Reverse Flash: A History Lesson.
So, as a very fair starting off point, I have actually been enjoying the new show on the CW, “The Flash.” It really changes the basic plan of superhero shows and films, in that it doesn’t go out of its way to attempt to depress me. It’s a very positive, lighthearted show with a fun ensemble cast and clever dialogue. It knows it’s a superhero show, and functionally almost a kind of sitcom with action, and handles that cleverly, with a few ongoing plot threads.
Bringing me to the content above. The one thing that bugged the daylights out of me, from the first ten minutes of the season, was the introduction of the Reverse Flash. Seriously, the whole intro revolved around Reverse Flash being present for a life changing event in Barry Allen’s life, the murder of his mother. Not only is it the most consistent “downer/angst” element in the plot, but I had to sit through half of the season, knowing that the Reverse Flash was in the first ten minutes, but waiting for “the puzzle to develop” so they could introduce the @#$% Reverse Flash.
This just in: Reverse Flash is an Evil Flash. Pretty much all you NEED to know.
Still…the show has strayed very close to some elements of his story, which is actually pretty interesting to note, since it is a confusing, often revised time travel driven plotline. Let’s take a look, and learn something here about the Reverse Flash, boys and girls…
In the comics continuity, the Reverse Flash, Eobard Thawne, is from the 25th Century. He later became a criminal known as “The Professor,” who found a time capsule containing the Silver Age Flash’s costume. He was able to use a machine to amplify the suit’s speed energy, giving himself the abilities of the Flash as long as he wore it. In the process, Thawne reversed the colors of the costume, the suit becoming yellow, the boots and lightning bolt highlights red, and the chest symbol’s white circle becoming black.
Taking the new name “Professor Zoom”, Thawne used his speed powers to commit crimes, but was stopped by the Flash, who had travelled forward in time to witness the time capsule being opened because it also contained an atomic clock which threatened to explode like an atomic bomb due to the process with which it had been sent into the Future. The Flash, assuming his counterpart might know where the clock was, pursued Professor Zoom. After a destructive battle, the villain was finally defeated when he boasted how he used a chemical coating to protect himself from air friction. Betting that the invisible aura around his body would be superior protection, the Flash seized Thawne and began to push him forward so fast that the intense air friction overwhelmed the coating and the resulting burns forced him to surrender. It proved a waste of time, as Thawne knew nothing about the clock and the Flash was just barely able to find and remove it to an isolated area before it exploded. He also destroyed the costume to prevent such use again.
So, let’s be clear about this. In his first appearance, the Reverse Flash’s powers come from his costume. So clearly, in fact, that the Flash destroys the suit. This panel makes it very clear…
So…I’m pretty impressed with the way that we are loosely following the story strokes of time travel, a suit that gives you super speed, and a bad guy with knowledge of how things turn out. It’s an interesting reversal making Barry the Rookie and Zoom the “old hand” at super speed, but that really is the only thing that makes Zoom a guy that you wouldn’t just trip.
Seriously…I don’t see why they don’t do that.
So, back to the comics…Blaming the Flash for his defeat, Thawne began traveling back in time to gain revenge, using his knowledge of history to his advantage. I’m not even sure how he got a new super speed suit. In his second appearance he hypnotized Doctor Alchemy, who was trying to go straight, into helping him. He also became obsessed with “replacing” Barry Allen, not only as the Flash, but as the husband of Iris West.
After Iris finally made it clear that this would never happen, Thawne apparently kills her at a party, vibrating his hand into her head. So, in terms of the comics continuity, so long as Barry doesn’t date Iris, she will be on the show. Talk about rough. Check the cover art, and the panels that are key to that, below:
It took a long time for Allen to get his life back together after this. Go figure. Shortly after he had found love again, Zoom reappeared, threatening to kill his new fiancee on Allen’s second wedding day. Terrified that history would repeat itself, Allen instinctively and inadvertently kills his enemy, breaking Thawne’s neck in a final struggle.
The Flash is later put on trial for killing Reverse Flash, in what would become the final story arc of the book, which was cancelled as a part of Crisis on Infinite Earths. Despite a relatively small number of appearances, by comparison to other Rogues, or other arch-enemies, The Reverse Flash became pretty key to the continuity. In fact, in no small degree, it is Professor Zoom who is responsible for Flashpoint, and as a result, the whole New 52 Continuity.
Really though…notice that the Flash bumps him off by just grabbing his neck and hitting the brakes. Tripping Zoom works for the same reason…momentum. I get that he’s supposed to be the big A-List bad guy of the show, since he can do everything the Flash can do…but the other Rogues are just more interesting. The Pied Piper, Captain Boomerang, the Rainbow Raider…the whole point is that they DON’T have superspeed. Heck, Captain Boomerang is just Australian. It just seems like having the whole show building up to your evil opposite is like the episodes of “I Dream of Jeannie,” when Jeannie’s evil, darkhaired twin sister shows up. It’s a hassle, but you already know how it plays out.
How about you give us the superintelligent gorilla who wants to rule the Earth, Grodd? Please?
Or at least let us see Barry trip the Reverse Flash.
Despite the mild criticism, it has been a solid show. I suggest watching it, if you can make the time.