I was thinking about the series of “Rogue Profiles” we’ve been getting every once in a while in The Flash and realized that quite a few villains based their M.O. on a childhood trauma.
It’s been long established that Heat Wave was trapped in a walk-in freezer during a school field trip, and has had a life-long obsession with heat. So when he decided to go into crime, a flamethrower was a natural choice.
The Pied Piper is another one: he was born deaf, and his wealthy parents found a doctor who could give him hearing. Naturally he became obsessed with sound, so sonic tech was his weapon of choice.
The Trickster was born into a family of acrobats but afraid of heights. So he invented “air walker” shoes, which he later used to start his criminal career — by holding up and robbing airplanes.
Captain Cold only became a cold-based villain because that’s the tech he stole (although he studied and refined it). But the Rogue Profile issue focusing on him established that he’d had a terrible home life, and only felt happy when visiting his grandfather… who drove a truck delivering ice!
The second Mirror Master got a similar treatment a few months ago. It seems a key event in his life was standing up to — and killing — a bully when he was a child. The image that stuck with him was his own reflection in the water after he had drowned the other boy. (And he didn’t even seek the Mirror Master identity or tech — the costume and weapons were handed to him.)
And dare I mention the Rainbow Raider, who, bitter that his color-blindness blocked him from an otherwise promising painting career, decided to take color-based revenge on the world?
Sure, it’s not every villain, or even every Flash villain, but I was able to pull together six just from the Flash’s enemies. I’m sure, given time, I could amass a list of even more villains (or even heroes) who fit the pattern.
If you know of any, feel free to post them here!