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Suicide Squad #5

Posted: Monday, January 14, 2008
By: Jon Judy

John Ostrander
Javier Pina, Robin Riggs
DC Comics
“Scarlet Tears”

“However… that next issue blurb… “Next: Enter the new Suicide Squad!”

“Oh. Oh man. That just set my dork heart all a flutter. Folks, pick up issue three if you want a decent read, but, oh man, grab issue four. Do it. Dollars to frikking doughnuts it will be awesome.

“Did I say this book makes me feel old? Forget it. That blurb alone has awakened my inner-fanboy.” – Me in a review of Suicide Squad #3

Oh, man, I hate being wrong.

I hate being wrong almost as much as I hate opening reviews with long quotes two weeks in a row. I just know I’m going to hear from Matt “I’m so much better than Jon and I’m a mad bastard” McLean about this.

Where was I? Was I whining about my best friend not talking to my wife and me again? No, that wasn’t it… oh, yeah, I was rambling about why I was disappointed in a comic. Typical. You know what they say: “If it isn’t Ultimates 3 #1, it’s crap.”

Anyway, my beef with Suicide Squad #3 was that up until that point we really hadn’t gotten any of the great old Squad “moments” – the Mission Impossible style – and I’m talking about the TV show, kiddies – introductions to the overwhelming odds facing our “heroes,” the team getting a briefing from Waller where she’s all “I don’t care if you live or die, this missing needs accomplished,” the constant intra-team squabbles, and all the super-fun capes-and-daggers stuff. When I saw that blurb for issue #4 – man, I was pumped for all of that.

And we didn’t get it.

Now enter issue #5, and this series is finally picking up speed. Right off the bat, we get some really evil baddies to hate, which is a necessity when you’re talking about a book like Suicide Squad, where the “good” guys are so detestable. Ostrander’s thinly-veiled political commentary is a little ham-fisted – FYI, in case you pay as much attention to the news as my students do, Halliburton announced plans to move their corporate headquarters to Dubai last year – but I’m way on the left, so I’m looking forward to seeing the Squad whoop a little pseudo-Cheney ass. If you’re the sort who despises a little didacticism in their superhero books, be warned.

There’s some other good stuff here, too. We get the Waller briefing, where the impossible odds are laid out for what passes for the good guys. That was a lot of fun, and I have to say I missed it.

We also get a little bit of Captain Boomerang being a wanker – do they say that in Australia? I don’t know. I’m an American. All you funny-talking foreigners are the same so far as I can tell. – which simultaneously scored some nostalgia points and was a little sad. Twenty years later and Ostrander has got the son acting just like his father? Why? So he doesn’t have to come up with some original source for conflict and comic relief? Still, if you liked the original Ostrander Squad, this scene will strike a fond chord.

So we get some really evil bad guys and the set up for what looks like it will be a cool story. So what was it that let me down in this issue?

Well, first of all, it’s about three issues too late. I’ve sunk fifteen dollars into this book at this point, and they’re just now getting the band back together? Didn’t they promise me that would happen in issue four? Ostrander really only needed to devote one issue to bringing Flagg back from the dead and then one issue to the events that occur in this outing. There. That’s all we needed. Instead, we got four issues of wheel spinning, meaning this issue needed to be outstanding in order to wash the bad taste out of my mouth. It wasn’t outstanding.

Next, we get some old clichés, one of which just seems thoroughly implausible. Cliché one, and a minor spoiler: One of the Squad members has been hypnotized into betraying the team, and although he is conscious of the fact that this is happening, he has also been subjected to a hypnotic block preventing him from warning his peers.

Yeesh. Look, I know this is a nostalgia read, but that chestnut is so old it’s beyond digestible.

Cliché two, and it’s related: The cocky government agent leading the covert team is too arrogant to see the traitor in her midst, and the massive conspiracy that has been hatched.

Now this one is acceptable if handled correctly – after all, what’s a covert-ops book without some conspiracies and double crosses? – but this betrayal is on a massive scale, and Waller is always portrayed as a master – mistress? – of espionage, always one step ahead of everyone else. For her not to see what is happening simply stretches my suspension of disbelief to near breaking. How could she not have audio equipment in her prisoners’ cells, for example, if she is all that and a spying bag of chips?

The final result is a good old-fashioned Suicide Squad story, but it’s really only something fans of the old book would enjoy. My advice: If you’re an old-school fan, pick it up and come back next month for more. Everyone else should pick up this month’s Thunderbolts, in which a similar story has been unfolding, only it has been handled much better.

As for me, my mission is to drop another nine dollars and follow this series to the end. I’m not sure if I’ll choose to accept it.



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