The origin of Reverse-Flash is straightforward.
As initially written, the Reverse-Flash is Eobard Thawne, and he is from the 25th Century. He discovered a time capsule containing the suit of Barry Allen (AKA The Flash), an atomic clock, and a Tachyon device. Thawne begins to work at becoming his timeline’s Flash. After successfully using the Tachyon Device to give himself super speed, he reversed the colors of Barry’s costume. He called himself Reverse-Flash and went on a massive crime spree.
He didn’t foresee that the Flash was out looking for the atomic clock. So when Barry found the clock in Reverse-Flash’s hands, he quickly defeated the villain, safely detonated the clock, and destroyed the Reverse-Flash’s costume.
After blaming Flash for his defeat, Thawne returned to Barry’s timeline. Once there, he sought revenge while looking for a way to become The Flash.
Reverse Flash’s origin story was changed during the Post-Crisis story. In this version, Thawne was a scientist who was obsessed with Barry Allen that he had plastic surgery done so that he would look like him. Later, he noticed something strange in a nearby antique shop. He learned that his finding was the Cosmic Treadmill. With the Treadmill in his possession, Thawne replicated the accident that caused Barry to receive his speedster abilities.
Now with power, Thawne used the Treadmill to travel back through time. But, unfortunately, he miscalculated his arrival. Instead of arriving during Barry’s life, he arrived two years after his death. Frustrated, he visited the Flash Museum only to learn his destiny. That is, he realized that he was to become the Reverse-Flash and that he was going to be killed by his idol. This caused him to have a mental breakdown. As a result, he began to attack Central City. Eventually, he was defeated by Wally West and sent back to his timeline.
And that’s it—the origin of Reverse-Flash.
Reverse-Flash Appearance and Powers
First Appearance: The Flash #139 (September 1963)
Affiliation: Injustice League, Secret Society of Supervillains, Acolytes of Doom, Black Lantern Corps, and Legion of Doom.
Powers: Can travel at speeds faster than light, quickly heal from wounds, travel through time, can become intangible, and can create a mirage of himself. He can also develop vortexes, project sonic shockwaves, and absorb both memories and speed from others.
Before the Reverse Flash ever ruined the Flash’s life, he first worked on his origin story and realized a dark secret about his life.
The sinister enemy of the Flash put his own creative (and quite disturbing) spin on origin stories. Before he ever set out to ruin Barry Allen’s life, the Reverse-Flash tried perfecting his own, only to discover the process wasn’t as easy as he thought.
Few villains in comic books have as much hatred for their adversaries as Reverse-Flash has for Barry Allen. Once a fan of the Flash from the 25th Century, Eobard Thawne desperately attempted to recreate Barry’s famous accident and become a speedster himself. Though successful in his attempts, Thawne discovered he was fated to become the Flash’s nemesis, the Reverse-Flash. This revelation completely broke his mind. While Thawne wants nothing more than to kill his enemy, he needs Barry alive to inspire him in the future. So instead, the Reverse Flash resolved to use his mastery of speed and time to make the Flash as miserable as possible.
But before Thawne set out to destroy the life of Barry Allen, he practiced manipulating the timeline to change his own life. In Flash #8 by Geoff Johns and Scott Kolins, the villain narrates his secret origin from his youth. In the 25th Century, before Eobard Thawne becomes the Reverse-Flash. Thawne has a brother whom he despises until a demonic figure in red lightning erases Eobard’s sibling from the timeline. Eobard later loses out on a highly-coveted spot working at the Flash museum until Thawne’s main competitor also disappears from the timeline. As Thawne details his life, the Reverse-Flash is shown ‘improving’ history to give himself everything he ever wanted, even helping his past self find the key to the Speed Force. But Reverse-Flash knows that whatever happiness his past self finds will never last.
By cruelly removing elements from Barry’s timelines little by little, this story becomes a dark mirror that depicts how Reverse-Flash changed Flash’s life forever. While Thawne applied what he learned from changing his life to his enemy, the result had the opposite effect. Regardless of what Reverse Flash did to the Flash, Barry still lived a pretty happy life.
Heroes and villains often have origins that reflect or complement one another in some form or fashion. They could share a common background or experience a similar hardship, but there’s usually a thread that connects the two. For example, Eobard Thawne lived his whole life worshipping the Fastest Man Alive. Only to break under the realization he was his idol’s complete opposite. However, it isn’t enough to be told that. The Reverse Flash saw firsthand how opposite he and Flash were by messing with their timelines. Despite how much Thawne tried to improve his life, he remained miserable. And despite the hell he put Barry through, his enemy got a life full of love and happiness. By messing with his own and Barry’s origins, Flash’s greatest enemy saw the cosmic perspective of their relationships with his own eyes.
You can watch Reverse Flash in the Flash series from the Arrowverse by clicking here.