Art by Kyle Ritter
A man born in the 25th Century, Eobard Thawne was born a genius, genetically engineered to be so by his parents. His family was a distant descendent of Barry Allen, the Flash. Appropriately, he grew up to become an expert on the Speed Force and worshipped the Flash. He became a professor at the Flash Museum of Central City, his destiny being manipulated by future versions of himself altering his own timeline. His obsession with Barry Allen intensifying, he underwent surgery to make himself resemble Barry Allen. He found the Flash’s Cosmic Treadmill, recreated the accident that created the Flash to give himself super speed, and travelled back to the time period of the Flash.
The Cosmic Treadmill delivered Thawne to the Age of Heroes, but it was far later in it than he intended. Barry Allen had already died in his struggle against the Anti-Monitor, and Wally West was the new Flash. To make matters worse, he discovered from the Flash Museum that he would one day meet Barry Allen as Professor Zoom, the arch-nemesis of the Flash. Thawne snapped, and he began to believe that he was Barry Allen. He began to work with Wally West as a returned Barry Allen.
His instability eventually betrayed his delusion, and he revealed himself to be Thawne to Wally West. This Flash along with Green Lantern, Max Mercury, Jay Garrick (the original Flash), and Johnny Quick brought down Thawne and sent him back to his own time period. Upon his return, he had forgotten his journey, but he had retained a passionate hatred of the Flash.
From here, he became a career criminal in the 25th Century. A time-travelling pod arrived from the Age of Heroes, and he found the Flash’s costume inside it. Using the advanced technology of his time, he was able to tap into the resonant Speed Force energy within the costume. Through this, he was able to grant himself super speed by simply wearing the costume. Reversing the colors of it, he became the Reverse-Flash. The Flash soon arrived in Thawne’s era, tracking an atomic bomb that was also within the pod. He managed to deactivate the bomb and and beat Thawne on their first encounter.
Thawne lost his powers, but he discovered a substance called Element Z that could give him his super speed back. He contacted a 20th Century villain called Dr. Alchemy to harness it and travelled back in time to retrieve his powers. This process was successful, and Thawne was able to harness the Speed Force so long as he wore a locket containing Element Z. Thawne was then returned to the 25th Century with the Cosmic Treadmill. However, he was followed by the Flash again, and he was defeated once more by the hero.
He next used radiation to grant himself super speed, escaped from 25th Century prison, and returned to the Age of Heroes once again. He manipulated Dr. Alchemy/Mr. Element, and he managed to use the same radiation to take control of Central City. Alchemy rebelled against Zoom, and Alchemy and the Flash brought down Thawne. He was sent back to the 25th Century again.
After many further clashes with the Flash, including one in which he joined up with the Secret Society of Super-Villains, Eobard Thawne managed to commit the greatest atrocity upon the Flash. He isolated and killed Barry’s wife, Iris West, by vibrating his hand through her skull. The Flash discovered that Thawne did this and chased him across the world until Thawne used his time machine and travelled further back in time.
Zoom was imprisoned in an extradimensional plane at some point after this, and it took him years to finally figure out the frequency to vibrate through it. He went after the Flash and left him a message at the Flash Museum. He wanted another showdown, and he contacted Hunter Zolomon, the second Zoom, in the future. The two coordinated for an attack on both Barry Allen and Wally West. Barry brought Thawne back to his own time. Thawne went after Fiona Webb, Barry Allen’s bride-to-be, and Barry clotheslined Zoom while the villain was running at super speed, breaking his neck and killing him.
Eobard Thawne was resurrected by the being Nekron during the Blackest Night, and he was kept alive by the mysterious will of the White Entity of Life.
From here, Thawne returned to the point at which Barry Allen was still alive to prevent his heroic death during the Crisis on Infinite Earths. He left subliminal message that allowed Barry to return during the Final Crisis. This culminated in a dimension-spanning crusade by various speedster heroes to bring Barry Allen back from the Speed Force, during which Zoom killed the old super-fast hero Johnny Quick.
Zoom next orchestrated the accident that made Barry Allen into the Flash and, through this, created the Negative Speed Force, which he could access for his own super speed. He attempted to kill the children of Wally West but was stopped by Bart Allen (Kid Flash) and Jay Garrick. Upon having a final showdown with the returned Barry Allen, Eobard Thawne revealed to Barry that he had killed Nora Allen, Barry’s mother, among other tragedies in his life. Barry and Wally managed to defeat Thawne together, and they locked him away in Iron Heights.
When Barry accidentally changed the world by going back in time and saving his mother, he created the Flashpoint. In the Flashpoint reality, Aquaman and Wonder Woman led warring nation, Bruce Wayne was killed by the mugger, and Superman landed in Metropolis instead of Smallville. Barry and Thawne (also Booster Gold) were the only ones who remembered the previous reality. While Barry tried to fix reality, Thawne tormented him and attempted to stop him. He relished the fact that the Flash had destroyed his world. In a final clash between the two speedsters, Thomas Wayne, the Batman of this timeline, killed Thawne by shooting him in the back of the head.
In the universe of the New 52, the world was reborn. Eobard Thawne was recreated as well. In this reality, he was as a conqueror of the dystopian 25th Century. However, he was overthrown by a people united around the symbol of the Flash, and Thawne retreated to the distant past. Over the centuries, he managed to recruit various metahumans to aid him in his newfound vendetta against the Flash. Instead of having access to super speed, this Professor Zoom could slow down time and move through space in a manner that appeared super-fast to everyone else. This iteration killed Nora Allen too, and he battled the Flash in the present. His metahuman allies learned that they were being used, and they helped the Flash bring down Thawne. Eobard Thawne was arrested, but he is sure to escape and wreak havoc upon Barry Allen once more.
Eobard Thawne is a cruel and vicious man, and all of his worst instincts have been focused upon the Flash. He hates him as much as a man can hate anything. However, he is a descendent of Barry Allen, so he knows he cannot kill him. He has kept himself occupied instead with destroying the life and legacy of the Fastest Man Alive.
These qualities make Eobard Thawne a fantastic and classical comic book villain. He is a descendent of the Flash from a time where Barry Allen is lauded as a legend, so of course he developed an inferiority complex that led him to hating the Flash. He hates the Flash so much, so of course his costume is an inverse of the Flash’s. He can’t kill the Flash without killing himself, so of course he is satisfied with just tormenting the man. A lot of clever narrative explanations went into Eobard Thawne’s behavior, and they make him believable as well as interesting to analyze. In addition, his sadism and malicious sense of humor make him very fun to read about. These things are what have earned Professor Zoom the placement of my 10th Favorite DC Villain of all time.