This article contains potential The Flash Season 2 spoilers, and actual spoilers for a number of comic book storylines. Even though we might be wrong about stuff, read on with care. It first ran in November of 2015 but continues to get updated with new information based on how the season is unfolding.
I’ve had to give this a significant update based on the big Zoom reveal at the end of “King Shark.” This article is now less a search for clues about his identity, and now just some cool context from the comics.
Just to be clear right from the outset, the Zoom of The Flash Season 2 shares little in common with the character from the comics. We’re looking at drastically different MOs, a fairly different visual flair, and then there’s that whole “he’s from an entirely different universe” thing to consider. That being said, it’s still worth it to take a quick look at the character’s comic book roots…
Not that it was that much a help to me last year when I tried to unravel the mystery of the Reverse-Flash. Despite the fact that it seemed pretty obvious that Harrison Wells was the mystery villain, the show pulled in so many different elements of Reverse-Flash mythology that it even kept me guessing up until virtually the last minute. I’ll start with the most obvious suspect, but please note that my favorite candidate for the man under the creepy mask is actually at the end of the article.
According to the comics, Zoom is actually Hunter Zolomon who first appeared during Geoff Johns’ tenure as writer on The Flash in the early 2000s. That’s a period in the character’s history that has been pretty influential on the TV show (remember Peek-a-Boo? Yeah, sorry. Also, Double Down from this era just appeared on Arrow), partially because they’re damn good comics, but also because Johns is an executive producer on The Flash. And, of course, the show recently introduced us to a familiar looking version of Hunter Zolomon, but as we’ll see, he has a different background than his comic book counterpart.
Of course, we learned that Hunter Zolomon, because of a handful of weird issues, is simply the Jay Garrick of Earth One on The Flash. As Zoom himself put it, “this complicates things.” But the comic book version of Zolomon was a member of the Keystone City Police Department who specialized in cracking cases involving low level metahumans. I guess the logic is that as saturated with superheroes and villains that the DC Universe is, there’s even more metahuman activity that doesn’t actually make it into the pages of comic books. So the clowns that don’t merit attention from Flash or Green Lantern or Batman or Blue Devil or ‘Mazing Man get dealt with by specially trained police and FBI agents. That makes sense.
Zolomon found himself injured in the line of duty, brought on by his own overconfidence on the same mission that led to the death of his father-in-law, which had the expected effect on his marriage. That’s when he met Flash. In this case, though, we’re talking about Wally West, several years after Barry Allen was presumed dead and Wally had taken up the red cowl. During an encounter with Grodd at Iron Heights, Zolomon was crippled, and asked Flash for a favor.
The thing is, it wasn’t a small favor. He wanted Flash to use the cosmic treadmill, the device that allowed Barry Allen to travel through time and between dimensions, to alter the past. In Zolomon’s defense, he wasn’t asking Wally to alter the moment that Grodd got to him, but to just give him one hour of his life back, before the relatively minor injury that cost him his job with the FBI and his marriage, landed him with the Keystone City PD, and put him within crushing distance of Grodd.
Needless to say, Flash refused, citing the usual time travel babble about altering the past. Zolomon, brilliant and determined, decided to use the cosmic treadmill himself. It didn’t go as planned.
Zolomon didn’t gain super speed powers in the traditional sense. He doesn’t necessarily move fast or tap into the speed force the way that Barry, Wally, or Jay Garrick do. Instead, he kind of operates outside of time. To traditional perceptions, he appears to be completely catatonic. But from where he’s sitting, we’re the ones standing still, because he’s moving too fast.
Zoom caused Wally some serious headaches, under the twisted revenge logic of showing him that he needs to be prepared to take any risk in order to be the hero he’s supposed to be. Remember when Wally thought traveling in time to fix Hunter’s life was too risky? There you go. It also couldn’t really be more different than the “I’m going to send metahumans from another dimension after you to kill you” MO that the Zoom of the show is displaying.
Zoom’s origin and first battle with Wally and Jay Garrick was chronicled in The Flash: Blitz which collects The Flash #192-200, and also made available in The Flash Omnibus Volume 2. Beware before clicking those Amazon links, though, both are out of print and a bit pricey.
Zoom appeared a handful of times over the next few years, but he hasn’t been seen since the DC Universe was reset after the events of Flashpoint. There was another Reverse-Flash early on in the New 52 years (no need to get into him here), and Eobard Thawne is now back, but Zolomon/Zoom appears to be gone for now. He was really always Wally’s threat more than Barry’s, though, and with Barry now firmly re-established as the Flash of the main DC Universe, there’s not much reason for Hunter Zolomon to exist at the moment. It’s too bad, because he was a creepier visual with more interesting motivations than the comic book version of the Eobard Thawne Reverse-Flash (trust me, the version of Reverse-Flash we got on The Flash season one was far more layered than his comic book counterpart).
All of this does lead me back to one interesting, often overlooked piece of Flash history, though…
The Zoom of The Flash Season 2 is Jay Garrick’s arch enemy. Well, the Jay Garrick of the comics also had a kind of Reverse-Flash to contend with, although he only made a handful of appearances. He was known as The Rival Flash, and he sported a darker version of Jay’s costume, plus a creepy full-face mask, which is actually closer in design to TV Zoom’s mask than Hunter Zolomon’s was.
Rival was Edward Clariss, a professor at the same university Jay Garrick was a student at when he gained super speed, and who found his way to the same formula that granted Jay his powers. He only appeared once, in what was the final issue of Flash Comics (#104 in 1949). Like the TV version of Zoom, he also had a way to steal Flash’s speed. Also, in the handful of modern appearances that Clariss made, his “speed energy” was the same blue that we see Zoom exhibiting.
It’s not much of a connection, I’ll admit, but on the surface, TV Zoom appears to have much more in common with Rival than he does the comic book Zoom. Zoom is not Edward Clariss, obviously, but it’s worth noting the similarities.
There was once a speedster by the name of Jerry McGee, and yes, he was the husband of the comic book version of occasional Flash guest star, Tina McGee (Amanda Pays). McGee developed a steroid that gave him super speed, and as expected, it didn’t go well for him. Why am I bringing him up here?
Well, McGee ended up involved in a story where Vandal Savage was creating speedsters of his own with a drug called Velocity 9. In the episode “Legends of Today,” we saw Harrison Wells create the drug known as “Velocity 6” and later we got “Velocity 9.” Since TV’s Zoom definitely has extensive chemical knowledge, it’s possible that his speed is a result of some kind of experimentation with a speedster steroid. Plus, his general physique kind of recalls Jerry’s more muscular form.
We know that Jerry McGee isn’t Zoom, but I do wonder if we’ll see a hint of this once Zoom’s true origin is revealed.
Anyway, I’ll update this article with more information as it becomes available. Obviously, we’ll learn more context about evil Jay/Zolomon/Zoom before the season ends.
You knew this already, but Mike Cecchini has read far too many DC Comics. Or comics in general. Tell him to get a life on Twitter.
THINGS I WAS DEAD WRONG ABOUT!
Zoom isn’t Eddie Thawne
Now, right now we not only don’t have any clue to Zoom’s identity on the TV show, but we also don’t know the nature of his powers. The fact that his speed energy is blue as opposed to the red or yellow we’re used to might be a hint that he isn’t tuned into the speed force the way that Barry and Jay and Eobard were, but he might just turn out to be a traditional speedster.
That blue energy also casts a little bit of suspicion on Eddie Thawne. Like Hunter Zolomon, he was a good cop and a former ally of a Flash who found himself caught in the crossfire of a superhero/supervillain slugfest. He was sucked into a singularity with plenty of blue energy swirling around it. That’s enough coincidental evidence for me to consider him a likely suspect.
Zoom isn’t Barry Allen
The really creepy appearance of the TV Zoom indicates that he might be someone with more to hide than just an identity, and he could be severely disfigured underneath that mask. It’s the kind of thing that could throw suspicion on someone like, I don’t know, Barry Allen. That’s extraordinarily unlikely, though. What we’ve seen of Zoom so far indicates that he’s a far more physically intimidating presence than Barry, even a potentially evil one. But the revelation that Doctor Light was actually the Earth-Two version of Linda Park seems like exactly the kind of misdirection that we’ve become accustomed to with his show. Showing us how a character who hasn’t shown any evil intentions at all, let alone superhuman abilities, could be an experienced metahuman supercriminal on Earth-Two is one of those “well, anything is possible” moments, though, so it’s tough to rule out.
Zoom isn’t Henry Allen
Would the showrunners decide to do something completely bonkers like revealing, say, Henry Allen under that full-face hood? There’s a case to be made for that kind of craziness, and when you look at Zoom, his build does kind of resemble the bulkier John Wesley Shipp version of Flash’s costume. That would be pretty wild, especially based on his heartbreaking return and departure early this season.
I’m coming around on this theory, especially since Zoom’s build and thicker costume kinda resembles what John Wesley Shipp wore on the original Flash TV series. What’s more, the fact that as of “Welcome to Earth-2” we’ve met Earth-2 versions of every major cast member except for Henry Allen leads me to believe that just maybe the show is hiding something.