With a slight pivot in direction having taken place and a five-part bannered storyline to kick things off, the creative team of the Suicide Squad seemed to be committed to keeping the book humming along even if, as I mentioned in my previous review, I didn’t think it totally worked. But that’s not without trying and not without a couple of bright spots in its waning days. After what was, honestly, one of the better War of the Gods crossover (and one of the few that actually had something to do with the storyline instead of being, say, a random encounter with Wonder Woman or an ancient god being a monster of the week), John Ostrander and Kim Yale decided to capitalize on whatever new readers they might have by bringing in some big guns, nay, the big guns: Superman, Batman, and Aquaman.
Yes, Aquaman. He was about to get his own ongoing series, after all.
So anyway, the first four issues here are some I’m only going to talk about very briefly because I’d read these a while ago as well as part of my guest spot on Stella’s Batgirl to Oracle podcast, so they’ve already been covered and I reread them because I was reading the entire run. They’re a storyline that involves the former JLA members investigating the apparent death of Ray Palmer as well as the reappearance of former Quaraci President Marlo, the remains of the group named Jihad, and a secret group called the Cabal. And unlike the prior storyline where there were (in my mind) too many things going on at once, this was much better, and that’s not just because we have some big guns as guest stars as well as a Batman/Oracle encounter.
From there, though, we head into the title’s last storyline, so what might have been a good effort to inject some energy into the book with the Atom/Jihad storyline wound up being a “tying up loose ends” one. Now, I don’t know how it ends because I am missing the last issue (more on that in a moment), but we begin in Diabloverde, and island somewhere in the Caribbean, where a group of B-list villains–Bolt, Deadline, Sudden Death, Blockbuster, and Shrapnel–are working as the muscle for a dictator. A woman manages to escape and eventually finds her way to the Squad’s HQ where she holds Captain Boomerang at gunpoint and forces him to take her to Waller. Meanwhile, Floyd Lawton gets his costume back and there’s this whole “I’m not Lawton, I’m Deadshot” psychotic break of sorts; the Thinker is able to figure out how to get rid of Oracle’s control; and Count Vertigo has the unenviable task of dealing with the inner political turmoil of Valtlava. There’s also some silly epilogue stuff with Dybbuk, the member of Jihad.
So Waller and Boomerang overpower the girl with the gun and find out that what the B-listers are doing in her country is essentially calling themselves the Suicide Squad, which is definitely not going to make Waller’s group look good. She then tells them that the big bad of this story is a man named Guedhe, who had overthrown the government as part of a people’s revolution but then become very bad because he worships some voodoo god of death. Waller wants to go in and wants help from Sarge Steel who rejects her because while he may be a dictator, “He’s our dictator” and is being propped up by the CIA. So, as is usually the case, Waller bucks authority and says she’ll help this girl.
After a subplot involving the Atom taking on a group that is now calling themselves Task Force X Waller briefs the Squad and they are soon in Diabloverde. They go right at the B-list Squad and there’s some really solid fighting which they win … until the Thinker plays his hand and has Waller put her own gun in her mouth at the end of the second part. The third part picks up right where that left off, with the Squad continuing to take on and take out the fake Squad, but then having to contest with the mysterious new Task Force X (and I might add that we’re not sure who is in charge of this Task Force X). Waller gets out of her situation and the action eventually flows into the jungle, where Guedhe is waiting, looking kind of like the crazy villain from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Issue #65 ends on a cliffhanger with Guedhe saying, “Death follows them. Death most surely awaits them. I will have their lives. Their souls and their corpses will serve me after their deaths. I will be invincible. And the Suicide Squad will be no more.”
And that kind of leaves me in a bind. At the moment, I only need six issues to complete this entire run–#23, 28, 48, 49, and 66. I know that 48 and 49 are probably two of the tougher ones to find because they are key Oracle issues, and I also #66 is a bit of a tough one because it suffers from the low print run problems that often come with the end of a series. I know that I can get them all in trade or supplement the run with the digital issues, but I have to admit that it would feel like cheating if I did and the collector’s mentality has me wanting to find the six issues as single issues (in addition to the remaining Janus Directive parts) because while this was an insanely enjoyable read, I am content to take a while to chase them down and find them at a good price, then do another complete read-through.
The verdict on this issues is that they were very strong. The verdict on this entire series? It lives up to all of the hype it’s been getting since I first began hearing people sing its praises a number of years ago. That’s actually pretty rare considering how many disappointing “must reads” there are out there. If you can pick this up, in whatever format, definitely do it.
Keep, Sell, Donate, or Trash?