A Brief History of Zoom and the Reverse Flash

The main villain for Season Two of the Flash TV show is Zoom … but who is Zoom, and how does he differ from the Reverse Flash?

As with Reverse Flash, they appear to be taking inspiration from a couple of sources in the comics, though Zoom’s true identity on the show is being kept mysterious for now. I’m including a few other villainous speedsters whose stories or designs may be relevant.

Reverse Flash a.k.a. Professor Zoom a.k.a. Eobard Thawne (1963)

Flash #139This 25th-century criminal reverse-engineered Barry Allen’s powers from one of his costumes, beginning a centuries-spanning rivalry as the two speedsters traveled through time to battle each other over and over. Thawne developed an unhealthy oobsession with taking over Barry’s life, particularly with his wife Iris.

Thawne eventually killed Iris, and years later tried to kill Barry’s new bride Fiona — but Barry killed him while protecting her. This led to a lengthly trial for the Flash, which ended just before Barry’s death in Crisis on Infinite Earths.

The Blackest Night crisis brought Thawne back from the dead, and he proceeded to start running back in time to mess with Barry’s life earlier and earlier, culminating in Barry’s mother and framing his father for the murder. [Full bio]

Savitar (1995)

SavitarA cold war test pilot whose plane was hit by lightning. On gaining super-speed, he became obsessed with the speed force, learning more than anyone else about its secrets. A battle knocked him forward in time several decades, during which his followers became a powerful cult.

Savitar’s greatest desire was to become one with the speed force, and to do it he meant to block — or eliminate — all other speedsters. It took a full coalition led by Wally West and featuring every other speedster hero active at the time to take him down. [Full bio]

Black Flash (1998)

The Black FlashUpdate: As Lee H. points out in the comments, it looks like the show has drawn visual inspiration from the personification of Death as it comes for speedsters. The Black Flash is a force of nature, pursuing speedsters whose time has come and ushering them across the threshold to death.

It was later shown in Flash: Rebirth that an actual person could become the Black Flash, more like the New Gods’ concept of the Black Racer: An ordinary person takes on the role, whether they like it or not, and they have a job to do. This happened to Barry Allen briefly in Flash: Rebirth, and in an interesting bit of timing is happening again in Darkseid War right now. [Full bio]

Zoom a.k.a. Hunter Zolomon (2003)

ZoomA criminal profiler with the Keystone City police who became friends with Wally West during his time as the Flash. An attack by Grodd left him unable to walk, and he tried desperately to convince his friend to travel back into the past and fix his mistakes. When Wally refused, Zolomon tried to activate the cosmic treadmill himself.

The accident gave him time-based powers that simulate super-speed. He became obsessed with making the Flash a “better” hero…by making him experience more personal tragedy, so that he would be more willing to risk altering reality for others. [Full bio]

New 52 Reverse-Flash a.k.a. Daniel West (2013)

Flash #23.2 - Reverse Flash #1The younger brother of Iris West, a juvenile delinquent who got out of jail around the time a disaster hit Central City and linked him to the speed force. He gained the ability to travel back in time for short hops, and went around killing others who had gained the same connection in order to use that power to go even further back in time — to kill his own abusive father.

New 52 Future Flash a.k.a. Barry Allen (2014)

Flash Annual 3Two decades from now, an older and angrier Barry Allen would discover that the speed force had been damaged by the Reverse Flash’s time travelling, and he started heading backward in time to seal the breach when it was still small enough to repair. On the way he killed a few villains and stopped a few disasters, until he came face to face with his past self.

Note the dark blue costume with glowing trim…

New 52 Professor Zoom a.k.a. Eobard Thawne

Flash Annual 4We don’t know his background yet, but we do know he really hates Barry Allen, and he’s traveled throughout history collecting people who have gained various powers from the speed force and convinced them that the Flash is a monster disguised as a hero, someone who needs to be stopped.

Notes

There you have it! Zoom, Professor Zoom, and the Reverse-Flashes, plus two speedsters who (judging by previews) may have inspired the TV show’s take.

You can read about some of the Flashes’ other opposite numbers in our Guide to Rogues and Reverse Flashes.

(Incidentally: In the process of re-reading the New 52 stories, I was reminded how much I love Francis Manapul’s and Brian Buccellato’s art and layouts.)

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4 thoughts on “A Brief History of Zoom and the Reverse Flash

  1. ZetaTweetz

    Also possibly relevant, with Zoom being described as an “unstoppable demon,” is Speed Demon, who deliberately engineered his speed and went a little psychotic.

    My fan theory: Zoom, actually Z%M, is an inspired combination of Kilg%re and Speed Demon, two of the earliest villains from the Wally West Flash series. It’s a machine intelligence that possesses and re-engineers a host body for super speed, taking on a new host with each upgrade. Possibly Jay Garrick was the first. Its one directive: fastest.

    Probably not, but tonight we were told that Earth-2 STAR Labs specializes in artificial intelligence. I found that interesting…

    Reply

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