Unearthing Reverse Flash

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As the Blackest Night spreads across the DC Universe, Broken Frontier unearths the histories of several of the players in the event.

SPOILER WARNING: Read no further if you’ve not had the chance to dig into your most recent Blackest Night titles…

Eobard Thawne – also known as Professor Zoom, The Reverse Flash – was created by John Broome and Carmine Infantino in Flash #139 (September 1963), but made his first chronological appearances in Flash #74-79 (March-August 1993).  Born in the 25th century, Thawne was a wealthy man who idolized Barry Allen.  Already having invested vast amounts of his fortune in a Flash memorabilia collection, Thawne murdered a man to obtain the centre-piece of his collection – the cosmic treadmill that enabled Barry Allen to travel through time. 

After finding a way to artificially duplicate the accident that gave Barry his superspeed, Thawne activated the treadmill and, armed with his obsessive knowledge of the Flash’s life, journeyed back in time to become his partner.  Unfortunately, years of neglect had resulted in the treadmill’s calibration becoming inaccurate, and Thawne appeared in the 20th century several years after Barry’s heroic death during the Crisis (Crisis on Infinite Earths #8, November 1985).

Despondent, Thawne found himself in the Flash Museum where he encountered a horrifying display.  There he learned that at some point in the future he was destined to become Barry Allen’s greatest foe.  Driven mad by this knowledge, Thawne’s mind convinced him that he was actually Barry Allen, back from the dead.  Thawne visited Barry’s successor, Wally West, and even took up the mantle of The Flash, protecting Keystone and Central City.  It was only when battling old Flash foes who claimed to have killed the Flash that Thawne’s delusion unraveled. 

Ultimately, Thawne donned the costume of the Reverse Flash, clashing with Wally and his allies.  Although he was defeated and returned to his own era with his memory wiped of his stay in the 20th Century, Thawne’s subconsciousness retained a suppressed hatred for the Flash.

Years later, Thawne – now a criminal in his own time who had been nicknamed “The Professor” – uncovered a time capsule containing one of Barry Allen’s costumes.  Using 25th Century science, Thawne was able to draw out residue of Barry Allen’s powers from the costume.  As such, whenever Thawne wore the costume, the colour palette now reversed from the Flash’s, he gained super speed.  Using the name Professor Zoom, Thawne embarked on an epic crimewave, before being stopped by a time traveling Barry Allen (Flash #139, September 1963).


In an effort to internalize his super speed powers, Thawne returned to the 20th Century with a locket filled with an unstable element he called Element Z.  Forcing Mr. Element to stabilize the element, Thawne travelled back to the future to resume his criminal career, but was once again thwarted by his time-traveling for (The Flash #147, September 1964).  Thawne would continue to bedevil The Flash once he further refined his powers (Flash #153, June 1965). 

His next great plan came when he managed to switch places with Barry Allen, dumping the hero in a 25th Century prison.  Allen narrowly escaped, returning to the 20th Century just in time to prevent Thawne for duping his fiancée, Iris, into marrying him (Flash #165, November 1966).  At some point shortly after this (at least from Thawne’s perspective), Professor Zoom was enlisted in helping defeat Cobalt Blue, the evil twin of Barry Allen (The Flash #146-148, March-May 1999).

As Thawne continued to attack The Flash over the years, both on his own and as a member of the Secret Society of Super-Villains (for most of 1978-79, in the pages of Secret Society of Super-Villains and Justice League of America), he began to develop an obsession on replacing his rival.  To that end, Thawne’s infatuation with Iris Allen grew, with her becoming the focal point of many of his excursions to the 20th century (Flash #233, May 1975 and #237, November 1975). 

During a masquerade party (which Barry attended as dressed as the Flash, and Iris as Batgirl, Flash #275, July 1979), Thawne arranged for Barry to be drugged while he killed Iris by using super-speed to vibrate his hand into her brain.  As Barry fought through his grief to uncover who had murdered his bride, Zoom appeared to taunt him, claiming to know the killer’s identity (Flash #281, January 1980).  Eventually, Barry discovered Thawne as the guilty party, and after a time-spanning battle, stranded the villain in the past (Flash #283, March 1980).

Thawne evenmtually made his way back to the present, targeting Barry on the day the hero was to be re-married (Flash #323, July 1983), intent on murdering his fiancée, Fiona.  During this encounter, Thawne’s own successor as the Reverse-Flash, Hunter Zolomon, brought him forward to the first decade of the 21st Century to aid in a battle against Wally West. 

Barry followed them through time, leading to an epic clash between two generations of Flashes and Reverse Flashes (Flash #223-225, August-October 2005).  Barry brought Thawne back to his present and, when the villain tried to snatch Fiona, Flash grabbed his foe by the neck.  The sudden deceleration from super-speed inadvertently snapped Thawne’s neck, killing him instantly (Flash #324, August 1983).  This act would eventually spell the end of Barry Allen’s career, as the hero was arrested, charged (Flash #325, September 1983) and convicted of second-degree murder.


During the Blackest Night, Thawne’s corpse was raised by Nekron as a member of the Black Lanterns (Blackest Night: The Flash #1, February 2010), attacking Barry, unaware that in the years since his death, Barry too has died and been resurrected.  Even as Barry, now armed with a Blue Lantern ring (Blackest Night #6, February 2010), continues to struggle with Black Lantern Thawne (Blackest Night: The Flash #2-3, March-April 2010) he has an acute awareness that this will not be their final battle.

Shortly after his own resurrection (DC Universe #0, June 2008), Barry learned that Thawne would return to life thanks to the actions of “a good friend” (The Flash: Rebirth #4, August 2009).  The true depths of Thawne’s madness have come to light since this resurrection, as Barry learned that his time traveling foe is responsible for almost every significant tragedy in his life. 

Now, thanks to his roots as a time-traveler, the late Eobard Thawne’s story continues on two fronts at the same point in history – as a reanimated Black Lantern (Blackest Night: The Flash) and once again as The Flash’s greatest living foe (The Flash: Rebirth).


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  • Bart Croonenborghs

    Bart Croonenborghs Feb 12, 2010 at 3:29am

    Fletch, you are a certified DC maniac. Thx again for another informative installment!

  • Eric Lindberg

    Eric Lindberg Feb 21, 2010 at 3:36am

    Sidebar for anyone curious -- Iris survived her apparent murder, also via time travel. That's right, Barry, his wife, and his arch-enemy have all been dead, resurrected, and bounced through time. Don't ya love comics?

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