Hunter Zolomon had a troubled relationship with his parents, who rarely spoke to each other or to him. On the day Hunter was to leave for college, he came home to find the police laying siege to his house. His father was a serial killer who had killed six young girls, and when his mother told the police, his father murdered her, and was subsequently killed by the police after refusing to give himself up. Hunter became obsessed with understanding the criminal mind to stop people like his father, studying psychology and criminology in college, then joining the F.B.I. along with his girlfriend Ashley, whom he later married, specializing in low-level costumed criminals. One case resulted in Ashley’s father being killed. Ashley left him shortly thereafter, and the F.B.I. terminated his employment. Hunter was also left with a damaged knee due to the case, requiring a cane for walking and unable to ever run again. After arriving in Keystone City, he got a job as a profiler, working with the police in their Department of Metahuman Hostilities. His work put him in constant contact with the Flash, Wally West, and the two became good friends. His insight was critical in solving a number of cases, but he always resented being stuck behind a desk.
Zolomon was severely injured in an attack by Gorilla Grodd in Iron Heights, when Grodd staged a mass prison break, and was left paralyzed from the waist down. He asked Wally West to use the time-traveling cosmic treadmill in the Flash Museum to prevent this from occurring, but West refused, saying that he could not risk damaging the timestream. Zolomon, feeling that Wally should be prepared to disregard such fears for the sake of their friendship, then broke into the museum and attempted to use the treadmill himself. The resulting explosion destroyed the museum, gave Zolomon the ability to use his legs again and shifted his connection to time thus allowing Zolomon to alter the speed at which he could move in time, giving him the effect of superspeed. Zolomon decided that West had refused to help because, unlike the previous Flash Barry Allen, West had never suffered personal tragedy, and thus did not understand how terrible it could be. Zolomon decided that if he became the new Zoom and caused a great tragedy in Wally’s life, this would help the Flash become a better hero.