Suicide Squad 2021 Annual #1 review

We open in the past, with Task Force X field leader Rick Flag Jr leading his team of super-villains and compromised heroes on a mission. One of the newest is understandably nervous.

Project leader Amanda Waller berates Flagg for his ideals.

Years later…

Waller has had enough of Flagg questioning her decisions. She’s thrown him in a cell and taken to torturing him. But, during a recent melee at Belle Reve prison, headquarters of Task Force X, the door to Flagg’s cell was opened by unknown hands. Using hjs years of familiarity with the facility, Flagg escapes and begins plotting to bring the monstrous Waller down.

Flagg isn’t the only member of Task Force X questioning Waller’s plans. Head scientist Dr Rodriguez has had enough.

Mesnwhile, the current Task Force X away team – the Suicide Squad – have returned from a press ganging mission to Earth 3 with Black Siren, a bad Black Canary. There’s a shock for Superboy.

Conner Kent, in the leather jacket, tells the Squad’s Superboy that he’s not the boy he thinks he is.

But he reckons they’ve met previously.

Writer Robbie Thompson is a clever fella. After several issues of a barely recognisable Waller he’s making her hardened character a major plot point. After presenting a Superboy who doesn’t match the Conner Kent of the Superman titles, Thompson explains why – it isn’t the same guy. This explains something which bugged me, the apparent lack of interest among the Super Family in finding their missing member.

As for who the Squad’s Superboy is, just finish the sentence in the last image.

Match, readers of the Nineties Superboy book will remember, was, like Conner – who then went by Kon-El – a less successful Superman clone, one step up from a Bizarro. He died, but he’s back via a reality rewrite, and Waller has made him believe he’s the genuine article. The aftermath of the reveal is poignant.

The truth is out, but he’s not leaving the series, this annual’s events are followed up in this week’s excellent Suicide Squad #7; it’ll be interesting to see how Match’s knowledge of his origins affects his future decisions.

The knowledge doesn’t come easily – before the revelation, the Superboys have a knockdown, drag-out fight, while the rest of the Squad search the secret facility they’re at for the drug Waller has told them will help their Superboy. They find it, along with a lab full of Superboy clones. I’d show you the big reveal, but unless the cover by Eduardo Pansica, Julio Ferreira and Marcelo Maiolo passed you by, there’s no need.

Which is a shame, but if the image sells a few more copies, great – I want this book to do well.

The Rick Flag Jr business has me very happy, we need a hero to stand up against Waller, and by the end of the issue he’s forming his own team, with a surprisingly reflective first recruit. Plus, he mentions he has someone on the inside, and the final page apparently shows us who – but I’m betting it’s actually the always-armoured Belle Reve staffer whom Waller seems to trust. And Dr Rodriguez looks keen to throw a spanner in the works after Waller threatens her family and friends to keep her in line. Never make a scientist mad… The takeaway from all this is that Waller has people working against her on the inside and outside, as of this issue she’s a rogue operator so the US government will wish to hunt her down, and there’s always the delicious possibility one of the Suicide Squad members she torments will snap and take her out.

It’s a shame, I used to really like The Wall. I’m still hoping this is the Earth 3 version.

It’s a long time since I’ve read the Eighties Suicide Squad issues, someone remind me – is Battle-Taur new, or was he an early casualty? I certainly feel for the man.

I also feel for Black Siren, who steps up to help Task Force X after they drag her from Earth 3 to Earth 0.

Mean.

Though I still love Culebra. Just look at her battle tactics.

Regular Suicide Squad penciller Eduardo Pansica and inker Julio Ferreira share the pages with Dexter Soy, doing full art, and the result is a fast-moving, action and emotion-packed supervillain drama. Standout moments include Match waking to his new reality, courtesy of Soy, and Pansica and Ferreira’s opening flashback.

Chris Sotomayor’s colours are terrific bar the original clone Superboy’s distinctive fade haircut – rather than skin tone, it looks grey, making Kon look like a junior Reed Richards. Well, Sotomayor is usually a Marvel man.

Letterer Wes Abbott not only makes me happy by dropping existing logos into the dialogue he invents a great new one for Match – ‘Match’ has always been a terrible name, but at least now the word looks good.

When this series debuted I had my doubts about its direction but they’re all gone; this is a worthy heir to the classic Suicide Squad.

10 thoughts on “Suicide Squad 2021 Annual #1 review

  1. Gotta say, you make a strong case for this series, even to my long-since-jaded and once-again-completely-lapsed DC-fan’s eyes. This does sound a no-apologies old fashioned fun-and-gritty comic book series. And if I had more -dashes- to throw into this comment, I would! Don’t tempt me! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Okay, I read the first issue on DCU Infinite, and yes, that was some gritty-but-fun B-movie comic book stuff. Glad to see that it gets even better from there! I may just play catch up on this one!

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  2. I do like that at least one long time character finally points out that Waller has gone far beyond anything before and that she has somewhat changed. I lean towards her being the Earth 3 version for sure, especially with the new ‘not everyone is evil now, but it’s still pretty crummy and harsher’ version. It would make sense that she may have kidnapped her Earth 0 version and replaced her in an effort to get a team to take on the Crime Syndicate.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I went from tentatively interested in this book to being a big fan of it. It was so great to get a double shot of it this week! I feel spoiled.

    At first I kind of scoffed at the idea that this could be Earth 3 Waller… I figured it was just the same, over-the-top Waller we’d been getting for the past decade or so. But as things have progressed, I’m leaning toward that explanation.

    And yeah, I think Battletaur was created for this issue. I’m just relieved it wasn’t Ferdinand, Wonder Woman’s chef friend (and possibly the most whimsical character Greg Rucka has ever created)!

    Liked by 1 person

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