Property Ladder: Professor Zoom

Sure, some of our childhood favorites have fallen into obscurity over the years, but some licenses have been reborn, bigger – and better – than ever. Let’s take a look at who’s on top of the Property Ladder.

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Professor Zoom (aka The Reverse-Flash) is the Webster’s Unabridged Heritage Collegiate Edition Dictionary definition of arch-nemesis. Lex Luthor is a pain in Superman‘s tuchas. The Joker crippled Barbara Gordon. Magneto once pulled out Wolverine‘s Adamantium skeleton. But Eobard Thawne has done far worse to Barry Allen. And, as recently reported by Newsarama, he may be about to have his first live-action iteration.

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Fancy a spot of tea whilst I set about murdering your wife and mum?

The Professor first appeared a hair over 50 years ago in The Flash (vol 1) #139. The character’s history is convoluted enough to make both Bishop and Onslaught point and laugh, but the simplest way to go about it is thus: Eobard Thawne, a product of the Thawne-Allen feud in the 30th century, started out as an obsessed fan of the Silver-Age Flash, Barry Allen. Thawne’s compulsion soon turned to hatred as he set out to destroy everything and everyone Barry Allen loved.

After several failed attempts, Thawne struck his first devastating blow against Allen in the early 1980s. After (seemingly) murdering his wife, Iris West, Thawne soon targeted Allen’s new fiancee at their very wedding. Freaking out at seeing history about to repeat itself, Allen inadvertently snapped Thawne’s neck and subsequently went on trial for Zoom’s murder in a story arc that ended the first Flash series. However, Thawne would next return to haunt Allen’s successor.

Allen gave his life to save the universe and, after Crisis on Infinite Earths, Wally West took the mantle of the Fastest Man Alive. In volume 2 of The Flash, Barry Allen seemingly returned from the dead only to proclaim himself the only true Flash. West found the one big clue that revealed the impostor – a copy of The Life Story of The Flash (written by Iris West in the 30th century, natch) inscribed to Eobard Thawne. Wally finally defeated The Reverse-Flash and fully accepted his role as The Flash. It would be another decade plus before Professor Zoom made his next big move – this one turning out to be his most triumphant.

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No, dude. Blame Dan DiDio.

While Professor Zoom would be unsuccessful in…whatever he was trying to do in The Flash: Rebirth (thanks, Geoff Johns), Thawne would realize his biggest success by giving his rival his heart’s desire. Traveling back in time, Thawne murdered Barry Allen’s mother. As Barry realized this, he travels back to save her – undoing the current timeline and creating a brand new one where most of Europe is underwater and millions have died caught in-between the warring Amazons and Atlanteans. As the war and the world are in their final moments, Professor Zoom reveals himself as the architect of this darker world. Allen realizes that, to save his own timeline, he must go back and let his own mother die. Which he does…and it’s still not enough to restore Allen’s world back to its rightful order, as a brand new universe is born out of that Flashpoint. That’s right – in storyline terms, Professor Zoom, by being one of the only villains to have actually succeed in overcoming the hero, is responsible for the New 52. Although we all know who to really blame. Thanks again, Geoff Johns.

In the last five years, Professor Zoom has raised his stock from an already formidable villain to one who changed an entire comics universe and thwarted the hero of the story at the same time. As a reward for his evil behavior, he co-starred in the animated Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox and was apparently just cast in the soon-to-be Flash TV series. For those accomplishments, Eobard Thawne is definitely at the top of the Property Ladder.

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Who ARE these people!?

Michael Melchor has covered pop culture in all its forms for several publications and websites, including BackStage Pass magazine, 411Mania.com, and Examiner.com. He's been an avid comics reader since Barry Allen was first put on trial for the death of Professor Zoom. He's also been an avid wrestling fan since Dusty Rhodes beat Harley Race for the NWA World Championship. He now brings his fandom of comics, music, and wrestling to PanelsOnPages.com.

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  1. Maybe it’s because I started reading the title during Geoff Johns’s first run with Wally, but I always preferred Hunter Zolomon over Eobard Thawne. His motivations were far more interesting, IMHO.

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