There’s a great “Simpsons” episode where Ned Flanders loses his mind and angrily confronts the town, who was only trying to help him and his family rebuild their house after a Hurricane destroyed it, by reducing them to their most parodic and one dimensional levels. When he arrives at young Lisa Simpson, he calls her “Springfield’s answer to a question no one asked!”
This issue of “The Flash,” dealing as it does with the origin and history of Captain Boomerang, is a comic that I can’t help but think is the answer to the question no one asked. Flash has always had a lame Rogue’s Gallery of villains, when compared with the rest of the DC Universe (or even most local police precincts). And, as Conan O’Brian recently agreed during a trip to Warner Brothers’ Animation Studio, none is lamer than Captain Boomerang, a guy who commits crime using boomerangs. DC in general and Geoff Johns specifically have done their darnedest to harden the edge of the character and make him a bit more interesting, but, I mean, he still throws boomerangs.
This issue tries to shed some more light on what made him so devious, giving him the standard rough childhood that drove him to a life of crime, but none of it really goes very far in raising the character above his inescapably silly trappings. (You won’t believe this, but karmically, all the bad things that Captain Boomerang has done in his life end up doubling back on him.) You can change the stewardess cap to a winter hat, you can change the silk scarf to a wool one, you can even turn the boomerangs into energy constructs. But it’s still a guy who is the self-proclaimed “Captain”…of “boomerangs.”
Also disappointing in this issue, is Scott Kolins’ usually great art. I’m not sure if it is because they wanted to maintain a consistency in the look of the book with its regular artist Francis Manapul, but Scott Kolins is an artist with his own, very different strengths. And those strengths lie in the detail and linework that is lost when his pencil art is rendered in a similar style and not inked as dramatically as it usually is.
In general, I can’t really figure out why this particular issue of “The Flash” exists. Clearly, Johns wants to establish Captain Boomerang as an important figure in the DC Universe. We’ve known that for years. And at the close of the issue, he makes a mistake that will certainly impact “The Flash” in the very near future. But, as a whole, who really asked for this? Captain Boomerang was famously resurrected at the end of “Blackest Night”. Maybe next time we’ll get lucky and they’ll pick The Heckler instead.