This is one of the Suicide Squad books I read out of order, mainly because I started reading the books I had and vowed to fill in the rest later. Last week, I accomplished some of that by visiting my LCS and picking up a few of the missing issues, including this special.
Funny enough, it’s probably not crucial to the run of the book because the only character really involved in any way on the Squad’s side was Rick Flag. In it, he takes a team of nobodies (Mister 104, Weasel, Psi, Thinker) on a mission to rescue Hawk, whose plane was shot down over Nicaragua. These orders come straight from President Reagan and a team of his advisors who don’t like Waller or the Squad enlist the Doom Patrol to go in and interfere. The teams meet and fight and really get nowhere, especially when the Soviet Union intervenes in the form of the Rocket Reds. After Thinker is seemingly killed (all right, he is, but he shows up in The Flash years later with no explanation as to how he survived), Flag uses his helmet and it starts to overtake him to the point where he kills Weasel. The Doom Patrol will stay in Nicaragua in the following issue of their series, and Rick Flag will deal with the consequences of his actions.
This is a really solid Cold War-related superhero fight with low stakes for the Suicide Squad, and I can imagine it might have been done more to get people to read Doom Patrol, which was between issues #6 and 7 at the time. Those pre-Grant Morrison DP issues are a little rough, as they seemed to be going for Chris Claremont’s X-Men more than the strangeness of the original group. Here, they act like government operatives and Ostrander and Paul Kupperberg use a random assortment of villains just so we can see how “suicide” the missions can be. I thought I would be disappointed that the team we’re used to seeing wasn’t in this, but the fact that they could lean into the expendable nature of the Suicide Squad made this worth the read.
Plus, we get art by Erik Larsen, who was just getting started in his career at the time (Spider-Man and his Image work would come a few years later) and I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed his art style. It really fits the story and these characters. I know that he did a number DP issues before leaving for Marvel and while he wasn’t a “name” then, I can imagine that at the height of the early Image speculation years, this might have gone for a few bucks in the bins.
I think I paid a dollar or two for the book, and it’s certainly worth grabbing if you see it on the cheap. It probably isn’t necessary for the Suicide Squad story, but it’s a great one-off.
Keep, Sell, Donate, or Trash?