Tags Matching: Suicide Squad

Eclipso: the series.

Actually never got around to reading this one til the other night, though I had read the Eclipso: The Darkness Within crossover when it came out and thought it was pretty sweet. Just never had the time. Boy did I miss out, because this is some pretty great Suicide Squad style stuff here. Really makes me wish Keith Giffen had been given a better shot at his run on that title. There’s even art on a couple issues by original SS artist Luke McDonnell…

The gist of the story arc is that Eclipso has taken over an entire South American country, and it’s up to his arch-nemesis and former host Bruce Gordon and his fiance to convince the heroes of the DCU to stop him. But because it’s a sovereign nation, none of the big guns or the US government will help. Which of course leads him to every one’s favorite black ops mastermind, Amanda Waller. Along the way we get the new origins for Eclipso (The Darkness Within had taken him from generic super villain to ex-God of Vengeance), which include a skirmish with Sherlock Holmes. While not an actual Suicide Squad story, it might as well be, as along with the Wall we get regular appearances by notable Squad members Major Victory, Nightshade, and Nemesis, as well as characters who appeared in the book off and on like Manhunter and Peacemaker. Meanwhile a mysterious Stranger (yes that’s a hint) is collecting the black diamonds that Eclipso uses to spread his power through out the world…

It’s seriously one long 18 issue story, which alas fails to meet a satisfying conclusion. Everything feels rushed and it wraps up with a literal deus ex machina courtesy of the Spectre. Still, the journey is a good one, and it’s cool to see Giffen work in things from Eclipso stories past like his feud with the Phantom Stranger.

Recommended.

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Chase.

I think we all know by now that I am really into the… shall we say, espionage and political intrigue side of the DC Universe. Suicide Squad, Checkmate, Manhunter… those are my jams, so to speak. So it’s only natural that at one point, I picked up a run of Chase.

The basic gist of it is that Chase is a super hero despising agent for the DEO, which is basically the DCU’s superhero/villain watchdog group. She’s one of the proverbial watchers of the watchmen, with the twist being that Chase herself is the child of a murdered super hero and has her own super power. As such she does things like try to figure out Batman’s secret identity and accompany the Suicide Squad on a mission. Sounds awesome right?

Well honestly it’s actually a little more “meh”. The plotting is fine, and the concept is solid, but the layouts and artwork are really hard to deal with, as they mix up normal comic art with lots of printed word snippets that are meant to demonstrate things like computer transcripts, which often get so wordy that it honestly becomes boring. One of the reasons I couldn’t stand that Morrison written Batman issue that was 90% written word is because if I want to read a book, I’ll read a book, know what I’m saying? The Teen Titans issue and the ones featuring Chase’s apparently homeless (?) private eye friend fall flat, and the fact that the last issue ended up being one of those obnoxious 1,000,000 tie ins is hardly the type of closure you want to have, especially in one that was only just getting rolling.

That being said, Chase is still worth a read, especially because she pops back up later on down the line as a supporting character in the excellent 00’s version of Manhunter (where they tie up some of the loose ends regarding Chase and her family history). The Suicide Squad and Batman issues are the stand outs, as mentioned.

Worth a look, especially for cheap.

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DEADSHOT!

Back before Geoff Johns and Gail Simone were around to revitalize under appreciated characters, you went to one man: John Ostrander (and credit where credit is due, a good deal of said revitalizing was done hand in hand with his wife, the late Kim Yale). Their most notable revitalization of course was the turning of Barbara Gordon from crippled ex-Batgirl into the DCU’s premiere computer hacker, Oracle. But the one I always liked best was the excellent work done creating a background for perennial Bat-rogue C-lister Deadshot.

Deadshot’s first appearance was in the issue above. That’s right: Deadshot has been around since the 50s. It’s just that in the beginning, he was nothing like the Deadshot we came to know from the 70s and 80s Batman and Suicide Squad comics. Floyd Lawton was a millionaire playboy who dressed up in a tuxedo, top hat, and domino mask and fought crime with a pair of six shooters. Only while he was fighting crime, he was really running his own crime ring to replace the competition he arrested. The dope. Batman quickly figured out his scheme, and Deadshot then rotted in the jail of comic limbo until 1977, when Steve Englehart brought him into modern times and put him in the featureless, wrist gun packing suit we all know and love.

Still, even then Deadshot didn’t have much of a personality, pretty much just serving as a generic amoral assassin who’s main personality trait was that he never dropped an assignment once he had been paid. Half the time his role could have been filled by Merlyn or any other DCU assassin. It was really once Ostrander got his hands on him in the pages of Suicide Squad and gave him a death wish that the character gained some dimensions. Most specifically in the 4 issue Deadshot miniseries that spun out of SS in 1988.

The entire Lawton family history was revealed, and suffice to say that it not only explained his lackadaisical death wish, but it also explained his love/hate relationship with Squad leader Rick Flag, and gave a plausible explanation as to why the man who never missed could never hit the Batman (who once noted in the pages of SS that Deadshot always pulled his shots when facing him): as a child, he accidentally shot and killed the older brother he idolized when trying to stop him from shooting the father they both hated. Both Flag and Batman subconsciously served as surrogate versions of his brother, to the point that shortly after his series had ended and he had returned to the pages of SS, he snapped while trying to stop Flag from shooting a corrupt senator and started calling Flag by his brothers name: the situation mirrored the childhood trauma he had just relived while trying (and failing) to prevent the death of his kidnapped son, who he had named after his brother. I’m barely even scratching the surface here, but you can see how much more complicated this stuff was than just “pay me, I kill a guy”.

Deadshot continued on in the Squad from there until the end of the series, after which he pretty much returned to being just another DCU assassin, with sporadic returns whenever someone tried to bring back the Squad, as well as an awful out of character bit in Underworld Unleashed when he tried to blow up a school full of kids. The less said about that, the better. He did however turn up in animated form in a couple episodes of the awesome Justice League cartoon; once trying to assassinate Aquaman and later on in an episode that actually featured the Suicide Squad! He also gained a little bit of Batman Begins/Dark Knight related fame courtesy of his being featured in the animated Batman: Gotham Knight dvd, which was meant to tie the two together.

In 2005, Deadshot was given another mini-series of his own, introducing a second child he never knew about, whose existence inspired him to try and clean up her crime ridden neighborhood, planting him back firmly in the anti-hero camp. Of course, he was also given a goofy, Wild Dog-esque costume, but fortunately he remained the Floyd people knew and loved from the pages of SS. From there he showed up in Villains United, once again joining an SS initialed team as part of the Secret Six (which spun off into it’s own series and quickly became one of DC’s best ongoing titles, and in my opinion the spiritual successor to Ostrander’s Squad), where he found a new surrogate brother in teammate Catman, himself a revitalized Batman C-lister (courtesy of Gail Simone, who has since teamed up with Ostrander on Deadshot/Suicide Squad/Secret Six related stories many times), and it’s there he remains.

*phew*

I’m spent like a shell casing.

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They’re Baaaackkkk…

I’ve posted about my love for the Suicide Squad on here before. It’s not a secret. But I only just recently got a chance to read the entirety of John Ostrander’s return to the title in the 8 issue “Raise the Flag” miniseries that came out in late 2007. And you know what? The man didn’t miss a beat.

Vintage SS on every level here, from the story behind Rick Flag’s return from the dead (sort of) to The General and The Thinker plotting against Amanda Waller, to Captain Boomerang Jr picking up right where his dad let off getting under Deadshot’s skin, to the return of one shot ex-Squadders like Plastique and William Hell and a of course a high body count and some limbs blown off by remote control… it’s like the Squad never left. And with a Suicide Squad video game getting announced at SDCC, hopefully another new series won’t be far behind.

Highest possible recommendation.

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Deadshot.

Figured I’d piggy back on my earlier post about the Suicide Squad with these two issues of Detective Comics, both of which feature lower tier Bat-villain turned Squad mainstay (and personal favorite) Deadshot.

For a brief moment in time when I had money to spare and my town still had a comic book store, I went through a phase where I wanted to collect comic books that featured the villains as the focus as the cover. Primarily Batman, Spider Man, and Flash villains, because they always had the coolest looking ones. And obviously, as a man of spectacular taste, I only wanted the issues that had the coolest looking covers, so that once I had every villain I could frame them as a lot.

So, with that in mind, if I had to pick between these two variations on the same theme, I’d obviously go with the former, which is really the better choice of the two anyways if you’re collecting as a normal comic fan, since it marks the first appearance of the modern Deadshot costume (in his original appearance, he wore a top hat and tails, six shooters, and a domino mask. Not exactly the height of super villain fashion). The reflection of the Batman in Deadshot’s mask, plus the Batsignal in his eye piece, the awesome 70’s Detective Comics logo… you can even see the shot hitting Bats in the reflection. Definitely a cool looking cover that makes the villain look bad ass.

The second cover… not so much. It’s not bad or anything, but it’s way less intense. Deadshot’s entire mask looks off due to the attempt to create depth via shading of where his facial features would be, Batman’s sneaking up on him not taking a shot head on… sure, there’s the intrigue of Bruce Wayne being in the cross hairs, but as a art piece? It doesn’t work. Definitely not the best Jim Aparo artwork I’ve seen, that’s for sure. I don’t know what’s going on with the watery looking texture, but I sincerely hope it was photographed in the plastic the seller says it will be shipped in.

Both of these are priced so cheap that you really can’t go wrong either way. $14.99 for a nice collectors item and $1.99 for something that’s probably just a fun read.

Suicidal 4 life.

You’re rarely, and I do mean rarely, ever going to hear me say something like this. But if you’ve got a spare C note lying around, then this is a must buy.

I repeat: A MUST BUY.

Suicide Squad, one of my favorite comic books ever, combined super villains and political intrigue in a manner that had been virtually unheard of at the time. Writer John Ostrander took cheeseball characters like Count Vertigo, Lashina, Dr Light and Captain Boomerang and took them seriously, turning them into well rounded characters with personalities instead of goofy gimmicks. Not only that, but Suicide Squad introduced us to perhaps the best non-powered antagonist in DC comics since Lex Luthor; Amanda “The Wall” Waller. It may seem tame and dated now, but it was without a doubt one of the first mainstream superhero comic book for adults. And it’s never been collected. DC was going to put out a Showcase Presents edition in 2008, but somehow it never appeared.

Even if this was just a full run of the first volume of the series (which ran from 1987-1992), this would be worth the money. But this seller has sweetened the pot by including virtually every other Suicide Squad comic that has been printed since, from the first appearance of the 80s Squad in the Legends miniseries, to the 4 issue Deadshot mini series that completed Ostrander’s reinvention of the character as a tragic figure, to the recent 8 issue mini series that saw Ostrander return to writing duties… even a handful of issues from Keith Giffen’s poorly received (and short lived) 2001 relaunch. By my count there are 89 comics being sold here for a mere $75 Buy It Now. That’s under a dollar a comic.

What are you waiting for? Go buy it.

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