To understand what I'm about to tell you (just to rip off the Flash's first line) you need to understand something: Professor Zoom, Reverse Flash, Zoom, whatever you want to call him, is an incredibly complex character. Unlike other archenemies like the Joker, or Lex Luthor, there isn't one clean cut, clear version of him - there are five "Reverse Flashes" in the history of [The Flash](series:1068303). But it's not a messed up, all over the place scenario. Each of them has their own history, motivations, and roles in the various Flashes, particularly Barry and Wally West's lives.
I'm not going to speculate on Harrison Wells' identity. That's been done plenty of times. My two theories are that he's either Metron, which I quite like- the theory of him being a New God- or Hunter Zolomon, my personal favorite. Or indeed additionally an entirely new blend of characters created solely for the purpose of The Flash. But I will suggest certain things about his character on the way through. Make of it what you will.
We know The Flash is not afraid of its comic history, it's a proud adaption. But when we have five Reverse Flashes scattered through comic history, that gets a bit tricky. So, who might we see? Could Eddie Thawne and Harrison Wells BOTH end up being Reverse Flashes?
Professor Zoom/Reverse Flash
Easily the most well known of the Reverse Flashes, Professor Zoom was missing in the comics for many years, to make a resurgence as a major DC villain following the workarounds in the Rebirth storyline not long ago. Eobard Thawne is a criminal in the 25th Century who finds The Flash's suit and manages to harness it's power, but finds it completely reversed, and his mind even further warped and reversed, becoming a literal, evil antithesis of Barry Allen. That's what they mean by Reverse Flash - it's literal. As villains go, Professor Zoom is among the most evil and messed up.
What makes him of particular interest is that he is the foil not just to The Flash, but primarily Barry Allen (the star, of course, of The Flash) He's near guaranteed to show up in the show, likely called Professor Zoom and not Reverse Flash. While Eddie Thawne's name is similar, Eobard's time displacement means it's likely we may actually see one of Eddie's descendants, potentially played by Rick Cosnett too. Or, we may just see an Eddie from the future take on the mantle, if at all. It seems an odd move to have a Thawne in the series without villainous ties, particularly with the way they're developing and cultivating his disdain for The Flash. Clearly, he doesn't have his powers yet, but he might.
What's even more convincing is from what we can make of the suit so far, it's very clearly most like Professor Zoom. From the black logo with the red bolt to the red eyes and ears, the costume adds up. For those who don't want things potentially spoiled (it's not really, but anyway) I'll omit it from this article, but set photos only further reinforce this.
Why am I most convinced Eobard Thawne plays a direct role? He's the only Reverse Flash directly tied to the murder of Nora Allen in the Flashpoint story. Which seems to culminate in one thing - a showdown, probably in the finale, on proportions as epic as this. Seriously, give it a watch.
Ultimately, we can be fairly certain that Professor Zoom, even if by another name, is the Man in the Yellow Suit of next week's episode and this series' primary antagonist. Just who's behind the mask we can't be sure.
Hunter Zolomon - Zoom
Where Thawne's Professor Zoom is the foil to Barry Allen, Hunter Zolomon is Wally West's arch nemesis - Zoom. (So that's why I exhaustively never shortened Thawne to just 'Zoom.') Despite this, his appearance in the show isn't off limits - indeed, far from it. His costume is very similar to Thawne's, so it's difficult to tell them apart, and he matches up fairly well - though by no means certainly - with a certain Flash character.
Hunter Zolomon was a good friend of Wally West, once. The two worked with each other, until an attack from Gorilla Grodd crippled him, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down. Zolomon begged Wally to go back in time and prevent the attack, but Wally refused, insisting the damage to the timestream would be too great. So Zolomon took it upon himself; he broke into the Flash museum to use the Cosmic Treadmill, and attempted to do so, only to not only destroy the museum, but his sanity. With the new ability to manipulate his own time, effectively granting him super speed, he embarked upon a vendetta against The Flash, set on the notion that unlike Barry, West had never suffered true tragedy. With his help, he reasoned, Wally could suffer a personal tragedy which would inspire him to be a better hero.
Yes, straight off, a lot of these elements resemble Harrison Wells' character. From the future, bent on making Barry a better hero, and with ties to Grodd, not to mention being wheelchair bound. Where doesn't this add up, though? Zolomon's grudge is with Wally because he isn't like Barry. Wells' motivations can't be the same. Wells is allegedly wheelchair bound, but we know he isn't and yet, unlike Zolomon, who restored his legs with the cosmic treadmill explosion, Wells is already fine, but wants to steal the Flash's powers (or at least learn how. He made that fairly clear when he took the sample from Blackout). So I'm not concluding anything except for the similarities.
Will Zoom show up on the Flash? It seems possible. Not only was Zoom once upon a time more popular, Wally will show up on The Flash at some point, which suggests Zolomon might too. But I'm not convinced. I believe Professor Zoom will more readily fill the role of antagonist, and has been set up accordingly having two exceptionally similar ones run around is difficult for viewers, at least in the first season. Furthering that, Zolomon doesn't exist as of yet in the New 52 which both Arrow and The Flash pull most heavily from (particularly the Flashpoint arc I believe this series will culminate in)
In the future, though, it's entirely possible and we may see something like this, as Zolomon attempts to forge an alliance with Thawne.
They're the two main Reverse Flashes... but who else could we see?
The Rival first appeared in 1949. Professor Edward Clariss recreated the formula which gave the Flash (Jay Garrick at the time) his powers, called Velocity 9. The Rival's powers have shifted over his few appearances, from cheap replica to someone who can access the Speed Force, to a creature of pure speed energy, which, to the best of my knowledge, is the last we saw of him in 2002.
Clariss was initially against the scientific community who rejected his claims, and donned a darker version of Garrick's Flash to prove a point to them, but was easily defeated when his speed formula proves to be temporary. Of all the Reverse Flashes, despite being the first, he is perhaps the most ill developed, and the one we know the least about.
So will he make it into the show? I'd argue, as a character, no. Certain elements of him? Yes, I'm fairly sure. Thawne and Zolomon's obtaining of their powers may not work in the more grounded (not grounded, but perhaps more scientific) atmosphere The Flash is establishing. As a result, I feel the inclusion of a formula like Velocity 9 which replicates speed may well be what Wells is developing, which is about as far as I think they'll go.
Inertia/Kid Zoom - Thaddeus Thawne
Clone of Bart Allen (eventually The Flash, but better known as Impulse, or another Kid Flash) Thaddeus Thawne initially fought Bart when he was Impulse, The Flash's young sidekick (Impulse may be the name that whichever character The Flash introduces as a sidekick goes by, as it's generally favored to 'Kid Flash.') He returned five years later and killed Bart, only to have revenge extracted on him by Wally West, paralyzing him and leaving him in the Flash museum - yes, more paralysis!
Taking up the mantle of "Kid Zoom" at one point, Inertia originally mostly served as an archenemy for sidekick Impulse, but slowly became a sidekick of his own to Hunter Zolomon's Zoom. His character grew even further when he decided to take up leading the Rogues (who kill him). Most often drawing from the Speed Force, Inertia has also used a more stable version of Velocity 9, and in one version was created by Zolomon to serve as a new Kid Flash in order to further better The Flash. He eventually grew to be an enemy of the likes of the Teen Titans.
Will he come into the show? Possibly as an enemy to the eventual introduction of a sidekick, but I see him coming to Titans more in all honesty. His character is quite independent and, like the Rival, unstable and subject to change, so I would suggest perhaps elements of the character, particularly him being a clone. We may see similar as a Barry clone in the show might make it in. The character himself, though, perhaps not.
Daniel West/Reverse Flash
The newest Reverse Flash, Daniel West is Iris West's brother, and wears a different costume to the others. A freak accident with the Rogues gave him access to the Speed Force, but Daniel had already paralyzed his father (a common theme, paralysis) and wrecked his relationship with Iris. He 'reasoned' that if he went back in time to kill his father, his relationship would be more stable with her, so he began murdering those who had access to the Speed Force to gain their power. When he went back to kill his father, he was stopped by the Flash, who convinced him he was doing more harm than good. He saw reason, and gave his powers to the Flash to amend his mistakes. Upon returning to the present, he was sent to prison, but Iris continues to turn her back on him.
Will he be in the show? I'm not willing to say no, but it seems unlikely, even though we don't know where Mrs West is in The Flash but possibly deceased. But one would think Iris would have mentioned a brother, or Barry would have, and Joe West is perfectly fine and well. Instead, again, I feel certain elements may make it in. His relationship with Iris particularly could be mimicked in a romantic fashion, done with Eddie Thawne instead, but that also seems unlikely. Indeed, most interesting is the further emphasis on paralysis, which plays into nearly every Reverse Flash's life, and happens to be shared with Harrison Wells.
A few have also asked about Johnny Quick in Facebook comments. While he is an evil speedster, he isn't one who's ever gone by "Reverse Flash" and technically isn't one of them. That said, that's all the more reason I'm fairly sure we'll see him crop up on the show at some point, though whether he's villainous or not I have no idea.
I believe Professor Zoom is going to be the Reverse Flash we know on The Flash, a character with the elements of all the Reverse Flashes, ranging from Velocity 9 to being from the future, down to paralysis. The likes of Inertia could show up down the track, and Hunter Zolomon is certainly a possibility for Harrison Wells. I don't believe we'll see the likes of the Rival or Daniel West appear, although the latter could show up, just not as Reverse Flash.
Ultimately, I think Professor Zoom is our Reverse Flash for the show, having the most to do with Nora Allen's murder, being the key one in the New 52, and already having a Thawne on the show, not to mention the costume similarities and the inclusion of time travel. That said, he'll have elements from other Reverse Flashes included. On top of that, I don't believe it denies plausibility we'll have both a "Professor Zoom" and "Zoom/Reverse Flash" on the show, so we'll have to wait and see.
What do you think? Agree with me? Find my breakdown of this very complex character with so many twists useful? I'd love to hear what you think in the comments! In the meantime, start making your own conclusions, by watching next week's trailer for The Man in the Yellow Suit here with a mini breakdown, or below, where the Reverse Flash will be bought to life in live action chillingly for the first time ever. Enjoy!