In The Flash trailer, when Barry Allen stares helplessly at his mother being killed by a strange yellow “storm” in her dining room, a human shape can be clearly seen in the maelstrom: it’s Professor Zoom, Barry’s future nemesis, who came back in time to ruin his enemy’s life by killing his mother and having his father framed for the crime. In the show, Rick Cosnett is reported to be playing Detective Eddie Thawne, a character whose name is clearly a reference to Professor Zoom’s secret identity in the comics, Eobard Thawne. As for now, we don’t know what kind of role Thawne will have in the show, nor if we’ll see more of (future?) Zoom in the first season; this marks, anyway, the first live action appearance of one of the most ruthless villains in the DC Universe: let’s see together.
Eobard Thawne’s life began in the 25th Century, a genetically programmed son meant to be extremely intelligent and quite beautiful, as it was costume for rich couples. Growing up, however, Eobard developed a worrying lack of social skills, so his parents engineered another son, Robern, thinking that taking care of a little brother would have only helped their son in developing social skills, but it only managed to make Eobard neglect his studies, and also to create quite a harsh relationship between the two siblings. Eobard wanted to become a researcher, and demanded to be allowed to study the Speed Force in the Flash Museum, but his results weren’t enough to grant him the position. Disappointed but not surrendered, Eobard started studying on his own, but Robern, who had become an agent of the Science Police, arrested him for illegal experiments. This was just the beginning of a series of time paradoxes involving Thawne: a future Eobard traveled back in time, and prevented his brother from ever being born. This way, Eobard was able to focus on his studies, and he easily accessed the Flash Museum. When Professor Drake was about to prove the existence of the Speed Force, Eobard asked him to help him with his studies, but was refused: again, a future version of himself killed Drake, and his discoveries became Eobard’s. A famous and renowned researcher in the Flash Museum, Eobard became obsessed with the Speed Force, gaining the nickname Professor Zoom for it; his parents, worried for him, tried to have the Museum closed, but a future Eobard killed them, so that he could continue his researches. When Thawne fell in love with a journalist, and discovered she was to be married with another man, a future self traveled back in time and killed the girl’s fiancé; in the present, however, she was dating yet another man. Professor Zoom systematically killed every single man the journalist had ever dated, but since she still refused to love him, he eventually resolved to mentally damage the baby version of the journalist: she went mad when she was a little girl, and spent her life in a mental asylum.
The present version of Thawne was unaware of all the time manipulation his future self (selves) had done: he was just a brilliant professor who worshiped the second Flash, Barry Allen, a hero he collected every relic of, and who he had also copied the appearance with plastic surgery. When he found Barry’s Cosmic Treadmill, the device that allowed the hero to travel through time, Thawne arrived to the point of killing the collector who owned it in order to get it; he then spent all his money and many of his years to replicate the accident that gave Allen his powers: all he wanted was a chance to meet his hero and to become his partner. Once he got access to the Speed Force with the incident replica, he traveled back in time with the Treadmill, but arrived after Allen was dead already, and Wally West was the new Flash. The travel proved not to be entirely worthless, as he learnt in the past that Eobard Thawne was the name of Flash’ greatest enemy, Professor Zoom, Barry’s Reverse Flash. The knowledge drove Thawne mad, and he suffered a traumatic amnesia. Regaining his senses, Thawne convinced himself he was Barry Allen, and visited his “successor”, Wally West. Only after months spent like he was the Flash Thawne’s madness resurfaced and Wally realized something was wrong with “Barry”. When Thawne remembered who he was, he finally created his costume, the color-reversed version of the Flash’s one, and battled many heroes of the 20th Century, until West finally managed to send him back to his era using the Treadmill. The travel back in the future drained Zoom’s powers and memory, and he only remembered a deep hatred towards Barry Allen. Zoom ironically regained his super speed thanks to an ancient costume of Barry Allen’s: with that, he was able to come back in the right era, and to prove himself superior to the hero who had been his idol, and who had become the person he despised the most.
Eobard Thawne is essentially a sociopath, an insane criminal who goes from obsession to obsession. He has an impressive intellect, augmented to levels beyond human, that is his most dangerous trait. As Professor Zoom, Thawne is able to tap into the Negative Speed Force, a power he himself created, which grants him all the abilities the normal Speed Force usually grants to the Flash(es) (super speed, agility and reflexes, fast-thinking, running over water or through solid matter) and even something more: he’s able to cut the speedsters out of the Speed Force, and to drain the Force from whoever uses it; he’s also capable of traveling through time, changing history by manipulating certain events, a power he tested on his own life and that he has used more than once with catastrophic effects for the entire reality. Delusional but brilliant, Professor Zoom is a deranged genius who possesses all the Flash’s powers, but is his opposite in what concerns morality.