Farewell to Zoom II

Zoom: Hunter Zolomon

Today’s guest post is by liquidcross of The Indigo Tribe.

Professor Zoom tormented Barry Allen constantly, but when he took things a bit too far, the Flash snapped his neck. Many years later, Barry’s successor Wally West had faced his share of speedster villains, but he never really had a Reverse Flash of his own.

During Geoff Johns’ stellar run on Flash, along comes FBI profiler Hunter Zolomon. After being severely injured by Gorilla Grodd, he decides to use the cosmic treadmill (conveniently located in the nearby Flash Museum) to go back in time and fix things. Naturally, it doesn’t quite work, and the resulting damage not only drives Zolomon over the edge, but turns him into Zoom, a new Reverse Flash. He thinks Wally doesn’t take his role as the Flash seriously enough due to not having faced any personal tragedy, so Zoom decides to mold him into a better hero…through a series of villainous acts, of course. These stories were expertly crafted, delivering all the twists and turns that really kept the readers on their toes. From Zoom accidentally killing Wally and Linda’s unborn children, to revisiting that incident to not only fix what happened but ending up in a time loop, the saga of Zolomon was a thrilling one to read.

Zoom (Hunter Zolomon): Why?

After those first big appearances, though, Zoom faded into the background. He showed up in a few crossovers and such, but he never regained a primary antagonist role. During Final Crisis, Inertia stole his powers, calling himself “Kid Zoom.” Zolomon was once again a disabled powerless human, and left to rot in a prison cell. He soon had company, though: the original Reverse Flash, Eobard Thawne. While that could’ve led to some great stories, Zolomon was never seen again, and the events of Flashpoint seemed to have erased both Zooms from existence.

Zoom was a fascinating character, and his time in the limelight was far too short. Aside from his unique powers and history with Wally, he always thought he was doing the right thing; and at one point, he came around and realized how badly he was screwing up. You actually felt bad for the guy, and that’s rare with supervillains.

Zoom (Hunter Zolomon)'s powersWhat I really liked about Zoom is that even though he was a Reverse Flash, he was not a speedster. He moved through time, and that caused all manner of problems for the Flash. It doesn’t matter how fast you’re running; if a guy is instantaneously jumping to a future point in time, he’s going to beat you there. Wally had to rely on his wits much more than his speed to defeat Zoom in most cases, which made for some excellent storytelling.

More importantly, Zoom may have been a new Reverse Flash…but he didn’t supplant the old one. His beef was with a completely different Flash, and as I said before, his powers were vastly different. In this, he’s a more interesting successor to the role, rather than a generic replacement.

Zoom’s shelving and eventual erasure was a complete waste. Now that I think of it, he should’ve been the real threat behind Flashpoint; he’s already got time travel powers, and the whole thrust of his plan could’ve been to destroy Barry to force Wally to once again become a better hero by surpassing his predecessor. Zoom manipulating Thawne would’ve been icing on the cake.

A new Reverse Flash is on the horizon, but it’s going to be a new character. I doubt we’ll ever see Zolomon again, and that’s a damned shame.

Liquidcross writes about Green Lantern and related comics at The Indigo Tribe.

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17 thoughts on “Farewell to Zoom II

  1. Wally East

    Completely agree. I think Hunter is the more interesting Reverse Flash of the two to this point. His mission to improve Wally and his different way of moving quickly made him interesting.

    One of my favorite villains.

    Reply
  2. Imitorar

    I suspect Zolomon WAS meant to play a role in Flashpoint. I mean, Thawne releasing him can’t just have been idly, given how good Johns is at playing a long game and subtly seeding his stories. I suspect the decision to use Flashpoint to reboot the DCU derailed the story and it didn’t come out as originally planned. Which is a shame, as the originally planned version might actually have been good.

    Reply
    1. Nick!

      Wasn’t it Boomerang that released Prof. Zoom? Given that Hunter didn’t show up at all (save for a minor cameo in ‘Rebirth’) during Johns’s run, him being the mastermind behind Flashpoint would have felt forced.

      Reply
  3. James

    Yeah, it’s clear that Johns was setting up a return of Zolomon during Rebirth, but that and other stories got derailed by FP. What a waste…

    Reply
    1. Kyer

      Thirded. Was looking forward to that Thawne & Hunter collaboration, then Flashpoint blew up our (and apparently some creative teams) faces. What a hash.

      Reply
    2. Kelson

      Another abandoned premise I wanted to see explored was Abra Kadabra having more arch-enemies in different eras, instead of just focusing on the 21st and 64th centuries. That one was set up in the Secret Files issue.

      Reply
  4. Kyle Lobner

    “I doubt we’ll ever see Zolomon again, and that’s a damned shame.”

    Is that ever something we can say with any level of certainty? “Forever” is an awfully long time to assume the absence of a character in a monthly series.

    Reply
    1. Nick!

      Exactly. I bet, at one time, people thought they would never see Barry or Prof. Zoom ever again. Every character comes back around eventually.

      Reply
      1. Kelson

        Considering it basically took 20 years for them to appear outside of flashbacks and the occasional time travel story, I don’t find that reassuring at all.

        Reply
        1. Kyer

          Right. When I’m dying blind and of old age decades from now, knowing these characters are being returned will be such the great comfort. Yeah? No.
          Would rather enjoy them while still able. Horrible enough Barry fans got robbed of 20 years of stories with him. So his return must still be bittersweet for the old time fans.

          Reply
  5. Savitar

    I liked his motive of making Wally a better hero, a twisted view of Wally’s own goals. But they needed to expand the ideas of how Zoom could have done that beyond merely threatening Linda and the kids. Zoom had vast untapped potential that I think the writers didn’t know how to handle or approach.

    Reply
    1. Kelson

      Yeah, the fact that Zoom’s goal had nothing to do with the usual personal gain/revenge tropes — that, in his mind, he’s HELPING the heroes — made him far more interesting to me than Thawne.

      At the same time, that meant he had to be used sparingly and carefully, and that’s really not what ended up happening.

      One of the better post-Blitz stories I remember was a Damage/Liberty Belle spotlight in Justice Society of America. The whole issue, Zoom acted like he was trying to make Damage face some harsh realities about himself, but in the end, what he accomplished was give Jesse the clues she needed to reconnect herself to the speed force.

      Reply
  6. James

    Yeah, and the look on Hunter’s face just before Jesse’s re-directed debris hit him remains priceless.

    I agree that Zolomon should have been used more sparingly and almost no one outside of Johns got the character right — though I thought Greg Rucka had a good handle on him during the “Truth or Dare” crossover.

    Reply
  7. Kyer

    Is there a compiled list of Zoom (the *Professor* is not in) stories outside the Flash title? Never heard of him reappearing beyond the Wonder Woman crossover, Inertia stories, and just before FlashPain…I mean Point.

    Reply
  8. James

    He appeared in Infinite Crisis and I know Gail Simone used him for her Action Comics run (followed up on Rucka inducting Zolomon into the Society and featured a Zoom/Bizarro race).

    Reply
  9. James

    He also appeared in the Sinestro Corps War prologue, commenting on how Hal Jordan’s ordeal (at Sinestro’s hands) is a perfect example of what Zolomon has tried to do with Wally and the other heroes.

    Reply

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