Not that it was the big DC Comics company-wide crossover of 1989, but The Janus Directive was one of the few multi-book crossovers to be published between Invasion! and Armageddon 2001, so I guess you could say it was the closest that the company had to an “event” that year. I say this because the Suicide Squad was clearly at the center of it and it was a big deal, so the pressure to follow up on it was going to be pretty substantial. So what do you do?
You go to Apokolips.
Oh yes, there’s a whole story with Shade The Changing Man (about 10 months before his mature readers/Vertigo series begins) and a mission into Quarac, but the main storyline is the fact that the character Duchess is actually the Female Fury Lashina and she’s finally gotten her memories back after being abandoned on Earth post-Legends. Okay, she was faking amnesia, but she now sees the opportunity to get herself back to Apokolips and take over the Female Furies. So the Squad follows and there’s a fantastic four-parter that features Amanda Waller taking on Granny Goodness, and the deaths of a couple of characters. You wouldn’t think that a book that is all about superhero black ops could go cosmic, but it not only does, it pulls it off very well.
Granted, if you’re going to have this group go anywhere, it’s Apokolips. This is a hell planet that even Superman found he needed to sneak around (during the Legends crossover in issue #3 of his rebooted series), so what the Squad winds up doing is going to some of the same settings–a hellish back-alley of a place–but since it’s ruled over by Darkseid, the chances that they’ll die is much higher. Plus, this had been seeded since around the beginning of the series with Waller pretty much knowing who she actually was mostly from the beginning. I’d say that they had set themselves up for disaster here because very often, long-simmering subplots don’t usually have the payoff you hope for, but this does (okay, maybe that’s just in X-Men comics, then) and I think it’s because we’ve lived with these characters for as long as we have and they handle the situation exactly like we’d expect.
They follow that up with a voodoo zombie storyline and the eventual arrest and imprisonment of Waller in what would have been a story I glazed over because New Orleans-based voodoo stuff isn’t really my thing, but Waller going in and being a complete badass in taking down the main villain–a crime group named the Loa–is just too good to pass up. Furthermore, the ending feels like the season finale of a television show, something a few comics series have done incredibly well (notably, the Wolfman-Perez New Teen Titans).
I can’t end my review without complimenting the artwork. John K. Snyder III pencils the Apokolips storyline to great effect and original series penciller Luke McDonnell returns to do the Loa stories. Aiding both of them is Geof Isherwood, who had a very solid run as Wayne Vansant’s inker on The ‘Nam prior to this and would eventually take over the total art chores. He compliments Snyder well and adds a Pat Broderick-like touch to McDonnell’s work that is very strong.
These books have been great and I’m becoming more and more grateful that I managed to grab quite a bit of the run before the movie came out and they were getting harder to find. I’ve got about two years’ worth of the title left (alas, I don’t own the last issue as well as a few of the key Barbara Gordon issues), and I’m looking forward to them.
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