Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Squad Personal File: Col. Rick Flag

Ahh, Rick Flag.

SUICIDE SQUAD WEEK continues with a look at the uptight field commander of the Suicide Squad. How uptight? We're talking Cyclops level. Flag is most famous for the hideous yellow shirt he insisted on wearing into combat. He was like Linus from Peanuts, only instead of a blanket Flag had his lucky shirt that made him feel safe - even when bad guys were shooting directly at his neon yellow center of mass.

It's funny that Rick Flag's name rhymes with "punching bag," because that's basically what he is - a superhero punching bag. Flag gets his ass handed to him in every other issue of Suicide Squad. There's just something about Flag, some je ne sais quoi that just makes people want to punch him directly in the face.

Batman wants to punch Rick Flag. In Suicide Squad #13, our team meets the Giffen/DeMatteis/Maguire era of the Justice League. Naturally, they fight. As per the rules, the two teams eventually realize they shouldn't be fighting and the declare a truce.

Except Batman, he's not done fighting. He wants to punch Rick Flag. Punch him dead.

I gotta hand it to Rick Flag, anybody that can go toe-to-toe with Batman for more than two panels is pretty bad ass. He even manages to chip the end off of one of Batman's ear things. Despite Rick Flag's pluck and spunkiness and chutzpah, he is fighting Batman - and that means he's going to the hospital.

While Flag bleeds and twitches on the floor, Batman turns and walks away, his victory somewhat diminished by the absence of one of his pointy ear things. Maybe there's a lesson there for all of us: Batman will hospitalize you if you touch his pointy ear things.

I don't know what it is. Maybe it's the shirt, or the weird stare, or his haircut, or his lack of respect for personal boundaries, or his braying donkey-like laugh -- whatever it is, people want to punch Rick Flag.

Pirates want to punch him:

I take back what I said about Flag being tough; it looks like he's getting his ass kicked by a salsa dance instructor. Just kidding! That's actually Mark Shaw (aka Manhunter) in his rakish Privateer identity, and he's a tough mother even with an eye patch and a puffy pirate shirt. He beats the living bejeesus out of Flag, who may have been drinking as well.

Flag sleeps there on the floor for the next six hours while people step over and around him. Never end your evening with shots of Jaegermeister and nitrous hits, my man. Also, don't fight pirates.

After a while, all that bludgeoning and punching that Rick Flag endured took its toll, and he went a little bit crazy. It went beyond wearing the day-glo shirt; Flag got really creepy and possessive with this girl Karen who worked in IT, and he murdered this one dude in order to keep his job. And frankly, his psychosis was affecting his performance at work.

Flag was last seen in Suicide Squad #26, invading a mountain fortress in "Qurac" on a literal suicide mission - but he was wearing a sensible black outfit, thank God. He was trying to dismantle a terrorist atomic bomb, but Flag's long time rival Rustam had other plans.

Plans that involve punching Rick Flag. And stabbing him. And maybe kissing him...

I won't tell you what happens next... but let's just say that we don't get to see the end of Rick Flag and Rustam's fight because an atomic bomb explodes and totally kills them.

It's a good thing, too, otherwise we would have had to watch Rustam kick Rick Flag's ass. I understand that somehow The Man in Yellow is coming back from the grave in the relaunch of Suicide Squad. If it involves Rick getting in brawls with anybody and everybody, I'm all for it.

Good old Rick Flag, obliging sparring partner to all comers in the DC Universe. I salute the sacrifice the man made to his cognitive abilities in order to keep me entertained.


brodieman34 said...

This series sounds so badass. That Thunderbolts shit is just a ripoff! I'll have to look for some SS backissues at WizardWorld Chicago.

I didn't even know about a relaunch. Who's the creative team.

Mallrat said...

What's with the Frankie Say's Relax t-shirt? Is Flag a member of the don't ask, don't tell squad? Then again to paraphrase Eddie Izzard, when you're wearing a Frankie Says Relax T, you don't really have to ask.

Anonymous said...

Having the word "BLUD" as a sound effect is so cool!

Arkonbey said...

I'm just wondering about 'SRUNT' sound effect. What the heck is he doing to Flag's face to make a 'SRUNT' sound?

Siskoid said...

Actually he was last seen in Checkmate, no?

Or was that a Skrull?*

*Ok, that's my last Skrull joke EVER**.

**Not my last Skrull joke.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to see Dane Cook play Flag in the movie version.

Anonymous said...

Showcase Presents: Suicide Squad Vol. 1 comes out in November. Collecting the first 18 issues and the Secret Origins prologue, plus Doom Patrol! & Suicide Squad Special. MMMMMMM, that's good comics!

The creative team for the miniseries will be writer John Ostrander, penciler Javier Pina, and inker Robin Riggs. No Man Escapes Them!

It will address just how the heck Rick Flag survived that explosion- altough it was Rucka who brought him back in Checkmate, Ostrander says he always had a plan to bring him back, they just never executed it.

Anthony Strand said...

My favorite thing about that JLI/Suicide Squad crossover is the Batman/Deadshot stuff, calling back to their run-in in SS #10. Man, what a good series.

The JLI half of that story is gonna be the Showcase volume, too, if I recall correctly. Anyway, I can't wait for it.

Anthony Strand said...

I could live without the Suicide Squad/Doom Patrol Special, though. Because it sucks.

No regular Squad members except for Flag, and the crappy Kupperberg-era Doom Patrol.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to see Dane Cook play Flag in the movie version.

Me too, provided it's the one where Flag gets hit by a nuke.

Anonymous said...

I guess I'm the only one who enjoyed the SS/DP crossover special. I mean, Kupperberg's Doom Patrol really wasn't that bad. It was totally eclipsed by Morrison's run, yes. But as far as standard superhero stuff from the 80's goes, it was all right. If anything, it simply lacked direction. Had some good artists, too, Steve Lightle, Erik Larsen...good stuff.

As for none of the core members being there, that was a good thing, since there was only room on the getaway chopper for 1 extra person. That would have been one nasty free for all.

Khairul H. said...

Y'know, I'm kinda bummed they're bringing back Flag. I know this the comics and the dead come back more times than I change my undies but Flag's death was actually poignant. It wasn't a marketing ploy ("This issue...SOMEONE DIES") and it tied up a loose end; i.e the Qurac terrorists.

Besides, he was fighting the baddie in front of a nuclear bomb when it went off! How the hell did he survive that? SUPERBOY PUNCH??

Anonymous said...

Man, it's a good thing for you that they never passed that amendment to make Flag burning illegal.

Harvey Jerkwater said...

The Squad was the best damn comic.

I love the Squad. How much? I love the Suicide Squad this much.

John Ostrander earned a spot in the Comic Book Hall of Fame for it. If only for Amanda Waller, a compelling, complex character who fit perfectly into a four-color comic.

DC in the late eighties had it goin' on, yo. The Squad, the funny Justice League, the underrated Captain Atom series, Watchmen, all sorts of amazing stuff.

I'm dating myself, aren't I.

Anonymous said...

I read Suicide Squad on and off for most of the run, often when I wasn't reading any other comics. It was pretty "awesome." (I've stated saying "awesome" the way Lil' Bush says it. It's awesome!)

My favorites were the Wall and Boomer-butt.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the "Stealth Yellow" t-shirt was like the Red Baron painting his plane red--it was Rick Flag's way of saying, "I'm so f'n bad-ass that I'm going to disregard all notions of stealth and concealment and make myself (and everyone near me) a target. So there." So in that sense I guess he got what he wanted. But enough about the shirt--what I want to know is, why was he always wearing Han Solo's pants?

Chris Arndt said...

The DP/SS Special rocked!

It was not crap!

One of the reasons it rocked is that it was the deaths of three villains previously orphaned by the Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Another is that it was one of those great DC Comics that boasted one of the interesting numbering system quirks of the seventies (even though it was released in 1988 or 1989). The word SPECIAL replaced the issue number. You would never find a Doom Patrol Suicide Squad Special number 2 any more than you would have found a Secret Society of Super-Villains SPECIAL number 2.

Another reason it rocked is because with Flagg walking out alive there it proved that the writer would off any villain, no matter how powerful or interesting, if it wouldn't inconvenience another writer or franchise. If Superman was cancelled in 1988, John Ostrander would have capped Lex Luthor.

I enjoyed Paul Kupperberg's Doom Patrol and was a bit sorry to learn what Grant Morrison did to the team. The only thing that could have helped DP was what Kupperberg did... add more and more cool characters and the SPECIAL through them up against Bad Guys on a Leash.

Then of course we see the Thinker possessing Flagg and making him less badass but more dangerous, and with huge cameos of Hawk and a character whose name I cannot recall, the Rocket Red Brigade as the featured antagonists.. and the use of said Hawk as a MacGuffin to be retrieved. This one comic was packed as a convergence of so many other comics.

Now for the reason I commented: the Privateer, Mark Shaw, was built up in his previous appearances in the 1970s' Justice League of America, as being quicker, sharper, and better than Batman simply because he was trained by the Manhunters to not be the peak human, but to be the super human.

Flagg stood no chance.

Anonymous said...

Is it Batman's ear points or his glove points that are supposed to be full of acid?