Obviously one of the tricks of writing good superhero comics is to create credible adversaries. Although it’s always fun to see someone fight out of his weight class, for the most part you want heroes to fight someone roughly equivalent to them. If you’re a normal human who relies on his fists, wits and and some gimmicks, most of your foes will too. If you’re massively superpowered, then obviously most of your enemies are also massively superpowered.
Each has its problems, but the really crazily powerful heroes are in some ways harder to create villains for. If you’re Superman, well, the whole idea is that he’s nearly uniquely powerful. If you set up a billion guys who can duke it out with him, then you’re eroding the brand. (Wonder Man in the West Coast Avengers always fell into this; he was supposed to be nearly as powerful as Thor, but every time there was a brawl there was invariably somebody who could stand toe to toe with him.)
Now when you things of weapons that just drip an aura of incredible destructive power, well, obviously one such implement of destruction comes to mind: the boomerang. And sure enough, DC jumped right on the immensity of this device by crafting an enemy around it, one Captain Boomerang, a fellow due to join the rogue’s gallery of…The Flash.
Yes, the guy who can literally run around the world in a blink of the eye. Who’s so fast he can run over water, or vibrate his very molecules through a wall or even through time. Obviously a guy who would be able to cope, if just barely, with a (surprise!) Australian dude who tosses curved sticks. Although some of those curved sticks do, for example, explode, and do other tricks.
Here he is, by the way.
Sends a chill up the spine, doesn’t he? Anyway, clearly a Flash-scale miscreant, and not somebody fit for more of a low-power dude like Green Arrow.
So I guess I always assumed that Marvel never even tried to come up with a Boomerang-themed villain because, really, who can compete with the above? Even so, it must have gnawed at them. Who can you ignore the inherent awesomeness of such a character?
Turns out, they couldn’t. I discovered this was I perused my recently acquired Hulk Omnibus. I went on a spending spree for a while, acquiring such omnibuses whenever I could get them for roughly half price.
They’re still like $50-60 a pop, but for that you get anywhere from like 600 to 1200 pages of awesome comic goodness, printed on beautiful heavy stock. I’ve at this point gotten all the ones that I both want and afford; sadly, the remaining ones I’d like are so hard to come buy that they’d run well over $100, upwards of $200 or more in some cases. That’s too rich for my blood, I fear.
Then, I’m like, what the heck am I going to do with these things, so I bought a hand scanner (sorry about the poor cropping, I’m still working on my technique) to do pieces like this. So even though it has nothing to do with the site’s focus, lump it, losers.
Anyway, as I scanned past the 700 plus pages of Hulk stories, seeing the Green Goliath face off against such traditional powerhouses as Namor, the Leader (basically the Hulk’s irradiated Lex Luthor), the Abomination, the Executioner, etc., well, low and behold. There was a fellow called Boomerang. And sure enough, only one Marvel heroes was mighty enough to contend with him and live, The Incredible Hulk.
Boomerang’s first appearance was in Tales to Astonish #81. It wasn’t the Hulk’s book alone, he shared it with Namor the Sub-Mariner, with each taking half the pages each month. The title of this epic tale? “THE STAGE IS SET!” Subhead: Introducing, The Man Called: Boomerang!
[Scripted by Stan Lee, layouts by Jack Kirby, pencils by Bill Everett. Oh, and "Costumes by Tibor of Transyvania." Oh, Stan, what a card thou were.]
Bruce Banner / the Hulk is trapped and running around in the underground world for some reason, getting unavoidably involved in a subterranean war between the armies of the Mole Man and lamoid sub-surface dictator Tyrannus.
Up topside, meanwhile, another third rate entity, the Secret Empire (a grade ‘z’ secret society of guys in hooded robes that would never remotely climb out of the shadow of Hydra or AIM) decides it wants to steal a weapon or other MacGuffin. In furtherance of this, they hire a professional mercenary, a new supervillain with the chilling name of Fred. Cut to a ritzy penthouse pad somewhere.
Luckily, his date is not only hot, but has a PhD in exposition:
*Gasp!* We know he’s a bad sort because he was “suspended” for…something. Although, isn’t it the nature of suspensions that they are merely temporary?
Anyway, he gets the broad out of there and reveals his not exactly Bruce Wayne-level secret compartment, with his stuff hidden behind a TV set. Never has a supervillain so ably exploited the possibilities of the Home Depot!
And although we currently are seeing only hints of his costume, it’s clearly been well-designed for covert skulking. And the bright white and red hues and heavy boots and helmet will be perfect for working in the desert sun!
Cut to Banner / the Hulk, then back to the desert where both the Hulk and his bete noir General Thunderbolt Ross’ high security Army base make their home. It’s here that the weapon the fearsome Boomerang seeks is stored.
Luckily, deserts by nature are pretty small. So while walking around Boomerang happens to come across some of the Hulk’s supporting cast; Ross’ daughter and Banner’s long-time romantic interest Betty Ross, teen sidekick Rick Jones, and Banner’s would-be romantic rival Major Glenn Talbot.
They are meeting with some patrolling GI’s after apparently having just stumbled upon the latter’s jeep. Presumably Betty and the gang have just emerged from the desert wastes following the climax of one of their own adventures. Of course, who wouldn’t recognize an Army general’s daughter from a distance?
Yep, that’s right. His nom de crime is Boomerang, but he throws metal discs. And man, those look aerodynamic, don’t they? In any case, at least Captain Boomerang was, of course, Australian, and threw actual boomerangs. As for our current bad guy, if only he had more accurately called himself Discman, he could have held up Sony for some sweetass trademark infringement bucks in the ’80s.
Also, the sound made by a metal disc, being plucked off a tunic? “THIK!”
Boomberang throws his disc, shearing off the steering wheel of the aforementioned jeep. How will he deal with two guys with, you know, guns, you ask? Ha, ha, you fools! He is a supervillain! One able to stand toe to toe with The Hulk! Do you think mere guns present a danger to him. Why, he’ll just spring into action and….oh.
I should note that these are soldiers patrolling a covert military base chock full of secret weapons technology–comic book secret weapons technology–and a locale that is constantly being attacked / invaded by supervillains. So yeah, I suspect these guys would in fact have standing orders to shoot on sight. Not to mention that this dude already attacked them, and is wearing a supervillain suit. Admittedly, a highly goofy one, but still.
Anyway, Boomerang’s cunning ‘please don’t shoot me’ gambit works. Then, in the pause of confusion, he skitters a disc across the soldiers’ knees, presumably shattering them into a million pieces and crippling them for life. Or maybe it just knocks them harmlessly out somehow, I don’t know. Comics weren’t as bloodthirsty back in those days.
Now, again, you might be wondering, “How the heck is this guy a believable foe for The Hulk?” Well, they quickly establish his incredibly impressive bona fides, as Betty fearfully wonders “How can he possibly throw those discs with such speed…such accuracy?” Let’s see how he stands up to two dudes planning to throw stones at him.
So he’s not only got the speed and accuracy things going for him, but he’s also ambidextrous! Hulk, my gamma-powered friend, your days are clearly numbered. By the way, Boomerang’s throwing style looks like the results would be *highly* accurate, doesn’t it? (I do like the one disc bursting out of the panel border, though. “ZZZT!“)
So Boomerang knocks the rocks right from Talbot’s and Rick’s hands. “It looks like he never misses!” Rick gasps in shock. This from a guy who partnered with the shield-slinging Captain America. Meanwhile, Boomerang establishes his bona fides as an ex-baseball playing by chortling, “If this were the World Series right now…the Ump would be shouting…You’re out!”
Boomerang then grabs up Betty (who is so shocked she mistaken calls Talbot “Glen,” with only one ‘n’), and uses his jet “retro-boots”–explaining that’s why they look so “outlandish”–to fly off.
Not before he throws an actual boomerang, however. “In case you’ve wondered why I’m called Boomerang,” he helpfully explains. He further elucidates that this represents “My most potent weapon!” Yes, even more potent than his round discs!
As the villain further boasts, this boomerang carries “a powerful electrical charges,” which is furthermore “capable of shattering a hill!” Yes, when it comes to hill shattering, electrical charges beat high explosives every time.
Meanwhile, either Rick or Talbot proves they don’t know much about boomerangs, noting in awe that the weapon once cast is “returning to him like an arrow!” OK, maybe it’s that they don’t know much about arrows.
Then we return to Banner and the Hulk for their underground adventures, and then the issue ends. Join us again next week (maybe) for when the Hulk returns to the surface to face off against Boomerang.