Hello, Rebels! And a good day to you! Today I will endeavor to complete what I began more than a year ago. After the grave disappointment birthed by Batman V Superman and the heady excitement of Civil War, there was a nervous, pregnant moment in America’s nerd- consciousness. Online the trailers spun, and on social media the conversations hummed as fans speculated and whinged and hoped that Suicide Squad would right the DCEU narrative ship and provide us with a cinematic franchise worthy of the “Original Universe”. In fact, I wanted to be one of those people. Yep, I started writing this two Junes past. Here is what I said then:
“This August, the Brothers Warner are releasing the super-villain extravaganza that is Suicide Squad, which looks way better than I had been expecting, truth to tell. See, I am not really a fan of Man of Steel, but I hated–really hated—BvS. I do not want to get into it here, buy suffice it to say that it’s performance boded ill to me for the future of the DC film-verse. But trailers for Suicide Squad piqued my interest. Will Smith just might pull off Deadshot’s sarcastic, superior wit, Katana might be perfect; and I am utterly intrigued by the interpretation of Captain Boomerang. Plus Adam Beech has never let me down.”
Sigh. I can’t believe I had such hope back then for a movie that so clearly featured Jugallo Joker. Or that I could believe TPTB would allow the Fresh Prince to portray the DCU’s third or fourth most lethal killer and over all deplorable douchebag. Yeah, so the me from June 2016 was a hopeful idiot.
See, I had been super excited to write this review, and dashed hopes do make for easy excuses. Never the less, we resume. It was now two summers ago and here was a junk and consignment shop here in Scottsbluff. Place was called “Bluffs Pickers” and obviously was trying to capitalize on the popularity of a certain cable program. Anyhow, the shop did not do as well as anticipated and was forced to close its doors. This was not at all surprising, because pretty much everything in there was overpriced–including a decent selection of comic books from the Bronze Age through the 90s. As the place was shuttering itself I went in to pick its bones, and walked out with a decent copy of Suicide Squad # 2.
I did not get in comics until after Suicide Squad really had its golden age. Spinning out from the “Legends” event in the late 1980’s, novelist John Ostrander was given the chance to capitalize on little used DC Comics properties and make a super-spy thriller where bad guys did bad things to heroic ends.
The setup is simple enough– violent criminals serving life sentences are given the chance of early release and or easier incarceration in exchange for going on Black Ops super-spy missions. On these missions they are allowed to use their powers and whatever means they deem necessary, under the understanding that they don’t run away or get in the way of the operations. Or they’ll be killed.
Crux of the concept lies in the villains villainy, an area Ostrander did little to veer away from. The members of task force x (as the ‘Suicide Squad’ is known in the DCU’s spy-verse) are shown being racist or sexist or downright rape-y (I am looking at you, Captain Boomerang) violent, remorseless criminals with no regard for human dignity or life.
In this particular story, Suicide Squad call take down an international terror network by taking out the metahuman operators at the top. This organization, called the “Jihad” in fact, boasted operatives from a collection of 1980’s US spectres–Pakistan, Iran, the Soviet Union, and others. It is not a perfect corollary, mind; but looking back it is interesting to see a perception of geopolitics at the end of the cold war, and how many of those conflicts are still going on today.
The villains in this story included Deadshot, Captain Boomerang, The Enchantress, and Mindboggler. Amongst all these blaggards and ne’er-do-wells are caught a small assortment of the good guys: Rick Flagg, a real GI-Joe; Nemesis, a free-lance spy and master of disguise; June Moon, the innocent archeologist host of the diabolic Enchantress; and newly acquired Charlton heroine Nightshade. These white hats possessed of skill and Mortal determination are no less comfortable with grim and dastardly deeds in defense of their beliefs than are the villains who they corral, but the juxtaposition of grim moral necessity with violence-for-its-own-sake emphasizes them both. And this creates a fertile field wherein tend the crop of our own understanding of morality, motivation, and the human condition.
Plus the action is really fun.
Early issues of Suicide Squad are hard to find cheap, (especially the introduction of Barbara Gordon as Oracle), but this book this makes me wonder why I haven’t gotten more.