Who's Captain Boomerang?

Who's This? An Australian jerk.

The facts: One of the classic Flash villains, starting in Flash #117 (December 1960), then appearing fairly regularly either in solo criminal acts or with the Rogues, Digger Harkness was considered something of a joke by the Bronze Age, but made an amazing comeback thanks to his becoming a regular in Suicide Squad. Though one of the series' most popular characters, his post-Squad appearances are a mixed bag, getting killed and brought back a number of times, and for a good while, being replaced by his son.
How you could have heard of him: He's currently alive and knocking about the DCU, but he's of course been seen in live action, both on Arrow and in the (now) two Suicide Squad films.
Example story: The Flash #124 (November 1961) "Space Boomerang Trap!" by John Broome, Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella
We're looking at Boomer's second appearance, and be warned, he did not at this time yet have his trademark Australian accent. Broome probably didn't write accents and you had to imagine them, or was leaning into the character's mixed parentage (his father was an American soldier, not that he was raised anywhere but in Australia). Captain Boomerang has been released on parole and though he can't associate with known felons or leave the state, there's no rule against his wearing his supervillain uniform and staging boomerang exhibitions, is there? To be fair, the circus act was his legitimate job in his first encounter with the Flash. Barry doesn't trust him one bit, and sure enough...
Except Boomer was in the room the whole time, and like he says, he's not the only boomerang expert in the world. Then again, a big part of his original scheme was to claim he was being framed, so it looks like history could be repeating itself. The robberies pile up, Boomer's alibis remain iron-clad, Barry writes to Ralph Dibny for help with this mystery. But Boomer's gonna let US in on his secret.
A time-traveling boomerang?! Secretly built IN PRISON? I don't think we gave Harkness his proper due. The way this works, all he has to do is be in full view when the boomerang is scheduled to make its smash-and-grab and then collect the goods at some later point. BUT this is the Silver Age and what Digger doesn't know is that his boomerang is actually traversing another dimension. And it makes the aliens living there paranoid.
Way to go, Harkness, you've caused an alien invasion from Dimension X. That boomerang is headed for a jade necklace housed in a museum. Flash and the Elongated Man are there guarding it, and Boomer's there to establish his alibi (which brings its own suspiciousness). Barry has never been able to catch up to the boomerang before it took off for the sky, but not he has help from Ralph!
Boomer realizes his fingerprints are all over that thing (he's been cocky) and tries to bolt, but Flash quickly grabs him by the scarf... and that's when the aliens make their move.
To Flash's surprise, Boomerang offers to help defend the Earth from these aliens and their "fatigue guns". So Harkness working for the greater good goes back a long time, and he didn't always need an explosive bracelet to keep him in line. Unless it's a scam. But it doesn't appear to be.
Soon, the three heroes have knocked out enough aliens that they can turn their fatigue rays against them. Exhausted, they retreat to their home and the Flash vibrates the dimensional aperture so they can never return. But when he returns to his allies, Digger uses the fatigue ray against him and Ralph. When Barry comes to, the cover is happening.
Boomer means to send the Flash around the Moon years before Apollo 8, and presumably the boomerang is still there though Ralph comes to and frees Barry from it. The Flash trips Boomerang up...
...and with the forensic evidence proving he committed the daring jewel robberies, he's off to think about what he's done... IN JAIL!

Captain Boomerang's main trait is that he can't be trusted. Glad to see that was encoded in the character from the beginning. I guess that like a Boomerang, you can't trust him as far as you can throw him.

Who's Next?
Earth-C's Superman.

3 comments:

CalvinPitt said...

Whenever I think of Captain Boomerang, I think of what Dave Campbell said on the old Dave's Long Box blog. "Captain Boomerang is a complete and utter dick. What a great character."

S said...

Was there some weird gimmick with Elongated Man back then where they kept his face hidden? I notice it's strangely in shadow in both the 4th and 5th story scans there.

Siskoid said...

Just a coincidence. They also do it on the Flash and Boomer in one of the featured panels.

 

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