FLASH Facts: The Thinker

It's like Harvey Dent says, you either die a hero or...

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Clifford DeVoe was a beaten man. As the District Attorney, DeVoe watched time and again as members of various crime families walked away free after long trials. He put in the work, he did his job, and he cared, but the courts just seemed to be against him.

After a jury made up of twelve morons let crime boss Hunk Norvock free, DeVoe headed to the bar to drown his sorrows. At that same bar was Norvock and his boys. As the night went on, and as DeVoe drank more, the two adversaries found themselves sitting at the bar together. It was then that DeVoe came up with a plan that would change his life forever - he would become a mob lawyer.

The idea was simple enough - sure, Norvock’s crew kept going free after their trials, but what if they never even went to trial? With his position as DA, DeVoe could set up alibis for Norock and his gang before they pulled off heists. He could let them in on police routes so they knew where to strike and where to keep away from. DeVoe would become Norvock’s secret weapon. The two men who started the day as enemies left the bar as friends.

For a decade DeVoe worked quietly behind the scenes planning crimes and setting up alibis. Norvock and his boys even gave DeVoe a nickname - Thinker. Things were going swimmingly right up until two of Hunk Norvock’s guys took it upon themselves to do some crime things without setting it up with DeVoe. The two idiots were caught by the cops and once released on bail started making threats - if DeVoe didn’t get them cleared, they would reveal the whole operation to the authorities. With no other choice, DeVoe entered police headquarters, stole the evidence against the two crooks and killed the two arresting officers.

Norvock knew DeVoe wasn’t going to be easy to control now. With the men ignoring Norvock’s rules, DeVoe was sure to see the power vacuum and act. The only thing Norvock could do was kill DeVoe before DeVoe killed him.

It didn’t work. DeVoe was totes on to his plan and killed Norvock, making it look like an accident. The victory made DeVoe overconfident and before long, Jay Garrick, the original Flash, figured out what was happening.

For years DeVoe and Garrick faced off. Each time they met, DeVoe had a new wacky device that would help him escape the Flash’s grasp, ending their battles in a stalemate. Then DeVoe created the perfect device; his thinking cap. The thinking cap increased DeVoe’s brain power, making the moniker Thinker an even better fit. Not only did the thinking cap make DeVoe even smarter, it also gave him powers like telekinesis and mind control. Interesting to note, the thinking cap made its first appearance in Flash #123, better known by its classic story title, “Flash of Two Worlds”).

After a whole lotta years fighting Flash, DeVoe quit breaking out of prison and served his time. Once released, he swore off his past life and went straight. DeVoe and Garrick even became friends, meeting up each week to play chess. As too often happens to we poor mortals as we get older, DeVoe started getting headaches and nosebleeds. A few tests later and the cause was made clear - a tumor was growing inside his brain. Ever the hero, Jay Garrick made it his mission to track down DeVoe’s thinking cap, believing that with it DeVoe could find a way to beat death. It took months, but Jay finally found the cap - his old Justice Society pal Johnny Thunder - who now suffered from Alzheimer’s - was using it as a planter. Jay brought the thinking cap to DeVoe, but it was too late - he had already passed on.

Not long after, the newly reformed Justice Society was setting up their base in a brownstone in Manhattan when Mister Terrific came up with the idea of using DeVoe’s thinking cap as the central computer to the JSA security system. What Mister Terrific didn’t know - what no one knew - was that the thinking cap had stored a digital copy of DeVoe’s mind from before he turned his back on crime. Connected to other systems, this digital DeVoe soon joined the new Injustice Society and started causing all kinds of problems for the JSA.

After the Injustice Society broke apart, DeVoe entered into the world wide web and stayed quiet for a bit. He centered himself in Keystone City and connected himself to every computer he could. When the time was right, DeVoe struck, taking over the minds and bodies of the people of Keystone and turning them into one large super computer. This digital Thinker was even able to make Flash (Wally West) part of his system, creating the fastest supercomputer in the universe. The only thing that stopped him was a bio-organic virus created by Wally’s old Teen Titans pal Cyborg.

After that, Thinker pretty much went quiet. The last time he appeared in the comics, Thinker was once again being used by Mister Terrific, this time as the central system for the UN’s Metahuman Monitoring Force known as Checkmate.

Clifford DeVoe is the type of villain that can only happen with the Flashes. Superman isn’t going to start palling around with Metallo at some point, and it’s unlikely you’ll ever see Batman and Riddler sitting down for a quiet evening of chess. Over the years the Flashes - Jay, Barry, and Wally - have all found a way to become friends with some of the people who have tried to kill them. Perhaps it is their Midwestern values.

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