the_poet's The Flash #117 - Here Comes Captain Boomerang! / The Mad-cap Inventors of Central City! review

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The Advantages and Disadvantages of Boomerangs

I haven't reviewed anything for a while, so I thought I would do something I had previous been looking forward to reviewing for a while now. Flash #117 has two distinct stories within its pages: one is controversial and the other is important to the Flash Mythos. It's so weird to read this issue, because the two stories are so drastically different.

1st Story

You know what was missing from the Captain's 2010 origin story? A giant rocket Boomerang!
You know what was missing from the Captain's 2010 origin story? A giant rocket Boomerang!

The first story ("Here Comes Captain Boomerang!") focuses on the origin story of a major Flash rogue. George Harkness, better known by his alias of Captain Boomerang, is arguably one of the Flash's more iconic villains. Appearing in over 300 issues, the dear old Captain has been a Flash-rogue for quite a while. This is, as you might have guessed, his first appearance. It's pretty good as far as silver age origin stories go. It's well written and fairly enertaining. Hands down, this story earns its place among silver age Flash stories.

It's pretty fasinating to compare this issue to The Flash #7 - What Goes Around, Comes Around where this story is retold. These two origins stories are similar but they have different focuses and of course objectives. This 1960s origin story focuses on introducing the villain Captain Boomerang to comics whereas the 2010 story dedicates 4 pages to telling a little more back story on George Harkness such as where he came from and such (in contrast, the 1960s version started him out as being a man about to start a criminal career involving boomerangs when coincidently W.W. Wiggins ran an article about needing a man to front his toy boomerang campaign). Now, while this added details about Harkness makes you feel for Captain Boomerang, it does not mean Flash #7 is superior to the original. The 2010 story only dedicates a page to his early fight against Flash since it also has to deal with some Brightest Day so all Flash does is knock his apponent out. However, the original grants us a glimpse at craftyness of a villain whose rivalry with Flash would keep him going 50 years and counting.

2nd Story

While the first story inspires writers even today, the second story does not. Instead, it turns around and reaches back to the Golden Age of comics and the era of the golden age Flash. What could be controveral about looking back to the past you might ask. Well, I'll tell you.

Letter from Flash #117
Letter from Flash #117

Ever hear about the Three Stooges? Yes? good. that means your cultured. Ever hear about the three stooges of the Flash Universe? I'm not sure what it means if you know them, but Winky, Blinky and Nod are (to quote their CV page) a "trio of Three Stooges look-alikes who served as comic relief for the Golden-Age Flash". I love the idea of getting writers from the different ages to come back and write in the modern version of the comic they worked in, but here it didn't work well. I respect Gardner Fox. He created SO MANY characters and great stories before this story in the golden age and after this in the silver age. He wrote the Jay Garrick's golden age adventures and this is the first time he has worked on the silver age Flash title.

His next work on this series, in The Flash #123 - Flash of Two Worlds!, Fox gives us a crossover between the silver and golden age which fits the current comic book style of writing. However, this story does not. The three flash stooges are a little bit TOO whimsical against the other stories in this series thus far. I realize I am saying this right under a picture of a giant boomerang, but really the "The Mad-cap Inventors of Central City!" would better fit a comic published in the golden age (again, with all respect to Fox).

The reason I say this story is controveral is not because I don't like it, but because the readers at the time didn't like it. in most reprints of this series, you don't get to read the "Flash Grams" (or letters to the editor) you might be able to see if you were wealthy enough to aford to own this issue. However, I ran accross scans of letters from The Flash #120 regarding this which some would find interesting...

Letter from Flash #120
Letter from Flash #120
Letter from Flash #120 continued...
Letter from Flash #120 continued...

As you can read, there was a mixed response to Winky, Blinky and Nod's return in this issue.

Final Comments

This issue is a mixed bag. It has the origin story of a major flash rogue and on the other hand it has what boils down to a golden-age Barry Allen story. I'm not crazy about the latter story, but the former origin story is pretty good. Let me know if you believe the readers to decide if the readers of yesterday were too hard or right about their comments on "The Mad-cap Inventors of Central City!" Or, let me know which you like better: the 1960 origin or the 2010 origin of Captain Boomerang.


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