The Blackest Night event is pretty much the expected bloated crossover, but so far as one-off tie-ins are concerned, raising comics from the dead is a splendid idea. So here’s Suicide Squad #67, for which we’ve been waiting since 1992. With the Squad’s most popular member, Deadshot, running with the Secret Six these days, it makes sense for the villain team to be present, but it’s a shame they’re quite so present. A quick cameo before Deadshot buggers off to help or hinder his old muckers in battling the many dead Squad members would have satisfied me. As it is, this reads like a Secret Six issue with added Suicide Squad. And given that apart from the first three pages and final page, the story has nothing to do with Black Lanterns, it’s a fair assumption that this is an SS/SS team-up with tacked-on Blackest Night. It may be a wrong assumption, but it’s a fair one.
Which isn’t to say the comic isn’t a great read; it is. But when a book is revived for a single issue I’d prefer to see the book’s stars actually, y’know, star.
Grumble over, let’s have a look at what Secret Six #67 actually offers. The first three pages see the Golden Age Fiddler, who has Six form though not Squad, rise as a Black Lantern and lead other JLA morgue villains off. They’re never seen again but will likely make up the numbers when this story hits Secret Six.
Then there’s Amanda Waller’s Suicide Squad – Count Vertigo, Nightshade, Bronze Tiger, Rick Flag, Multiplex and a relative newbie named Yasemin. Much as I enjoyed Vertigo and Waller as part of Checkmate, the Squad is where they belong. Ditto as regards Nightshade, last seen as a member of spooky superhero team Shadowpact. There’s no explanation as to why she’s here, but Waller’s a master when it comes to getting the band back together – it’s likely blackmail is involved. The gang are out to kill a Mexican death camp chief, with the kill shot assigned to Yasemin, ‘born with the gift of all my family’s female children – infallible aim with any gun of any kind’ (a pretty useless gift until someone invented the gun). Crackshot she may be, but Yas loses her nerve and the mission is bungled.
Which determines Waller to get the never-fails Deadshot back in the fold, by any means necessary, resulting in the Squad and Six facing off during a fake Six assignment set up by Waller. The Wall herself, meanwhile, is burning down her opponents’ House of Secrets base, with recently deposed leader Scandal still inside.
The battle between the teams is marvellous, as the always well-characterised Six swap jabs of the physical and verbal kind with their spiritual parent, the Squad. I really hope we see a lot more of the Squad in the continuation, as the likes of Bronze Tiger and Rick Flag get so little play in the DC Universe.
The comic is co-written by longtime Squad author John Ostrander and Six scribe Gail Simone and it’s impossible to see the joins. There’s not a line out of place and while the story moves back and forth over a few days, there’s never any confusion as to what’s up. I just hope a few more lines go to the Squad as the story continues. There’s an especially well-observed, entertaining scene with Bane interviewing strip club dancer Liana for the position of Scandal Savage’s girlfriend which is a hoot – but it really belongs in the regular Six book.
Jim Calafiore’s illustrations are A-grade all the way, from dead Fiddler through a creepy conclusion via a Catman and Bronze Tiger face-off. Then there’s Rick Flag throwing his hat (and very tight tee shirt) in the ring for the position of hottest man in comics . . . watch out, Catman. If Jim doesn’t get the regular Six gig should Nicola Scott be nicked by other DC books >cough Wonder Woman cough < someone isn't thinking too clearly.
Regular Six colourist Jason Wright applies the hues here – funny that – while Steve Wands weaves his lettering magic. Sean Ryan edits and a very good job he’s done.
Now, how about Suicide Squad #68, #69 . . .