Black Flash

blackflashfilmNot exactly a new character here, but a long-awaited confirmation. At the end of The Flash Season 2, in the episode The Race of His Life, the villainous Zoom ended up prey of the Time Wraiths, and before being dragged into the Speed Force he had his appearance quite changed, with his face reduced to a grinning skull, his mask ripped and his emblem turned white and red. Many fans recognized his new appearance as the one of the Black Flash, the most feared enemy of every Speedster… and according to a recent interview to John Wesley Shipp and Mark Guggenheim they were right, as it’s been confirmed that Zoom, as a punishment for his manipulations, is now forced to serve that very Speed Force he tried to cheat as the Black Flash. In the comics, the Black Flash is not an alias of Zoom, but this makes him only more fearsome, as he is a totally supernatural being. Let’s see together.

The true origins as the creature known as the Black Flash are quite ambiguous. According to most sources, the moment the first human tapped into the Speed Force becoming a Speedster, Death found out that mortals had become faster than she was, and it had become impossible for her to reach them. Everyone must die eventually, and just as she had done with other races, species and categories, she created a new form, one specifically designed to catch the uncatchable Speedsters: the Black Flash, the Grim Reaper who was just as fast as the fastest man alive. According to other sources, the Black Flash was born within the Speed Force and belonged to it: he was the personification of the negative energy that accumulated inside the Speed Force itself, and when someone tapped into the Speed Force using its energy to gain the incredible speed it granted, he was the one who appeared at the end of their lives to claim them, so that they could give back the energy they had been using. blackflashcomics1Being it a way or the other, the appearance of the Black Flash meant death for whoever saw him, hero or villain, as long as they belonged to the Speed Force. It wasn’t necessary that said Speedsters died directly at his hands: he just claimed what belonged to the Speed Force, whether he was the cause of their death or not. When the second Flash, Barry Allen, sacrificed himself to save the Multiverse, the Black Flash was there to take him; when Johnny Quick consumed himself in the effort of stopping his nemesis Savitar, the Black Flash was there as well. He even appeared more than once to Max Mercury, who got close to death many times: any time he risked his life, the veteran hero clearly saw the Black Flash running besides him, trying to take him. He avoided death every time, and as  result the Black Flash stopped chasing him, but it was only a matter of time: the Black Flash eventually caught everyone.

The Black Flash eventually came for the third Flash as well, Wally West: during their first confrontation, the Scarlet Speedster managed to escape him, but upon returning to the Speed Force the Black Flash inadvertently took along Flash’s fiancé, Linda Park. When he returned once again to collect the right person, he froze time for whoever was not connected to the Speed Force, so that he could point his target only… but he found a small army of Speedsters waiting for him nevertheless. Along with Wally West, there were also the first Flash Jay Garrick, Max Mercury and Jesse Quick, who tried to slow the Grim Reaper down to allow Wally to find a way to defeat him. The Black Flash ignored the three heroes just as long as they weren’t a direct hindrance to his hunt, and focused on Flash only: Wally ran away, letting the Black Flash follow him. They were so fast that they traveled through time, but as fast as Wally could run, the Black Flash was always a few steps behind him, never slowing down, never getting tired. Then, finally, the Flash reached his intended destination: the end of time, a limbo in which time as we know it reached its ultimate consumption… the only spot in space-time in which Death had no place nor meaning. Tricked, the Black Flash dissipated, and Wally earned the right to live more than the Speed Force had decided for him. Of blackflashcomics2course, Death could not disappear, and the Black Flash was but an aspect of her: he reformed soon after, ready to resume his duty. When, some years after that episode, Bart Allen became the fourth Flash, and he was ultimately killed by Inertia and her Rogues, the Black Flash was there, “alive” and well, ready to collect the energy of yet another Speedster.

The Black Flash, whether he’s a manifestation of Death or the dark aspect of the Speed Force, is a relentless being who exists only for his hunt. He is just as fast as the Speed Force allows to be (that means something like four times the speed of light), with all the superhuman abilities deriving from super-speed; he also possesses some degree of chronokinesis, as he’s able to freeze time for whoever’s not connected to the Speed Force. With no pity, no remorse, no emotion whatsoever, the Black Flash is unstoppable, immortal, an omen of death for every Speedster, inescapable just as the fate he represents.

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Hunter Zolomon (Zoom)

ZoomIn the new trailer for The Flash‘s next episode, Flash of Two Worlds, we finally get a look at this season’s big baddie, Zoom, who’ll be voiced by Tony Todd (no official casting for his portrayal yet). In the show, Zoom comes from Earth-2, where according to Jay Garrick‘s words he’s killed quite a number of people… and is now determined to kill The Flash from Earth-1 for unknown reasons, blackmailing heroes and villains from his dimension to do his bidding. In the comics, Zoom is actually a Reverse-Flash, but not Barry Allen‘s one, since he targets one of his most popular successors… with quite an odd reason, that puts him on a completely different level from any other Flash villain, and gives him quite an ambiguous nature. Let’s see together.

Hunter Zolomon suffered from quite a traumatic childhood, since he (unknowingly) was the son of a brutal serial killer. Hunter only knew that his parents didn’t get along well, and that they barely spoke to each other… or even to him. One day, coming back from school, Hunter found his house surrounded by police: his mother had found out that her husband was the killer of the six missing young girls the news spoke about, and told the police about it; as a result, Hunter’s father killed her, and then assaulted the policemen, who killed him in turn. Now orphan, Hunter left for college, continuing to live alone as he had always done… but he was now obsessed with understanding the criminal mind, unable to explain to himself why he hadn’t realized who his own father was. Hunter studied psychology and criminology, and he became a criminal profiler, the same work his girlfriend Ashley (who later became his wife) zoomcomics1chose. Together, Hunter and Ashley joined FBI, where Zolomon proved more than once his worth. While following a case, however, Hunter made a mistake in his profile, believing that the man the FBI was pursuing was unable to “face his adulthood”, and thus incapable of using an “adult weapon” such as a gun; the killer, on the opposite, was more than able and willing to shoot, and as a result Ashley’s father got killed. The tragedy obviously put to the test the marriage of Hunter and Ashley… a test they did not pass together. Ashley left Hunter, and he fell into a deep depression. As a result, Hunter lost also his job in the FBI, and in the last case he followed he was injured to a knee, a wound that forced him to walk with a cane from there on. Broken and alone, Hunter decided to start a brand new life, and resumed his studies, specializing in the profiling of metahumans. With his new references, he got a new job in Keystone City, where he was hired as a profiler by the local police and assigned to the Department of Metahuman Hostilities.

Zolomon became a formidable force for good, helping the police to solve a number of crimes, and he even befriended the new Flash, Wally West. His only regret came from the fact that, due to his injured knee, he was forced to work from behind a desk, instead of participating to the action as he wanted. When Gorilla Grodd organised a massive breakout from Iron Heights, however, Zolomon decided to join the police forces on the field despite his leg… and, as a result, he was injured once again, and this time the consequences put him on a wheelchair. Having as a friend a time-traveling superhero can be an advantage… but not this time: Hunter asked Wally to use the Cosmic Treadmill to go back in time and prevent Grodd from maiming him, but the hero refused, telling him that manipulating the timeline was far too risky. Disappointed in his friend, Zolomon decided to do it by himself: he broke in the Flash Museum and tried to use the Cosmic Treadmill… but obviously it didn’t work, and it resulted in an explosion that zoomcomics2destroyed the museum. The treadmill’s radiations modified Zolomon’s organism in an unexpected way, and he didn’t only regain the use of his legs, but he was also detached from the regular timeline, continuously shifting through time (as a practical result, he could manipulate his speed in a certain instant, thus giving the effect of super speed). Now a metahuman himself, Hunter meditated on his friend’s refusal to help him, and he came to the conclusion that Wally West wasn’t a true hero yet: unlike his predecessor Barry Allen, in fact, West never faced a personal tragedy in his life, thus he didn’t grow up to his full potential. Hunter Zolomon, on the opposite, had suffered many tragedies, and each one of them had made him stronger and more determined. In order to help his friend, Hunter decided to don the mantle of Wally West’s Reverse-Flash: taking inspiration from Allen’s nemesis, Eobard “Professor Zoom” Thawne, he became Zoom, and started targeting the new Flash trying to bring tragedy in his life, so that he could grow up as a man and as a hero. During his first attack, Zoom nearly killed Wally’s wife, Linda Park, but only caused a miscarriage that killed Wally’s unborn twins. This was just the beginning of Wally West’s worst nightmare…

Hunter Zolomon is a deeply disturbed man, a brilliant profiler with a cracked mind who gained an indomitable will from the tragedies he had to suffer, but also a questionable morality and an ambiguous sense of justice. As Zoom, he is able to slow down his personal time, thus giving the illusion of super speed (actually, he is not going faster, it’s just the world around him going slower); affecting time, he’s also able to create powerful shock waves moving the air around him at abnormal speeds, even just by snapping his fingers. Hunter believes that only through tragedy a man can fulfill his full potential, thus, as Zoom, he makes the life of Wally West a living hell in the effort of making him a better Flash: as the hero will learn, a deranged man driven by good intentions can be far more dangerous than any evil maniac…