Suicide Squad #53-58

suicide_squad_vol_1_57With the Squad officially not part of the government anymore (therefore relinquishing the “Task Force X” moniker), they’ve essentially gone full A-Team, taking assignments when they can.  And while most of the characters that we have seen throughout the title are still hanging around, this kind of feels like we’re heading into the final season of a television show that has just been given one final chance by the network and has been retooled to maybe get some more ratings.

Usually, that doesn’t work.  Here, it’s moderately successful.  We start with a five-part story called ‘The Dragon’s Hoard,” where the Squad takes on arms dealers, former Soviet military, and the Yakuza in the hopes of keeping a maguffin called The Dragon’s Hoard from falling into the wrong hands.  We have some costumed baddies, a subplot involving Nightshade and a vampire, and the Squad gets help from Katana, who is one of the better members of The Outsiders (and who really should have gotten her own miniseries at one point).  We also have a spotlight on the new Atom (Adam Cray, who had inherited a sizing belt from the supposedly deceased Ray Palmer) and The Thinker (whose powers Oracle can turn on and shut off remotely).

There’s certainly a lot of action in this five-parter, but I have to admit that there seems to be too much going on.  I enjoyed the Yakuza stuff because it reminded me of the way Chuck Dixon had Robin taking on King Snake’s gang in his own miniseries around this time, and the idea of a cache of weapons just being out there for someone to snatch up is a solid premise in the immediate post-Cold War era.  But when you have half the team in one location and half in the other while also trying to move the character beats along, things get a little unwieldy.  They’re also trying to make something happen with some of the newer additions to the team and while in the past that has worked, it seems a little forced here.

That’s not saying it’s bad, per se.  Even subpar Suicide Squad has proven to be good comics.  This just left me wanting the elements that had been recently excised.

Now, issue #58 is going to get a brief mention because it’s a War of the Gods crossover issue that’s sandwiched between two storylines, and actually was the only issue of this series that I bought off the shelf.  Back then, I had very little knowledge of the Suicide Squad, but I did recognize that most of the characters were villains and I think that I assumed that some of the characters that join in here–Black Adam and Firehawk, for example–were actually members.  Unfortunately, they’re not and they are only here because of goings on in other books.  I personally think that the addition of Black Adam or Firehawk (even both) to the team would have been really interesting, especially because the tension between Adam and Amanda Waller would have been pretty good.

Does this new direction work?  Well, the series was canceled with issue #66, so I think that in hindsight, the answer is yes.  But I’ll put off full judgment on that until I read and review the remaining issues in my run.

Keep, Sell, Donate, or Trash?

Keep.

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