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It Feels Like the First Time: Boomerang the Unreliable Narrator

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In this feature, Mark Ginocchio, Superior Spider-Talk co-host and editor of Chasing Amazing, takes a look at significant “firsts” in Spider-Man comics, i.e., first appearances of supporting characters, phrases, images and/or general concepts that have gone on to play a critical role in the Spider-Man mythos.

Today we look at the first time Boomerang lied in a Spider-Man comic:

Ardent readers of the Superior Foes of Spider-Man series should know that the title’s protagonist, Fred Meyers, aka Boomerang, talks a big game, but isn’t always forthcoming with the audience (or his partners in crime). Over the past year, everybody’s favorite unreliable narrator has told some tall tales about the origins of the head of Silvio “Silvermane” Manfredi (the head was recovered by a little boy just looking for a friend) and the faceless portrait of Victor Von Doom (draw Doom like one of your French girls), but Fred’s penchant for exaggeration (at least from a Spidey-centric perspective) can actually be traced to a 1979 Marvel Team-Up arc written by Chris Claremont (yes, that Chris Claremont) with pencils from Sal Buscema (yes, that Sal Buscema).

FirstTimeBoomerang_01The four-part storyline that kicks off in Marvel Team-Up #82 pairs Spider-Man with an amnesia-stricken Black Widow (who thinks she’s actually a regular public school teacher named Nancy Rushman), and later Nick Fury and Shang-Chi, against Viper (nee Lady Hydra), the Silver Samurai and Boomerang, who aim to crash a S.H.I.E.L.D. heilcarrier into Washington, D.C.

The storyline marks the first time Spider-Man and Boomerang squared off in any capacity, though Fred first appeared in a handful of Silver Age-era Tales to Astonish issues. And one of Fred’s trademark “bomb”-merangs is first thrown at Spidey in Marvel Team-Up #83. But it’s during a confrontation between Boomerang and Shang-Chi in Marvel Team-Up #84 that Spidey readers get to see Fred’s nose grow for the first time. As Shang-Chi patiently waits for battle, Boomerang taunts him as “one of those kung-fu hotshots,” before telling him “No problem. I creamed Iron Fist not long ago.”

It’s possible that Marvel Team-Up readers weren’t checking in on the Claremont/John Byrne run on Iron Fist, so they may not have read the issue in question (#13) to know whether or not Boomerang was full of hot air. Thankfully, Spider-editor Al Milgrom was on the case, and attached the dreaded *asterisk* to Boomerang’s comments.

“A slightly biased view of the outcome of Iron Fist #13.”

So what you’re trying to say is that Boomerang has lied to us? For the first time?

FirstTimeBoomerang_02The next time Boomerang and Spider-Man cross paths is Spectacular Spider-Man #67. In this Bill Mantlo and Ed Hannigan issue, Boomerang is portrayed more as a “bungler” than a liar. Wilson “Kingpin” Fisk asks Boomerang to take out Spider-Man as a way to get rid of him. Spidey dispatches of him pretty quickly, treating him like a joke in the process. That doesn’t stop Boomerang from being more boastful than he should be about what he expects to do with Spider-Man (namely, kill him).

Boomerang’s behavior didn’t get much better in a group setting. While working with the Sinister Syndicate – a villain “super” group consisting of such luminaries as Beetle, Speed Demon and Hydro-Man (and Sandman and Rhino to be fair), Boomerang was frequently portrayed as not being a great team-player. In Deadly Foes of Spider-Man #1 by Danny Fingeroth, Milgrom and Kerry Gammill, the Syndicate manages to successfully capture Spider-Man on behalf of the Kingpin, but mutually agree not to kill him to keep things less messy. That doesn’t stop Fred from trying to finish off Spidey by himself, which goes about as well as you think it would go for a guy as prestigious as Boomerang.

The moral of the story is Boomerang is a guy who is a legend in his own mind, and whose statements need to be taken with a grain of salt. So the next time Fred winds up and pitches a story within the pages of Superior Foes of Spider-Man that sounds too crazy to be true, it probably isn’t. You just have to remember the first time he told a big fat lie.

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