Eobard Thawne
Splash art from The Flash #761 (September 2020).
Art by Howard Porter.
Publication information
PublisherDC Comics
First appearanceThe Flash #139 (September 1963)
Created by
In-story information
Alter egoProf. Eobard Thawne
SpeciesMetahuman
Team affiliations
Notable aliases
AbilitiesGenius-level intellect
Negative Speed Force grants:
See list
    • Superhuman speed
    • Time and dimensional travel
    • Cellular regeneration and accelerated healing
    • Intangibility
    • Sonic shockwave projection
    • Vortex generation
    • Memory and speed absorption
    • Age alteration
    • Electrokinesis
    • Power absorption
    • Cosmic awareness
    • Molecular acceleration
    • Reality alteration
    • Retrocognition

Eobard Thawne, also known as the Reverse-Flash and Professor Zoom, is a supervillain appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics.[1] Created by John Broome and Carmine Infantino, the character first appeared in The Flash #139 (September 1963) and has since endured as the archenemy of Barry Allen / The Flash.[2] Thawne is the first and most well-known character to assume the Reverse-Flash mantle, and is additionally a descendant of Malcolm Thawne and ancestor of Bart Allen, Thaddeus Thawne and Owen Mercer.

In his comic book appearances, Professor Eobard Thawne is depicted as a scientist from the 25th century who originally idolized the Flash. He replicated the accident that gave the Flash his powers, but was driven insane and became obsessed with ruining the Flash's life upon learning that he was destined to become his greatest enemy–the Reverse-Flash. Fueled by jealousy and hatred, Thawne travels throughout time to torment and destroy the Flash's life. He has been established as one of the fastest speedsters in the DC Universe. Thawne has frequently died, but has made multiple returns through resurrections and time travel.

The character has been adapted in various media incarnations, having been portrayed in live-action by Tom Cavanagh and Matt Letscher in The CW's Arrowverse franchise, most notably in the television series The Flash.

Fictional character biography

Eobard Thawne's debut as seen on the cover of The Flash #139 (September 1963).

Eobard Thawne found a time capsule in the 25th century containing a costume of the Flash and with a Tachyon device amplified the suit's speed energy, giving himself speedster abilities. Reversing the costume's colors, he adopted the moniker of "Professor Zoom the Reverse-Flash" and went on a crime spree.[3] However, the time capsule also contained an atomic clock which, due to the effects of time travel, altered into an atomic bomb. To prevent its detonation, Barry Allen pursued and defeated Zoom, hoping he knew where the clock was. He did not, but Barry later found the clock, detonated it safely, and destroyed Thawne's costume.[4]

Blaming the Flash for his defeat, Thawne became obsessed with "replacing" Barry and traveled back in time to exact his revenge.[5] Iris West rejected his romantic pursuits to which Thawne killed Iris. After Barry had found love again, Thawne threatened to kill Fiona Webb (Barry's fiancé) on their wedding day. Fearful that history was repeating itself, Barry killed Thawne by breaking his neck.[6]

Post-Crisis and Zero Hour origin

Prior to discovering the time capsule containing the Flash's costume, The Post-Crisis extended origin storyline "The Return of Barry Allen" revealed that Thawne was once a scientist obsessed with his idol, even undergoing cosmetic surgery to resemble his hero. Obtaining the Cosmic Treadmill from an antique shop, Thawne gained all of the Flash's powers after replicating the electrochemical accident behind the Flash. Seeking to use the Cosmic Treadmill to travel back in time and meet his idol, Thawne arrived at the Flash Museum several years after Barry's death, discovering that he was destined to be "Professor Zoom, the Reverse-Flash" and die at his idol's hands. As a result, the unstable Thawne convinced himself that he was Barry Allen (based on his intimate knowledge of his idol's life from his reading of an as-yet-unpublished biography) and subsequently attacked Central City for "forgetting him". Wally West ultimately tricked Thawne into returning to the 25th century with no memory of the incident. Despite this, Thawne still managed to bring the remains of his older self's costume with him, cluing him further into his destiny.[7]

After the events of Zero Hour: Crisis in Time!, it is revealed that Malcolm Thawne is his ancestor and Barry's long-lost twin brother, meaning that Barry is Thawne's great-uncle.

The Flash: Rebirth

Main article: The Flash: Rebirth

In 2009, Thawne was re-imagined as a major villain in the DC Universe by writer Geoff Johns in The Flash: Rebirth.[8] His resurrection is foreshadowed to occur in a near-future event.[9][10] It is later revealed that Thawne's recreation of the accident behind Barry's powers made Thawne able to lure Barry out of the Speed Force during Final Crisis and temporarily turn his nemesis into the Black Flash.[11]

When Thawne reappears, he murders the revived Johnny Quick,[12] before proceeding to trap Barry and the revived Max Mercury inside the negative Speed Force. Thawne then attempts to kill Wally's children through their Speed Force connection in front of Linda Park-West, only to be stopped by Jay Garrick and Bart Allen. Thawne defeats Jay and prepares to kill Bart, but Barry, Max, Wally, Jesse Quick and Impulse arrive to prevent the villain from doing so.[11][13] In the ensuing fight, Thawne reveals that he is responsible for every tragedy that has occurred in Barry's life, including Nora Allen's death. Thawne then decides to destroy everything Barry holds dear by killing Iris before the two even met.[13]

As Barry chases after Thawne, Wally joins Barry in the time barrier. The two Flashes reach Thawne and in doing so, they become the lightning bolt that turns Barry into a speedster as they are able to stop Thawne from killing Iris. The two Flashes push Thawne back through time, showing his past and future while the two return to the present, where the Justice League, the Justice Society, and the Outsiders have built a device originally intended to disconnect Barry from the Speed Force as the Black Flash. Barry tosses Thawne in and Jay activates the device, severing his connection to the negative Speed Force. As the Flashes tie him up to stop him from running, Iris discovers Thawne's weapon back in the past, which Iris keeps.[14]

In the present, he is imprisoned in Iron Heights. Hunter Zolomon speaks to him, saying they can help each other be better. In Gorilla City, one of the apes warns that he has done something horrible to their jungles, but just what he has done is something even they do not know.[14]

Blackest Night

In the 2009–2010 storyline "Blackest Night", the Pre-Crisis version of Thawne's broken-necked corpse is reanimated as a member of the Black Lantern Corps. The black power ring downloaded the corpse's memories, resulting in him not knowing of Barry's death and resurrection. Declaring himself the "Black Flash", he hunts down and attacks Barry who manages to elude him for the moment.[15] When the Black Lantern Rogues attack Iron Heights, the living Thawne is encountered and the Black Lanterns' rings strangely malfunction, displaying a strange symbol.[16] When Thawne's corpse approaches his living counterpart, he stops moving and is then frozen by Captain Cold's "cold grenade".[17] Thawne's corpse is brought back to life by the white light of creation, and manages to escape.[18]

In the follow-up "Brightest Day" storyline, the present Professor Zoom is still imprisoned in Iron Heights.[19] When Deadman activates the White Power Battery, the Entity speaks to the 12 heroes and villains resurrected at the climax of the "Blackest Night" and tells each of them of their mission that must be accomplished to restore 'life' to the universe and prevent the Blackest Night from ever reoccurring. Thawne becomes the first to inadvertently fulfill his mission, which occurred in the events of The Flash: Rebirth when he freed Allen from the Speed Force following the resurrection. The Entity proclaims Thawne has completed his task and his life is restored to him, later revealing that Thawne (having fulfilled his task) is now fully purged of all trace remnants of his Black Lantern ties – both present and future.[20] Thawne is released from Iron Heights by Captain Boomerang who had hoped to better understand his version of the Entity's message. Thawne does not answer him directly, giving a cryptic response and eventually escaping as Captain Boomerang is confronted by the rest of the Rogues.[21]

Post-Infinite Crisis origin

Thawne uses his powers to completely rewrite his own history; he erases his younger brother from existence and kills his parents when they try to interfere with his research.[22] Thawne later falls in love with Rose, a reporter who had been hired to interview him, thus his future self wipes all of the reporter's romantic interests from existence. After finding out his would-be love interest did not return his affections, Thawne's future self traumatized the reporter as a child, causing the woman to be mute and institutionalized so that they never met each other. He later had his younger self find the time capsule containing his idol's costume to make himself the Flash of the 25th century. He sheds a tear as his altered past self runs past him while saying "It won't last long. You will never find love. You will never be the Flash. Barry Allen destroyed my future. It's time I destroyed his.".[22]

Flashpoint

In the 2011 Flashpoint storyline, a new timeline is created through the alteration of history.[23] Thawne reveals that his body is permanently connected to the Speed Force, enabling him to create a negative version, with which he escaped prison. He was unable to alter Barry's transformation into a speedster, however, as that would effectively erase himself from existence. Instead, Thawne decides to ruin his nemesis's life during Barry's childhood, killing his mother Nora.[24] Thawne later reveals that the Flashpoint timeline was created when Barry went back in time to stop him from killing Nora. After Thawne is killed by this reality's Batman with a sword stab through the chest, Barry travels back in time to stop Barry's younger self from altering history but instead, under Pandora's manipulations, a third, new timeline is created, in which DC Comics' continuity takes place from 2011 onward.[25]

DC Rebirth origin

Thawne's origin is revised once again in the DC Rebirth relaunch. An only child when his parents died in an accident, Thawne grew up obsessed with the Flash. After finding a time capsule with the speedster's costume, he uses traces of the Speed Force in it to turn himself into a version of the Flash. Due to a lack of threats in the 25th century, Thawne creates his own by endangering people, before "saving" them. He is overjoyed when Barry travels to his time and teaches him new tricks, but this deceit is soon found out. After Barry defeats him and has him arrested, Thawne promises to rehabilitate himself, to that end undergoing therapy and being a professor. He also eventually becomes the curator of the Flash Museum. Seeking to show Barry how much he's changed and be a partner, Thawne travels to the past. However, he is enraged after he witnesses Barry give Wally West a talk on how "every second is a gift", similar to one that Barry gave him, and realises that he wasn't treated specially by Barry. Still seeking to spend time with Barry and be a friend, Thawne becomes the Reverse-Flash, vowing to making Barry's life a living hell until his nemesis learns to "make time" for him.[26][27]

The Button

Textless cover of Batman (vol. 3) #22 (July, 2017).
Art by Jason Fabok (pencils/inks) and Brad Anderson (colors).

Leading up to the 2017 The Button crossover, Thawne returns with his Pre-New 52 memories restored after a mysterious wave of energy strikes his alternate self, and he recalls being killed by Thomas Wayne during Flashpoint.[28] Seeking revenge, Thawne attacks Bruce Wayne in the Batcave and destroys Thomas's letter. Thawne brutally beats and verbally taunts Bruce before picking up the Comedian's smiley-face pin, which teleports him away to an unknown location. Thawne is then teleported back to the Batcave, having been bathed in radiation by a mysterious entity. As he collapses, Thawne says "God...I saw...God."[29] Batman and Barry later come across Thawne in possession of the Button shortly before his apparent death, and follow him in an attempt to prevent it.[30] As he follows the traces leading to the entity, Thawne muses that he may go back in time to raise his nemesis as a "family friend" after killing Nora, but is killed by Doctor Manhattan and teleported back to the Batcave.[31]

In the immediate aftermath of the The Button, Thawne's corpse is taken to S.T.A.R. Labs, but he is resurrected via his connection to the Negative Speed Force and returns to the future, to examine the difference between the pre and post-Flashpoint timelines. He is present at Iris's house when Iris arrives with Wallace West,[32] who Thawne brutally beats and denounces as a fake, before kidnapping Iris and bringing her to the 25th century.[33] Barry arrives and is quickly beaten by Thawne, who reveals his identity as the Flash to Iris. Thawne subsequently shows the couple's future and tricks Barry into being trapped in the Negative Speed Force, but his nemesis gets connected to it and escapes. The pleased Thawne implores Barry to "ditch the loser sidekicks" and become his friend and partner, but his nemesis refuses and strips him of his speed. Nevertheless, Thawne vows to regain his powers and keep coming back to torment Barry, before being killed by Iris with a vaporisation gun.[34]

Flash War and return to Flashpoint

In the 2018 event Flash War, Zolomon sends the Renegades to arrest Iris for Thawne's death, as part of a plan to instigate a conflict between Barry and Wally. It is revealed that, after being freed from prison by Captain Boomerang in Brightest Day, Thawne broke Zolomon out of prison and took him to the 25th Century, accepting his offer to work together. The pair secretly took over the Temporal Courts and formed the Renegades, but eventually had a falling out over a difference in motives, culminating in Thawne returning to the past. Thawne's repeated deaths infuriated Zolomon, triggering a change in his own motives.[35] Zolomon eventually discovers that Thawne himself was responsible for his transformation into his successor Zoom, with Thawne having given the Clown the gun with which he killed Zolomon's father-in-law and changed the course of Zolomon's history.[36]

It is later revealed that Thawne pulled Thomas out of the Flashpoint timeline just as Manhattan erased it, to torment Thomas with the reality where Bruce is Batman.[37] Thawne is briefly resurrected again in the 2022 storyline Flashpoint Beyond, when Bruce restores the Flashpoint timeline.[38] Thawne seeks out Thomas, who had also been sent back to that timeline, but is murdered by Martha Wayne / Joker shortly afterwards.[39][40]

Powers and abilities

Eobard Thawne already possessed genius-level intellect by the standards of the 25th Century even prior to gaining his metahuman abilities, making him possibly one of the smartest individuals when in the 21st century. The Flash: Rebirth revealed that duplicating the accident behind Barry Allen's powers corrupted the Speed Force which created a negative version. The Reverse-Flash is therefore able to travel at superhuman speeds faster than the speed of light, deliver blows of extreme force by hitting the victim hundreds of times a second, run on water, generate vacuums, create afterimages ("speed mirages") of himself, and vibrate his molecules to pass through solid objects. Unlike original Speed Force users, Thawne has the ability to travel through and manipulate time, being able to drastically alter history and completely erase people from existence (other speedsters cannot change the past without dramatic consequences). Thawne developed numerous new powers in the events leading up to Flashpoint, including the ability to cross over to other dimensions, create shock waves across time and space at the snap of his fingers, absorb another's memories via physical contact, and alter the age of anyone or anything.[41] Thawne has also displayed superhuman strength, as well as electrokinetic abilities. The presence of his lightning is able to disrupt and fry nearby electronics, in addition to allowing him to manipulate magnetism. The events of Flashpoint turned him into a "living paradox", making him immune to timeline alterations and unable to be erased from existence.[25][31] In the DC Rebirth relaunch, Thawne also gains the abilities to possess others, by phasing into their bodies, and to hypnotize others, by whispering at hyperspeed to implant subconscious suggestions into their minds.[42][43]

Other versions

Impulse

In an alternate timeline created when Impulse killed an insect in the Devonian Age, most super-villains are government bureaucrats. Professor Zoom is the National Science Advisor to President-for-Life Julian Tremain. In subsequent changes to the timeline, Zoom defected to the rebellion against Tremain led by Gorilla Grodd; turned into a gorilla fighting against an army of flying turtles led by Grodd, now a flying turtle himself; and was a gorilla in a modern society identical to that of ancient Egypt.[44]

Zoom

In The New 52 reboot of DC's continuity, the 2015 Zoom story arc introduces a new version of Thawne, hailing from the Central City of a 25th-century devoted to the Flash. As a child, Thawne witnessed his father murder his mother and subsequently get arrested. One day, he is struck by lightning and gains the ability to control the flow of time around him, making it appear as if he is moving at superhuman speeds. Believing himself to have been "chosen" by the Speed Force as the Flash's replacement, Thawne dons a costume similar to the hero's and begins to terrorize the Gem Cities as "Zoom", demanding the citizens accept him as a king. However, he is enraged when people rebel against him in the Flash's name.[45] Jealous and bitter that the Flash is worshiped and loved by the people despite their similar powers, Thawne uses Rip Hunter's notes to travel back in time, where he starts recruiting four individuals "touched by the lightning" (the Speed Force) across history, after "saving" them from situations he himself put them into under the false pretense that he requires their help to vanquish the "evil menace" of the Flash.[46]

Thawne then makes an acquaintance with Henry Allen, funding Henry's research lab. But when Henry refuses to help him with an unknown cause, Thawne subsequently murders Nora to make Barry endure and give them both an "equal start", and forces Henry to take the blame for his deed, with the threat of Barry's life. Laying low for many years, Thawne reemerges following William Selkirk's defeat, recruiting as an "acolyte" of his. Thawne and his acolytes then cause havoc in the city and put the blame on the Flash, desiring to destroy his nemesis's legacy.[47] Thawne then kidnaps Henry when some inmates escape from prison to divert Thawne's attention away from Barry, and forces Henry to construct a power-stealing glove. But when his closest "ally" Magali (who has been keeping Thawne alive for centuries via powers) discover the truth about him, he uses the glove to steal Magali's abilities of affecting the age of organic and inorganic matter, leading to his true nature being exposed to the rest of his acolytes, who join forces with Barry to destroy the device.

After the failure of his plan to be a god, Thawne then takes Henry to the Allen house, with Barry in pursuit. Revealing his backstory to Barry, Thawne proceeds to best Barry in combat and is about to kill him until the Flash realizes how Thawne's powers work, and then proceeds to counter by moving time forward – finally defeating him. After talking Henry out of killing Thawne, Barry has him arrested and imprisoned at Iron Heights Penitentiary.[45] The serial-killing speedster Godspeed later attempts to kill Thawne and every other inmate at Iron Heights as a twisted gesture of friendship to Barry, only to be stopped by the hero.[48]

Legion of Zoom

Leading up to the 2020 storyline Finish Line, Barry removes a version of Thawne who had just killed Nora from the timeline. Barry reluctantly teams up with him to defeat the chronokinesis-wielding Paradox, who Thawne had previously defeated.[49][50][51] This variant of Thawne is able to erase Paradox, but is revealed to be aware of his older counterpart's death at Iris' hands.[52] Thawne subsequently kills Godspeed as he also reveals that he was responsible for his brother's death, and flees.[53] Thawne then proceeds to assemble the Legion of Zoom by bringing together various enemies of the Flash alongside the Tornado Twins, Barry and Iris' future children, who he had previously saved from the Dominators and then corrupted. The Legion start to attack Barry on all fronts to the point where Thawne is able to take over his body.[54]

Thawne then seeks to make his possession of Barry's body permanent, but is betrayed by a slighted Trickster alerting the Flash Family. The Tornado Twins' son Bart is able to free them from Thawne's influence and Thawne is exorcised from Barry. An undeterred Thawne responds by expanding the roster of the Legion.[55] Thawne subsequently reveals that he had used his hypnotic abilities to secretly manipulate the Flash Family at various moments, such as keeping the investigation into the button secret and provoking the Flash War. He then unmasks himself as the true architest of Heroes in Crisis, having manipulated Wally into covering up the deaths at Sanctuary. The Flash Family then receives aid from different Flashes from across time and the Multiverse, as well as the Renegades, while Barry follows Thawne into the Speed Force.[56] But Barry unexpectedly decides to forgive Thawne and tricks him into absoring a sample of his own Speed Force energy. This transference eliminates Thawne's status as a living paradox that he had gained in Flashpoint, erasing his life as the Reverse Flash and leaving him as the curator of the Flash Museum in his home era.[57]

Tales from the Dark Multiverse

In an alternate Flashpoint where Barry's attempt to regain his powers results in his death, a Thawne freed from his obsession decides to take over the United States. Declaring himself the new Flash, Thawne manipulates the President into becoming his puppet and ends the Amazon-Atlantean war by killing Aquaman, while threatening Wonder Woman. However, his actions end up uniting the Amazons and Atlanteans against him while he is also pursued by Thomas Wayne, who wants him to bring Bruce back to life. After Superman saves Thawne's life, Thomas kills Superman and convines Thawne to create his own world instead of playing with the one Barry created. Thawne then reshapes history to his liking, while also killing Joe Chill before he could kill any of the Waynes.[58]

In other media

Television

Film

Video games

Miscellaneous

Reception

This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (January 2020)

IGN ranked Eobard Thawne as the 31st Greatest Comic Book Villain Of All Time in 2009[65] and #2 on their Top 5 Flash Villains list in 2015.[66]

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