When you think about it, it wasn’t that long ago that a massive amount of comic book fans were unsure if a character like Thor would work on the big screen.
Think about that for a second. Iron Man and Nolan’s Batman movies were already bringing new attention to the genre, but a huge amount of people had doubt that one of Marvel’s biggest heroes would work on screen. We’ve since seen Thor and The Avengers succeed majorly – and if that didn’t blow our doubt that comics work on screen, often pretty much as is, Rocket Raccoon becoming one of superhero cinema’s most popular characters did. All of that, plus the fact that we have multiple active interconnected cinematic universes on screen, might have spoiled us. Let’s take stock of what’s happening right now, though. Captain freakin’ Boomerang – Captain Boomerang! – is a major character of one of the summer’s biggest movies.
We are living in strange, amazing times, you guys.
Today, we’re taking a look back at Captain Boomerang’s very first appearance in 1960’s The Flash #117. Written by John Broome, drawn by Carmine Infantino, and inked by Murphy Anderson, this issue is a double feature with the Boomerang story playing first. It is perhaps the strangest comic book I’ve ever read.
Okay, so. W. W. Wiggins of the Wiggins Game Company wants to make boomerangs a thing. He goes on for three pages talking to his marketing team about how boomerangs are effective for combat and for knocking birds out of the air, and wants them to immediately launch a campaign to let the kids of America know that this weapon is going to be the next hot toy. As part of his plan to make the world “boomerang-conscious,” he puts out an ad in hopes to recruit a Captain Boomerang, who will be the face of the campaign.
Just when I was thinking “Holy shit. That can’t be Captain Boomerang’s origin. That’s insane,” we cut to George “Digger” Harkness, our future captain. He sees the ad and reveals that he had already been planning to be a boomerang-themed villain! Pleased by the convenience, he tries out for the campaign and seals the deal, basically to become a celebrity and to use their Captain Boomerang costume as his go-to villain duds. Becoming a celebrity might seem counterintuitive to staying low-key as a supervillain, especially if he is going to be committing crimes wearing the very costume that he’s been photographed in for Wiggins campaign, but instead he thinks that his visibility will ensure he is not found.
So basically, Captain Boomerang is a crazy person.
He starts pulling heists and catches the Flash’s attention. Now, this is when this issue’s insanity gets ramped up a good deal. The Flash watches Digger catch his boomerang at the scene of the crime, wearing the costume, and identifies him as Captain Boomerang. Aware of the boomerang-themed heists, Flash confronts Digger, who expresses his innocence – and proves it to Flash by taking him to see two random only people who claim to be Digger’s parents, who he supports on his own. Somehow, Flash thinks this is enough evidence to disprove what he saw with his own eyes, and he quickly departs after joking around a little with Boomerang and the two old people.
So basically, the Flash isn’t quite a Batman-level detective here.
Anyway, Flash catches Boomerang again in the act, but this time the villain is prepared. He launches Flash into space on a boomerang-shaped rocket, and this dedication to his theme turns out to be his downfall. As the rocket curves back around, Flash takes that time to vibrate out of it and capture Boomerang and the two old actors in a whirlwind of his speed. So despite earning the moniker of World’s Most Gullible Superhero, Flash does get a few cool moments here – he runs on water and then knocks the crap out of a pair of old people along with the actual culprit.
Captain Boomerang’s first appearance was a shocking, cheerful descent into madness—and as much as I’d love to see this faithfully adapted in all of its frenetic and joyful absurdity, I don’t think that’s ever going to happen. After reading about Boomerang’s antics here, I’m excited to see how his depiction in Suicide Squad measures up when we examine the film in the next piece. Because while the comic book version of Boomerang may have gotten caught, he certainly succeeded in making the world far more “boomerang-conscious,” and I think we can all thank him for that.
PAT SHAND writes comics (Vampire Emmy and the Garbage Girl, Equilibrium, Van Helsing), novels (Avengers, Iron Man, Charmed), and pop culture journalism (Blastoff Comics, Sad Girls Guide). Almost all of his writerly output comes to you courtesy of an unhealthy amount of coffee.