Friday, April 22, 2005
How I love thee, Suicide Squad
Suicide Squad was spawned from the 1987 mini-series Legends (which I will get around to reviewing/mocking at some point). Written exclusively by John Ostrander, the book had a consistent vision and “through-line” that you don’t see too much of anymore in today’s age of reboots and revamps.
I liked Suicide Squad because it had a (relatively) sophisticated and cynical approach to politics, crime, and punishment and often tread a moral grey area between the few “good guys” on the team and the “bad guys.” Plus, it was more hardcore and lethally violent than any other comic books, so it scored extra points with me. The Squad (actually called Task Force X) was a group of incarcerated super-villains who would go on secret government missions to work off their sentences. They were based out of Belle Reve prison in the swamps of Louisiana, and went on all sorts of deadly assignments with explosive bracelets clamped to their wrists to keep them in line. The great thing was they actually used the explosive bracelets! In one issue, Squad draftee Slipknot tried to sneak off during a fight and boom there goes his arm. Comedy.
The Squad had a revolving membership of costumed villains, many of whom got killed. You always new if there was some new or dorky villain on the team that he was going to get shot up. The Ferret? He won’t last ten pages. There were a few major characters that you knew weren’t going to get killed – but you were wrong! Rick Flag, team leader? Yeah, he dies. His girlfriend, Karen? Dies. What's-his-name, the cool helicopter pilot? Dies. Ravan, the bad-ass Kali-woshipping assassin? Oh, he totally dies. Everybody died in Suicide Squad! There were a couple missions were almost everybody died. I loved it.
The cast was made up of 2nd tier characters that were kind of disposable. Led by a hard-ass beaureaucrat named Amanda “The Wall” Waller, the Squad had a couple of good guys like Rick Flag, Nightshade, and Bronze Tiger, who were basically brought on to ride herd on a bunch of super-thugs. The main bad guys were Flash villain Captain Boomerang, a craven but devious Aussie; Batman villain Deadshot, a cold blooded sniper with a really cool but impractical costume; Duchess, an amnesiac villain from the planet Apokolips; Count Vertigo, a Euro-trash noble with “vertigo” powers; and Batman villain Poison Ivy, the poisonous plant chick. Other villains rotated in and out of the Squad like The Penguin, Captain Cold, and The Parasite, and a ton of other 3rd rate villains who were killed with impunity.
Here's a typical moment of bondng between the characters:
That's what we call tough love.
The series was eventually cancelled after losing some creative steam, but Ostrander rode that bastard for five and a half years, and although there were some missteps along the way, page for page Suicide Squad was one of the most consistently entertaining and engaging comic series EVER!
In the future I’ll review/gush over individual Squad issues, but I grow weary of making fun of bad comics and just wanted to give Suicide Squad some props.