SPOILER WARNING: The following contains major spoilers for DC Comics’ “Suicide Squad” Rebirth series.
Oh, Captain Boomerang. How much this Flash rogue gets the back seat in comparison to others like Captain Cold, Professor Zoom, or even Gorilla Grodd is unmentionable. In many of Flash’s recent forays into television, comic book reboots or even his upcoming film, Captain Boomerang seems to be given only small pieces of the limelight. Granted his villainous persona may be laughable to a more outside perspective, but George “Digger” Harkness remains one of the Scarlet Speedster’s greatest enemies.
A well-known criminal, he’s served out tenures on the Suicide Squad as both a member of Task Force X and its leader. Regardless of his choice in less-than-usual weaponry, Captain Boomerang is volatile, cunning, and sometimes a source comic relief. This all makes him worthy of far more inclusion in comic media than he usually gets these days. Sadly, he’s no longer alive and throwing boomerangs in the DC Universe. To commemorate his stories history, CBR shines a spotlight on some of Captain Boomerang’s greatest appearances across the realms of comics, television and movies.
10. Suicide Squad #38 (1990)
For all intents and purposes, “Suicide Squad” liked to incorporate a bit of humor now and then during its run. Case in point being Boomerang’s somewhat ineffectual involvement with the squad, and how he often schemed in the background due to sheer boredom with the team. In this run, various members of the comic were periodically getting pies thrown in their face. Vixen, Bronze Tiger, Nemesis and even the great Amanda Waller could not escape getting a face full of dessert at some point. All throughout the series, folks are suspecting Boomerang is behind it until lo and behold, Harkness gets pied himself. Fingers begin to point toward fellow anti-hero Punch, as he is discovered with a locker full of ready-to-fire pies, but it turns out he was being framed. By who? None other than Captain Boomerang!
Yes, it is a rather silly plot point but it’s pretty ballsy that Harkness would take it upon himself to lob a tin full of dessert at Amanda Waller. Even more so was Boomerang’s dedication to the plot, going as far as to rig up a “boomerang pie” for himself to play the victim. In the end, Harkness gleefully confessed to the crime and egged on Waller about what she was going to do about it. Waller responded in kind, ditching him on a deserted island indefinitely. Talk about harsh.
9. Suicide Squad (2016)
Yes, the movie was universally over-hyped and oversold. Yes, Jared Leto’s Joker was off-putting at best and cringe worthy at worst. However, this was the first substantial appearance for Captain Boomerang on the big screen. Played by Jai Courtney (“Insurgent,” “Terminator Genisys”), Harkness was portrayed as a mean and volatile human being. He was profiled as a jewel thief and shown to betray anyone without a thought. The best highlight of this rogue’s appearance in the movie was undoubtedly his scene during a bank robbery. Harkness is piling loot in a bag and congratulates his partner in crime on a job well done. As soon as his compatriot turns his back, Harkness aims a boomerang for it; killing him instantly. Just as he pulls his weapon from the body, the Flash arrives on the scene and knocks him out.
Even if the film had its misses, Boomerang was arguably one of its halfway decent hits. Harkness was blunt and violent. He served as what little comic relief was in a film that took itself far too seriously for its source material. He casually betrayed people and remained true to form in that he looked out for himself above all else. For his relegated role in the movie, Boomerang certainly was one of the better points in it; pink unicorn notwithstanding.
8. Suicide Squad #9 (1988)
For those uninitiated, one of the biggest incentives most villains have for working in the Suicide Squad (besides a few years off their sentences), is a bomb attached to them. In the early series, Amanda Waller had her more untrustworthy task force members outfitted with remote bombs in the form of arm bands. Both Boomerang and fellow squad member Slipknot were wearing them while out on a mission to take down a Manhunter robot base. Harkness being ever the skeptic, discusses the explosive bracelets with Slipknot. He eventually convinces the newer team member that the bombs weren’t legit, used only by their superiors as a scare tactic to keep them in line.
Once the action went down against the robots and it looked like a losing battle, Slipknot decided to dip out during the chaos. As he attempted to make a hasty retreat before the others, his bracelet exploded and destroyed his arm. Boomerang was intrigued by this turn of events, as he only convinced Slipknot of the farce in order to gauge for himself whether or not the bombs were an actual threat. Harkness showed early in his “Suicide Squad” days that he was only ever looking out for himself, even at poor Slipknot’s expense.
7. “Flash and Substance” (Justice League Unlimited 3×05)
“Justice League Unlimited” did the hard work of showing the human side of both superheroes and villains. “Flash and Substance” starts off with Captain Cold, Mirror Master and Trickster lamenting their luck in big payout crimes due to the Flash’s interference. Boomerang shows up with a plan to finally stick it to the Central City speedster on Flash Appreciation Day. Each villain plots their own specific attack against the hero, but Harkness takes the cake: a giant, remote-controlled boomerang. The drone style weapon flies into the Flash during his acceptance of the key to the city and restrains him. Just as the boomerang attempts to fly the speedster into a mountain, Flash manages to rip out the circuitry and crash the drone.
What’s even better about the whole fiasco, is that Captain Boomerang actually convinced the other cash-strapped rogues to contribute money to building the monstrous failure. This leads to a hilarious argument about Harkness “crying poverty” every time the rogues come up with a scheme. After that, the villains attempt to ambush the Flash at his museum’s dedication ceremony. Boomerang manages to knock out Orion and goes toe to toe with Batman, but eventually the rogues are foiled by the Flash. It’s a fun and lighter episode that is made all the better by Boomerang’s monetary woes when creating high-tech weaponry against his arch nemesis.
6. “The Brave and the Bold” (Arrow 3×08)
Surprisingly enough, one of Flash’s greatest enemies was officially introduced on “Arrow”” first, albeit during a crossover. Oliver and crew are tracking down a murder suspect that uses an unusually sharp boomerang to kill people. Eventually the assailant finds his true target in A.R.G.U.S. headquarters and dukes it out with Arrow and Arsenal before making a quick escape just as the Flash shows up. His name? None other than Digger Harkness, former member of the Suicide Squad. Turns out Boomerang’s team was wiped after a failed operation, but Harkness’ implant malfunctioned and he survived. He aims to kill Lyla Michaels, the A.R.G.U.S. agent that gave the kill order — and nearly succeeds.
Flash and Arrow finally track down Harkness as he’s leaving Starling City, but he reveals that he planted five bombs in the city. Flash works to disarm the bombs while Arrow restrains Boomerang. Even in the face of potential torture at the hands of Ollie, Harkness eggs him on and baits him to do his worst. Of course the heroes manage to save the day, but Captain Boomerang had them on the ropes. He managed to infiltrate A.R.G.U.S., put Lyla in the hospital, and very nearly bomb Starling City to smithereens. Not too bad for a single episode.
5. Suicide Squad #2 (1987)
This is one of the many moments that Captain Boomerang drove home the idea that he was selfish and not to be trusted. In the beginning of the series, Harkness already butts heads with a lot of fellow squad members and makes his presence known in very irritating ways. He ridicules a new teammate much to the distaste of other Task Force X recruit Mindboggler. She uses her powers of illusion to make Boomerang see giant laughing faces of heroes he’s faced, which causes him to crumple to the floor and look like a fool. Harkness was none too happy about that, so in this issue he gets revenge in the easiest way possible.
The Squad is deployed to fight a group called The Jihad. Among their ranks is Rustam, the leader of the outfit. During their assault, Rustam manages to get the drop on Mindboggler. Boomerang sees Rustam in Mindboggler’s blind spot and casually watches as she gets gunned down by the Jihad leader. Harkness feels that this is payback enough for how she embarrassed him in front of the other squad members and takes off. This was one of the first times where Boomerang really showed just how cold he could be.
4. Flash #217 (2005)
During the events of “Identity Crisis,” Harkness found himself at the end of his rope. Up against numerous super powered villains causing twice the destruction and mayhem he could ever hope to do, Captain Boomerang found himself taking up odd jobs to make ends meet. Through a contract begotten from the Calculator, Harkness was double-crossed and ultimately gunned down by Jack Drake, Tim Drake’s father. Once the entire rogues gallery heard the news of Boomerang’s death, they gathered to pay their final respects to him at his funeral.
What’s rather amazing about this isn’t the manner in which Boomerang died, but the sheer amount of people affected by it. Obviously his estranged son Owen Mercer felt the brunt of his passing, and chooses to take up the Captain persona in his honor. Other rogues like Captain Cold, Weather Wizard, and Mirror Master to name a few, are also deeply affected by his death. So much so that slews of villains take to the streets and wreak havoc wherever they go, touting boomerangs as an ode to their fallen brother. It was surprising to see that for such a never-do-well that wasn’t particularly well-liked by his peers, Boomerang had a true impact on people when he was killed.
3. Batman: Assault on Arkham (2014)
If anyone wanted examples of where “Suicide Squad” the film could have gone right, they need not look further than “Batman: Assault on Arkham.” In this animated film, Task Force X gets commanded to break into the asylum and retrieve sensitive data from Riddler’s cane. It’s through this mission that Boomerang’s real personality comes to the fray. He consistently aggravates his squad mates, either by blatant actions or being generally irritating. Harkness also gets into a rivalry of machismo with fellow squad member Deadshot, leading the two to have some rather interesting exchanges. The best of which is a friendly game of darts that Boomerang proposes to bury the hatchet. The two fire off a few trick shots, with Deadshot clearly performing better, before Harkness throws a dart meant to connect with his adversary’s eye. Deadshot stops it, Boomerang calls it a flub, and then promptly takes a fist to the face in recompense.
Boomerang is done very well in this iteration. Voice actor Greg Ellis rocks the villain’s Australian accent without laying it on too thick. He’s casual in his lack of care toward others and always seems to be working an angle. His humor is suitable to his character, rather than just slapstick fill-ins. Besides that, he also shows off his commendable fighting prowess in a number of action sequences. For one of the better animated outings for Boomerang, “Assault on Arkham” fits the bill.
2. Flash #117 (1960)
This is where it all started. Readers were first introduced to the Australian boomerang-wielding badass we all know and love in 1960. George “Digger” Harkness originated as a common crook, who applied for a mascot job with a toy company. Even before his big name persona, the rogue was already working potential angles. Harkness used the mascot outfit gained from the odd job to launch his villainous alter ego: Captain Boomerang. He committed a slew of jewelry thefts across Central City and managed to avoid being arrested by the Flash by feeding him a fake sob story.
Harkness very quickly sets his sights higher and comes up with a plan to rid himself of the speedster for good. He manages to knock out the Flash and tie him to a giant boomerang that he sets flying into the ocean. The plan ultimately fails when Barry Allen vibrates through his bonds and runs back to Central City to capture Harkness. Even though his debut and crime spree was relatively short lived, the persona of Captain Boomerang was only going to get bigger from there.
1. Suicide Squad #44 (1990)
Falling in line with more on his origin, “Grave Matters” saw Captain Boomerang attending his mother’s funeral and learning a hidden truth in his past. As Harkness walks down memory lane, readers are shown the quite rough start he had in life. He grew up dirt poor and was often physically and emotionally abused as the years went on. Eventually we come to find out that the very thing that he predicated his supervillain identity on was a fluke. Instead of nabbing that job at the toy company through his own grit and cunning, he was given it out of familial ties. Turns out that Harkness was really the illegitimate son of the CEO of the company, whom awarded him the job.
It goes without saying that this shook the character hard in this issue. His entire identity was cracked by a single truth. He was in reality a sad kid, a common crook, a bastard son, and only half-Australian. Harkness was able to bounce back from it all though, embracing his alter ego of Captain Boomerang as his true calling. Thank goodness he was able to get over that slump, or the rogues would have certainly been much emptier for it.
What’s your favorite memory of Captain Boomerang? Let us know in the comments!
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