We looked at the Flashes in Part 1. We checked out the Kid Flashes in Part 2. Now to look at the dark side of the Speed Force.
Jay Garrick’s dark reflection was Dr. Edward Clariss, the man called Rival whose strange, erratic speedster powers later left him without a physical body. But Clariss only battled Jay once before later disappearing entirely. The first true evil speedster to grace the DC Universe came in the form of Barry Allen’s own dark rival.
Eobard Thawne was born in the 25th century and obsessed with the past, particularly the career of Barry Allen. Knowing that Barry Allen died during the Crisis on Infinite Earths (also known as the First Crisis), Thawne decided to go back in time to just after this death and take the hero’s place. He had his face altered and duplicated the hero’s powers before journeying into the past. But Thawne arrived months later than he should have, when there was already a third Flash, and he then discovered that he was destined to become Barry Allen’s greatest enemy during a later time travel journey. When he returned to the 25th century, the trip burnt out his powers and left him with no memory of the adventure.
But Thawne’s obsession with Barry Allen continued and he became curator of the Flash Museum, known as “Professor Zoom” to his colleagues for his work in Speed Force research. Later finding a spare Flash costume in a time capsule, Thawne extracted residual Speed Force energy in the suit. He first attempted to become the new Flash of the 25th century but then his true colors came through (see what I did there?) and he altered his identity, becoming the Reverse-Flash (for the first time, as far as he knew). He was a terror to the 25th century and made repeated trips to the past to kill and/or replace Barry Allen.
Thawne’s crimes were so great that he engendered hatred in Barry unlike any other. One day, when Thawne threatened the woman he loved, Barry Allen acted on instinct and grabbed the Reverse-Flash in a super-speed headlock. But he moved so quickly, Barry accidentally snapped Thawne’s neck in the process, killing the man. It seemed that the Reverse-Flash had finally been defeated and months later Barry died as well, during the First Crisis.
Other renegade speedsters showed up now and then. Speed Demon. Savitar. More prominent was a profiler named Hunter Zolomon who became obsessed with fixing his life, leading him to being bombarded by strange temporal energies that turned him into a new kind of speedster. Calling himself simply “Zoom,” he became obsessed with putting the new Flash, Wally West, through horrible tragedy, believing this would make him a better hero in the end. He even recruited the dark twin of Impulse, a twisted boy named Inertia, to help him later on.
Eobard Thawne was resurrected soon after the rebirth of Barry Allen and the villain increased his power by becoming the bearer of the Negative Speed Force, a corruption of energy absorbed from Barry’s own Speed Force. With this power, Thawne can actually change history, something the Flashes have never been able to do, and he has re-dedicated himself to destroying Barry’s life while improving his own.
Well, I think that brings us up to speed. Now let’s jump into things!
INTRODUCING THE RIVAL
Jay Garrick was the Flash during the Golden Age of comics, acting both on his own in Keystone City and alongside his friends in the Justice Society of America. In 1949, Flash Comics #104 introduced the first true super-speed villain. Edward Clariss was a professor at Midwestern University when Jay had been a student there and he’d been nearby when Jay’s lab accident made him a speedster. Years later, after Jay had become a successful chemist and research scientist, Dr. Clariss became the head of the Garrick Research Foundation. By this time, he’d figured out how to duplicate the Flash’s powers on a temporary basis and used the process on himself, becoming a criminal.