“Running Scared” Part One – Review of THE FLASH #25

While the Reverse Flash has been one of the Flash’s toughest foes from his first Silver Age appearance, we’ve seen multiple variations on his origin story, ranging from his starting out as a criminal in the future (with Barry stopping him during a trip to the 25th century), to Thawne being the descendant of a long-lost twin, to Thawne’s travel to the past to meet Wally as “Barry Allen”…you get the idea. FLASHPOINT didn’t help that matter, with Thawne’s apparent death and later reappearance in the DCU. Now, in an “Extra-Sized Anniversary Issue” celebrating the latest volume of THE FLASH hitting issue #25, we get the REBIRTH origin…one that ties together many elements of previous origin stories while giving us a fresh twist. Anyone doubt that Joshua Williamson knows his Flash Facts? Not this reviewer…and if you want to know more, just follow us after the jump!

SPOILERS AHEAD!

In case anyone still wonders who has been narrating those Flash Museum scenes in recent issues, it’s none other than the curator of the museum…Eobard Thawne! Yes, the Reverse Flash has stopped messing with Barry’s past and has instead worked to take away his future. When Barry arrives in the 25th Century, following Thawne’s trail, he finds that the populace of Central City do NOT view him as a hero…but instead as a menace! So, how did we get here?

That’s where we get into Thawne’s REBIRTH origin story.

Here are some of the elements from prior stories – I’ll let you comment on where each originally came from:

  • Thawne lost his parents at an early age, leaving him alone. He became fixated on the Flash and studied everything he could about him. It became an obsession. It is at this point that Thawne likely became mentally unstable, with a descent into further issues triggered later on (keep reading)..
  • Thawne found a time capsule with one of Barry’s uniforms in it. He used the residual Speed Force energy in the costume to give himself super-speed
  • Thawne wanted to be a hero, but there weren’t as many opportunities in the 25th century…so he created dangers on his own so he could “save the day”.
  • When Barry went to the future and met Thawne, they were friends at first…until Barry caught on to what Thawne was doing. They fought, and Thawne went to prison…and got much worse.
  • Still, he wanted to impress Barry, so he changed his uniform to yellow…because that was the color of all of the Flash’s sidekicks. It didn’t work, and he lost it completely at that point, determined to ruin Barry’s life.
  • Thawne went back in time and killed Nora Allen, and FLASHPOINT happened as we know it.
  • After coming back to life repeatedly, Thawne realized that history had changed. Thawne wasn’t the only one surprisingly alive, as Iris was still around. He looked for what else had changed, and eventually created this Flash Museum that puts himself on an equal footing with Barry…or maybe even greater than Barry, since the cops in the future seem ready to take him down.

Back to the story…Thawne has one more revel, but not for Barry. He is determined to ruin Barry’s budding relationship with Iris, and unmasks him in front of her! Will she turn away from Barry after realizing he hasn’t been honest with her? We’ll have to wait for that one…in the next issue!

SUMMARY:  There is so much history in the DCU for Eobard Thawne, from the sillier Silver Age to much darker times leading to FLASHPOINT, that it presents a challenge for any writer in the REBIRTH era to redefine the character.  Still, writer Joshua Williamson does a very credible job in bringing together elements of the various iterations of Thawne for a coherent history of this classic villain. We finally (after 50+ years) have a somewhat reasonable explanation for his yellow duds, and even an explanation for that “Professor” moniker. There are parts of Thawne’s descent into madness that are a little over-easily done, but for the most part this is as good an origin story as any bad guy could hope for.  This Thawne is powerful, unstable, and as frightening as he has ever been.  This is a great character study, one that new fans can grasp and long-time fans can appreciate. The artwork was shared among several talents for this “Extra-Size” issue, with Carmine Di Giandomenico, Neil Googe, and Ryan Sook on line art, and Ivan Plascencia, Hi-Fi, and Dave McCaig on colors. I’ll give this one a 9/10 – thoroughly enjoyed this one, and I’m looking forward to next issue. That’s my take – what do YOU think? Leave your comments below!

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