This is what we have been waiting for since we first saw the pilot for “The Flash” way back during the summer – the Reverse-Flash. We’ve been teased with the same blurry image at the beginning of each episode. For newbies to the mythos, it’s the man who killed young Barry Allen’s mother, and for the comics fans, it’s the Flash’s most dangerous foe, his archenemy, the sociopathic Reverse-Flash. Tonight, he and our hero meet for the first time as equals. Meet me after the jump for my thoughts on “The Man in the Yellow Suit.”
Now I’ve talked about the Reverse-Flash before, but now might be the time to go into a bit more detail. Eobard Thawne was a criminal scientist in the 25th century who was obsessed with the Flash. He managed to obtain one of the hero’s old uniforms and use the residual super speed vibrations in it to gain super speed himself, doing so however, altered the appearance of the costume, reversing the colors. Yes, this is goofy Silver Age comics science, but there it is.
Alternately going by the names Professor Zoom and the Reverse-Flash, Thawne began travelling back in time to the then-20th century to clash with his idol who he quickly began thinking he was superior to. A brutal sociopathic mindset was in effect. This Barry Allen was not the hero he was thought to be, he didn’t deserve the fame, or anything he had back here in our present. Zoom wanted what was his – and began to obsess specifically on Barry’s (in the comics of the time) wife, Iris West Allen.
This is the point at which Zoom goes from typical member of the Flash’s regular crew of super-baddies to archenemy status. Becoming more and more unhinged mentally through multiple trips through time, much like Avengers enemy Kang the Conqueror over at Marvel Comics, Thawne decided that if he couldn’t have Iris, no one would, and he murdered her. As dead as one can be in the comics, Iris was dead, and the Flash’s life spun off into a dark downward spiral for a few years.
There was a search for her killer, an overdose of angel dust in which the Flash fought his fellow Justice Leaguers, a battle where the Flash actually murdered the Reverse-Flash for his crimes, and then a trial of the century. It’s a long dark road which included neither the best ideas for the characters nor the best comics stories, but that’s what happened in the early 1980s. Eventually it was revealed that Iris had been saved at the last minute and brought farther into the future to the 30th century, and after the horrible trial in the 20th, the Flash joined her there in the future, where they lived happily every after… until the Crisis happened… and that’s a whole ‘nother story for another time.
Barry Allen would die in the Crisis on Infinite Earths (he got better, don’t ask), and his nephew and sidekick, Wally West AKA Kid Flash would take on the mantle of the Flash, continuing the superhero legacy. It is Wally who next meets Professor Zoom, and in a bizarre time twist, creates his hatred of the Flash. On Thawne’s first trip to the past, he becomes disoriented and overshoots his target, amnesiac, he thinks he’s Barry Allen and confronts Wally. Knowing that Barry is dead, of course Wally is suspicious of this return. When all is revealed, Wally attacks Zoom relentlessly – he is the man who destroyed his mentor’s life and murdered his aunt (at least as far as he knows) after all. This brutal defeat cements Zoom’s need for vengeance on the Flash for good.
This event happening before all of Zoom’s other trips back in time explains quite a bit. But as Zoom returns again and again (before his death, he is a time traveler), he becomes more relentless and murderous himself. This is the dangerous individual who creates the Flashpoint timeline by murdering Barry Allen’s mother. There would be other Reverse-Flashes, but Eobard Thawne would be the most deadly and most known.
Suspects and Possibilities
Does the name Thawne sound familiar to you viewers of “The Flash” TV series? Yeah, it should. That’s why Eddie Thawne is so disliked and hated by comics readers watching the show. Other than him dating Iris, which Barry should be doing, he’s got that name. He also has very little background that we know of, and after last week, he’s definitely got a problem with the Flash. He is our number one suspect to be the Reverse-Flash. Maybe he’s just a good liar, or maybe he doesn’t know he’s him, but he’s got the most votes.
And then there Dr. Harrison Wells. Could he be the Reverse-Flash? Many theories have been bandied about that he’s an older Barry Allen, that he’s Metron of the New Gods, T.O. Morrow, Pariah, or Hunter Zolomon (one of those other versions of the Reverse-Flash I told you about), but most often, it comes back to the Reverse-Flash. He has killed, he has knowledge that may have come from the future, and he is most certainly obsessed with the Flash. Perhaps we’ll find out in this episode…
Despite all the doom and gloom of the previews and my lengthy introduction to all things Thawne above, the episode starts on a high note. Everything is happy and seasonal in this seemingly Christmas holiday episode. Everyone is wearing themselves on their sleeves with their gifts. Barry gives Iris a ring and Eddie gives Iris a key to his apartment. He also confesses jealousy of Barry, which Iris denies.
Caitlin gets a gift of her own in the mall parking garage – the sadly visualized Firestorm. Let me take that back. It’s her dead fiancée Ronnie Raymond, I just hope he’ll look more like Firestorm later. They can’t have been building all this time to a bad visual. And speaking of gifts, Barry learns the man in the yellow suit has returned.
The most exciting return however is that of Amanda Pays, reprising her role as Dr. Tina McGee from the 1990s “The Flash” TV series. Back then she was Barry Allen’s confidante and his version of Wells, Caitlin, and Cisco all wrapped up in one. In that show she worked for STAR Labs but here she’s at Mercury Labs, a STAR competitor that was broken into by the man in the yellow suit. Pays looks different but she looks good, and at first glance, she’s not very nice.
While we’re in the 1990s, here might be a good place to mention yesterday’s announcement that Mark Hamill will be reprising his role from the show as well. His over the top Joker-like performance as James Jesse, the original Trickster, will be toned down a bit as he helps the new Flash crew face a new Trickster. We’ll have to wait and see how he looks. Good fun news indeed.
There are some really good character bits that pull on our heartstrings like Caitlin and Cisco talking about Ronnie, Barry remembering his mom, and Iris and Barry talking about Eddie’s jealousy. After the first clash with the Reverse-Flash, there are more – Barry and his dad, and then Barry tells Iris he loves her.
Yeah, the Reverse-Flash beating on Barry in the stadium and talking like they’ve done this dance dozens of times before (mark of a time traveler) is the main event, but the real fight of the episode is Barry dropping that bomb on Iris. This is the real game changer, how this changes everyone’s relationships.
In the background of the main event of this episode with the Reverse-Flash, Caitlin’s icy exterior has melted and she’s recruited Cisco to help her find Ronnie. Using sightings from Iris’ blog to pinpoint where ‘the burning man’ has been seen, they find him. He insists that he’s not Ronnie Raymond, but Firestorm and vanishes in a burst of fire.
To be fair, the vanishing was kinda cool, but this version of Firestorm reminds me of the subpar CBS TV versions of Marvel Comics superheroes from the 1970s. That is so not a compliment if you don’t get the reference. I’m sorry, I want a Firestorm that looks like Firestorm, otherwise why put so much effort into it? It seems like a waste.
Team Flash, minus Flash ( forbidden because this is all too personal for him) manages to trap the Reverse-Flash at STAR Labs. All of our suspects are there, Reverse-Flash, Harrison Wells, and Eddie Thawne, but that doesn’t relieve anyone of blame – time travel, remember? It all goes well until the Reverse-Flash grabs Wells and starts beating him.
Caitlin calls in Barry, who shows up just in time to take another beatdown. Notably the Reverse-Flash takes a moment to remind Joe he’d been warned, and then confronts, but doesn’t kill Eddie. Could it be because if he did it would be a grandfather paradox – kill your ancestor and you are never born? In a disappointing moment of deus ex machina, Firestorm intervenes and chases our villain off. At least he looks cool flying, and we know why he was around.
What Does It Mean?
In the end, we have Wells in his hidden ‘Braille room’ (kudos to the Back in a Flash Podcast for the name) where he produces a ring with the Flash symbol on it. In the comics, the Flash wore a ring like this to hold his air-compressed costume, but here Wells uses it to open a secret closet. What do we have inside but the costume of the Reverse-Flash! Could it be? Yeah, it certainly looks like it, especially when Wells speaks in his distorted voice. Harrison Wells is the Reverse-Flash.
This makes a bit more sense when you consider Wells chastised Caitlin and Cisco for not telling him Ronnie was back – he was not expecting Firestorm’s interference. It also makes sense in that the force field trap had a glitch in it that made it break down – Wells helped build it, so he could have easily sabotaged it as well. Beating himself up helps build a cover, and in the end, he obtained the tachyon device he was after finally. This is bad.
Speaking of time travel, Cisco made note that Barry witnessed both yellow and red lightning when he saw his mother murdered. Could there have been a second speedster there… one in red? Perhaps there is time travel in the Flash’s future…
“The Flash” returns on January 20th, and so does Captain Cold, and this time, he has help… in “Revenge of the Rogues!”