REVIEW: DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS REVERSE FLASH
Although perhaps not as well known as Batman's wide range of assorted criminal nutjobs, the Dark Knight is hardly the only DC Universe super-hero with a well-established collection of villainous adversaries, and for that matter, neither is the Man of Steel.
The Flash, Barry Allen, has quite the assemblage of Rogues, and in fact, a number of them even frequently work together, calling themselves the Rogues. This group usually consists of Captain Cold, Mirror Master, Weather Wizard, and Heat Wave. A few others have come and gone from time to time.
And to be perfectly honest, I feel that the Flash's Rogues Gallery has been horribly overlooked by Mattel's DC Universe Classics line. They've given us Captain Cold, and a Collect-and-Connect of Gorilla Grodd, who started out as a Flash villain. And -- that's been about it. I was very pleased to learn that Mirror Master would be among the Club Infinite Earths line offered online by MattyCollector.Com, and I'd like to think that someday Weather Wizard might also get the nod, but still, it has seemed for the longest time that the Flash's adversaries just couldn't make it into the big time.
And there was one that seemed like a glaringly obvious choice. Finally, with Wave 20, the final retail assortment of DC Universe Classics, this particular individual has been added to the collection. He goes by the name of Professor Zoom, but he's perhaps best known as the Reverse Flash.
Interestingly, every major Flash since the Golden Age seems to have had an evil counterpart. Jay Garrick, the original Golden Age Flash, had a counterpart called The Rival. He first appeared in 1949. Wally West, who took over the role of The Flash after Barry Allen seemingly perished during the Crisis on Infinite Earths, never really had an evil counterpart while he was Kid Flash, but when he took on the mantle of The Flash, a man named Hunter Zolomon, who gained similar speed powers, dubbed himself "Zoom", and posed a considerable threat to West. Even young Impulse, Bart Allen, had an evil counterpart, a nasty piece of work who went by the name of Inertia.
However, just as Barry Allen is the best-known Flash of the DC Universe, so Professor Zoom is assuredly the best-known of the evil counterparts. And just as Barry Allen managed to return from being apparently dead, so too has Professor Zoom managed to return to once again plague Allen and other heroes. As prominent as this character is, it's about time he received the figure treatment.
Let's consider the history of the Reverse Flash. Eobard Thawne, who has gone by the codenames "Professor Zoom" and "Reverse-Flash", is a fictional character, a comic book supervillain in the DC Universe. Thawne is the Arch enemy of the superhero Barry Allen, the second hero to be called the Flash. He is also the second of the Reverse-Flashes, as well as a maternal forefather of Bart Allen. He first appeared in The Flash (vol. 1) #139 (September 1963).
Created by John Broome and Carmine Infantino, Thawne remained one of Barry Allen's most formidable adversaries in comics over the next quarter century. In Flash #324, the character was apparently killed by the Flash in an effort to save his fiancée, and spare her the death that Thawne gave to Flash's first wife, Iris.
Largely unseen over the next 25 years except in sporadic appearances, Thawne was resurrected by writer Geoff Johns in 2009's The Flash: Rebirth, and reimagined as a major villain in the DC Universe with his reintroduction. Johns compares this to his similar treatment of Green Lantern villain Sinestro in an early outline of the Rebirth series. In 2009, Professor Zoom was ranked as IGN's 31st greatest comic book villain of all time.
Originally, Eobard Thawne was a criminal known as "The Professor" from the 25th century, 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 traveled 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 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 Zoom and began to push him forward so fast that the intense air friction overwhelmed the coating and the resulting burns forced Zoom to surrender. However, it all proved a waste of time, as Zoom 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.
Blaming the Flash for his defeat, Thawne began traveling back in time to gain revenge, using his knowledge of history to his advantage. 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 (actually the second time she had insisted this, Zoom having erased her memory of the first time), Zoom (apparently) kills her at a party, vibrating his hand into her head. It took a long time for Allen to get his life back together after this. Shortly after he had found love again, Zoom reappeared, threatening to kill his new fiance on Allen's second wedding day. Terrified that history would repeat itself, Allen instinctively and inadvertently killed his enemy, breaking Thawne's neck in a final struggle.
After he was found not guilty of murder in the subsequent trial, despite the fact that Wally West testified that Barry could have stopped Thawne without killing him, Barry went to the thirtieth century to retire and live with the resurrected Iris, as it was revealed she was really an inhabitant of that era sent back for protection and that her mind had been taken from the moment before death, only to later die during the Crisis on Infinite Earths.
Being a time traveler, Eobard Thawne has managed to appear since then. The Return of Barry Allen storyline in The Flash (vol. 2) #74-79, reveals that he started out as a fan of the Flash and became desperate to meet him. After gaining super-speed by replicating the electrochemical bath that gave Barry Allen his powers, losing years of his life in the process and even undergoing surgery to make himself look like Barry, he traveled backward in time using the Cosmic Treadmill to meet his hero.
However, Thawne became mentally unstable upon arriving several years after Barry's death due to the fact that over the years the Treadmill had begun to break, discovering he is destined to become a villain, as the name of the Reverse-Flash was not known in his era and it was known in the era he had traveled to, his mind - already disoriented by the stress of time travel - sought escape by convincing himself that he is Barry Allen.
However, his true nature is eventually revealed due to his more violent nature, "Barry" attacking Central City in revenge for forgetting him, until he is ultimately defeated by the Flash family and sent back to the future, his memory wiped of the incident.
It was revealed that the Thawnes and Allens had a long-standing feud by the time of the 25th century. Eobard was descended from Malcolm Thawne, a.k.a. Cobalt Blue, Barry Allen's long lost twin brother. The Thawne/Allen feud was apparently ended in the 30th century by Meloni Thawne's marriage to Don Allen, and the birth of their son, Bart Allen. However, Meloni's father created a "Reverse-Impulse"; a clone of Bart called Thaddeus Thawne, who took the name Inertia. Inertia made several attempts to replace Impulse before rejecting his role as an instrument of vengeance.
Zoom also returned to battle Wally West, working side-by-side with his own successor, former police profiler Zoom, having been pulled out of time shortly before Barry broke his neck. Using the cosmic treadmill, the two Reverse-Flashes intended to force Wally to watch the aftermath of his first battle with Zoom (when his wife Linda Park miscarried) over and over again, but the intervention of Barry Allen, from a time shortly before his death in Crisis on Infinite Earths, transferred Professor Zoom back to his present, allowing Wally to not only defeat the new Zoom, but also to undo Linda's miscarriage. During this return of Thawne, it was hinted that he retained some vague memories of his time as Barry Allen, as he admitted to having a lost memory in the back of his mind about Wally that drove him to want to see Wally hurt.
Professor Zoom appears within the Speed Force in The Flash: Rebirth. It is revealed that he would be resurrected in a near-future event, as his corpse is still buried in the present. He is apparently the one responsible for Barry's return and transformation into the Black Flash. He apparently kills the Black Flash and attempts to transform Barry into its replacement. When he appears again, he murders the revived Johnny Quick.It is revealed that Thawne recreated the chemical bath that originally gave Barry his speed, allowing Thawne to lure Barry out of the Speed Force during Final Crisis and, by using that, to create a negative Speed Force, affecting Barry and temporarily turning him into a Black Flash.
He then traps Barry and the revived Max Mercury inside the negative Speed Force, and goes to attack Wally West's kids, Jai and Irey. He attempts to kill them through their connection to the Speed Force before Linda Park-West, only to be stopped by Jay Garrick and Bart Allen. Professor Zoom hates Bart's existence even though his mother is a Thawne which made him his descendant, since he is also a descendant of Barry, whose legacy Zoom is intent on destroying. Bart, in turn, expresses no affection to his maternal forefather, fully aware of the psychopath Zoom really is. He defeats Jay and prepares to kill Bart before Max, Barry and Wally arrive, and take the fight to him. The fight is soon joined by Jesse Chambers and Irey, now with a full connection to the Speed Force and taking up the mantles of Jesse Quick and Impulse.
Zoom pulls Barry away and reveals that everything horrible that happened to Barry, including the death of his mother was caused because of Zoom. He then decides to destroy everything by killing Barry's wife, Iris, before they even met.
As Barry chases after Zoom, Wally joins him in the time barrier. Doing so, they reach Zoom, becoming the lightning bolt that turns Barry into the Flash as they are able to stop Zoom from killing Iris. The Flashes push Zoom back through time, showing Zoom his past and future. They 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, when he was the Black Flash. Barry tosses Zoom 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, in the past, Iris discovers Thawne's weapon and keeps it.
In the present, Zoom is imprisoned in the Iron Heights, Hunter Zolomonspeaks to him, saying they can help each other be better. In Gorilla City, one of the apes warns that Professor Zoom has done something horrible to their jungles, something even they don't know.
Zoom's broken-necked corpse was reanimated as a member of the Black Lantern Corps. The black power ring downloaded the corpse's memories, resulting in it not knowing about Barry's death and resurrection. Declaring itself the new Black Flash, the Black Lantern Zoom attacks Barry, who manages to elude it for the moment. When Black Lantern Rogues attack Iron Heights, they encounter the living Zoom, their rings strangely malfunctioning. When the Black Lantern Zoom approaches his living counterpart, he stops moving, and is then frozen by Captain Cold. In the final issue of the series, future Black Lantern Zoom is brought back to life by the white light of creation, and manages to escape through the negative Speed Force. It is assumed this reanimated Professor Zoom went back in time to complete the events of Flash: Rebirth, which causes this reanimated Professor Zoom to become the present-day Professor Zoom (from The Flash: Rebirth).
Don't you just love time travel paradoxes?
In the Brightest Day crossover, the present Professor Zoom is still imprisoned in Iron Heights.When Deadmanactivates the White Power Battery, the Entity speaks to the twelve heroes and villains resurrected at the climax of the "Blackest Night" and tells each of them of their mission that must be accomplished in order to restore 'life' to the universe and prevent the Blackest Night from ever restarting. Zoom becomes the first to inadvertently fulfill his mission, which occurred when he freed Barry Allen from the Speed Force. The Entity proclaims Professor Zoom has completed his task, and his life is restored to him, later revealing that Zoom, having fulfilled his task, is now fully purged of all trace remnants of his Black Lantern ties - both present and future. Professor Zoom is released from Iron Heights by Captain Boomerang, who had hoped to better understand his version of the Entity's message. Zoom does not answer him directly, giving a cryptic response and eventually escaping as Captain Boomerang is confronted by the rest of the Rogues.
Professor Zoom's origin was modified by Geoff Johns (also titled "The Reverse Flash: Renirth"). Professor Zoom uses his power to completely rewrite his history. In the story, Zoom uses his reverse Speed Force powers to wipe his younger brother and rival Professor Drake from history, as well as killing his parents when they try to interfere with his work.
Eobard then falls in love with a reporter who had been hired to interview him and his future self at first kills and then wipes the reporter's fiance (and eventually every man who she had ever dated) from existence. However after finding out she did not return Eobard's affections, his future self traumatized the reporter when she was a child, causing her to be mute and institutionalized for the rest of her life so that he never met her.
Finally he had his younger self find the Flash uniform all to make himself the 25th century Flash. As the altered Eobard Thawne runs past him Professor Zoom sheds a tear 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."
Need it be said that the Reverse Flash was a major player in the Flashpoint storyline, which led up to the reworking of the DC Universe into its present form. Reason enough right there to hate the guy as far as I'm concerned, and I'm not going to get into the story details.
As to his powers and abilities: Professor Zoom is able to move and travel at super-human speeds. Professor Zoom can travel up to the speed of light, deliver hundreds of blows a second, run on water, create cyclones, and vibrate his molecules super-fast to pass through solid objects.
In The Flash: Rebirth, it is discovered that when Zoom duplicated the incident that granted Barry Allen his powers, he created a negative Speed Force. Through this Speed Force, he also has the ability to create multiple alter-images like Hunter Zolomon, the modern day Zoom, and can travel through and alter time. He also can erase people from existence.
In the events leading up to Flashpoint, Professor Zoom has developed numerous powers including the ability to absorb other people's memories and experiences, change his age, and drastically alter time.
So, how's the figure? Well, aside from being long overdue in my opinion, it's extremely cool. In my opinion, this would be a relatively easy figure for Mattel to have turned out, since for the most part, the Flash figure used standard body molds, but with distinctive boots. There was no reason in the world that the Reverse Flash couldn't use those same boots.
If Mattel really wanted to take an easy way out, they could have even used the same headsculpt. However, considerable credit to them and to the Four Horsemen design and sculpting team, they didn't. Admittedly, the Flash headsculpt has seen more than a bit of reuse lately, with a Blue Lantern version of him turning up back in Wave 17, and a White Lantern version of him being part of Wave 20.
The Reverse Flash headsculpt obviously has some resemblance to the Flash. After all, the costume particulars, if not the colors, are the same, which means that all that really shows through are the eyes and lower face. That's not going to be especially easy to work with and come up with something distinctive, but the Four Horsemen managed. The lower face has a much more pronounced frown to it, the forehead underneath the cowl is more furrowed, and maybe it's just a case of the paint job on the Reverse Flash that I purchased, but I'd swear the eyes look both a good bit angrier, and even a bit crazed. Of course, the creepy red irises help with that image.
The cowl is otherwise identical to that of the Flash, again, color notwithstanding, and even has the little winged earpieces.
The costume is a color reversal of the Flash's, but it's not a color spectrum reversal. If that were the case, then the Reverse Flash's costume would have been bright green with purple boots and trim, and it seems to me that there's already enough super-villains that wear that color scheme, and most of them work for Marvel, not DC -- except for Lex Luthor.
Rather, as reported in the character's history, the Reverse Flash took the existing colors of the Flash's costume, and swapped them. Thus, instead of the Flash's mostly red costume with yellow boots and trim, the Reverse Flash's costume is mostly yellow, with red boots and trim. It's a curiously bright color scheme for a super-villain, but it still manages to work, because a fan of the Flash is going to get used to the mostly red costume, and when encountering the mostly yellow costume of the Reverse Flash, one immediately gets the sense that something just isn't quite right. On the figure, of course, the facial expression also helps. This is not a friendly face.
The overall costume is quite a bright yellow, with red earpieces, lightning bolt trim for a belt and the glove tops, and the boots.
The only true color reversal is part of the emblem. Rather than a white circle around the lightning bolt on the chest, it's black. And the lightning bolt is red, not yellow. At this point, it's interesting to make a figure comparison. The Flash figure has a black outline around his circle and lightning bolt. One might surmise that this is to distinguish the yellow lightning bolt from the white circle, as those are two fairly close colors in some respects. Obviously, the Reverse Flash doesn't need to distinguish black from red as much, and so there is no outline around his emblem.
It's also worth noting that the entire emblem is reversed with regard to its direction. The Flash's lightning bolt travels from the Flash's left to his right. The Reverse Flash's emblem travels from his right to his left. The direction of the lightning bolt belt is also reversed with regard to the Flash.
The Reverse Flash figure is not entirely structurally identical to the Flash figure. The Flash figure has two hands that are clenched as fists. This is doubtless to aid in running -- as well as punching someone several hundred times in a second. The Reverse Flash's left hand is slightly open. This is because the Reverse Flash comes with an accessory that the Flash himself lacks. It's a small staff, silver in color, with two gold lightning bolts at each end. Professor Zoom has used this staff on several occasions. Imagine getting hit with this object at the speed of light and you'll get the general idea.
Paint details are excellent on the figure. About the only slight criticism I have is that the earpieces are not quite as well aligned as they might have been, but these are separately molded pieces that need to be attached during assembly. So this is likely just an instance of this particular figure, and it's not so severe that it requires a major complaint.
Of course, the Reverse Flash figure is superbly articulated. He is fully poseable at the head, arms, upper arm, swivel, elbows, wrists, mid-torso, waist, legs, upper leg swivel, knees, and ankles.
So, what's my final word? I'm truly delighted that another Flash adversary, and such a prominent one, has finally made it into the DC Universe Classics line. Technically, Professor Zoom is not one of the Rogues. They hate all speedsters -- even bad guys. But he is certainly a prominent Flash villain, and I've really wondered what took so long.
The DC Universe Classics line may be departing from retail following the wave which includes the Reverse Flash, but the line will be carrying on in other forms. The new DC All-Stars line will be appearing at retail, with a number of interesting characters already announced, even if the line is inevitably saddled with examples from the "New DC 52".
And online, MattyCollector will be offering the DC Signature Series, through Club Infinite Earths, as another continuation of the DC Universe Classics format. Two Flash based characters, both of them just as overdue as Eobard here, have already been confirmed for the line -- Jay Garrick, and Mirror Master.
So there will still be excellent DC Universe figures in this format to enjoy. And in the meantime, I'm pleased we have the Reverse Flash. Mattel did a really superb job with him, he's certainly a prominent enough villain to have earned his place in the line, and I can't imagine any Flash fan not being pleased with this figure.
The DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS figure of PROFESSOR ZOOM, the REVERSE FLASH, definitely has my highest recommendation!