I’m in the middle of a huge project at work, so posting from me may be sparse this week! I want to post every day, but we see how that’s gonna go…
Anyway, I’ve got another Pre-Crisis 4l post for you, this time over one of my favorite stories. Hunter Zolomon, Zoom, is easily Geoff Johns’s best idea and this covers his origin.
This was originally published 05/03/05, back when I was still using Blogger (yuck). It’s actually shorter than I expected! Edits only made for spelling and to take out the word “pervert suit” because I hate it now and I was high on Warren Ellis back then.
Flash’s villains are probably the best DC has to offer. They just make more sense than a lot of DC’s other villains, seems like.
Even if one of them is a talking Gorilla.
Flash’s supporting cast is pretty cool, too. From left to right are Joan Garrick, Iris Allen, Bart (Impulse) Allen, and Jay (Flash) Garrick. It’s kind of cool how four Flash generations are represented in the book. In the foreground are Linda Park-West and Wally West. Not pictured are Morillo and Chyre, who are a couple of cops. It’s worth noting that Chyre is basically Marv from Sin City.
Another member of his supporting cast is Hunter Zolomon. He was what they call a “rogue profiler.” Think of him as a serial killer profiler for super villains. If Flash needed some info on a rogue, Hunter had it. He was very good at his job.
They became fast friends and both respected the other equally. Wally respected Hunter because he was very reminiscent of Barry Allen (Barry was in forensics, Hunter is more into the mental disciplines, but both work toward the same goal) and Hunter respected Wally because Wally was a true blue hero. Then, Gorilla Grodd crippled Hunter Zolomon and everything changed.
Shortly before Hunter was crippled, Wally West and Linda Park found out that they were going to have a kid. They’re tentatively happy, but Linda is certain that something is wrong. She asks the doctor for more tests. They soon find out that they’re going to be having twins. For once, everything feels right.
Just as a side note: it’s kind of interesting that they were going to have twins. Barry Allen, Flash II, had twins in the future. It’s a nice parallel between Wally and Barry. Just FYI, Barry’s twins ended up giving birth to Bart Allen, Impulse/Kid Flash II.
Hunter ends up begging Flash to use the cosmic treadmill to “fix” him. Flash refuses and explains how time travel created Professor Zoom, the Reverse Flash and what came out of that. Hunter doesn’t take it well. “You’ve never had any personal tragedy,” he says.
“You don’t understand what I’m going through.”
That same night, Hunter sneaks out to the Flash Musuem and activates the treadmill. It malfunctions and explodes.
Hunter wakes up in the hospital. He doesn’t remember what happened very well, only that the treadmill malfunctioned. Flash #197 is a first person tale of Hunter’s life. It talks about his greatest success and his greatest failure. He can’t figure out why Flash couldn’t use the treadmill to fix his life. As the issue goes on, Hunter’s tone slowly changes. “I thought we were friends, Flash,” he thinks. “Instead, you let fear hold you back. And true heroes don’t let fear hold them back. No matter the risk. No matter the evil.”
Hunter’s monologue continues. He relates Flash to himself and vice versa through flashbacks and conjecture. He wonders if Wally revealed his identity to the public for the glory, and remembers back when he was all about the fame. He lost his father-in-law, was left by his wife, and was nearly crippled by one mistake.
Soon, Hunter realizes that time is standing still. He wonders if he’s going crazy or if the treadmill actually affected him somehow. He decides on the latter, and also decides on a purpose. Heroes need tragedy.
Flash isn’t a hero yet. He needs that tragedy to make him one. Hunter says that he must face his ultimate opposite: “a man who has lost his pride, confidence, and identity to tragedy.” He’s going to make Flash into a better hero, whether he wants to be one or not.
“There is only one type of man who can make you a better hero. One type of man who can reverse your twisted thinking. One man.
“Who fits the profile?
I love this angle for a villain. He isn’t going to be a villain because he’s selfish, or poor, or just insane. He’s going to make Flash a hero. He’s helping Flash. He is a friend turned foe out of necessity and he hits Flash where it hurts.
After all this, Wally and his crew are celebrating the news of the twins when they hear a series of sonic boom. Jay Garrick and Wally dash off to investigate. They go to help save people and encounter Zoom for the first time. They get manhandled.
Then Zoom accosts Linda. He is going to use her to make Wally face his fears. He’s going to snap his fingers, cause a sonic boom, and make Wally a hero. Impulse comes to Linda’s rescue, but fails. Zoom takes him out and takes Linda back to where Wally and Jay are licking their wounds. The cops pull their guns on him, but he easily disables them before even Wally can blink.
“Officer Fred Chyre. Detective Jared Morillo. Areyougoingtobepartofthetagedy? Iiiiiiiii hopenot,” he says.
Then, it happens. He easily dodges Flash and sets off a sonic boom. Right in front of Linda.
She ends up in the hospital, hurt badly, when Zoom appears again. Flash and Zoom end up fighting, and Zoom reveals that he’s Hunter. He explains what he’s doing and why. “I’m making you a better hero, Flash,” he says.
Then he drops the bombshell. “Your unborn twins are dead.
Eventually, Flash defeats Zoom. That’s a given.
But wow, man. This is a hard story. There’s something to be said for the Women in Refrigerators angle, but I feel this was handled pretty well. This isn’t like Identity Crisis, where Sue Dibny’s rape was viewed only from the superheroes’ point of view and didn’t really matter except to turn a D-list villain into a thread. Miscarriage isn’t really something that you can handle in a tights and fights book, but this is about as well-handled as it gets. It isn’t Superman weeping one lone tear, this is both Wally and Linda distraught over their loss. Flash won nothing when he beat Zoom.
Another high point is that there were actually repercussions. Wally and Linda eventually split up after a few things went down, but neither were painted as villains. It was kind of a mature take, or at least as mature as you can get when you’re reading about tights.
This is an excellent story. Geoff Johns and Scott Kolins really did an excellent job. They both introduced a new villain and changed the status quo with a deft touch.
#12 is Spider-Ham #6. Look forward to it!