Capes on the Couch DC,Episodes,Villains Issue 185 – Eobard Thawne

Issue 185 – Eobard Thawne

Issue 185 – Eobard Thawne post thumbnail image

We take our first look at a Flash-affiliated character with Barry Allen’s nemesis EOBARD THAWNE! Things go off the rails pretty quickly, but it’s ok, because we can just jump to another timeline where everything is fine, and no one will be any the wiser – except for Eobard…

  • Intro
  • Background (2:05)
    • Eobard Thawne, aka Professor Zoom or the Reverse Flash, created by John Broome and Carmine Infantino in The Flash #139 (Sept. 1963)
    • Eobard Thawne is a scientist from the 25th century, where superheroes are few
    • He becomes obsessed with learning about the Speed Force, but he initially encounters some obstacles until his future self intervenes several times:
      • He was jealous of his younger brother growing up, until his future self prevented Robern from being born
      • and then his future self caused the death of his parents, since they were worried about his obsession
      • He kills another professor who is close to unlocking the secrets of the Speed Force
      • After Eobard falls in love with a reporter, his future self kills her fiance and any man she ever dated – when she still rejected him, his future self went back to her childhood and traumatized her to the point of rendering her mute
    • He becomes obsessed with Barry Allen, to the point of getting cosmetic surgery to resemble him
    • Obtains a Cosmic Treadmill, a copy of the Flash’s costume, and replicates the accident to give himself Flash’s powers – he traveled back to a few years after Barry’s death, and learned that he would become Professor Zoom, the Reverse-Flash, and Barry’s greatest nemesis
    • This caused a psychic break, and Thawne became convinced he *was* a resurrected Barry Allen, and even managed to convince several of Barry’s friends he was Barry – after attacking several heroes for “forgetting” him, Wally West tricked him into returning to his home time
    • Thawne became obsessed with replacing Barry, to the point of killing Iris West, and when he attacked Fiona Webb, Barry broke his neck and killed him
    • Flash: Rebirth reveals that Thawne is responsible for every tragedy in Barry’s life, including the death of his mother – after killing several speedsters, he announces his connection to the Negative Speed Force, and says he will kill Iris before Barry has a chance to meet her – as Barry and Wally travel backwards in time, they merge into the lightning bolt that originally gave Barry his powers #BecauseComics – Thawne is imprisoned in a device that severs his connection to the Speed Force, removing his powers
    • The broken neck version was resurrected during Blackest Night and then purified by a white light 
    • Thawne is the central villain of Flashpoint – when Barry travels back to prevent Thawne from killing Nora West, the resulting timeline is drastically different – Thawne is then killed by the new Batman, and Barry goes back to prevent himself from stopping her murder, which creates a new third timeline
    • Rebirth revises his origin – he’s met in the 25th century by Barry, who prevents him from carrying out further crimes – he is temporarily rehabilitated, until he travels to the past and learns Barry didn’t consider him as much of a friend as he initially thought, so he vows to make Barry miserable until Barry “makes time” for him
    • He’s one of the primary villains of the Button, where he has memories of every timeline, and uses this knowledge to torture Barry, Bruce Wayne, and heroes, until he’s killed by Dr. Manhattan, although he’s resurrected by the negative Speed Force once again
    • Finish Line – Thawne vibrates into Barry, taking over his mind and trapping Barry in the Speed Force – Thawne says he and Barry will forever be trapped in a loop, until Barry forgives him – this confuses Thawne, and Barry is able to reset him in the 25th century, where he is a tour guide at the Flash Museum with no memory of being a villain
  • Issues – “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 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.” (15:56)
    • 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.
    • Superiority complex. When you think about 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 the signal to your brain that it’s happening. He can kill a room full 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 detail 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. (22:18)
    • Pettiness on a scale hitherto undreamt of. To paraphrase Billy Beane in Moneyball, there’s petty, there’s that which petty aspires to be, there’s fifty 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, so instead he 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 Zolomon 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. (28:28)
    • Dozens and dozens of lifetimes worth of memories. Thawne’s use of the Negative Speed Force gives him a form of superceding 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. (38:22)
  • Break (45:33)
  • Treatment (46:46)
    • In-universe – Transcranial magnetic stimulation analogue to help Thawne’s brain
    • Out of universe – Use CBT to help people to slow down and notice things more (49:40)
  • Skit (54:34)
    • Hello Mr. Thawne, I’m Dr. Issues. Hmm…you seem out of breath – *heavy breathing* It took a lot for me to get here. But I can’t ignore a slight like that. As you know, a doctor should only address a colleague with a title the equivalent to their own.
    • You can’t be serio…ow! What was that? -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. *yawn* But as all plebians before you, your nervous system stood no chance in keeping up with my abilities. And that, my dear doctor, was only a sample of what I am capable of.
    • *pause* You just gave a soliloquy on a purple nurple? -I had to demonstrate that you are not superior to me in any aspect of existence.
    • Ok -*pause* That’s it? Just, “OK?” You don’t protest? Where’s the fear? Where’s the awe? Anger? Something besides “Ok”?
    • Okaaaaay…Professor? -That’s better…wait, still no emotion behind it. What is wrong with you? Do I have to phase through you and shatter your spleen?
    • Needlessly graphic but no…*sigh* 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 of. -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? Um…was thinking. You get the point.
    • Sure. So, what can I do for you? -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, “as you do”
    • Are you expecting me to empathize with that? OOOOF; what did you do now? -Matter has multiple phases. Most people will 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 malleable yet firm membrane
    • *Interrupting* You spit in my ear?! What are you, 12?! – Superspeed 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.
    • You could kill me at any moment, and you torture me with pranks? What’s the point? -I’ve given you a glimpse of my power. Now imagine that for every moment of your life. To know that at any point, I can cause you immeasurable suffering and pain with the slightest show of effort on my part. THAT is what I live for. 
    • So you can be the most influential being for every person’s life who ever existed, and you choose to make it miserable? Not exactly a way to win friends. -But you’re wrong. I’ve created factions of allies that bring dimensions to their proverbial knees!
    • Until you, what, give them a thermonuclear wedgie? That’s what the history books will say. Eobard Thawne, the person who created a black hole constructed out of his own spite and misery. -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
    • Do you have an off switch for that? -My genius? No, unfortunately for you, I don’t.
    • 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. -*pause* Come again?
    • Ever heard of mimetic thinking? It’s the idea that an individual’s goals in life are constantly shaped by the goals they’ve observed set by others. We’re unique in our existence, but not in our shared outcomes. You already determined one failpoint, whoever you were talking about -Barry. His name’s Barry
    • *dismissive for once* whatever. The point is, you must have gotten this idea, somewhere, from someone, that destroying everything is a 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 run a time loop hamster wheel? -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! 
    • I didn’t even…uh…wow. That’s um…that’s a…thing, I guess -You don’t even know your own argument. You’re bluffing! This is beyond trivial.
    • Hey, you said that 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 don’t think you’re capable of relating anymore. At least not with someone like me. Go find my evil doppleganger or something in another dimension, I don’t know. -*evil laugh* 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 speedforce forever! But I needed you to tell me that. 
    • Wait! I *zoom sound, door shut* I guess I should be glad he took the “evil dimensional twin” comment and not the nuclear wedgie one. *more zooming, then door knocking* Um, come in. -*heavy breathing*
    • Hello Mr. Thawne, I’m Dr. Issues. Hmm…you seem out of breath – *heavy breathing* It took a lot for me to get here. But 
    • *interrupting* It’s still me, Eobard. I think you’ve got yourself stuck somehow. -*pause* How…I know this is Barry somehow. It has to be. It’s his ultimate prank on me. He’s getting me back! I’m forced to listen to an incompetent shrink until I find a way out!
    • Hey!…or…ORRRRR…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. Huh/ Huuuuuh? You ever think of that? You’re stuck with me until you get it right anyway. -Oh for the love of…how about if I shortcut this whole thing to the end and tell myself that you are worth talking to so we can all get along and I can move on to wrecking Barry’s life again. Deal? 
    • Isn’t that just -Don’t care, I’m doing it. Goodbye, Doctor *zoom*
  • Ending (60:22)
    • Recommended reading: Flash: Rebirth
    • Next episodes: Aquaman, Echo, Speedball
    • Plugs for social & GonnaGeek Network


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