A Tribute to the of

As I was going through my personal library, deciding on a story for the very first Silver Age Sage of 2016, I rediscovered my copy of The Greatest Flash Stories Ever Told. Surely there must be some Silver Age goodness in here that I haven’t mined yet and sure enough, the perfect thing presented itself.

The very last 10 cent issue of the Flash was #124 (+ splash page & original art) from November of 1961 featuring the “Space Boomerang Trap!,” written by John Broome and edited by Julius Schwartz. Cover and interior art are courtesy of Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella, with letters by my good buddy Gaspar Saladino. As any self-respecting Flash fan will immediately know by the title, the villain du jour is Captain Boomerang or “Digger” Harkness in his civilian identity and as best I can tell this is his second appearance after his debut in issue #117 (+ original art). Furthermore, unless my memory is failing completely, this is the first time outside a rogue’s gallery team-up tale that he’s appeared in this feature, so it’s long overdue.

Things begin on the beach where Ralph and Sue Dibney are relaxing and Ralph, aka the Elongated Man is reading a letter he’d received from his friend and ally the Flash. Barry is explaining that wicked Aussie, Captain Boomerang is out on parole and despite serving his time as a model prisoner, the Flash just knows he’ll be anxious to reestablish himself, perhaps at the recently opened exhibition of the crown jewels of Normark.

Taking a little trip down to the exhibit hall, who should the Flash meet up with, but Captain Boomerang in full regalia. Harkenss, however, claims he’s there simply as an interested member of the general public and there’s no crime in wearing his uniform. He suggests they enjoy the exhibit together when abruptly a boomerang appears, scoops up the jewels and flies up and away out an open window. Barry is convinced Captain Boomerang is behind it, and two other robberies involving boomerangs that happen afterward, but in each case “Digger” has an air-tight alibi.

Finishing up the letter, Ralph Dibney cannot resist going to his friend’s aid, so he bids his wife farewell and heads for Central City. A pair of patented Carmine Infantino helping hands give us a shift in scenery to a hideout in Central City where Captain Boomerang is gloating over his pulling the wool over the Fastest Man Alive with a new invention he developed while behind bars: A time traveling boomerang, which is the gimmick he’s been successfully exploiting to commit his crimes.

Little did Harkness realize, however, that his boomerangs have caught the interest of extra-dimensional beings. They have spotted the unidentified flying objects in their realm and concluded they’re under surveillance, so the decision is made to go on the offensive.

Back in Central City, the Elongated Man has arrived, complete with his Lone Ranger mask and is seeking to offer his services to the Flash. After checking in at the local police headquarters, he learns where to find his friend and the rendezvous point is a museum, where a display of priceless Chinese jade makes for a tempting target.

Next thing you know, Captain Boomerang has arrived, announcing he needs to establish an alibi in case something happens. Our heroes agree to split surveillance duties with the Crimson Comet keeping watch on the display while the Ductile Detective holds watch on the criminal. Just then, another boomerang materializes, smashing into the display and scooping up the jade necklace. Reacting swiftly, Ralph hops onto Barry’s shoulders and uses his stretching ability to catch the rapidly ascending boomerang. The Flash then suggests the key to implication will be checking the object for fingerprints. A stunned Harkness begins to beat a hasty retreat and is scooped up by the Monarch of Motion when the crook points out that something is happening.

The citizens of Central City are sprawled about, barely able to move. One tells the Flash that strange creatures, probably from another world were firing odd weaponry right before losing consciousness. They then catch a news broadcast in a nearby display window describing the alien invasion that has neutralized all the weapons in the arsenal of the armed forces and they are demanding the Government surrender. Among their weapons are fatigue guns, explaining the debilitating condition of the civilians encountered earlier.

The heroes begin to work up a plan to counterattack when Captain Boomerang asks to join them as, after all, it’s his world, too. A truce is declared and they go into action, beginning with some treetop gazing by the Elongated Man to locate their enemy. Once he discovers where they’ve placed sentinels, the trio split up to divide and conquer.

Ralph stretches himself below the surface of a lake, allowing an ambush on the other bank while Harkness lets a boomerang fly from behind a boulder, catching another alien predator unaware and the Fastest Man Alive uses his abilities to confuse and take down another. Each then retrieves a fatigue gun and uses them against the aliens who quickly decide they’re outclassed and hastily retreat through a slit in space.

Carmine Infantino used an interesting technique to illustrate this, showing them darting into an uncolored section of the panel with dashed outlines in the other dimension. After they slip through, the Flash uses his super speed abilities to bring sub-atomic particles together to seal up the seam and keep them out of Central City for good.

After finishing up, the Scarlet Speedster heads back only to find his friend Ralph prone on the sidewalk. He then notices Captain Boomerang with his fatigue gun, but he is a step too late as he falls under the alien technology.

The next thing our hero knows is that he’s been lashed to a massive boomerang and the Captain intends to launch him into orbit around the moon. The mechanism is launched and it looks like curtains for the Flash when the Elongated Man recovers enough to stretch nearly to his physical limits to release the cords binding his ally.

Captain Boomerang is swiftly apprehended and handed over to the authorities; the victims of the alien invasion are recovering their vitality and Editor Schwartz remarks in the closing caption that it wouldn’t be a surprise if the time-traveling boomerangs show up again to vex the Flash, wrapping up this 16-page tale.

Doing a follow-up to a seminal story like the previous issue’s “The Flash of Two Worlds!” [Sage #33] would not be an easy task, but the writing and art team were cranking out some incredible work and this is a most worthy entry, featuring several of my favorite elements, including a classic villain who was getting established, some nice science fiction angles with a brief alien invasion in Central City and a team-up of heroes to take on the threat, which was two-fold in this story. I dub this a Silver Age classic and a worthy entry in a Greatest Flash Stories collection. I rate it a maximum 10 on the scale and highly recommend it for your reading pleasure. This is one of the stories that make the Silver Age a great time to be a comic book reader.

Thanks again for spending time with us. If you have a comment or question or other feedback, drop a line anytime to: professor_the@hotmail.com

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