Rick Flag Jr has been Amanda Waller’s field leader for a long time. He’s also her conscience, ensuring she doesn’t go too far when it comes to running black ops missions involving supervillains. It seems, though, that whatever influence he’s exerted is no more.
She’s ‘tired of losing’. And, it turns out, tired of him.
Meanwhile, at Arkham Asylum, Peacemaker is leading a Task Force X squad in a bid to break out Talon, one of the Court of Owls’ enforcers. Their timing, though, is unfortunate.
Peacemaker, Shrike, Bolt and Film Freak have broken into the facility just as an off-site Joker takes it down, as seen in this week’s Infinite Frontier #0.
Back at Belle Reve, the Task Force X base, Waller has told a frazzled Flag that she doesn’t need him to lead missions, she has someone else in mind.
Having read Future State: Suicide Squad it’s no surprise to see she means Conner Kent. It is a surprise to see him locked up like a dangerous supervillain.
The villain here is Waller. I’m sick of writing about how DC has been removing all nuance from what was once a great character. A woman who dealt in shades of grey has been getting blacker and blacker of heart. Here, writer Robbie Thompson presents a woman not merely using existing prisoners to go on missions for her country. Waller is kidnapping a mental patient and has lifted, imprisoned and tortured a hero. To this Waller, her treatment of Superboy, a clone, is justified.
Does anybody enjoy Amanda Waller, one of the most fascinating characters of the post-Crisis years, as cruel, smirking, murderous madwoman?
It’s also very odd that we’ve seen the end of this story in the aforementioned Future State. We see what Waller’s endgame is, and it doesn’t actually make me any more sympathetic to her – the ends do not justify the means. Perhaps Thompson plans to go in a different direction, but if the tone is similar to that here and in the FS book, it’s not for me.
Given the Superman books are continuing from where Brian Michael Bendis left off, Waller has to have kidnapped Superboy since he’s settled in Smallville with Ma and Pa Kent. Jonathan and Martha know people. If Conner has been in that cell more than a day without some superhero coming to find him, my suspension of disbelief is dead.
Things I liked in Thompson’s script include the tie-in with Infinite Frontier, the choice of Film Freak as a Task Force X member – he’s uniquely useless, but Waller has found a reason for him to be there. The story is well paced, with nice back and forths between Belle Reve and Gotham, and some great dialogue. There’s no problem with what Waller says or does in terms of the story choices Thompson has made for her, but said choices are just horrible; is there really no government oversight? No back-up crew of psychologists, doctors and so on as in the John Ostrander/Kim Yale classic series whose logo this relaunch borrows?
A roll call at the start would have been useful – the villain Shrike isn’t mentioned by name until a few pages from the end, I was thinking it was Peacemaker’s pal Judomaster. And I’ve only ever seen Peacemaker in cameos and the recent, sadly unfinished, Inferior 5 series. How about a proper introduction to him? Does everyone know Talon, Bolt, Film Freak? I can see that a fast-moving first issue is wanted, but a quick rundown at the very start would have been helpful.
I’ve no qualms about the artwork. Together, penciller Eduardo Pansica, inker Julio Ferreira and colourist Marcelo Maiolo produce gorgeous pages. The characters are strong and watchable, the backgrounds detailed and real, the action as exciting as you could wish for. The body language, the attitudes of the characters – especially Flagg and Waller – are always what the script calls for. That page of Superboy suffering is painful to look at, the final splash is an Escher-like treat – this is great work.
And kudos to Wes Abbott, not just for splendid lettering throughout the issue, but for telescopic ellipses… did you notice them back there? That’s above and beyond, and beautifully executed.
The cover by Pansica. Ferreira and Maiolo is unsurprisingly excellent, and I like the new DC trade dress a lot.
All in all, the new Suicide Squad has no shortage of creative talent – a different direction and I’d be raving.