REVIEW: JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED THREE-PACK - FLASH - CAPTAIN COLD - CAPTAIN BOOMERANG
It continues to impress me that, even as a Target exclusive, the action figure line based on the JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED animated series continues, even though the show itself has been off the air for years. It is a testament to the popularity of the characters, the grand scope of the animated series itself, and the style of the show as imagined by Bruce Timm and Paul Dini, that it has continued so effectively.
A series of new three-packs have made their way to Target stores, and one of them features the Scarlet Speedster himself, THE FLASH, along with two of his Rogue's Gallery of enemies, CAPTAIN COLD and CAPTAIN BOOMERANG, both of whom are entering this series for the first time.
Unlike some Justice League figures, Boomerang and Cold did actually appear in the animated series, in an understandably Flash-centric episode that also featured Flash adversary Mirror Master, during an attack on the newly-opened Flash Museum. Flash teamed up with Batman and Orion to put down the attack.
I don't want to spend too much time with the Flash figure, since he's hardly new to the line, but we will take a brief look at the character and the figure, and then get more in-depth with the two new villains.
FLASH - In the animated series, the Flash was Wally West, who was indeed the active primary Flash in the DC Universe at the time. Recently in the comics, the original Silver Age Flash, Barry Allen, presumed killed during the Crisis on Infinite Earths, has returned. Interestingly enough, this has led Wally West in the comics to adopt a costume similar to his animated counterpart, which differed from the comics version in that it appeared to be a somewhat darker red in color, and the lightning bolt insignia on the chest was somewhat simplified.
In the animated series, Flash was portrayed as something of a wisecracker who seldom took anything seriously, which grated on the nerves of just about everybody, but especially Batman and Green Lantern. Flash could nevertheless be counted on to get the job done when needed.
The figure, although certainly having been released multiple times over the years, is an effective rendition of the character from the animated series. Flash is dressed in his almost completely red uniform, with the little yellow wings near the ears, lightning bolt belt and glove cuffs, and yellow boots. The emblem on his chest is a yellow lightning bolt with a single "jag" in it (unlike two "jags" for the comics version, doubtless easier to animate), inside a white circle that is outlined in yellow.
The headsculpt for the Flash figure has a cocky grin on it, certainly in keeping with the character as he was portrayed in the animated series. Articulation isn't all that extensive, but then it seldom has been within this line. One never collects the Justice League for articulation. One collects the Justice League for the cool animated-style versions of a growing percentage of the DC Comics Universe. Flash is poseable at the head, arms, and legs, and stands up well on his own -- which is more than can be said about some figures in the line. Overall, the figure is an excellent rendition of the character.
Now let's consider the two Rogue's Gallery entries:
CAPTAIN BOOMERANG - Also likely one of Australia's least favorite sons. Here's what some online research turned up on the character:
Captain Boomerang (George "Digger" Harkness) is a villain in the DC Comics Universe.
Secretly the illegitimate son of an American soldier and an Australian woman, Harkness was raised in poverty, during which time he developed great skill in making boomerangs, and in using them as weapons. As a young adult, he was hired as a performer and boomerang promoter by a toy company which was, unbeknownst to him, owned by his biological father. Audiences ridiculed him, and a resentful Harkness turned to using his boomerangs for crime.
Although he lacked any actual superhuman abilities, he became a recurring enemy of the Flash, typically by devising altered boomerangs which could produce astonishing effects (some would explode, others had razor-sharp edges, etc.), and using them ruthlessly. He became a staple member of the Rogues Gallery, a group of villains dedicated to opposing Flash.
Throughout the first several years of the character's existence, Captain Boomerang spoke with no discernible accent. Beginning in the late 1980s he developed an Australian accent.
Later on, Harkness became a less-than-effective member of the Suicide Squad in exchange for being pardoned for his crimes. However, Captain Boomerang's grating personality caused considerable friction among his teammates, and he was considered to be a dangerous, vicious, cowardly and undependable member of the team—dysfunctional even by the Squad's standards and the equivalent of a class clown.
Amanda Waller, the Squad's commanding officer, characterized Captain Boomerang as "a jerk and a screw-up." This was not an undeserved reputation, as, among other things, Harkness simply watched as his teammate Mindboggler was shot in the back, even while he could have easily saved her. (Mindboggler had earlier used her mind-manipulating abilities on Harkness to shut him up when he was verbally abusing another team member.) He also manipulated another team member, Slipknot, into running away from the action just to see if the explosive bracelets the Squad members wore really did activate if the wearer attempted to escape. (Unfortunately for Slipknot, they did). He was scared to learn Ifrit, an artificial intelligence used by the rival team the Jihad, had been created based upon Mindboggler's thought patterns, and revealed what had happened.
While in the Squad, Harkness also briefly took up the mantle of Mirror Master to commit robberies. However, this career was cut short when he was caught and brought to Waller, who put an end to it by tricking him into a fake assault scene where he was forced to change constantly between Mirror Master and Captain Boomerang. She rescinded the benefits Harkness had been given such as his apartment in New Orleans and his status as a voluntary member of the Squad.
Many times Digger would have to be tricked into battle, but when faced with enemies he proved more than competent in upholding his end of the fight. Harkness also would play a few undercover roles for the squad, convincingly managing to be other slimy, criminal types. Later, Digger would try a simple series of pranks for amusement, hitting various members of the Squad with pies. For a time, suspicion had been diverted from him because had used his skills to pie himself, seemingly being hit by the 'assailant' from behind a wall. When the Squad confronted Digger as the culprit, he lost his temper and shouted that they couldn't really punish him since he was already in prison and in the Suicide Squad. He asked Waller, "What are you going to do about it, Fat Lady?!" Waller dropped him from a helicopter onto a deserted island.
Due to various events, mainly Waller breaking many rules by having a criminal gang ruthlessly gunned down, the Squad broke up for a year. When Waller was approached again because she was needed, she reformed the team and had Digger picked up. He was, at the time, trying to construct a massive boomerang to take him to mainland.
Harkness revealed a deep patriotism for his home country of Australia, though his countrymen do not care at all for him, and a tremendous fear of being laughed at. Teammate Deadshot commented he often wished he had killed Harkness, most notably after his drinking left them to miss a plane and to Deadshot losing his uniform and entering a depressive phase because of it. Ironically, when Boomerang pulled strings to have the suit restored to Deadshot, Lawton's psyche had passed into a phase that led him to loathe it. Harkness remained with the Squad until it was disbanded after a successful mission in Diabloverde.
However, despite being a somewhat trusted employee, Harkness still was quite amoral and greedy, selling out Adam Cray, the Atom, for half a million dollars.
Digger later showed up in Superboy with another Squad. While on a mission to destroy an underwater criminal hideout, he was shot through the hands by Deadshot and apparently fell to his death.
He later appeared in the pages of Flash with cybernetic hands. Alongside four other Rogues, given a chance by fellow Rogue Abra Kadabra to become much more than they ever were. Unfortunately for Captain Boomerang, Captain Cold, Mirror Master, Weather Wizard, and Heat Wave, Kababra's promise of glory was actually a ruse to free Neron and empower himself. Neron then resurrects the five Rogues, super-powering them and sending then on a bloody rampage that destroys much of Flash's hometown. Eventually, the Flash and Linda Park free the Rogues; the dead are restored to life.
After being restored to life, Boomerang and the Rogues, along with the Trickster, sought out an artifact that would protect them from Neron should he ever take an interest in them again. The Trickster accompanied them to help an old ex-girlfriend recover her kidnapped son. In the end, the Trickster found the boy, who turned out to not only be the prophesied agent of a god, but also the Trickster's son. He was also able to convince Neron to leave the Rogues alone, with the Rogues either coming away darker from their experiences, or seeking enlightenment, like Heat Wave, who retired with the monks.
Captain Boomerang was killed in the Identity Crisis miniseries by Jack Drake, father of Tim Drake. Digger had been sent by the real killer to attack Jack Drake, only the killer double-crossed Digger and sent Drake a warning and a pistol to defend himself; the killer later defended the action by saying that Boomerang was hired because he was such an incompetent that Jack would only need to pull the trigger and he would be safe. Digger managed to kill Drake but not before he was shot himself.
At the end of the Blackest Night saga, the light of the White Lantern revives twelve deceased heroes and villains. Among them is Boomerang. He appears confused as to what's going on before being knocked out by the Flash. Digger is seen locked in his Iron Heights prison cell. .
So, how's the figure? Very nicely done, and an excellent rendition of the animated version of the character.
The look of the character is well in keeping with the classic look of Captain Boomerang, with one significant difference. Captain Boomerang's original costume included a blue tunic that was imprinted with dozens of white boomerang images. As this would have been dang near impossible to animate reliably, the costume was simplified to have one boomerang on the chest, and one each on the upper arms of the tunic.
The Captain Boomerang figure has a number of very distinctive parts. Most Justice League Unlimited figures tend to use a standard set of body molds that are molded and painted in appropriate colors, and given a distinctive character head, and perhaps a few additional needed accessories such as a belt or cape. Captain Boomerang needed a bit more attention than that.
Since his tunic is NOT skin-tight like many super-hero costumes, the arms of the figure needed to be unique. Seeing as how the boomerangs are actually sculpted into the upper arms, not just painted on, I am of the opinion that these arms were created specifically for this figure. The black gloves have been given a certain flared-out look, as well. The tunic is also a distinctive mold, which is a flexible plastic piece that fits over an otherwise standard torso. The legs also look to be standard issue, as the boot details are painted on in blue over the black leggings.
Then there's the matter of Captain Boomerang's scarf. He wears a long white scarf. How was this accomplished on the figure? Rather intriguingly, as it turns out. The main length of the scarf was molded as part of the tunic, and hangs down in both the front and the back. But the part of the scarf that is wrapped around the neck is actually molded as part of the head! This, and the distinctive arms, does give the Captain Boomerang figure the look of being taller and bulkier than a fair percentage of Justice League figures, but not really to the point of it being a major problem.
The headsculpt is excellent. Boomerang has somewhat upswept brown hair on the sides, and an expression on his face that as much as anything makes him look like a cynical smartass, which he was certainly capable of being. He's wearing a cap that looks like a cross between a beret and something I'd expect to find the average fast food service clerk wearing. It also has a small boomerang on the front of it.
Overall, it's a very impressive rendition of the character, in the animated style. Now, let's consider the other Captain in the mix --
CAPTAIN COLD - Just don't compare him to Mister Freeze. He hates that. Captain Cold, also known as Leonard Snart, was created by John Broome and Carmine Infantino. He is a leader of the Rogues. A fan favorite, Captain Cold has served as a bitter enemy to the Silver-Age Flash Barry Allen, and both enemy and grudging friend to the modern-day Flash Wally West.
Cold was the second supervillain to face the Silver-Age Flash in Showcase #8 (February 1957).
Cold takes his position as head of the Rogues very seriously. He employs a no-drugs rule (evidenced by his brutal beating of Mirror Master for his cocaine habit), docks pay for senseless violence (a 90% payout cut for the new Trickster's antics with stray dogs and T-bombs), and will kill only on certain occasions (he killed the Top for setting the newer rogues against him and his set of rogues).
Captain Cold was not entirely as cold hearted as his name suggests. He deeply cared for his sister, aka the Golden Glider, and looked out for the well being of his fellow Rogues at all times, going so far as to arrange a secret funeral for Captain Boomerang. Even after killing the supervillain Chillblaine in revenge for his sister's murder, he was sitting at his coffee table drinking alcohol, and unable to open the door for his usual prostitute, realizing, "My heart's not always made of ice."
Leonard Snart was raised by an abusive father and took refuge with his grandfather, who worked in an ice truck. When his grandfather died, Len grew tired of his father's abuse and set out to start a criminal career. Snart joined up with a group of small-time thieves and in planning out a robbery, each was issued a gun and a visor to protect their eyes against the flashes of gunfire. This visor design would later be adapted by Snart into his trademark costume. In recent years he has added a radio receiver to them which picks up the police band to monitor local law enforcement. Snart and the other thugs were captured by the Flash and imprisoned. Snart decided to go solo, but knew he had to do something about the local hero, the Flash.
Snart read an article that theorized that the energy emissions of a cyclotron could interfere with the Flash's speed. He designed a weapon to harness that power and broke into a cyclotron lab, intending to use the device to charge up his experimental gun. As he was finishing his experiment, a security guard surprised Snart. Intending to use his gun only to scare the guard, he inadvertently pulled the trigger and discovered that his weapon had been altered in a way he had never imagined. The moisture in the air around the guard froze. Intrigued by this twist of fate, Snart donned a parka and the aforementioned visor and declared himself to be Captain Cold - the man who mastered absolute zero. Snart then committed a series of non-lethal crimes. But after Barry Allen's death, during the Crisis on Infinite Earths, Captain Cold became a bounty hunter with his sister Lisa, the Golden Glider.
During the events of Underworld Unleashed, Captain Cold lost his soul to Neron but Wally West brought it back to the land of the living. He soon returned to crime, this time a member of Wally's Rogues Gallery. The Golden Glider had abandoned her bounty hunter career and had started partnering with a series of thugs who she dressed in a costume, armed with a copy of Captain Cold's signature Cold Gun, and called Chillblaine. Already distraught over the death of her lover, the Top, it seemed that the supposed death of her brother pushed her over the edge. But the last Chillblaine was a little smarter and more vicious. He murdered the Golden Glider, prompting Captain Cold to hunt him down, torture him and kill him by freezing his outer layer of skin and then pushing him off a high rise building. Not long after that, Snart was framed by a new incarnation of Mister Element. He used his Element Gun to simulate Cold's gun, using ice and cold to murder several police officers before Captain Cold and the Flash discovered who was actually responsible. With the death of his sister, and having killed Chillblaine and Mr. Element in vengeance, Cold has again become an unrepentant criminal. However, during a confrontation with Brother Grimm, Cold actually worked with Wally West to defeat the powerful magic user, although this was mainly because he and Mirror Master had been betrayed by Grimm and wanted revenge.
Most recently Captain Cold was declared the leader of the Flash's Rogue's Gallery. His skill and experience have made him a strong leader to the likes of the Weather Wizard, the new Trickster, the new Mirror Master, and the new Captain Boomerang. Len seems to have taken the young Captain Boomerang under his wing, after the elder Boomerang was recently killed. Tabloids rumoured that Captain Cold's sister, the Golden Glider, was Boomerang's mother, making him Captain Cold's nephew. This turned out to be false, however, as the new Boomerang's mother has been revealed to be Meloni Thawne, who is also the mother of Bart Allen. Despite his more ruthless nature as of late, Captain Cold's heart isn't completely frozen, evidenced by having sent flowers to honor Sue Dibny, the murdered wife of the Elongated Man.
Traditionally, Captain Cold is driven by three things: money, women, and the desire to beat Barry Allen. Although not the lech that Captain Boomerang was, Len Snart has an eye for the ladies, particularly models. When Barry Allen died, Captain Cold drifted for a while, jumping back and forth over the lines of crime and justice. He was captured by the Manhunter and served time in the Suicide Squad, worked with his sister as a bounty hunter (Golden Snowball Recoveries), and, with his longtime friend and sometimes nemesis Heat Wave, encountered Fire and Ice of the Justice League. He has teamed up with various villains over the years other than the many Rogues. These include Catwoman and the Secret Society of Super Villains. His favorite baseball team is the Chicago Cubs.
In "The Flash: Rebirth" #1, Captain Cold is seen with the other Rogues, reading about Barry Allen's return and remarking "We're gonna need more Rogues."
Like the majority of The Flash's Rogues, Snart has no real super power. He instead relies on his cold guns and instincts. Over the years Snart has modified his weapons to allow a variety of effects such as: A cold beam that freezes anything it hits instantly. Creating a cold field where people and objects literally stop in their tracks. Cold uses this ability to slow down The Flash's movements. Cold once froze a man's skin so that he was alive but immobile.
Fellow ice-based villain Mr. Freeze has noted that Cold is the only cold-themed villain in the DC Universe to have mastered "absolute zero" with his weapons.
So, how's the figure? Really very nicely done. Most portrayals of Captain Cold in the comics show that his "winter suit" costume is not skin-tight, but obviously the Justice League line is going to make use of what existing molds they can. That's not to say that they haven't provided enough unique adaptations for the figure to still look -- um, cool.
The figure is molded mostly out of a dark blue plastic that's maybe a little too dark for Captain Cold, but it still looks impressive. The gloves and boots are appropriately white. What's been added to the overall look of the figure is a wide, almost shawl-like collar that hangs down over the shoulders and partway down the chest and back, ending in a jagged pattern that looks like icicles. This completes Captain Cold's overall look, manages to make the costume look not quite as skin-tight as it might otherwise have, and the piece is molded from a very flexible plastic so that it doesn't hinder arm movement.
The headsculpt is very nicely done. Captain Cold wears a winter-like hood over most of his head, and a pair of squarish blue glasses that almost double for a mask. The facial design and expression is definitely villainous and somewhat thuggish in appearance, not at all inappropriate for the character. Interestingly, the laces for the hood are molded to the huge icicle collar.
Captain Cold is wearing a yellow belt with a pistol holster, which typically contains his "cold gun". Neither he nor Captain Boomerang come with any separate accessories.
I'd just like to note this, if I may, on a comparative level. There are three major DC-based lines being produced by Mattel. Justice League Unlimited, the 4" scaled DC Universe Infinite Heroes, and the excellent masterpieces, the 6-1/2" scale DC Universe Classics. I'm not including the recently-developed Retro-Action line of Mego-esque figures here, although they're cool, too.
The point I want to make is that it seems that, rather strangely in my opinion, Flash's Rogue's Gallery has fared far better in the Justice League and Infinite Heroes line than it has in DC Universe Classics. Mirror Master, Captain Boomerang, and Weather Wizard have existed in the DC Infinite Heroes line for some time. Mirror Master and Gorilla Grodd have been part of the Justice League line for some time, and Captain Boomerang, Captain Cold, and Weather Wizard have been recently added.
And yet the only presence of the Rogue's Gallery in the top-of-the-line DC Universe Classics line to date has been Captain Cold, and a Collect-and-Connect of Grodd. Where is Weather Wizard? Captain Boomerang? Mirror Master? Thean again, where's the Reverse-Flash? He wouldn't be especially hard to pull off. These are all popular, long-established characters that deserve their chance at the big time, and I sincerely hope they get it, and sooner than later.
Anyway, so much for my little digression, but I wanted to say it, and this was a good chance. What's my final word on this Justice League set? I'm impressed. Although the Flash has seen multiple releases, he certainly belongs in this three-pack, and it's good to welcome two newcomers like Captain Cold and Captain Boomerang into the line. As I said at the top of this review, the resilience of this Justice League line continues to impress me, and I hope it is able to carry on for a long time to come.
The JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED three-pack featuring FLASH, CAPTAIN BOOMERANG, and CAPTAIN COLD, definitely has my highest recommendation!