One of the things I’m noticing about this run of Suicide Squad is how John Ostrander takes full advantage of the characters and events of the DCU that he has available to him, as well as how he ensures that some of the well-known events like Legends continue to resonate.
Take, for instance, these two issues of the series. Now, while there’s an ongoing subplot of Captain Boomerang posing as Mirror Master so that he can still be a criminal and not void his contract with the Squad, the main story is an operation to take down a South American drug kingpin after his men murder several friends of former JLA-er Vixen. Teaming up with them is the former Titan Speedy, who at this point had been working with the drug enforcement arm of the government and would soon get his own storyline both with and without Nightwing in Action Comics Weekly.
The mission, which takes up the bulk of the action of the book, is one that’s actually pretty typical of comics these days. A raid on a drug loard would have been comfortable in–and was part of–a Punisher comic, and I could even see a lighter version of this being used in G.I. Joe. They go in, go undercover, there are several firefights, and in the end, they not only destroy the bad guy’s operation but they wind up killing him.
However, what puts this above, say, Frank Castle taking down yet another cocaine factory, is the characterization. Vixen is billed as a guest star on the cover, and while I know she would join the team at a later date, here she is still affected by the tragic deaths of her former Detroit-era Justice Leaguers. By this time, JLI was chugging along at issue #13 and not only was Legends way behind us, but Millennium had come and gone, so you’re talking a fair amount of distance between this book at Justice League of America.
Still, like they did with Glorious Godfrey in an earlier issue, they follow up on threads from Legends or work on tying up some loose ends. Vixen sees a group of her modeling friends get killed and then has to contend with the rage that boils to the surface and does lead her to kill, a moment that is handled with the right amount of pathos and dovetails with the return of Rick Flagg from his mission in the Doom Patrol crossover. He’s also deeply affected, and we are getting–without crossover-sized stories or big character deaths–a really good look at how the loose ethics or moral code of Waller and the Squad has an effect on the non-villain characters.
It’s a book that is psychological as much as it is full of action and I continue to be here for it. And I should mention that after the drug cartel takedown, there’s a two-part crossover with JLI, of which I only have one part, which is Suicide Squad #13 (JLI #13 is the other half). Here, we more or less have a follow-up to two storylines/plot points–Batman vowing he’d take down the Squad at some point as well as Nemesis still being stuck in Russia. The latter is more or less the reason the two teams are facing off, but is really just a backdrop to a great set of fights between the two of them, especially between Batman and Rick Flagg, which Luke McDonnell really goes all out for.
As we wrap up the first full year of Suicide Squad, it’s easily one of the best debut years of a comic that I’ve ever read. I not only continue to enjoy the book but also continue to pursue plugging the holes in my collection and have yet to be disappointed.
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