WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS up to The Flash #46
The opening chapter of DC's Flash War reveals the secret origin of Hunter Zolomon, the third Reverse Flash - and how Wally West's greatest enemy emerged into the reality of DC Rebirth. The story also shows how both current versions of The Flash share a kinship of sorts with one another's Reverse Flash counterparts.
Despite having inspired a villain named Zoom in the second season of The Flash television show, the original version of Hunter Zolomon is quite different. A criminal profiler with the FBI, Zolomon's career was cut short after a botched analysis led to the death of his mentor and a downward spiral that left Zolomon divorced and disgraced. With Wally West's help, Hunter was able to rebuild a life for himself with the Central City Police Department, only for his career to be cut short again when an attack by Gorilla Grodd saw him permanently paralyzed.
When Wally refused to use his powers to go back in time and save him from being hurt, Hunter attempted to do the job himself using The Cosmic Treadmill in The Flash Museum. The resulting explosion drove Zolomon insane but also gave him a unique form of super-speed independent of The Speed Force, enabling him to warp the passage of time around him.
The last time Hunter Zolomon made an appearance in the comics was at the end of The Flash: Rebirth back in 2010. It was here that the second Reverse Flash, Eobard Thawne, broke a de-powered Hunter Zolomon out of prison. With the 2011 event Flashpoint resetting the DC Comics Universe, it seemed that Hunter Zolomon was one more casualty of The New 52 until his sudden surprise appearance in the ending of The Flash Annual #1 earlier this year.
The Flash #46 explains how the two Reverse Flashes traveled to Thawne's home in the 25th Century , where the two were somehow protected from the recent changes to the DC Comics timeline. The two enacted several plans to disrupt the life of Barry Allen, but Thawne quickly lost patience with Zolomon's methodical approach. This left Zolomon, whose powers allow him to alter the flow of time but not travel through it, trapped in the future.
After witnessing Eobard Thawne's death at the hands of whatever power altered the timeline, Zolomon elected to use his future knowledge and his access to Thawne's technology to drive The Flashes to fight amongst themselves.
Another interesting aspect of this story is the parallels that can be drawn between the various Flashes and Reverse Flashes. Zolomon compares his mentor and Wally West in how they both were inspired by Barry Allen's example, and have a tendency to cope with stress by running. He also notes that Wally now seems to be plagued by the same time-visions as Thawne, with this issue seeing Wally hallucinating the pre-Flashpoint world, seeing things and people as they were rather than what they are now.
The reverse comparison can be made between the new Zoom and the Barry Allen version of The Flash. Hunter Zolomon's life is a dark mirror of Barry Allen's, with both men having been inspired to becoming lawmen after their fathers were accused of criminal activity - the key difference being that Dr. Henry Allen was innocent of his wife's murder whereas Hunter Zolomon's father honestly was a serial killer.
Both Zolomon and Allen also sought to use time-travel to change their lives with devastating consequences. At this point, predicting how Zolomon will be guiding the coming Flash War, and who he would prefer win, are up for debate. No matter what, things are only going to get stranger for Barry and Wally from here.
The Flash #46 is available now from DC Comics.