Sunday, August 05, 2007

SUICIDE SQUAD #10 DC Comics, 1987

"Damn! We in trouble now!"

That's Amanda Waller's honest and entirely accurate reaction in SS #10 when she finds out that the Batman has snuck into Belle Reve Prison, the secret HQ of the Suicide Squad. They couldn't say "Holy fucking shit, it's Batman!" in Code Approved books back then, but that in essence is what Mrs. Waller is saying.

In the aftermath of DC's Millenium crossover, which was as robotic and awkward as it's Manhunter villains, the Suicide Squad catches Batman's attention in a bad way. It seems Batman doesn't approve of the Squad making a mockery of the justice system by using incarcerated supervillains to do its dirty work, and then freeing the bad guys when their community service is done. In Batman's opinion, that's unethical, unconstitutional, and just uncool. So he disguises himself as a prisoner, gets transfered to Belle Reve Federal Prison in the swamps of Louisiana... and it's go time.

Batman fakes out the surveillance camera in his cell, breaks out, finds his costume (which he had mailed as a care package), sneaks into the command center, and downloads the files he needs on to a floppy disc. It was the Eighties, man. Even Batman was rocking the floppies.*

The Wall notices something is amiss and returns to the control room...

Batman is in the house!

Batman is in the house!

Batman is in the house!

Now that Batman has "gone noisy" it's time for him to break out of Belle Reve, and if that means beating up the entire prison population, so be it. He pummels a bunch of guards, incapacitates Duchess with some Batgas (thanks to Alfred's garlic lasagna), kicks a dog,** ducks a bullet and cold-cocks Deadshot, and beats the shit out of Col. Rick Flag for five minutes before somebody calls time out.

Time for the stand-off. On one side we have Batman, who is the best in the world at whatever he does. On the other side we have Duchess, Deadshot, an armed and pissed Amanda Waller, unconscious Rick Flag (off-panel) and the evening maintenance crew. Actually, that may be The Moustache Squad - khaki clad daredevils who battle mid-life crisis with ADVENTURE!*** That's a tough call; The Moustache Squad know how to handle themselves and they might tip the scales the Squad's way. Still, Batman is invincible and The Moustache Squad tire easily.

Waller wants the floppy disc with 100k of Squad secrets that Batman took. Batman declines; he knows Waller won't kill him in order to keep their secrets. Despite being surrounded by armed people in the middle of a locked-down maximum security prison, Batman weirdly seems to have the upper hand.

Then The Wall drops The Bomb. She says that she's got a nice set of fingerprints from the cell he was in as a fake prisoner, and unless he backs off she'll use all the intelligence assets at her disposal to find out his secret identity and blow his cover.

What can Batman do? He's screwed. That's what happens when you start Playin' the Wall, my caped friend. Batman gives Waller his floppy.**** He also gives her his word never to speak about their agreement or what he's learned there tonight. "I'll find another way of bringing you down," Batman says as he walks out, unhappy.

Where Duchess comes from, promises are as rare as daisies. She can't believe Waller's letting him go:

Boy, I bet Batman was really upset. That must have been kind of awkward for him just walking out of the prison like that after getting schooled by The Wall. There was a long walk of shame to the Batmobile on that day, brother.

Thus ends Suicide Squad Week! Thanks for coming everybody. Drive safe.

*I swear never to write or utter that sentence ever again.

** Kidding. Batman would never kick a dog.

*** Amusingly, two members of the Moustache Squad have no moustaches and one has a beard.

****I swear never to write or utter that sentence ever again.


Anonymous said...

Nowadays Waller would say: "Damn, that's the godamn Batman!"

His plan was really sloppy, his secret identity is potentially busted, as is the Matches Malone persona. Great move, Batsy.

Erma Landers said...

Dave, this week has made me vow to purchase an archive edition of Suicide Squad, when and if DC prints one.

Are you listening, DC? I own the Essential Godzilla, for god's sake.

Bully said...

Comin' in November, and Dave oughta get a cut: Showcase Presents: Suicide Squad.

Anonymous said...

I distinctly remember that the letter column ("Suicide Notes") pertaining to this issue was the equivalent of a modern-day message board flame-fest, as everyone wrote in lambasting Batman's sloppiness.

The general tenor was "no way would Batman be that stupid--he'd wear synthetic fingerprints / finger guards / burn off his fingertips" or somesuch. And this was loooong before the Morrisonian Bat-god era.

While I'll admit that certain plot point bothered my teenage self a tad, it was completely outweighed by the fact that Batman got served by a 4-foot-something, 200+ pound black woman. Mammy Waller took no mess, and she was delightful.

Anonymous said...

Wow. I asked for it, and I got it. Now if only Dave would send me some money...

RTO Trainer said...

Speaking of "rocking the floppy."

Despite my own love of Suicide Squad, I was very disappointed by this story. The book title wins the day, not the better character, fighter, or even twist of fate.

Waller gets the upper hand because its the Suicude Squads book. No way does Batman ever even bring the wrapper for the floppy into Belle Reve, let alone leave it behind.

And fingerprints? The world's greatest detective didn't cover someting so basic?


Anonymous said...

Of course, he might...
To leave false evidence so that the squad will think he failed, and he can take evidence out and put it in his Bat-vault with the kryptonite and the humiliating christmas photos with no-one the wiser.

Batman always has a plan.

Jacob T. Levy said...

but look, it's not as though we routinely see Batman preparing for undercover work by thinking, "time to apply the false fingerprints." He's played dress-up as Matches dozens of times; has he *ever* applied false fingerprints?

Why would he have made a special point of doing so this time?

Anonymous said...

Of course he hasn't.
He isn't as big an idiot as to trust comic readers with his secrets.

Anonymous said...

I have to call 'foul' on the prints thing too. It would have been sweet if, afterward, The Wall had admitted that she was bluffing. The we'd get a cutaway to Bruce cruising back home, racked with self-doubt - "did I? Could I have been so sloppy? I could probably build a super-satellite to help track my activities. Maybe even track a few people while I'm at it...."

Unknown said...

'Mrs.' Waller?! Is Batman making an ass of u and me, or is there seriously a Mister Amanda Waller?

Reno said...

Bats would never kick a dog. He won't even throw a bomb at ducks!

Anonymous said...

This was the only disappointing thing in the whole SUICIDE SQUAD run for me. It was like Ostrander wrote himself into a corner - if Bats succeeds - and that's what Bats does - then Task Force X is in the crapper. End of comic. So Batman has to job.

SallyP said...

Well frankly, I LIKE seeing Batman get taken down a peg. And Amanda is just the woman to do it.

I also had to laugh, in the panel where they are confronting each other,and Deadshot is holding his hand...I know it's just a shadow on his face, but it looks like a big teardrop. Deadshot has an owie!

I MUST get this in November. Thanks Bully.

John said...

"We in trouble now!"

Hm. I can't help but wonder if the more politically correct object to the Ebonic lilt of Madame Waller's speech patterns. I'd almost expect her to declare "Damn, dat niggah be comin' on strong!" when first deducing the Batman to be on the premises.

Anonymous said...

rachel said...
'Mrs.' Waller?! Is Batman making an ass of u and me, or is there seriously a Mister Amanda Waller?

Amanda is a widow--her husband Joe was killed many years ago, and I think she's always officially used the "Mrs." since she appeared in DC comics. Amanda's origin is pretty harsh--she lost three family members to urban crime in the space of six months. Her son Joe Jr. was killed by gang members, and then her daughter Damita was raped and murdered by a sadistic drug pusher. Her husband lost it and went out and shot the pusher to avenge Damita, but the dying man shot back and killed him too. Leaving Amanda in the Chicago projects with two small children and nothing else, trying to scrape by and find a way out. She'd always been stubborn and willful, even as a child, but that's when she became the harsh and driven "Wall" we know today.

Letters about this issue didn't appear until issue #14 (typical pre-Internet lag time), and editor Bob Greenberger admitted that nearly all their mail was against Batman making such a basic mistake as leaving his fingerprints. The money quote from when he asked Johnny O to sort it out: "Okay, Bob. We goofed. I admit it." Suicide Notes, Page 1 Page 2

Ginger Yellow said...

Hang on. I'm assuming Bruce Wayne did something to his face to avoid detection, but how did he get his batsuit inside? Did he hide it up his arse?

Tim Easy said...

Batman kicked a dog in one of his forays to Bizarro world, when he kicked Bizarro Krypto...I am sorry to report that this technically counts as "Batman kicking a dog".

acespot said...

Thanks for the scan. That's TRULY the most frightening comic cover OF ALL TIME!

Because if BATMAN is afraid of someone, you KNOW they're the baddest of the badasses.

Anonymous said...

If only we could actually get a MOUSTACHE SQUAD series, written by John Ostrander. It would be better than 99% of the comics produced today.

I bet the team could get corporate sponsorship from the makers of products like Rogaine and Viagra, or whatever their DCU equivalents are.

Uncle Sam said...

Anytime you get to see bats put in his place, is goodtimes. Is the reason pretty week. You betcha. But the Wall telling him off. Yep, good stuff.

Anonymous said...

Are any members of "Mustache Squad" done in the likenesses of DC Comics staffers of the time? I'm sure there was a lot of ill-advised facial hair in the building back then.

Chris Arndt said...

If I was competing for the No-Prize, I'd say that Batman didn't want his connection to Matches Malone and Matches' fingerprints being scanned in.

But I am not, and the only way it fits is to pretend that the Wall did something else to catch Batman and Batman made a different mistake.

because, essentially, Batman probably would not have made that mistake... and if you want to lean down that angle...Grant Morrison's Superbatmangod is still a distilled variant of the 1979 Yellow Utility Belt Batman, and the Batman in Ostrander's Suicide Squad is just a pissed-off version of the 1979 Yellow Utility Belt Batman, as Dave puts it.

Seriously. 1987 Batman was a more normal crimefighter, who was obsessed with being the best, and succeeded, and even taught his boy how to shoot.

Now Modern Batman is such a sociopathic jackass that if he ever touches a gun he is tempted to have his trigger fingers amputated.

You have any idea how much harder it is to enjoy modern comics... compared to awesome goodness like Suicide Squad?

and that is the wonderful thing. They are quite assured that Batman is a cut-above to all of the Suicide Squad. It's not like the Creeper is in there.

I suspect it's because there were still echoes of Batman being a big time Conway-Gardner-Dillin Big Seven Justice League member even in 1987.

Anonymous said...

"But I am not, and the only way it fits is to pretend that the Wall did something else to catch Batman and Batman made a different mistake."

I'm going to mentally substitute a scenario where Amanda Waller sodomizes new prisoners, and then threatened to tell everyone how Batman was her bitch if he didn't hand over the floppy.

Anonymous said...

Who was behind the pies-in-the-face running gag? I missed quite a few issues and never saw how this was resolved. Been wondering for close to twenty years.

Anonymous said...

Check scans_daily on Livejournal, Hoosier. They have most of the pieings, the big reveal of the pie-er, and Amanda Waller's revenge.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, anon. It's been so long, I don't even remember who I thought was doing it. But now I know.

tkincher said...

"ohshit.jpg" = classic. I wanna clean that image up and make it a desktop, so then I can be properly scared of Batman on a routine basis.

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