by Tarique Ejaz
Given that Flash - the TV Series is building up its plot for the second season around another
speedster. The mysterious yet ‘supposedly having a cooler costume’ than the Flash himself - Zoom. It is only worthwhile to take a look at the current Flash story arc being run by DC (which came to a conclusion, only gearing up to address the aftermath, in the latest issue) centering around the actual rival of the Flash, the antagonist of Season 1 of the Flash TV series – Professor Zoom aka Eobard Thawne aka Reverse Flash (one among five others) aka a-few-other-aliases.
Professor Zoom was introduced in the New 52 DC continuity following the monumental story arc where Barry Allen had to stop his future self in a much more technologically sophisticated and way-cooler Blue-lightning suit (More about that later on) at the end of issue 40. However, he makes his official and let me on purpose add this – menacing entry into the Scarlet Speedster’s life in the following issue. Zoom and Flash have been destined to pursue this rivalry forever it seems. (Okay, that was a Batman reference)
Note: We will be dealing with the New 52 Continuity, particularly the Professor Zoom story arc. However, there will be references made to events and characters from before the New 52 Continuity for we wouldn’t really have a New 52 without the pre-New 52 phase now. Would we?
The New 52 already has a Reverse Flash who was introduced in the earlier issues. Thus, it is certain that DC has gone for a fresher approach for the Man in the Yellow Suit than it had in the pre- Flashpoint Continuity. This has only helped to upgrade the Flash’s Rogue Gallery with another major villain in the form of the Reverse Flash aka Daniel West (Brother of Barry Allen’s wife before New 52 – Iris West) while giving Zoom his own place as the undisputed direct-rival to the man who has been credited with creating the Speed Force. Barry Allen was the original Flash even in the earlier inception of the character, so with him at the helm of the latest Flash stories the potential provided for grittier, classier stories only increases and we have already witnessed some of the best Flash stories which elevates to a whole new level with the inclusion of Professor Zoom.
The thing is that Professor Zoom is shown to be as twisted as he is actually perceived to be. He has been studying the Flash, biding his time and consequently gathering a sort of a team that would help take down the second Fastest Man Alive after him, as per his perception. But more than that, give the hero a suitable villain, the story deals with a lot of aspects of the Flash which have been only meagerly touched upon before in the latest DC Continuity. Zoom not only attempts to break down the Flash and kill him (as is expected) but he makes the necessary effort to do away with his potential legacy, his entire belief system and disintegrate all his good work till date. Now that sort of hatred and enmity is not only a sign of psychotic obsession but also a disfigured instinct to destroy someone who managed to outdo a competition without even trying to do so. It is a mirrored-reversal of Barry Allen’s innate tendency to do as much good as he could, help out as much as he can.
Barry’s father accepts his charges of having killed his wife without any hesitation when he discovers that his son had managed to come up with a lead. A single syllable name - Thawne. The fact that he goes to the extent of breaking out of the prison with the help of a few other inmates namely Girder, Black Mold and Mogul so that he could distract the ‘Professor’ and get him to leave his son alone only for him to end up in a couple of situations where he is face to face with his own son, disguised as the Flash one time, and tells him the truth behind the death of his mother. The bond shared between a father and a child who were forced to be a part of a storm, that too an uncalled one, which not only split up a cheerful family but absolutely decimated a blissful house is referred to quite a times throughout the arc. It is so subtle that even the straight-faced lines leave a mark in the minds of the readers.
Professor Zoom is introduced as one of the many who were touched by the lightning of the Speed Force, but unlike others, his speed is credited to his ability to slow down time around him. The origin of his powers is not discussed but the reason behind his mission to destroy the Flash and not merely kill him is revealed as an attempt to right the wrong which he felt in his own timeline (the future of 2463 A.D.) where the Flash was worshipped like a God and his own self was protested against despite having powers he believed were superior in nature. He destroyed all the monuments that signified the Scarlet Speedster’s legacy, including the Flash museum but was that enough to earn him the required satisfaction he was seeking. Nope, certainly not. He yearned to erase his existence. He knew that he could not do so alone so he created a Cosmic Treadmill and travelled back in time to find others touched by the lightning.
Having come from the future, he was able to read about the extraordinary individuals who harnessed the Speed Force in various eras and he manipulated them into joining him in his quest. Magali - a tribal woman mistaken to be a witch who could affect the organic and inorganic matter to manipulate their aging process, Xolani - a slave worker in a diamond mine who could alternate space-time collapse to travel between two fixed points, Block - a Maori woman who could control the atom density of her body or anything around her to create an impermeable wall or stockade, Roscoe Dillion - a petty thief who could control centrifugal force and Alexander Selkirk - a Speed Force scholar who had spent eons in the Speed Force itself and had managed to steal a small slice of Flash's power while attempting to snatch it completely. Zoom creates a situation for each one of his allies so as to make them join him, declaring the Flash to be a rogue, an aberrant who would ultimately destroy the world as we know it. He classifies Barry as a monster disguised as a hero, garnering praise only to turn it all upside down.
After having trained them for ages before the main confrontation, they finally go head to head against the Scarlet Speedster and almost kills him when a bomb, powered by the amount of energy Flash generates every time he runs, is planted in the Central City Police Station enclosed in a dome of hardened air molecules creating a sort of a thunder dome. A cataclysmic struggle ensues and Flash manages to save all the people inside the station. But the bomb goes off before he could get it out resulting in the station being reduced to debris. Zoom succeeds in creating a doubt in the minds of the police as to the legitimacy of his existence. Since he is the reason why the crazies come out in the first place. (We see a similar reality being created for the Dark Knight in its New 52 avatar. Oh DC!)
"When a hero dies, they become a martyr." reminds Zoom to each of his allies as they question him regarding the reason for him to extend the Flash's misery and not kill him off when he had the chance.
"We are going to break the Flash, strip him of everything that defines who he is. Make him no longer a hero. Then...when I take his life, he won't only be gone. But FORGOTTEN!"
Henry Allen is forced by Zoom to create a device that seems like the miniaturized version of Freddy Krüger's claw-weapon in the 'A Nightmare on Elm Street' franchise, meant to absorb the power of the Speed Force. He almost kills Magali in trying to obtain her power but this bold attempt unveils him as the one who was in the wrong leading to his group of allies turning against him. He demobilizes the entire team when they go against him for deceiving them. In the struggle, the power-absorbing device is rendered dysfunctional. He is forced to direct his attention to Henry then, leading up to the final battle.
"You can't outrun every situation, Barry."
The pace and franticness with which Barry chases Zoom to save Henry makes Zoom realize that the Flash is none other than Barry himself. (Da Dum!) And it is revealed then that Zoom had hated Flash for being a God and embodiment of compassion and self-less beacon of justice and righteousness leading him to be worshipped despite not choosing to be so. He is twisted to that extent that he was the one who had traveled back in time to kill Nora Allen (Barry’s mother) so as to give them both an equal start. (Eobard's father had killed his mother in a fit of rage and been sentenced to death as per the laws followed by the priests of the Flash's ideal in the future, thus, making him feel that Barry should go through the same process so as to level their individual life events).
Three atomic clocks. One on the ground, one moving east around the globe and the other one moving
west. When the clocks were brought together, they didn't match.
Flash discovers that Thawne isn't really that fast but he manages to slow down time. Making all the things around him appear slow, advocating the concept of time dilation to create the time lapses of objects moving at super-speed. This leads to the Scarlet Speedster unearthing his ability to move time forward in order to nullify Thawne's ability. He is able to nail the counter-measure after Thawne tries to use the clock to bash his head - making the phrase 'turning the clock backward' for Thawne literal.
"I always feared that if I moved too fast, I might tear a hole in space-time continuum."
The Professor is defeated and then locked up in the Iron Heights Penitentiary with a power-inhibitor neck brace and the Flash gears up for the upcoming consequences of this struggle of epic proportions. But one things remains certain...
...Professor Zoom has made his admission OFFICIAL into the New 52 foray.
Flash (New 52)
#41 – Yellow
#42 – Blood is Thicker
#43 – Getting the Drop
#44 – Bubble
#45 – Thunderdome
#46 – End of the Hunt
#47 - Reunion