It may be a Flash Annual but the star of the show here is one of his most famous Rogues, Captain Boomerang. Recently released from prison after earning a pardon, we join him as he’s being interrogated by a couple of government agents about a recent run-in with the new Task Force X, which mostly comprises a bunch of international super-activists, The Revolutionaries.
Boomerang tells the Feds that he took them to his Central City hideout, where they hoped to catch their breath and form a plan to revenge themselves upon the man they’d just learnt has been using them for his own, unknown ends – Ted Kord. Before they could work out what to do next, though, the Fastest Man Alive showed up, hungry for answers.
After a brief fight. Flash was convinced to help them get away, knowing how badly the government has treated the Dirty Dozen-style super-villain team. They didn’t, though, trust him with the information that Kord – Flash’s superhero pal the Blue Beetle – has apparently gone bad.
The Veil is a government super-stealth jet based on Wonder Woman’s invisible plane which the Revolutionaries had nicked and stowed in Death Valley. If they could get to it, they could disappear. Literally. One problem.
Deathstroke. And he’s brought his new car.
This Annual is a breath of fresh air. It’s written by regular Flash scribe Joshua Williamson who, away from his ongoing – seriously, it must be 100 issues by now – storyline can just fly free and have fun. All the super-speedsters, time travellers and magic-science forces which usually clog up Barry Allen’s stories are absent as he gives us a fun DC universe story involving metahumans of varying shades; villains, anti-heroes, self-proclaimed freedom fighters, assassins and one undeniable hero. That last, the Flash, is almost a side-character here, seen through the eyes, and lies, of braggart conman Digger Barnes. As Captain Boomerang he’s one of Barry’s oldest foes and, as such, knows how to play the Scarlet Speedster. He’s not necessarily going to make a fool of The Flash, but he’ll certainly lead him a merry dance.
New Suicide Squad co-creators Tom Taylor and Bruno Redondo are entirely absent from the credit box, they’re not even listed as advisors, never mind co-plotters, which makes it all the more impressive that Williamson handles their characters so confidently. If I’d been told Taylor had written this I’d believe it, so well does it match the tone of the Squad’s brilliant new series, which is never short on smart action, sharp plot twists and black humour – Boomerang’s reported speech is a hoot, stopping just short of Miss Othmar-style wah-wah-wahs. He also has Flash talk like like a real down-home type, which he just might, being from the Midwest.
The art is as uniformly terrific as the script, despite being a bit of a jam – it looks like Brandon Peterson does pencils and inks for his pages, while Jason Paz embellishes the issue’s other pencillers, Stephen Segovia and Carlo Pagulayan. The storytelling is clear, the character work precise and the action on point. Hi-Fi colours the lot with the usual verve, and Steve Wands letters, giving an extra-nice signature boomerang to Digger’s dialogue boxes.
Welcoming us to the issue is a gorgeous piece by illustrator David Marquez and colourist Alejandro Sanchez, a perfect tease for the high jinks inside. That expression on Barry’s face is priceless.
You don’t need to have been following either The Flash or Suicide Squad to enjoy the hi-octane hilarity on display here – it has ties to the Squad’s series, and repositions Boomerang after his guest spot there as a Flash-first character, but works as a one-off. Buy it for Boomerang…. as I said, he’s the star of the show – daring, dashing and perhaps not quite as dastardly as he’d like you to think.