)
Battling the Flash
Taking on the identity of Professor Zoom, the Reverse-Flash, he began to travel to the 20th century to battle the Flash. His knowledge of Allen’s dual identity enabled him to strike at him through his personal life. In fact, he became obsessed with replacing Barry, and obsessed with Barry’s wife Iris. Thawne plotted repeatedly to steal Iris away, finally killing her when she spurned him (Flash v.1 #275, 1979).
Thawne was trapped outside time until shortly before Barry’s second wedding. When he escaped, he taunted the Flash and threatened to kill his fiancée Fiona Webb. Zoom led the Flash on a desperate chase until, moments away from Fiona, Barry seized Thawne in a choke-hold to stop him...a choke-hold that broke Zoom’s neck, killing him. (Flash v.1 #321–325, 1983)
Years later, a new Zoom appeared (Flash #197, 2003), inspired by the original.
During the Blackest Night, Thawne’s corpse was animated by a Black Lantern power ring. At the end of the crisis, he was one of twelve heroes and villains resurrected outright by the White Lantern entity (Blackest Night, 2009-2010).
Dismayed to find that his great rival had sacrificed himself to save the universe, he set about a plan to destroy Barry Allen’s place in history.
- First, he traveled back in time to arrange for Barry’s return from the speed force.
- Having learned that Barry Allen’s running generates the speed force, he recreated Barry’s accident with a slight change: one that would make Thawne generate a negative speed force that would transform Barry into the new Black Flash, killing his friends and family with a touch.
- Finally, he began traveling back in time to interfere with Barry’s childhood. First subtly: pushing him down the stairs, opening the back door so that his dog would run out into the street and die, setting his house on fire. Then, most dramatically, killing Barry’s mother and framing his father for it.
Barry caught up with Zoom shortly after his resurrection, and a coalition of speedsters were able to stop him from doing further damage...but they were unable to undo the changes he had already made to history. (Flash: Rebirth, 2009–2010)
Text by Kelson Vibber. Do not copy without permission.
- Primary Sources
- Art Credits
- Origin Tales
- Profiles in Print
- Silver-Age Appearances
- Legacy-Era Appearances
- “Menace of the Reverse-Flash,” - Flash (first series) #139 (September 1963), John Broome
- “The Once and Future Flash” - Flash (second series) #79 (August 1993), Mark Waid
- The Reverse-Flash - Flash (second series) #79 (August 1993) - Greg LaRocque and Roy Richardson
- “Nice Suit” - Flash (second series) #74 (March 1993) - Greg LaRocque and Roy Richardson
- Black Lantern: Blackest Night: The Flash #2 (March 2010) - Scott Kolins
- White Lantern: Green Lantern Corps #51 (October 2010) - Ryan Sook (Note: Thawne has not appeared as a white lantern in-story, only on this symbolic cover.)
- Thawne vs. Allen - Flash: Rebirth #4 (September 2009) - Ethan Van Sciver
- Flash (first series) #139 (September 1963): “Menace of the Reverse-Flash,” John Broome
- Flash (second series) #79 (August 1993): “The Once and Future Flash,” Mark Waid
- Flash (third series) #8 (upcoming)
- Who’s Who in the DC Universe #19 (September 1986)
- Who’s Who (loose-leaf edition) #13 (October 1991)
- Flash Secret Files #1 (November 1997)
- The DC Comics Encyclopedia as Reverse-Flash (2004)
- The Flash Companion (2008) - profiled by the author of this site.
- Flash Secret Files and Origins 2010 (May 2010)
- Flash #139 (September 1963): “Menace of the Reverse-Flash!” John Broome
- Flash #147 (September 1964): “Our Enemy, the Flash!” John Broome
- Flash #153 (June 1965): “The Mightiest Punch of All Time!” John Broome
- Flash #165 (November 1966): “One Bridegroom Too Many!” John Broome
- Flash #175 (December 1967): “The Race to the End of the Universe,” E. Nelson Bridwell
- Flash #186 (March 1969): “Time Times Three Equals—?” Mike Friedrich
- Flash #225 (February 1974): “Green Lantern, Master Criminal of the 25th Century!” Cary Bates
- Flash #233 (May 1975): “The Deadly Secret of the Flash,” Cary Bates
- Flash #237 (November 1975): “The 1,000-Year Separation!” Cary Bates
- DC Comics Presents #1 (July 1978): “Chase to the End of Time!” Martin Pasko
- Flash #281–283 (January–March 1980): “Deadly Games!” “Mishmash!” and “Flashback,” Cary Bates
- (Illusion) Flash #300 (August 1981): “1981—A Flash Odyssey,” Cary Bates (cameo)
- Flash #321 (May 1983): “Hell in the Fast Lane!” Cary Bates
- Flash #322 (June 1983): “Burning a Speedster at Both Ends!” Cary Bates
- Flash #323 (July 1983): “Run, Flash—Run For Your Wife!” Cary Bates
- Flash #324 (August 1983): “The Slayer and the Slain!” Cary Bates
- (Body) Flash #325 (September 1983): “Dead Reckoning,” Cary Bates
- (Illusion) Flash #346–350 (June–October 1985): The Trial of the Flash, Cary Bates
Significant Legacy-Era Appearances
- Flash #74–79 (March–August 1993): “The Return of Barry Allen,” Mark Waid
- Green Lantern #40 (Late May 1993): “A Flash of Evil” (Return of Barry Allen tie-in), Gerard Jones
- The Life Story of the Flash (1997), Mark Waid and Brian Augustyn
- Impulse #35 (March 1998): “Time Out Of Joint,” William Messner-Loebs
- Flash #147–148 (April–May 1999): “Chain Lightning Parts 3–4,” Mark Waid and Brian Augustyn
- Flash #223–225 (August–October 2005): “Rogue War, Chapters 4–6,” Geoff Johns