What’s interesting about this issue is that it is barely a Suicide Squad story. In fact, it’s a character-focused one-shot about Captain Boomerang, who goes on a solo mission to stop a mysterious villain named the Bunyip. Moreover, this is a comic that’s very new-reader friendly, because it doesn’t reference previous installments of the series. But does this also mean that it’s a comic that anyone can enjoy? Let’s have a look.
Before we begin, I want to point at this issue’s A and B cover. On the A cover we see Harley, Boomerang, Katana and Croc. With the series’ title Suicide Squad hanging above the characters, it’s likely that those who have no prior knowledge about this month’s story expect an actual Squad adventure. On the B cover we see only Harley, and not Boomerang. While the cover illustrations themselves are fine, I think both are odd choices, because neither even hints at a Boomerang solo story. Of course, it’s been a trope in comics that covers never completely reflect the interior story, but in this case it’s so different that I’m wondering to what extent we can consider this false advertisement. Or, at best, is this a case of (unintentional) misdirection? Especially when we realize that the story that follows almost has nothing to do with the Squad. I’ll let you decide for yourself.
This month’s basic premise is that Boomerang is picked up from Belle Reve by an agent of the Australian secret service to stop the Bunyip, because this villain is threatening to detonate a bunch of nuclear devices to blow up some major cities in Australia. What follows is that Boomerang embarks on a mission for the Australian secret service (so, not America’s Task Force X). The only things that link this adventure to the Suicide Squad are Amanda Waller and Belle Reve, both appearing only briefly at the beginning.
Now, I’m not against this type of story-telling, don’t get me wrong. I think creators should definitely have the freedom to take characters away from their teams and see what their adventures would be like if they were on their own. However, I do think that this is something readers should be aware of before they purchase the book. Especially because the solicitations state that it is Amanda Waller who ships him to Australia, while in truth Waller barely has anything to do with this. She merely gives permission for Boomerang to leave Belle Reve for a while.
But enough of that. Let’s focus on the actual writing. This is a fast-paced story, which, in my opinion, is driven by action and humor first, and character second. In terms of action, we see Boomerang jumping out of an airplane with a parachute, fighting off overwhelming odds, kicking in doors, narrowly escaping massive explosions, causing explosions, and even saving lives. The action is well-timed and sets a steady pace. As for the humor, I think most of it comes from the way Boomerang’s accent is written, and his interactions with the Australian spy Mel. The two of them, apparently, are old friends and used to be spies for the secret service together. It’s clear that a lot of effort is put into making these two characters sound as Australian as possible, which might at times feel a little bit forced, what with them constantly saying things like “mate” and “strewth.” While I get that this is meant to be taken as a joke, I think it’s slightly overdone. Furthermore, it strikes me as odd how Captain Boomerang’s affiliation with the Australian secret service is revealed in an almost off-hand remark, so close to the end of Williams’ run (#50). There is no build-up toward this reveal, and therefore it seems to come out of left field within the context of this issue.
What’s more, I appreciate that the creative team has put some effort into developing a character theme. This theme is mostly developed through Boomerang’s reminiscing of the past, his childhood, and his parents. When Boomerang later is confronted by a character who claims to be his biological son, we can see parallels between that character’s life and Boomerang’s. While this is certainly a nice touch, I do think that the theme itself is slightly cliché. It’s not necessarily a bad theme, though, as it is based on things that can happen in the real world, such as a father leaving his family and never coming back. But the way that this is executed in the comic, through brief exposition, feels somewhat rushed and therefore only works on a surface level. Had the creative team gone slightly deeper into the subject, perhaps it would’ve had more emotional resonance. But at the same time I appreciate that a choice had to be made: either expand on the underlying theme or expand the big action sequences. It’s clear that the creative team chose the latter. Lastly, an attempt is made at having the theme come full circle in the end. This is when Boomerang, at the last moment, decides to go back and save his son. A parallel is drawn between Digger’s noble action and the throwing of a boomerang: a weapon that always comes back. While the moment itself is sweet and contributes to developing Boomerang’s heroism, I do think that it doesn’t really go anywhere, because we don’t find out in this issue what happens to the son or how this affects Boomerang’s relationship with him. This is why I think the issue is struggling with balancing out the theme and the action.
The artwork this time around is drawn by Philippe Briones, and Gabe Eltaeb on colors. I think the artists manage to deliver some powerful fight scenes. There are explosions everywhere, there is gunfire, there are speeding aircrafts in the sky, and a lot of boomerangs. And while I tend to prefer my fight scenes to be sequential, I think that the big collage on page 10 works well because it conveys a feeling of chaos. I don’t imagine Boomerang to be a methodical martial artist like, say, Batman, so a strictly, thoroughly choreographed sequential approach might not work so well for the character. Boomerang is a crazy guy, and I feel that this chaotic page reflects that successfully. But what I find most distracting about the art, all throughout the book, is that almost everyone appears to be of the same age. The characters look very young, between 25 and 30, perhaps. For some characters this isn’t a problem, but for characters like Boomerang himself, or secret agent Mel, or Waller, this is a problem. In the case of Boomerang, the result is that he looks close to his son’s age. And while Boomerang and Mel probably should be around the same age, them looking so young kind of goes against the notion that they have a shared past as secret agents that happened even before Boomerang joined the Rogues, let alone the Squad. With Waller, she should definitely look older than 30, and probably older than 40, what with her being the commander of Task Force X and warden of Belle Reve, and not to mention all the life experience that she needs in order to run these operations.
- You are Captain Boomerang’s biggest fan
- A smaller one-shot, after the Sink Atlantis crossover, sounds good
Overall: I think the comic’s biggest struggle is balancing out character moments and action sequences. It seems to try to be both a character-piece centered around Boomerang, and an entertaining, light-hearted action comic that races toward the finish line. Had the creative team committed to either the one approach or the other, I think the narrative would’ve been stronger. But as it stands, it’s still a quick, entertaining read if you have fifteen minutes of spare time. However, to be perfectly honest, I doubt you would miss out on anything important if you decided to sit this one out.