I’d like to say that this book was unrecognized or underrated during the time it was published, but I don’t know if that’s true considering that I never read it when it first came out and wasn’t even reading comics at the time. I begin with this because even at this early stage, it’s starting to seem that Ostrander’s Suicide Squad was a foil to the Giffen/DeMatteis Justice League International book, a title that had started a few months after this and also spun out of Legends.
Now, I know that the JLI series was not all chuckles and hijinks and so far there has been a solid amount of humor in Suicide Squad, but the overall tone of the book has been more of a straightforward action yarn than a workplace comedy with good action beats. And that’s not an insult to JLI, as I’ve enjoyed what I have read of that title and may look into reading somewhere down the line. In these issues, the two books begin to intersect. We get a “Personal Files” story in issue #8, a Millennium crossover in #9, and Batman shows up in issue #10.
I expected “Personal Files” to be more like one of my favorite “downtime” comics issues, which is X-Factor #87, where the team has therapy sessions with Doc Sampson following The X-Cutioner’s Song. This was more along the lines of The New Teen Titans #47 (the baxter series #47) where Cousin Oliver and Jericho go through the origins files of the team, mixed with the famous “A Day in the Life …” story from the original NTT series’ issue #8. We have an exploration of … well, personal files … coupled with some origin stories as well as private moments among team members that serve to move subplots along. I enjoyed it but felt that it fell just short of the mark for issues with these types of stories.
Issue #9, on the other hand, proves to be one of the better parts of the otherwise lackluster Millennium crossover. Without getting too much into the weeds about the Manhunters and the Guardians and the New Guardians, this is one of four books–Captain Atom, Detective Comics, and The Spectre were the other three–where heroes were infiltrating the Manhunters’ base in the Louisiana bayou. There’s an appearance by Mark Shaw, one of the team members is revealed to be in collusion with the Manhunters and is killed, and you have a glimpse of what the true potential of that crossover was (seriously, if it was an infiltration-based story without the whole New Guardians thing, it would have been so much better). I’ve read the Detective Comics issue from this week and it also is very good, so I would recommend getting just these and a few of the other crossovers and considering skipping most of the rest of Millennium.
Issue #10 was my favorite of these three, and it’s one that I have had signed by John Ostrander. The cover is this great Jerry Bingham pic of Amanda Waller just laying into Batman (and I freaking LOVE Jerry Bingham’s Batman) and the inside is basically the same. Bats sneaks into Belle Reve to get intel on the Suicide Squad, confronts several of them, and is moderately successful, although he leaves vowing to take them down one day. It’s a period where Batman wasn’t entirely up his own rear end and was more or less allowed to be a presence in the greater DCU, and also had not become as ubiquitous in other people’s books the way Spidey or Wolverine were over at Marvel. Ostrander writes a good one-and-done “bottle episode” story and Luke McDonnell’s art is just so good. It’s easily one of my favorite issues of the series so far.
And I keep chugging along here. I’ve actually read further than what I’ve written about (I’m behind on reviews at the moment), and while I can’t say that I should be making a decision on whether or not to keep this series this early, if the rest of the book is this good, I might just do that.
Keep, Sell, Donate, or Trash?