Anthony: Hello, welcome to Capes on the Couch, where Comics get Counseling. I’m Anthony Sytko.
Doc Issues: And I’m Dr. Issues.
Anthony: This is issue 185 and we have got quite an interesting one lined up for you folks. We’re talking Eobard Thawne AKA professor Zoom, or the reverse flash. One of the most well-known rogues in the Flashes, aptly named Rogues Gallery.
This one is left over from Matt W’s. Selections. As a present level patron, and I guess owing to the fact that Eobard Thawne can basically travel through time and change things as much as he would like. We’ve actually got four issues to talk about, so we’re going to kind of speed through this as much as we can, but there’s a lot happening here.
Lot going on. So with all that being said, we’re just going to jump right into it and get into the background.
Eobard Thawne, AKA Professor Zoom or the Reverse Flash created by John Broom and the legendary Carmine Infantino in The Flash number 139, September 1963. So he actually just celebrated his 60th anniversary as a member of the rogues gallery of Barry Allen in particular. He is, he is a Barry Allen rogue, not Jay, not Wally, not Wallace, not any of the other numerous people to wear the red and gold of the Flash, which this is, I believe this is the first Flash character that we’ve done on the show.
Am I correct? Yes. The Flash was always one of those characters I knew about and I knew that there were several flashes, but other than that, I didn’t really know. Like, I couldn’t tell you the difference between Barry and Wally and Bart. I know Jay obviously wears a different getup. From an aesthetic standpoint, I couldn’t tell you the difference between any of them.
Nevermind personalities, nevermind rogues. I knew I came into this knowing nothing of the Flash or his history. So researching for this episode has been kind of enlightening, and I do appreciate it. And I kind of likened it to when we did the the month on the lanterns. And I went from all of a sudden knowing like very little about the Lanterns to, as I’ve said before, now I own all of the Geoff Johns omnibuses.
I’m not going to go out and buy all of the Flash omnis, but I have read more Flash comics in the past week and a half than I have in my prior 41 years of life. And it’s pretty
Doc Issues: So, so I would say, admittedly. Even for DC, this is not my strong suit. So you’re not alone in that. Most of what I’ve read has been offshoots of the other mains, you know, the Holy Trinity, Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman,
Anthony: Yeah, definitely. Like I said, from what I’ve read, again, of the stories that I’ve read of the Flash, this is intriguing, having said that, I don’t know that because of the. scope and breadth and depth of some of these characters in the history of the mythos and everything that I’m going to, I guess, dive as deeply into it as maybe I did with the lanterns.
But, you know, we’ll see. Time will tell. At the very least, I enjoyed it and I’ve enjoyed reading the stories that I’ve read. This isn’t one where I was like, all right, let me slog through these books and see what’s No, what I have to do
Doc Issues: I was going to say no story involving Thawne is is a slog.
Anthony: No, no, definitely not. At the very least. They’re always very interesting involving Thawne. So Eobard Thawne is a scientist from the 25th century where superheroes are few and far between, and he, his origin is. Kind of been shifted a little bit. And part of that is because of a lot of the DC editorial stuff.
And part of that is also because of the nature of the character and his abilities. But most of what we’re about to say has kind of remained solid and true throughout the various iterations of thought, he becomes obsessed with learning about the speed force, but. He initially encounters some, shall we say, obstacles until his future self intervenes several times.
He was jealous of his younger brother, Robern, growing up to the point that it was taking away from his studies. So his future self went back and prevented Robern from being born. And then his future self caused the death of his parents, since they were worried about his obsession with the speed force.
Then the future self kills another professor who’s close to unlocking the secrets of the speed force but won’t collaborate with him. Then, this is really, really mining the depths of the pettiness, Eobard falls in love with the reporter, finds out that she’s engaged, his future self kills her fiance, and any man that she ever dated, when she still rejects him, his future self went back to her childhood and traumatized her to the point of rendering her mute and Institutionalized for the rest of her life.
This entire background is one lengthy hashtag because this whole goddamn thing is one hashtag because comics moment after another, after another, after another, so just. I’m just kind of putting everything under the penumbra of hashtag because comics. So he becomes obsessed with Barry Allen because he’s working as a tour guide at the Flash Museum, which is a thing that exists in the 25th century, to the point of getting cosmetic surgery to resemble him.
He obtains a cosmic treadmill, which without delving too much into the mythos of the Speed Force. And the notion that the Speed Force essentially is whatever the story demands. The speed force will let it happen. It doesn’t just give you speed. It gives you regenerative abilities. It allows you to travel through time and allows you to travel to alternate universes.
It’s basically whatever the plot demands. The speed force is just one giant hand wave to say, Oh yeah, the speed force can let that happen. So the cosmic treadmill allows the speedsters. To travel through time and access alternate dimensions, etc. So he obtains a cosmic treadmill, a copy of the Flash’s costume, and replicates the accident that gave Barry Allen his powers to give himself Flash’s powers.
He then travels back to a few years after Barry’s death, which happened, I believe, at Crisis on Infinite Earths. Yeah, and so Barry Allen was Essentially dead for almost 30 years in DC. And then he was replaced by Wally and then Bart and yada, yada, yada. And then Final Crisis is when Barry returned. And he came, you know, all of a sudden everybody was like, I’ve not felt these vibrations since.
And then Barry shows up chasing after a bullet and just run! Which we then later find out was a bullet destined to kill Orion. It’s a whole other thing. We’re not going to get into that. Point being, and this is all, again, I apologize for going off on some tangents here. But because the nature of. The flash and the stories that we’re about to tell.
Everything is just one big timey wimey.
Doc Issues: I was waiting for you to invoke.
Anthony: It has to happen. I mean, I had to, and I’m not even a Whovian, but anyway. So he travels back to a few years after Barry’s death and learns that he’s like, Oh, I want to meet Barry. We’re going to be friends because I want to be just like him.
He learns that he would be destined to become professor Zoom, the reverse flash and Barry’s greatest nemesis, not friend. Nemesis. This causes basically a psychic break, and so Thawne became convinced that he was a resurrected Barry Allen, and even managed to convince several of Barry’s friends that he was Barry because he had this biography of Barry that he had essentially memorized, and so he’s going around telling everybody, Hey, I’m Barry, I’m back!
And everybody’s like, Oh, wow, okay. Cool, Barry’s back. I guess he seems a little off, but you know, maybe it’s just because he was dead and you know, he’s getting used to things and now Wally’s the Flash, so he’s trying to deal with that. But after attacking several heroes for forgetting him, quote unquote, Wally West, who at this point now is the Flash, tricks him into returning to his home time.
This is, I believe, the return of Barry Allen. This is mid 90s. So again, Barry’s been dead. in DC for 10, 15 years, somewhere around there at this point. So Thawne becomes obsessed with replacing Barry to the point of killing Iris West, Barry’s wife. And then he attacks Fiona Webb, who was Barry’s fiance on the day of their wedding.
Barry broke his neck and killed him. And this leads to the trial of Barry Allen. And it’s a whole thing. This is an older story. So. Neck breaking occurs prior to the return of Barry Allen. Again, it’s all, I’m telling the stories like chronologically speaking, as opposed to when they were published because of nature of time travel.
So then Flash Rebirth, this is 2009. Geoff Johns tasked with taking over the Flash mythos. This is right after Barry had returned in Final Crisis. And so it’s basically Jeff Johns doing for the Flash mythos what he had done several years prior with the Green Lantern mythos and saying, I’m going to take the whole history of the character.
We’re going to streamline it. We’re not really going to retcon a lot of stuff. We’re just going to streamline things in a way that creates a new jumping off point for new readers to understand. So Flash Rebirth reveals that Thawne is essentially Responsible for every tragedy in Barry’s life, including the death of his mother, Nora.
So after killing several speedsters, he announces his connection to the negative speed force, which is a thing. And he says he’s going to kill Iris before Barry has a chance to meet her. So Barry and Wally travel backwards in time. They merge into the lightning bolt that originally gave Barry his powers and essentially close the loop.
So, Thawne then gets imprisoned in a device that severs his connection to the negative speed force and thus removing his powers. So then, moving forward in real time, it’s Blackest Night and Brightest Day. The Broken Neck version of Thawne gets resurrected during Blackest Night and then purified by white light during Brightest day because his task was to bring Barry back from the speed force where he had been in limbo for 27 years, whatever it was.
So then Thawne is the central villain of Flashpoint. And this is the famous story where Barry kind of rewrites all of history. And this is what leads to DC. And the new 52 or rebirth, or I forget which reboot of the DC universe, because they’ve done so freaking many at this point. So Barry travels back to prevent Thawne from killing Nora.
The resulting timeline is drastically different. Thawne then gets killed by the new Batman and Barry goes back to prevent himself from stopping her murder, which creates a new third timeline. And this is where again, DC kind of reboots everything and says we’re starting fresh and kind of. ignoring the prior 70 plus years of DC history.
So Rebirth revises his origin. He’s met in the 25th century by Barry, who prevents him from carrying out further crimes and is like, Oh, I don’t want to be a villain anymore. Thank you for showing me the right way to do things. He’s temporary rehabilitated. Until he decides, hey, I’m going to go back to the past, to Barry’s timeline, and show him how awesome I am and how I’ve changed.
And he learns that Barry didn’t consider him as much of a friend as he initially thought because of a comment that Barry had made to him in the 25th century that he overhears Barry saying to, I think, Wally in the 20th century, something like, You know, every second is precious or something along those lines.
And he’s like, well, he, that’s what he said to me. I thought that was special. Now he’s just, Oh, he must say that to everybody. So I’m going to make Barry miserable until Barry makes time for me. Petty, petty, petty, petty, petty. And that’s one of the things we’re going to get into. So he’s one of the primary villains of the button, which is DC’s editorial way of bringing Watchmen into the mainstream universe, et cetera, et cetera.
So Thawne has memories of every timeline. Every time he’s gone backwards and forwards in time, every offshoot, every alternate universe, whatever, every version of Eobard Thawne that has existed. He has memories of all of that simultaneously. So he uses this knowledge to torture Barry, Bruce Wayne, and other heroes until he’s killed by Dr.
Manhattan, but he’s resurrected by the Negative Speed Force once again. Lastly, finish line, which is a couple years ago, Joshua Williamson, this was the end of the Joshua Williamson run on The Flash, which I’m led to understand was very well received, critically acclaimed, etc., etc., including this particular storyline.
So Thawne vibrates into Barry um, Gonna leave that alone. He takes over his mind and traps Barry in the speed force. Thawne says that he and Barry will forever be trapped in a loop because Thawne is going to torture Barry and Barry hates Thawne because Thawne hates it’s, it’s a hate loop. And Barry says, you know what?
I forgive you for everything. This completely throws Thawne off his game. And Barry is able to functionally reset him by vibrating at the right frequency or something. Again, speed force, it’s a hand wave. Thawne gets sent back to the 25th century. He’s a tour guide at the Flash Museum with no memory whatsoever of being a villain.
And so that’s kind of where I left it because I, I don’t know to what extent Thawne has shown up since then in the comics, but I kind of feel like that’s a good pause point because there’s a lot of stuff and as we said, Matt gave us four issues and with his. Typical bravado and an inimitable style that is Matt W.
Let’s get into the issues.
So this is directly from that and his, his write up as always. Eobard Thawne. The man who reads the evil overlord list and reacts with an oblivious bemusement. The man with an absolute pathological need to prove himself superior to everyone around him to the point where even other villain hate, villains hate his guts.
Thawne has spent the last 60 years elevating the concept of the villain ball to an almost comical extent and is fortunately so ridiculously chatty and forthcoming about himself and his feelings that we can easily mine a ton of his many issues from it to figure out why. So first, as if we didn’t say it enough.
Absolute obsession with and desire to replace the Flash. Thawne comes from a time when superheroes are thought of as a quaint anachronism, and striving to be one would be like someone today saying their dream was to be a medieval knight. But he idolized the era and the Flash in particular enough to become obsessed with becoming him.
After recreating the accident that gave the Flash his super speed and traveling back in time to meet his hero, he found out that his destiny was instead to become the Flash’s greatest enemy and it simply broke him inside. From then on, his entire reason for being became wrapped around, inserting himself into Barry’s life, alternating between trying to ruin it and trying to usurp it.
He tried getting Barry’s wife to fall in love with him, tried to take Barry’s place in the original accident and become the original Flash, and ultimately settled on using his time travel ability to become the source of every bad thing that ever happened in Barry’s life. It’s not an exaggeration to say that Thawne does not have or want a life of his own, he actually does want Barry’s for himself.
Yep. This is Stan culture to, like, the nth degree. Swifty’s got nothing on Eobard Thawne. BTS stands got nothing on Eobard Thawne. Yeah.
Doc Issues: I, I even hesitate to say that this is reality in the sense that, yeah, I mean, imitation is the greatest form of flattery. Emulation is the greatest form of shortcut. And.
Eobard Thawne is the most sociopathic version of any of those I’ve ever imagined. You can’t take someone else’s life. You can’t do everything that anyone else has done and then claim it to be your own. You can’t
replace the original or someone who’s done something first. It’s not a matter of saying it’s right or wrong. It’s just the nature of existence. We say such colloquial things as you don’t want to reinvent the wheel. Well, actually. I was listening to a podcast that pointed out, technically you do, because you didn’t want what was originally proposed, because that was just a wheel that you used to make pottery that we all know about.
No one ever thought that you could put it on its side. That took a few more hundred years to come up with. And then once you did that, it’s like, oh, but you could put two of them side by side, connect them with an axle, and then you could put things on that. And then you create a wagon, and then you could actually make them certain sizes, and then you didn’t have to use hard materials, you could use things that had some give, and then that made a smoother ri Okay, I’m, I know I’m getting a little off base, but I’m not, because all of this points out that, yes, in general, as Sentient beings.
We see something that is successful and we want to make sure we do those same things because we know that it’s going to work. But what we may not realize is that the situation around us has changed, be it slightly or in a major way, and the way that we decide to do things may not be as accurate or as authentic to what the original person did.
And it’s going to have some level of variation. Most of the time that actually produces something new, something slightly different. I’m not even going to say better or worse, just different. That is okay in life. I feel like I’m about to get canceled just saying this because some people are so concerned with the idea of how we can ethically have conversations of.
Things being different than exactly the way we think they should be. Especially if we see a person that we think is the upstanding example of what the way we think things should be. And anything that doesn’t follow that example is actually dangerous and wrong. Well, that makes things a lot more difficult when it comes to interactions.
That makes things much more difficult when it comes to actually figuring out what you want for your own motivations of success. So, thanks, Eobard. You basically said to yourself, I want to make sure I have no motivations other than what anyone else has put in front of me, and if I am not able to imitute it exactly, then I am not quite the person that I need to be.
That sounds like a great way to start a depression spiral, and a lot of anger.
Anthony: Imitute it exactly?
Doc Issues: Oh my goodness, you don’t know the Simpsons reference, Treehouse of Horror? It’s basically Lisa creates an a civilization from a tooth in a dish with soda in it.
Anthony: Oh, that one. Okay. I, I know the episode. I just, the quote wasn’t coming to me.
Doc Issues: Yeah, they shrink Lisa down and they, they pointed out they learned how to imitute her exactly.
Anthony: Got it. Got it. Okay. It’s been many years since I’ve seen that particular episode. Okay. I was just, it threw me off. But yes, to your point, I, I do think. That it’s, it’s interesting, you know, you mentioned getting canceled that, oh, we kind of lionize all these people. And then as soon as they say something that is slightly askew from the acceptable narrative or whatever the case may be that, oh no, they’re, oh, they’re, they’re canceled.
They’re, they’re this, they’re that, the other it’s, it’s. You know, it’s a purity test, and I’m not going to get into that because that’s a whole other discussion for another day, and frankly, a different podcast. But Thawne is living within this constant purity test for himself and Barry that doesn’t matter what he wants, because he never thinks about that.
It’s whatever Barry is, whatever Barry has, that’s what I must have. That’s what I must do.
So that’s going to you know, segue into the, the second issue, then superiority complex. When you think about what Eobard Thawne is actually capable of doing, it’s a real wonder why he ever fails at anything at all. The man can move at many times the speed of light. He can cross the room and shred your heart before your eyes can even send a signal to your brain that it’s happening.
He can kill a roomful of a hundred people in a hundred different ways before any of them could react, all of which pales in comparison to his mastery of time travel. If anyone or anything is an obstacle to his objectives, or even so much as affronts his sight, he can go back in time and completely erase it from existence.
That’s an actual thing he does with regularity. There is quite literally no goal on any scale he could not achieve with his powers. But that’s simply not enough for him. At the moment of every single one of his triumphs, he has to let everyone in earshot know that it was him who did it. He grandstands and gloats about his success, explaining in great deal everything he did, How he did it and how powerless everyone is to stop him from keeping on doing whatever he wants.
Invariably, this winds up with the heroes either having the time to make their move or having the exact information they need to stop him. Thawne didn’t invent evil monologuing by any stretch, but he’s perfected it to an art form. It’s a pathology with this man. He has to have you acknowledge his greatness or he doesn’t consider it a victory.
There is no limit to what he could achieve if he just didn’t care about getting the credit for it. It’s that comment from who was it?
Benjamin Franklin, that there’s no limit to what the human, to what humans can achieve, as long as ego, or as long as credit is not considered. Something along those lines, that if you take credit out of it, we could get a lot of things done. But everybody wants to say, I’m the one who did it, and if it’s not me, then it’s not getting done.
Doc Issues: Ooh, that, yeah, that’s well said. The idea is that I, oh wow, I haven’t made a Hamilton reference in a, in a while, but seriously, it’s, you know. Why do you assume that you’re the smartest in the room? It’s incredible how narcissism can really dominate any situation. And I’m not necessarily saying that with as much vitriol as I think in my very dark heart.
There is something about the idea that you and your personal existence has to supersede anyone else’s. under all circumstances, and when it doesn’t, it’s only because you allowed it to happen because you wanted something later to show that you were that great to begin with. You created your own challenge.
Yes, I knew that this was not going to work out exactly, but that’s because I let so and so handle this part of it. So now that we know that that person is a failure, I can show you exactly how I’ll fix it, even if the truth is a bit different and you didn’t even have that information at the time and you probably would have made a similar mistake or whatever.
I’m just, you know, kind of doing this off the cuff. But still, it’s, it’s pretty much the credo that my enjoyment, my success is the only way that anybody else can also have a positive experience. So it’s not just that I’m interfering in your life. As we already talked about, cause you’re trying to copy it.
Now we’re talking about a different aspect. We’re saying, I want to make sure that I’m the conductor of the train. I know exactly who the passengers are. I arranged the menu, the venue, the seating. I made sure that if something goes wrong, I have my scapegoats in place. And I will also be the savior of what goes wrong.
And I’ll be able to dole out the punishment as I see fit. Are there any other questions? Thank you and goodbye. By the way, I know there are no other questions because I won’t give you the opportunity to speak. That is the summary of that version of narcissism. And as you could tell I have a certain bias because I I, I really struggle with people that Take things to that level.
I’m saying that both on a personal and a professional stance. So when I encounter this, it is, it is incredibly challenging and I’ll admit, I usually do shut up and part of it is because I don’t want to go to jail with what I’m going to do to that person. But I’ll, I’ll leave it on a more positive note.
I will say to their credit, many people that have that presentation really do great things, and I don’t want it to sound like these people are a complete facade, but the fact that they end up grandstanding so much really paradoxically takes away from the things that they accomplish. As a matter of fact, I just heard.
This isn’t, this isn’t a specific psychiatric term, but I love it. And I think I’m going to use it more commonly, the narcissist razor. If someone tells you with pride, something that they did, assume that they did 50 percent of it. If someone with humility tells you what they did, assume they did twice as much.
Anthony: I love that. Wow. I love that. My only question is how can you verify? Whether the person is telling you with, I mean, aside from reading them, but how can you tell whether the person is describing it with humility or with bravado? I mean,
Doc Issues: and that’s why this fits Eobard Thawne. How do you know someone?
Is truly that type of narcissist because they will tell you exactly. That’s my point. It doesn’t, it can’t necessarily apply to every situation, but when you see it or when you hear it, Oh, you know,
Anthony: it’s the, you know, the, the off repeated quote about the definition of pornography. It’s like, I, I can’t give you a definition of pornography, but I know when I see it, I can’t exactly tell you what’s constitutes narcissism, but I know when I see it, right.
So, okay, well. If there’s one thing that defines Eobard Thawne even more so than narcissism, it’s pettiness. Issue number three, pettiness on a scale hitherto undreamt of. To paraphrase Billy Bean in Moneyball, there’s petty, there’s that which petty aspires to be, there’s 50 additional magnitudes of petty that the English language doesn’t have words for, and then there’s Thawne.
The man responds to personal slights as if they were absolute declarations of war. He has completely erased his younger brother from existence because he thought his parents loved him more. He got a crush on a woman and erased her husband and all of her ex boyfriends from existence so she’d have no reason not to date him.
Then, when she still rejected him, he traveled back in time and repeatedly traumatized her as a child to the point where she wound up in a permanent vegetative state for the rest of her life. He found a limiting factor on his time travel that he couldn’t kill Barry Allen or do anything that prevents him from becoming The Flash because that would paradoxically eliminate him from existence.
So instead he’s settled on simply becoming the direct cause of every bad thing that’s ever happened in his life, including things so minor as making him late for class in school and making him miss a catch in a baseball game. He’s done this with villains who annoy him as well. Hunter Solomon owes the entire line of tragedies that led to him becoming Professor Zoom to Thawne traveling through time and causing them.
There is no slight so trivial that Thawne won’t respond to it with the most disproportionate retribution he can imagine. I mean, Thawne is petty on a level. People like Namor and Doom only wish that they could reach. Yeah, yeah. It’s actually kind of impressive if it weren’t so frightening. Yeah,
Doc Issues: Once again to avoid any psychiatric terms, this is sweating the small stuff.
This is not being able to discern. You don’t know what’s important versus what’s not. It’s a very common thing for children to do, but that’s because often children have difficulty when they’re really struggling with this, sometimes have difficulty with the idea of magnitude or permanence when it comes to decision making or consequences.
It’s, it’s not. Insulting or juvenile to say that most of us as adults, even when we do experience or, or demonstrate pettiness do so within a certain limited scope, don’t get me wrong, it can still damage relationships, cause a lot of friction and, and even harm in people’s lives. I’m not, I’m not denying that, but.
The idea that, I think the best example I can come up with that everyone or, or majority of people can process and understand is road rage. So if you are in a vehicle and someone, while you are driving it, let’s say you’re in motion and they cut you off. It is very natural for our response reflexively to be significant levels of anxiety and anger.
That is intentional. That is because it’s protective. It’s a survival instinct. You’re saying, wow, I am in a death machine that is going at a speed that if anything impedes it, I may injure someone with it, or I may be injured myself. You, meaning the person that just cut me off, just heightened that possibility, that probability, because it was an unexpected action.
And it was so fast that every other part of my rational brain has not had an opportunity to even think about what to do. Thankfully, my training in driving has allowed me to either brake or turn or whatever it is that I just did to avoid a car accident. I just said all of that in the span of about what, 45 seconds?
In reality, we’re talking less than a second. So with that in mind, we are not using rational thought. We are using reflex. And, subsequently, that is so powerful, it has actually flooded our nervous system with such a large hormone response. Forget about the idea of having a civil conversation, let’s say at the next traffic light, where you could say, excuse me, sir, I apologize.
I’m sure part of the reason this happened is you had a bad day or something distracted you that may not even be related to driving itself. But I just wanted to let you know that what happened may have been a dangerous event, not just for me, but for you as well. And I’m grateful that we both survived it.
But I would like for you to at least take a time out and just pause before making the next move in your decision making with your driving so that nobody else gets hurt. I have never heard of that conversation happening in my life and I doubt it ever will. Instead, we end up with situations that end up either violent, aggressive, or someone just simply screaming at the top of their lungs over their radio or podcast that they’re listening to or whatever or flipping the bird.
That’s it. Because that’s all we’re capable of in the moment. Once again, that is exactly how we are designed. I am not saying that this is right or wrong. What Eobard Thawne has managed to do though, because, and I am going to take this into the comic book realm, think about this, with his ability to control things at such a fast pace, that means not only does he get the emotional response to things that happen, he can react and use quote unquote rational thought on top of the emotional, immediate, reflexive, primitive response.
So he actually takes it up a notch, amplifies everything, then uses all of those things, basically takes a course on it in the time that it takes for us to respond the way we would, and then puts his plan into action. So for us, it’s a red hot moment. But this is a, this is a hypothesis on my part. For us, it’s instant, impulsive, and heated response.
Meanwhile, his is a narcissistic, calculated, bitter, dish served cold.
Anthony: Oh, I don’t think that’s speculative. I think that’s definitely borne out in every demonstration of everything that he does.
Doc Issues: Yeah, the reason, well, the reason I’m even bringing it up, because think about how painful that has to be, though, to say, I’m going to go beyond what this initial reaction was, which by the way, most people admit they do regret after it happens.
I gave road rage as the most common example. If there’s been a situation where a person has reacted with anger or intense rage or even, you know, intense fear, the person usually wants that extinguished as soon as possible. And if there was an action they took during it that resulted in harm, they have an intense emotional, rational response afterwards.
Either, oh my god, what have I done? Or, wow, how do I fix this? How do I make it better? To turn that off, that is a willful act. To actually make the decision to say, you know what, Gonna let it ride. And I’m going to go with this. And I’m going to continue along this line of thinking. That usually involves people that have had so many experiences, not just talking about road rage now, but in general, traumatic experiences, that they recognize that response as the only response they can have to any emotional or intense sudden moment.
And now, that’s become the commonplace action. Which really looks out of place when you talk about magnitude. I was talking about a true life and death situation, which any cut short, you know car incident can be. But now, if it’s at a coffee shop, and they got your order wrong, and now you’re slamming, you know, your fists on the table because you’re so pissed off, all right, that seems out of place.
So, I’m Rage inducing slight. Exactly. So,
Anthony: but I mean, listen, when, when every time you’re on the turnpike and you’re in the left lane and you’re stuck behind a Pennsylvania driver, who’s barely doing the speed limit and you’re just going, I mean, you know, you can only have so many of those moments before you just, you lose it.
bUt in all seriousness, back to the point of the calculation that it takes to kind of react to that. We, we see it in a different. and slightly muted sense, but the frustration is still there in Quicksilver. You go back and listen to the Quicksilver episode, we talk about the fact that part of his annoyance, and it’s been canonically discussed that part of his, in universe reason for being as curt and rude as he is, is because he makes that comment about, You ever been stuck behind somebody waiting to order food and they’re taking forever and they don’t know what they want, or you’re, you’re behind somebody at the bank and they’re taking their time.
Imagine every moment of your life being like that, being that frustrated where everybody around you is moving so slowly, you just want to get everybody out of your way. That’s Quicksilver. Now he is just kind of a dick about it. Thawne takes it again to the nth degree and he just goes full blown villainous with it.
Yeah, so it’s not just, so that’s where it becomes personal. Like to your point that, oh, we have the heated moment and we move past it. He marinates in it. He sits in it like a spa and absorbs the essence of it and then unleashes it. With the righteous fury and indignation all in the span of less than a blink.
Yeah, don’t get on his bad side.
That brings us to the fourth and final point then. Dozens and dozens of lifetimes worth of memories. Thawne’s use of the negative speed force gives him a form of superseding time travel. He can alter history and retain the memories of his life and the world exactly as it was before he changed it.
Unfortunately, he has time traveled and altered history so many times and so drastically that his memories now consist of dozens of lifetimes all folded into themselves. He remembers every version of himself in every timeline he’s ever existed in. And every version of every other important person in his life and how their histories have changed as well.
It all just blends together for him in a way that makes absolutely no linear sense, trying to keep it all straight. That has to be absolutely maddening, like a Mandela effect, but for your entire life and multiplied by every single time he changes the timeline, no one else remembers anything in the same way that he does.
And there’s absolutely no way he can convince anyone about the way things used to be. He is quite literally living in a reality of his own making. Unable to explain to anyone else what is going on. This is a, I have no mouth and I must scream, but he does, but it doesn’t matter.
Doc Issues: Yeah, well, cause you can’t understand it.
You know, I, I hesitate to do this, but I think the, the fact that a part of this is my daily existence doing my job. I work in a psychiatric hospital. Therefore, I am dealing with people that are in their. Largest moments of crisis, something has gone wrong. Sometimes the person does not perceive it that.
In addition to that, the person is trying to explain from their perspective, exactly what is going on, either why we are wrong in our interpretation of the events at hand, or in how everyone else around them has been wrong this whole time. And if you only understood that you would know why they reacted the way they did with negative consequence.
And. As much as I appreciate the fact, similar to what happened when we did multiple man, I appreciate the fact that there is a piece of this that there is no way that one human being is able to understand how another human being can process everything in the exact same way. And I would never claim to be able to do such.
That doesn’t mean that so far when I’m talking and using words right now, and I’m using the English language, Anthony is able to understand Exactly what I’m saying, even if he doesn’t agree with it, we at least recognize that the language that I’m speaking is English. So, we have a basic form of communication.
The syntax of those statements may or may not be exactly the same. I may make grammatical errors. I may not have the proper vocabulary for what I’m saying. But even then, if you take that away, I still have the ability to use inflection in my voice. I am able to at least make Sounds, utterances. If I can’t use full words.
Think about how far along you have to be, in theory, for someone not to truly understand the basics of what you’re saying and experiencing. That is something that humanity has mastered for a long, long, long time. I’m saying that because I have some patients where it’s really difficult. And they’re using words.
They’re using the English language. I’m not trying to say that there are other barriers. It’s literally the fact that their thought processing is different for whatever reason than the people around them, including me. It is, you want to talk about maddening for the person experiencing it, it’s also maddening for the people around them.
Because it’s my job to understand. And of all people, I get incredibly frustrated. I used to make, and by the way, what I’m about to say is colloquial, it’s not Meant as an insult. I, I have made the comment and other doctors I’ve heard say this too. I speak schizophrenies. There are times when patients will get so excited about something or so incredibly disorganized about something, but give enough hints and context clues of what they’re talking about.
And I’ve read their chart and their history and I piece it together and I can come up with what sounds like a coherent story. I will repeat it to the person and they will clarify bits and pieces. And yet. One of the biggest issues that I’ve had with patients is when other staff members will say like, all right, they’re nonsensical or they’re disorganized or their thoughts are scattered or all these other things.
And meanwhile, when I come back with this like coherent story of what’s at least the bits and pieces that I understand of what’s going on, they’re like, well, how did you get that? And my honest answer is I, I, I shut up. I just shut up. I don’t say anything. I do my best to actually immerse myself in what this person is saying and doing.
And although it sometimes can backfire with someone with narcissistic tendency, I cling to every single word and utterance. As ridiculous as it may be, I don’t mind. Because I know that there’s vital information because they wouldn’t say it otherwise. We do not say words. We do not utter things if we don’t consider them to be important.
No living entity does that. Everything has a purpose and meaning when it comes to why we’re saying them, even if they’re unintentional, quote unquote, then that means that there’s something that’s causing that mechanism to happen. And I know I’m speaking much more philosophical than, you know, maybe was originally intended with this type of topic, but that’s because with someone like Eobard, he is so, he gets so wrapped up in making sure that everything is described to the infinite detail because there’s no other way for him to experience life.
He has to do it because there’s no other way he could get it out. How else, if you are constantly going at a speed that no one else can comprehend, can you get anything through someone else’s thick skull if you don’t just go ahead and use as many words as possible? That’s his theory behind it. I can’t get you to be at my level.
So I’m going to use the one thing that you may understand. That in and of itself can be incredibly powerful, but also. Incredibly distracting when the people around you basically say, yeah, but you make it so, so
hard in every other way.
Anthony: He’s going to get it through your head either with his words or by, in the case of Iris West, literally vibrating through her skull and killing her.
So, yeah, that’s that’s tough. He, he can talk you to death, probably quite literally. I’m sure if there was some way. that he wanted to, the speed force would let him literally talk you to death. It would probably just be it speaking at such a volume or intensity or frequency or whatever, that it would rupture your eardrums or shatter the part of your brain that understands language processing and speech, et cetera.
And, and he could literally talk you to death.
Doc Issues: DC, I swear to God, if I see this in a comic, we, we need, we need credit.
Anthony: Pay me. So we’re going to take a quick pause, which for Thawne is going to seem like an eternity, but for you will just be about a minute or so.
We’re going to plug a couple of shows and when we get back, we’ll get into treatment. Stick around. And we’re back. So treatment.
Can you treat someone like Thawne in universe?
Doc Issues: Oh, wow. What I’m about to say is going to sound just so, so wrong. So one of the treatments that we have in psychiatry for depression is something called transcranial magnetic stimuli. It’s a non invasive procedure. If you’ve ever seen the device itself, it looks like a very fancy hair dryer, if you’ve ever been to a salon.
But the point is you do proper mapping of where it’s supposed to go on your head and where the fields are generated. And it improves depression. You need several sessions of it to have lasting effect. Well, I have a theory. What if instead of doing that for the sake of transcranial magnetic stimulation, we simply create a similar device?
And obviously, once again, consent comes into play with this, but we keep hearing this talk of vibrating and the idea that molecules Simply move from one point to another at an incredible rate, but in a very fixed pattern. Well, I’m pretty sure we could create a machine that does that. And maybe we could, you know, have Mr.
Thawne try it out. And, you know, either it helps, you know, reset some of his some of his brainwaves and maybe he is less impulsive and less angry and bitter. Or it just dissolves him. But I mean, either way, it does kind of solve.
Okay. Oh, no, no, let me, let me just make this clear. I am not advocating killing Eobard Thawne by vibrating him to death. I am saying that I think that’s hilarious.
Anthony: Fair. I don’t think that’s possible though, because it. Even if you do vibrate him to death, he’s just gonna end up getting resurrected by the negative speed force. So, and
then he’s, yeah, but
then if he comes back and then he’s gonna come back and then you are gone from existence like you never existed.
Doc Issues: See, but that’s just it. I mean, that probably would happen anyway once somebody says they wanna fix something. So I don’t think that’s an added risk, you know to, to quote economist Nicholas there’s no such thing as a fat tail on a you know, on a bell curve when it comes to. All or nothing risk. Like if the, if the idea is either I’m going to die or I’m going to die, then I might as well do something that gives me even the slightest possibility of not dying.
And Hey, for all I know it works. And he comes back and he’s like, wow, I’ve been a jerk for a long time. That really shook it out of me. Thank you so much. Okay.
Anthony: All right. Swing for the fence. See what happens. So out of universe then, obviously so much of this is tied to the power set to the point that I don’t know what you could extract.
Doc Issues: No, no, no, no, no, no, no.
Anthony: Okay. All right.
Doc Issues: Wait, let’s, no, no, let’s, let’s, let’s, let’s take a step back. Narcissist, incredibly petty, very quick to anger. Those sorts of things are not automatically tied to a superhero power source. Let’s, let’s, let’s, let’s dive
Anthony: Okay. You’re, you’re not wrong. Okay. Fair enough.
Doc Issues: Yeah. Let’s, let’s dive into this. The idea that some people are very quick to act based on what are perceived negative emotions, almost. Not trying to give diagnoses, but an example, some people that suffer from intermittent explosive disorder, things like that, or, you know, just very bad traumatic experiences that lead to those types of responses.
Doesn’t have to be full blown PTSD. You have to, and, and I will tie this to, you know, keep it comics related. You have to find a way to slow things down. Getting someone to have that cognitive pause. I’m not even talking about. Well, I guess I am talking about both. I’m talking about the physical pause because you don’t want them to do damage.
You don’t want anyone to get hurt. You don’t want them to hurt themselves, of course. Ultimately, the cognitive pause is the most important pause. The idea that the stimulus that happens versus the response that you get externally What is happening in between? How do we get the person, first of all, to recognize that that’s the case.
And then how do we modulate it? This all sounds like CBT because it is! And there’s many different forms of CBT. I’m not trying to advocate one over another, but once you get people to get to the point, they can take that pause, you’ll notice that the people around them are thankful because the negative actions aren’t happening.
The person themselves is, are thankful because they no longer have the same intense emotion, or even if they have the emotion attached to it, they don’t have the impulse to act on it further, and they can modulate it to the point where it’s not sticking with them for the rest of the day, or the week, or the month, or the year.
So that is really common in therapy, and It’s something that everybody can benefit from. I’m not even talking about diagnoses. Just the idea of learning how to take a moment when things aren’t going your way, or something happens unexpectedly, or you feel a certain way and you don’t know why, can be the difference between what we call a bad day and a bad moment.
So I think the fact that We run so many things through our brains and our daily lives on autopilot, I think is a detriment to us. Thankfully, the autonomic stuff is great. Yes, you don’t want to have to think about breathing every second. You don’t want to ignore when you’re hungry and eat, you know, but the things that we do want to be conscious about and the things that we experience, it is okay to be mindful of it.
Take your time. Recognize that if something isn’t exactly the way it should be, maybe just meditate for a few minutes. Maybe just take a walk. Maybe listen to some music. Just some ideas. Once again, doesn’t have to be all in the whole psychotherapy realm. Taking the time and just slowing. Down that can save
Anthony: Amen to that. It’s something I’ve been trying to do more frequently as of late, because I’ve been dealing with a lot of stuff personally, professionally, et cetera. And I’ve been finding myself overcome with feelings of anxiety and. So on, so doing some simple breathing exercises, even just five minutes to do some guided breathing, not even meditation, just the literal physical act of breathing can really help regulate how my body is feeling.
And it gives my brain an opportunity to slow down a bit because. If I’m just keyed in and hyper focused on the breathing and my body, then I don’t want to say eliminates the distractions, but at the very least it mitigates them to the point that I can just go, okay, one thing at a time, one step at a time.
Where do we go from here? Kind of deal. So yes, taking a pause. Absolutely. I wholeheartedly recommend it. We’re not going to pause, however, because we’re going to jump right into What happens when we get Eobard Thawne on Dr. Issues couch?
Doc Issues: Hello, Mr. Thawne. I’m Dr. Issues. Huh, you seem out of breath.
Anthony: It took a lot for me to get here, but I can’t ignore a slate like that. As you know, a doctor should only address a colleague with a title the equivalent to their own.
Doc Issues: You can’t be ser Ow! What was that?
Anthony: The skin of the areola is incredibly sensitive to certain angular forces. Your nerve endings are actually a bit different based on your scream. Most people have a heightened reaction from the pain itself, but for you, the mere sensation of unexpected touch and pressure were too much for you. But as with all plebeians before you, your nervous system stood no chance in keeping up with my abilities. And that, my dear doctor, is only a sample of what I am capable of.
Doc Issues: You just gave a soliloquy on a purple nurple?
Anthony: I had to demonstrate that you are not superior to me in any aspect of existence.
Doc Issues: Okay.
Anthony: That’s it? Just okay? You don’t protest? Where’s the fear? Where’s the awe? Anger? Something besides okay?
Doc Issues: Okay, professor?
Anthony: That’s better. Wait, no, still no emotion behind it. What is wrong with you? Do I have to phase through you and shatter your spleen?
Doc Issues: Beatlessly graphic, but no. Look, I’m not superpowered. You’re not controllable. So I’m a sitting duck just for agreeing to meet with you no matter what safeguards I may have thought.
Anthony: Oh, that was very naive of you. I’d be insulted if I didn’t already feel insulted about the fact that some version of me that I talked with at some point in the future thought this was a good idea. What will I be thinking? Was thinking. You get the point.
Doc Issues: Sure, so what can I do for you?
Anthony: There’s someone I know that I used to idolize. Now I hate him. He killed me, but I came back. Now I can’t destroy him because I want to exist, but I want to ruin every part of his life. You know, like you do.
Doc Issues: Are you expecting me to empathize with Oh!
Anthony: No. Matter has multiple phases. Most people only experience the most basic, solid, liquid, and gas. But as a scientist at heart, I’m sure you’re aware of plasma. Under typical Earth conditions, you would only be able to withstand a nanoparticle of any element in a picosecond of time. As it sublimates from a liquid format and dissipates instantaneously in some form of biological substrate in an elongated but small cavernous bony structure with a malleably and firm membrane.
Doc Issues: Oh I got
it. You spit in my ear? What are you, 12?
Anthony: Super speed saliva, sir. It’s your privilege. The fact that your head did not disintegrate is only because I can control my mouth and tongue with exquisite precision.
Doc Issues: You could kill me at any moment and you torture me with pranks. What’s the point?
Anthony: I’ve given you a glimpse of my power. Now imagine that for every moment of your life, to know that at any moment I can cause you immeasurable suffering and pain with the slightest show of effort on my part, that is what I live for.
Doc Issues: So you can be the most influential being for every person’s life who ever exists and you choose to make it miserable.
That’s not exactly a way to win friends.
Anthony: Ah, but you’re wrong, I’ve created factions of allies that bring dimensions to their proverbial knees.
Doc Issues: Until you, what, give them a thermonuclear wedgie? That’s what the history books will say, you know, Eobard Thawne, the person who created a black hole constructed out of his own spite and misery.
Anthony: You do realize that with what you’re proposing, there would be no history books because I would have wiped out recorded history by definition of it.
Doc Issues: Do you have an off switch for that?
Anthony: My genius? No, unfortunately for you, I do not.
Doc Issues: Then why don’t you find someone else to bounce your evil plans off of? I’m too ethical to help you make things worse for yourself.
Anthony: Come again?
Doc Issues: You ever heard of mimetic thinking? It’s the idea that individuals goals in life are constantly shaped by the goals they’ve observed by others. So we’re unique in our existence, but not in our shared outcomes. You already determined one fail point. Whoever this person was that you were talking about.
Anthony: Barry! His name is Barry!
Doc Issues: Whatever. The point is you must have gotten this, you know, idea somewhere from someone that destroying everything is positive, but the lack of anything is sure to be a negative when there’s nothing left. Will you just do it again? Are you so unoriginal that you just want to, you know, run a time loop hamster wheel?
Anthony: You are not getting away with comparing me to a hamster on a wheel just because I use a treadmill to guide the fate of the universe!
Doc Issues: I didn’t even well, that’s that’s a kind of thing, I guess.
Anthony: You don’t even know your own argument. You’re bluffing. This is beyond trivial.
Doc Issues: Hey, hey, you said at some point you told yourself that talking to me was a good idea.
I have no inkling why, because you’re the self proclaimed genius with the speed to do it all whenever you want and you make yourself trivial in the process.
I hesitate to say this, but I don’t think you’re capable of relating anymore. At least not with someone like me. Go find my evil doppelganger or something in another dimension. I don’t know.
Anthony: Ha ha ha ha ha! Yes! You stupid, foolish, brilliant doctor! That makes sense! There must be a negative version of you! I just have to find him!
He will unlock the last mysteries of my negative speed force forever! But I needed you to tell me that!
Doc Issues: Wait! I I guess I should be glad he took the evil dimensional twin comment and not the nuclear wedge come in.
Hello, Mr. Thawne. I’m Dr. Issues.. Hmm, you seem to be out of breath.
Anthony: It took a lot for me to get here, but I
Doc Issues: Oh, wait, wait, wait. Eobard, it’s still me. I think you got yourself stuck somehow.
Anthony: How? I know this is Barry’s fault somehow. It has to be. It’s this ultimate prank on me. He’s getting me back. I’m forced to listen to an incompetent shrink until I find a way out.
Doc Issues: Hey, hey, or, or you could try doing some positive coping activities that open your mind so that you end up with a sense of gratitude for what you have. Which will lead to better things in the future. You ever think of that? I got a feeling you’re stuck with me until you get it right anyway.
Anthony: Oh, for the love of, how about if I shortcut this whole thing to the end and tell myself that you’re worth talking to so we can all get along and I can move on to wrecking Barry’s life again. Deal?
Doc Issues: Isn’t that just,
Anthony: don’t care I’m doing it. Goodbye, doctor.
Doc Issues: You know, I’ll be honest. I hadn’t thought of him talking fast as part of it, but it works well. So I appreciate it.
Anthony: Oh, as soon as I, we were going over the script, I was like, well, he’s obviously going to speak at an accelerated pace. It’s just who he is. And when I read the, you know, the speech bubbles and everything, there’s always, yeah, it’s in that jagged font and everything.
So I was just like, okay, so he’s going to have this, you know, off voice, but it’s also going to be super fast, which if you’ve ever had a real life conversation with me for more than a couple of minutes, you understand is not really all that terribly far off from. I speak , right? When, when I get really jazzed up about things I should say.
Doc Issues: Of course, of course. And what I, I’m gonna give myself a little credit. What I didn’t do, I didn’t try to match you, which is typically what I do whenever you do a certain cadence or speak in a certain voice with a dialect or whatever, and I, I. As soon as you started, I realized, okay, if anything, I need to do the opposite.
Let me make sure I take my time and feed into it, which I know I do with you.
Anthony: And I, it’s funny, I definitely have a habit where I match people. I just, I mirror them. Yeah, yeah. It’s just, it’s completely unintentional. The worst came from when I would walk alongside a classmate of ours in high school who had cerebral palsy and she had a bit of a limp and I would walk next to her and I would just unconsciously start shuffling slash limping in the same manner.
It didn’t happen often, but I did catch myself. On more than one occasion, just, Oh, okay. I have to stop this because we’re just, we’re walking and you and I are very fast walkers. Yes. Always have been, always will be. She obviously could not. So I would have to slow my gait considerably so as to not just naturally outpace her.
And unfortunately the side effect of that is if I have to walk slowly, I’m going to walk the same way you walk with the lip and I don’t. Have cerebral palsy. This is not a good look for me. I should probably stop doing this. These are all the things that are going through my head as I’m, you know, aware of it, but yeah, it happened more than once.
So recommended reading is Flash Rebirth. Again, it’s, it’s a good jumping off point for a lot of the stories that have happened over the past 20 years or so. Or 15 at this point, I think it’s closer to, yeah, 2000, yeah, about 15 years, but great story. Thoroughly enjoy it. I also really liked. The return of Barry Allen, which, you know, the fun little twist that it was Thawne all along.
Oh my god, I was wrong. It was Earth all along. They finally made a monkey out of me. So, upcoming episodes we are actually going to speed things up a bit. Pun partially intended and next week release another episode on Aquaman to tie in with the Aquaman sequel that we were originally going to do last year when the movie was originally going to come out last year.
And well, it’s been pushed back, so we pushed our episode on Arthur back, but it’ll be here next week. If you’re a patron, you’re also going to have access to our full commentary on the Aquaman movie, which will be released prior to the movie coming out. And we will be recording that shortly. So next episode’s Aquaman, then Echo to tie in with the release of the TV show and Speedball, Robbie Baldwin, AKA Penance, AKA I’m so dark and brooding.
Yeah, that was going to be fun. Fun in how not fun the character is, or at least the penance part anyway. So as always, you can find all of our episodes on our website, capesonthecouch. com. We are proud members of the Gonna Geek. Network. So you can go to gonnageeknetwork. com and check out our episodes as well as all of our sister shows.
Shout out to all the fantastic folks. I know that Stephen and, and SP just wrapped up the season of Better Podcasting. They just dropped the last episode of 2023. So go and check them out. And you can find all of our episodes on pretty much all your favorite podcatchers. eXcept for Spotify and we are on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and Threads at Capes on the Couch.
So check us out. If you want to shoot us an email, if you like what you hear, please leave us a rating on the pod catcher of your choice. If it allows you to do so, leave us a nice rating and review. And if you email us with a screenshot of the rating and your address, we’ll send you a sticker or a pin or both.
We’ve got tons of them. So just as a way of saying thank you, because the more ratings there are, the more people we can get in front of, the more the algorithm shares us. So please go forth and spread the love. Other than that, that’s about all I’ve got. So this one ran a little bit long. So doc, if you want to wrap it up in a flash.
Doc Issues: Absolutely.
I was just going to say in general, in life with obvious exceptions, be slow to anger and quick to forget.
Anthony: Beautifully stated. For Doc Issues, I’m Anthony Sytko. Thanks for listening. We’ll see you soon.