With “The Button” wrapping up and the next storyline of The Flash dealing with the fallout, it seems like a great time to examine just what Eobard Thawne, the Reverse-Flash (also known as Professor Zoom) is all about. While many may be familiar with him from his recent history in comics or his prominence of season 1 of the hit CW series “The Flash” and the 2nd season of “Legends of Tomorrow,” they may not realize that there is a litany of horrendous actions that date back to the very beginnings of this character. It could be argued that he is as sadistic as any villain in comics.
There is a level of calculation to the actions of Thawne that is downright frightening. He is at times a stalker. On other occasions he comes across as arrogant to the point of being a sociopath. But, perhaps what stands out most about Eobard Thawne is that he is always extremely cruel. He makes his every single one of his appearances count. His time traveling and time changing abilities make him a formidable foe, but his love for hurting others makes him one of the most dangerous villains in all of DC Comics.
SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Batman and The Flash comics, as well as several CW Arrowverse shows.
15. HE RIPPED UP THE LETTER FROM BRUCE’S DAD
In “Flashpoint,” Barry Allen met Thomas Wayne who is Batman, because in that timeline, it was Bruce who was killed. Thomas’ code of how to deal with criminals is drastically different from Bruce’s. This does not stop Thomas from asking Flash to deliver a letter to his son once Barry has returned home. Barry does this at the end of the story, a gift which has more value to Bruce than all of the Wayne family money ever could.
In “Flashpoint,” Reverse-Flash revels in the mess of this timeline, but suffers death at the hands of Thomas Wayne. When it came time for revenge in the pages of Batman #21, the results were swift for Bruce. Batman is no match for the Reverse-Flash, and a beatdown ensues. Reverse-Flash’s discovery and tearing up of the letter likely hurt Batman more than any punch to the face ever could.
14. USED ROGUES TO CAPTURE FLASH; PLANTS BOMBS ON THEM
The Flash’s Rogues are a tight-knit group. They have standards and they stick together. Reverse-Flash is not a part of this group and his selfishness knows no bounds. In fact, in a little scene from the animated “Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox” movie that was not part of the original comic it is based on, Thawne shows his motives.
A routine villain break in at the Flash Museum by the Rogues was actually a ploy from Thawne to blow up Central City. How did this happen? It is a question the Rogues had just as much as Flash himself. Well, of course Reverse-Flash planted bombs on all of the Rogues! Having the audacity to use dangerous individuals like the Rogues and tell them that is what he is doing is what Thawne’s sadistic streak is all about.
13. TRIED TO USE THE SPEAR OF DESTINY TO REWRITE REALITY
Time travel is always dangerous. Even The Flash struggles with how to use this type of power. When Thawne’s very existence becomes an issue due to the Flashpoint of the Arrowverse on “Legends of Tomorrow,” Thawne has a huge problem. While being hunted by a Speed Force enforcer and needs, he gathers a team of villains to help him gain the Spear of Destiny. It will allow him to no longer be hunted.
The mission is a success, but only temporarily. It allowed for Thawne to become head of S.T.A.R. labs and, in many ways, the master of a new reality. Things don’t go as planned from there, and Thawne makes the choice to leave everyone in the new reality to suffer. The point is still driven home that even when Thawne is part of a team, he still only cares about himself and is looking to see others suffer.
12. CREATION OF THE NEGATIVE SPEED FORCE
The Reverse-Flash is the opposite of the Flash. He is from a different time period, is selfish, and his costume is the exact opposite. “Flash: Rebirth” by Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver looks at the concept of the Speed Force and its relation to both characters.We learn that when Thawne duplicated the accident that created the Flash, it created an equal but opposite Speed Force as well.
This is critical because there is a race-like aspect that emerges, which certainly fits the Flash’s speed. As Thawne runs, his negative Speed Force can help to eliminate those who use Barry’s positive Speed Force. It causes negative effects for multiple speedsters in the story, and it seems, based on some lines in recent issues, that this is something that is still part of continuity. So when Reverse-Flash runs, every other speedster should be concerned.
11. HE “DIED” AT THE HANDS OF “GOD” AND STILL CAME BACK FOR MORE
Reverse-Flash’s powers are confusing. He can travel through time and change events. This makes him unable to be killed. Because he comes from the future, he can always go back and change something in his favor. It is a God-like power in the hands of a sociopath. In “The Button,” there is a moment when Reverse-Flash touches the smiley face Watchmen button and is taken away and disintegrated in blue light. This is likely the work of one Dr. Manhattan, though that is not confirmed. Reverse-Flash’s final words are, “I saw God.”
This was not enough to make Reverse-Flash give up his quest for power. When he returns from death yet again in Batman #23, he now wants to revisit where that button took him and square off with its owner. Insane? Of course, but would you expect anything less?
10. LITERALLY BECAME BARRY ALLEN
“The Return of Barry Allen” is a benchmark story. Barry Allen died in Crisis on Infinite Earths and Wally West took up the mantle of the Flash. So imagine the feeling when someone who looks like and claims to be Barry Allen comes knocking at the door.
One of Thawne’s traits is that he wants to be the Flash. He admired him from the future. Thawne had facial reconstruction surgery to look like and pose as Barry. This is the first post Crisis on Infinite Earths appearance of Eobard Thawne. This time, Thawne is more mentally unstable because he has found out he becomes Flash’s greatest enemy. He works to infiltrate the Allen, West and Garrick families’ lives. He is clearly flawed in his portrayal of Barry, but the calculated steps taken here are perhaps the gold standard of who Eobard Thawne is.
9. POSED AS HARRISON WELLS TO HELP CREATE AND MENTOR THE FLASH
This gold standard was an inspiration for the writers of “The Flash” television series’ first season. Fans wondered about who a character named Harrison Wells was. During the first season of “The Flash,” we wrestle with Wells’ responsibility for the particle accelerator accident.
Wells seems like a decent person as he helps mentor and push Barry to new limits. However, his regular conversations with Gideon the computer about future events start to reveal a sinister side. Eventually, in a page taken right out of the “Return of Barry Allen” playbook, it turns out to be just Eobard Thawne finding a way to manipulate his hero turned enemy. Thawne wanted to go back to his time, but could not without using the Flash. Once again, the relationships formed under false pretenses and resulting pain paint Thawne as cold and calculated when it comes to getting what he wants.
8. ATTEMPTED TO MURDER WALLY WEST’S CHILDREN
Up until this point on the list, the Reverse-Flash’s actions are in the realm of manipulating others. He is selfish, but there are times when that selfishness goes over the edge. One example is his attempt to eliminate anyone with a connection to the Speed Force, including Wally West’s twins in “Flash: Rebirth.” He even does this in front of their mother. Previously, in what was a longer Wally West epic, these kids almost weren’t born in the first place. This is a new type of low for Thawne.
In this case, Thawne is not successful. That is not necessarily the point. Thawne is driven to do anything possible to be the main speedster with power. There is no human sympathy coming from him. Obviously, if Thawne was going after speedsters in “Flash: Rebirth,” he had to eliminate somebody, right? Well…
7. MURDERED JOHNNY QUICK
John “Johnny Quick” Chambers was a character who had super-speed through a formula which allowed him to access the fourth dimension of time. He later learns that he too is tied to the Speed Force. This leads him to sacrifice himself to the Speed Force to save his daughter, Jesse, who later became Jesse Quick and Liberty Belle.
In “Flash: Rebirth,” his presence in the Speed Force comes into play with the emerging Negative Speed Force of Thawne. By shifting Barry into “reverse,” Barry’s touch now disintegrates those with a connection to the Speed Force. Johnny Quick falls victim to this touch, which signals danger to the other speedsters. It is a swift message from Thawne that he has managed to manipulate the Flash’s powers which makes him exponentially more dangerous. But Thawne has done some much more personal things as well.
6. TRIED TO HIT ON IRIS WEST, THEN MURDERED HER
In his earliest appearances, Thawne decided that it is in taking Barry’s place that he will have is revenge. What better way to take a person’s place than to hit on their wife? This is the first time that Thawne takes actions that directly influence Barry’s family.
When Iris is unwilling to accept Thawne’s advances, a chain of events is set in motion that are still echoing in Flash stories to this day. The scorn of Reverse-Flash leads to him using his hand to vibrate through Iris’ head and killing her (at least temporarily; it is comics). Obviously, at the time this is a massive blowto Barry Allen. It is was the first a in a dark chain of events for the sadistic Eobard Thawne.
5. THREATENED BARRY’S NEXT FIANCE ON THEIR WEDDING DAY
Barry eventually got back out into the dating world and met Fiona Webb. She has quite a story, but suffice to say she worked for a crime boss (who happened to look like Barry Allen) in his front business which led to her being in witness protection. This was followed by her working for a Senator who turned out to be a villain as well in his second personality! It was an on and off relationship for a bit until they realized they did love each other and got engaged.
On the wedding day, things went from bad to worse for Fiona. Reverse-Flash showed up and used it as an opportunity to threaten the life of Fiona. Hadn’t she been through enough? Flash certainly thought so.
4. MOTIVATED THE FLASH TO KILL HIM
Superheroes don’t often take lives. Sometimes it does happen in various forms. But for Barry Allen, it had to be pretty severe. Having your first wife and fiancé that follows murdered and threatened respectively by the same person might do that to a person. Following the events involving his fiance, Barry snapped, literally; he snapped Thawne’s neck. It is a seminal moment in that Barry is a police officer and understands that what he did was wrong and is put on trial for murder.
The events that follow involve time travel and Abra Kadabra masquerading as Reverse-Flash, but they also involve Barry going to the future and reuniting with Iris, leading into his death in Crisis on Infinite Earths. This is the last time we would see Thawne for a while, but what an arc of tragedy to inflict on Barry.
3. HIS JEALOUSY LEADS HIM TO MURDER EVERY BOYFRIEND A WOMAN EVER HAD
One of the highlights of the post Brightest Day Flash run that began in 2010 was issue eight. It was titled “Reverse-Flash Rebirth” and in one issue brought Thawne’ sadism to whole new level. In his time in the future, Thawne met a woman and became obsessed with her. The feelings were not reciprocated. In his first attempt to change things, he murders her fiance. She confides in him a bit but still is not interested in a romantic relationship. He follows that by murdering any other man she dates quickly into the relationship.
2. KILLED HIS OWN FAMILY AND TEACHER
“Reverse-Flash Rebirth” also includes some family backstory. His younger brother is a bother to him from an early age and keeps him from his studies of time travel. When his brother grows up to be in law enforcement and catches Eobard researching the Speed Force, Eobard takes an opportunity to make himself an only child. This gives him a lot more time to focus on what he wants.
He becomes an expert in the Speed Force, murdering a meddling teacher along the way. His parents begin to question his relentless focus on the Flash and then they die mysteriously to what is termed a “weather aberration.” It is arguably the ugliest series of actions in Thawne’s life and they all come before he ever dons the Reverse-Flash costume.
1. MURDERED BARRY’S MOM AND FRAMED HIS DAD
The modern origin of the Flash has Barry’s mom mysteriously murdered when he is a child. Barry arrives at the scene and finds his father being arrested. It haunts him and inspires him to become a cop.
While it is a retcon, it is a perfect way to encapsulate what Thawne will do to demonstrate his influence over Barry’s life. In fact, within “Flash: Rebirth,” Thawne takes credit for more than just murdering Barry’s mom, including a litany of other smaller events that have plagued Barry throughout his life. Barry’s dad spends much of his life and time as he could spend with Barry in prison. It is a reality that Barry cannot fully accept when he goes back in time to fix it in “Flashpoint.” Reverse-Flash inflicted a damage on Barry that day that he can never be avenged.
Can you think of any other sadistic actions at the hands of the Reverse-Flash? Let us know what in the comments!