Tony Black reviews Suicide Squad: Rebirth #1…
Soldier. War hero. Traitor. Captain Rick Flag was one of America’s greatest military commanders before he was banished to a secret military prison. But after years of isolation, Flag’s life changes forever when a woman called Amanda Waller offers him redemption in exchange for taking on the single most dangerous job in the entire DC Universe: keeping the Suicide Squad alive!
Well whaddaya know, puddin’? Suicide Squad: Rebirth is only the comic DC Films recent, massively disappointing movie should have been. Rob Williams’ timely revival of the series properly does the idea justice without being a bloated, awkward mess, starting with Amanda Waller confronting no less than an angry President Obama about the need for Task Force X, before squarely putting front and centre the character who probably should have been front and centre in the movie itself, and once reputedly was: Colonel Rick Flag, the beating, moralistic heart of the world’s most unheroic team of heroes.
It’s a great hook, with a strong blend of superheroics and industrial espionage to boot as the story, and manages to combine that difficult mixture extremely well – telling a tight, concise, entertaining story, while always being about character and motivation. Suicide Squad is already, in terms of establishing a concept from the ground up, one of the best Rebirth titles so far.
Waller is as dark and devious in this issue as we see her in the film (she being one of the few good points from it), a very sinister, shadowy, Machiavellian player in the superhero world, who immediately behind psychologically manipulating Flag, who in some respects resembles Simon Baz of the Green Lanterns; an innocent man locked up unjustly for trying to do the right thing by his country, presented to Obama as one of America’s greatest heroes when he begins as anything but. Waller has to tease out of him the reason to lead Task Force X, to be that moral centre and lead a most unscrupulous group into if not the light, then out of total darkness.
Fact is Williams shows us how edgy the ‘suicide squad’ are with much more success than the movie ever did; Harley Quinn plays demented, Captain Boomerang saws off hands to get what he needs, and Deadshot is unafraid to cold bloodily execute an innocent man, albeit a Trojan Horse, to prevent catastrophe. Williams very skilfully manages to fuse together seeing Task Force X in violent action (with a few moments that are decidedly R rated) with Waller’s convincing of Flag, so by the conclusion when the squad have been put together, you’re really keen to see more of this new team and what kind of sinister geo-political threats they may face. It’s an exciting setup.
It also helps that Suicide Squad is really well drawn by Philip Tan, with a starched edge of sinister, realistic grit contrasted with a twisted colour and flavour when we see the bad guys in action. When you combine such nice panels with Williams’ great writing and intelligent storytelling, which establishes Task Force X really well–particularly for people who may not be all that familiar with the concept going in–then what you have is almost an alternate reality companion to the recent David Ayer movie, albeit one doing the job far better. If you’re yet to see the movie, do yourself a favour – save your money and buy this instead.