WTF, DC? Captain Boomerang (Owen Mercer)

Continuity has never been DC Comics’ strong point. Take little Damian Wayne, for example: he’s quickly become one of DC’s most popular characters in the five years since he was introduced, and in that time he’s been portrayed as a mini-Bruce (by Grant Morrison in Batman and Robin), an awkward and nervous pre-teen (Tony Daniel in Battle for the Cowl), and super, super British (Bryan Q. Miller in Batgirl…I think).

The second Captain Boomerang, Owen Mercer, wasn’t exactly a fan favourite, but he was an interesting character nonetheless. Son of the first Captain Boomerang, Digger Harkness, Mercer met Harkness only a short time before Harkness’s death and later took his father’s place amongst Flash’s collection of enemies, the Rogues. Later, Mercer switched to the side of the good guys (joining Batman’s Outsiders team) and became a surrogate big brother for Supergirl:

Mercer was introduced during the Identity Crisis miniseries, the same tie-in event that brought you such notable additions to comic book history as: Dr. Light raping Sue Dibny in the JLA sattelite; Sue Dibny’s horrific murder at the hands of a crazed Jean Loring; Firestorm dying after being stabbed with a sword and exploding; and, last but not least, Captain Boomerang murdering Jack Drake, father of the third Robin Tim Drake, and getting killed in the process.

This meant, of course, that Tim Drake was finally a real Robin (both his parents were dead), but instead of congratulating him Mercer actually tried to make amends for his father’s actions. Solid chap, no? Maybe a bit misguided, maybe a little morally grey, but still a good guy underneath it all.

Further evidence that he seemed like an okay dude:

Until Blackest Night: The Flash, that is. It’s revealed in the third issue of this three-issue Blackest Night (DC’s zombie event of 2009-2010) tie-in that Digger Harkness has become a pit-dwelling, cannibalistic member of the undead, and his son has been supplying him with fresh food:

Yeesh.

This is probably one of the most uncharacteristic changes of heart in the history of comics, for the following reasons:

1) Mercer’s bond with his father wasn’t that strong. Realistically, they knew each other for a pretty short amount of time, and Mercer was aware of what a dirtbag the guy was (otherwise his apology to Tim Drake doesn’t make much sense).

2) From the Rogues to Suicide Squad to the Outsiders to Supergirl’s pal to the Secret Six to…child murderer? The guy went from spending several years redeeming himself before saying to hell with it and throwing a little girl into a pit to be eaten by a zombie? There’s nothing in Mercer’s previous appearances to support this development.

Then there’s this:

The Rogues, disgusted with Mercer’s actions, throw him into the pit to be eaten by the reanimated corpse of the father he’d desperately been trying to return to life. Yikes.

In 1988, the Joker beat the second Robin (Jason Todd) to death with a crow bar. A couple decades later, the fifth Robin (the aforementioned Damian Wayne) knocked the crap out of the Joker with a crow bar, in a moment where a reader could smile at the irony and the idea that what goes around comes around.

Owen Mercer’s death is the exact opposite of the above example. The one-eighty of his personality made no sense, and his demise was relentlessly brutal, especially for a character that audiences seemed to like (or at least weren’t foaming at the mouth to see get his comeuppance). A prime example of the punishment outweighing the crime.

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5 Responses to WTF, DC? Captain Boomerang (Owen Mercer)

  1. Gerardo says:

    One of the worst continuity errors, but the tie ins to blackest night (wich was an awsome book by the way) are full of that crap, read Blackest Night Justice Society of America.

    Power Girl refers to Earth 2 superman as
    -cousin
    -uncle
    -father
    All in the same issue!!! The story an writting is terrible, How you fail to screw up a zombi story! How!

    Here the story is fine, a kid mantaining his zombie turned dad, but the character are horrible wrong, is like the author said “so wich of the flash related zombies has a kid?”

    Blackest Night Teen Titans was cool with the Wilson Family, Jericho is back, is good and has his powers (read betweeb the lines, the author thought the whole deathtrap was full of crap), but then at the end provided for an excuse to the horrible Deathstroke’s Titans (way to hit and miss). Again a mini with Rose and Joey is throw to tbe garbage

  2. Tayo Jones says:

    This is bloody stupid. A great character with loads of potential, killed off because the writer is too obsessed with the silver age and wants everything to be like the 50s and 60s, but updated for modern audiences. It’s stupid and a waste of a great character.

  3. Jon Carroll says:

    Not only that, but Captain Cold goes against his own code against killing by throwing Owen into the pit!

    But yes, Owen worked hard to be a good guy, and he was never really a bad guy anyway. This was beyond out of character. Why put so much effort into putting him into Supergirl, and Robin, and the Outsiders, if you were going to give him such an out of character, throw away death?

    Wasted my time is what you did.

  4. Blackest Night as a whole seemed to serve as a way for writers to off characters they hated and replace them with the ones they preferred.

    I dug that Owen Mercer was a complex guy who, really, was just trying to find his place in the world. Whether that be as a Rogue or Outsider. But no, he ends up an asshole and gets killed and his dad’s brought back… and has nothing done with him. Because reasons.

    But my “worst Blackest Night moment” goes to the death of Kendra Saunders. Kendra was a unique Hawkgirl because she actively went against her determined fate that she be in love with Hawkman, and actually turned him away for the vast majority of her history. She was independent and refused to be defined by her nonexistent relationship with Hawkman. She had a child who she had to give up for adoption. She dated other people and refused to be slutshamed. She didn’t take shit, but was still caring. She’d had a rough life (losing her child, suicide attempts, identity issues, etc.), but made the best of it. She was kinda a big feminist character when you think about it.

    So of course, in Blackest Night, she dies and her last words are a confession of love for Hawkman… and then at the end of the story, Hawkgirl is revived… as SHIERA HALL, complete with her unconditional, undying love for Hawkman. As someone who got into DC Comics through JSA, where Kendra was one of the more focused on characters, I was just pissed.

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