NOTE: This article contains SPOILERS for “Suicide Squad” #2
Ask any comic book fan for their thoughts on George “Digger” Harkness a.k.a. ‘Captain Boomerang’ and you’re bound to get a range of responses. The classic villain of The Flash is one of those comic characters that readers tend to either love or hate… or dismiss completely as a remnant of a far “sillier” era of comics. In other words: a walking joke in a jaunty hat and scarf. Even among DC diehards, the lack of compelling traits or storylines hinging entirely on Boomerang – not merely including him – means “loving” him usually amounts to embracing the idea that he may not be worth the attention at all. And admittedly, that’s a good part of the fun.
Recently, it’s the Australian mercenary and crook’s time on the roster of the Suicide Squad that’s earned him attention, appearing in the DCEU film (played by Jai Courtney) as well as “Suicide Squad: Rebirth,” and even getting his own comic book (along with El Diablo). But Boomer gets a chance to tell his own origin story in the latest issue of “Suicide Squad,” with his teammate Deadshot’s team-up with Batman setting a high bar.
The tale he weaves isn’t exactly what fans will expect… but it DOES sell the idea of an Australian super spy series starring the rangin’ ruffian (in his more sophisticated days).
The Origin Story We Know
Before getting into the tongue in cheek send-ups of the James Bond film series, writer Rob Williams and artist Ivan Reis offer a brief glimpse of the story fans know already (the account of Digger’s life that Waller has gleaned from her research). It all begins with a little boy fixated on the father who abandoned him. And Williams makes the most of the premise (in keeping with the villain’s original backstory) by emphasizing the coincidence of an abandoned son specializing in weapons that “always come back.”
Growing up with a serious chip on his shoulder, Harkness was selected by the Australian Secret Service as a uniquely qualified candidate to take on select missions, donning the clothing and conventions of a costumed criminal to cloud his true mission (bonus reveal: even he thought that Boomerang print was a bit much).
In the end, training a rebellious, deadly and criminal Aussie with a serious competitive edge and temper went about as badly as you would expect. And while neither Waller nor Harkness go into detail about the descent into crime or eventual place on The Rogues roster, his relationship with the Scarlet Speedster is highlighted – a rivalry that, obviously, shows how the so-called “hero” (who mercilessly broke Digger’s jaw a total of thirty seven times) never fought fair to begin with.
Boomerang’s Version: Agent of Oz
Finally, we arrive at Boomerang’s recollection of his rise from boyhood to super spy, entangling himself in romances and world domination plots that would make James Bond blush (and his copyright attorneys take note). It might sound like a silly daydream, but coming from the lips of a villain whose predilection for self aggrandizement is a trademark, it’s one of the best Boomerang tales he’s ever gotten. Not only that, but it’s a spy short story from Williams that’s guaranteed to find fans among Australian readers in particular.
First, there’s the claim that koalas being secretly carnivorous terrors is all a rumor cooked up by Aussies to laugh behind the backs of naive tourists, followed by a supervillain who clings to the trope of a secret volcano/mountain base, turning to Ayers Rock (the famous landmark used in Outback tourism). While clever, it really is culturally insensitive, when you think about it.
Of course, no Aussie homage-fest would be complete without TWO references to Mel Gibson, first by Boomer describing his absent father as a real “Road Warrior,” and later interacting with “Mel,” his undercover handler posing as a bartender (read into that what you like). But Boomer (and Williams) save their best jabs for one Australian city in particular, guaranteed to simultaneously enrage and elate its residents.
No Love For Perth
After donning the mandatory tuxedo (and cuing “the John Barry score”) before kicking in a supervillain’s skull for his country, ordering his signature lager (not shaken, because that would just make a mess) and seducing the villain’s whereabouts from a hapless femme fatale (‘Sheila Upforit’), Boomerang invades the base and discovers his enemy’s master plan: aim missiles at every major Australian city… and Perth.
Assuming that shot at the capital of Western Australia isn’t enough to get the ire of its citizens up, the final piece of the villain’s plan should – using an arsena of missiles to destroy the targets unless paid a ten million dollar ransom for each… six million for Perth. It’s the kind of national jab that even outsiders can appreciate, without knowing that Perth gets picked on by its larger, more bustling counterparts. But fear not: the city may get the last laugh…
Good news for citizens of Perth who feel that such unwarranted assaults on civic pride – playful or no – deserve to be answered for, since this daydream/alternate history/total fantasy is actually something of a farewell for Captain Boomerang. It appears in Issue #2 of the series as a back-up feature, with the main story actually pitting the Suicide Squad – Boomerang included – up against a cosmic item they realize too late to be a doorway into DC’s famous Phantom Zone.
His commander and teammates may have warned him not to get so close to an active piece of Kryptonian technology, but in escaping the prison, the famous Superman villain General Zod lets his brutal Heat Vision flow forth – reducing Digger Harkness to nothing but a pair of smoldering boots. That makes his love letter to the golden days of 007 bittersweet, but if DC wishes to bring him back to life, a series sending up classic spy adventures wouldn’t be the worst idea.
The lesson? Don’t mess with Perth.
Suicide Squad #2 is available now.