Monday, July 25, 2016

TEX's BACK ISSUE QUEST EPISODE #34 (Suicide Squad Part V)

I'm baaaack! 

    TEX here once again with that Suicide Squad info to make your neurons grow. :-)

    In part I, part II, part III, and part IV (click provided links for previous episodes), of our journey into the origin and  evolution of The Suicide Squad, we talked about their origin in 1959, their link to the Suicide Squadron that fought "The War That Time Forgot," the Flag family blood that ties the first two Suicide Squads together, and the coming of Amanda "The Wall" Waller. Today we will talk briefly about the less known volumes Suicide Squad, and then we'll bring it on home to the current iteration of The Suicide Squad!

   Spinning out of DC's "Our Worlds At War" cross-over, Keith Giffen began writing Suicide Squad vol 2. He put his signature humorous spin on the Suicide Squad:

    General Frank Rock (the WWII hero, SGT. Rock), was put in charge of this new team, dubbed Task Force Omega, along with his second-in-command, Bulldozer, from his days with Easy Company. The series was short-lived, and mainly significant for killing off Batman's old, familiar enemy, Cluemaster. 

FUN FACT 1: President Lex Luthor, and Secretary of Metahuman Affairs, Amanda Waller, were calling the shots for this Suicide Squad. 

FUN FACT 2: It was revealed at the end of this series that Frank Rock, and Bulldozer had died in 1945, implying that the two people who had been leading the team were impostors. As the series ended, this was never cleared up.

    In 2007, John Ostrander returned to write for "Suicide Squad" vol 3, (advertised as "Suicide Squad: Raise the Flag") fifteen years after the end of his amazing run on vol 1. This eight-issue mini-series had some of that old magic, but didn't spark enough interest for the Suicide Squad to have it's own ongoing title. This series spun out of some issues of Checkmate vol 2, and the "Salvation Run"limited series. It is a great story detailing how Rick Flag, Jr. survived his apparent death, survived a stint on Skartaris, survived being prisoner of war for several years in Qurac, returned to The Suicide Squad, and then subdued General Eiling who had used psychological conditioning to control him. 

FUN FACT 3: "Salvation Run" was based upon a pitch by "Game of Thrones" creator, George R.R. Martin. 

FUN FACT 4: In this series, The Suicide Squad target a Dubai-based company called Haake-Burton, obviously based on real-life conglomerate, Halliburton, who moved its headquarters to Dubai in March of 2007. I was in Iraq in 2003 with The 101st Airborne (AASLT), and Halliburton was everywhere.

Here's what you've all been waiting for....

    It's my copy of "Suicide Squad" vol 4 #1, written by Adam Glass and illustrated by Federico Dallocchio. When DC Comics relaunched in 2011 with the New 52, The Suicide Squad got a much-needed, and very dynamic update. It centers around Amanda Waller's desire to create an expendable field team, after she was forced to kill one of her team who was injured in a mission that went sideways. She forces many of Belle Reve's death row inmates to perform in insane tasks and torture  scenarios to evaluate their suitability to be members of her new Suicide Squad. Members are chosen, including, Harley Quinn, King Shark, and Black Spider, El Diablo and Deadshot - they are fitted with micro-bomb implants to ensure their continued cooperation. We also get the first appearance of of Savant (in the New 52) and Voltaic. The growing popularity of Harley Quinn bolstered The Suicide Squad in this series, making it a pretty solid seller for the thirty issues in which it ran.

    Here is my copy of issue #6 of this series, in which The Suicide Squad tracks Harley Quinn to Gotham after she incites a prison riot at Belle Reve and escapes after hearing The Joker has been killed. This comic begins the two-part revelation of Harley Quinn's origin story through flashbacks. Adam Glass did a fine job of fleshing out Harley's origin in issues 6 and 7, delving into the insane  connection she has with The Joker.

FUN FACT 5: Harley Quinn has gone through quite a metamorphosis since she first appeared in "Batman: The Animated Series" back in 1992 in an episode entitled, "Joker's Favor." She has gone from being a lovestruck idiot with little more than air between her ears, to a pretty capable, colorful anti-hero.

FUN FACT 6: Harley Quinn was never supposed to last. In "Joker's Favor," Paul Dini thought that it'd be weird to have The Joker pop out of a cake (something historically done by women) to take some cops hostage, therefore Dini created a female sidekick for The Joker inspired by a character in a dream sequence on a daytime soap opera. The character proved so popular that she eventually began to appear in comics, becoming more dangerous and wiley than she was in the cartoon series.

And finally....

   It's my copy of "The New Suicide Squad" vol 1 #1, written by Sean Ryan and pencilled by Jeremy Roberts. This volume sees fan faves Harley Quinn and Deadshot teaming up with all new members, Deathstroke, Black Manta, and Duela Dent. With Amanda Waller being pushed aside for Vic Sage to take charge of the team, tensions flare on the team itself: Harley Quinn has serious issues with Duela Dent wearing The Joke's severed face, and calling herself The Joker's Daughter, and Deathstroke voices that he feels Deadshot has no place on the team now that he is a member of Task Force X.

FUN FACT 7: Making Vic Sage a corrupt bureaucrat in this issue, is problematic to fans of the original Question. Anyone who knows anything about The Question knows that he is obsessed with justice, and hates corruption with every fiber of his being. Corrupting Vic Sage, one of the most interesting and offbeat heroes in the DCU, is a WEIRD choice to make.

FUN FACT 8: Don't worry about Deadshot being a redundant member because of Deathstroke - Wilson betrays the team in issue #2.

FUN FACT 9: TEX is not happy that Bonze Tiger hasn't been back as a member of The Suicide Squad in recent years. Task Force X without Bronze Tiger, Deadshot or Rick Flag, Jr. is like a couch with no cushions - it can be comfortable, but not nearly as much as it would be with those dang cushions.

    And that's just about all I know about The Suicide Squad, my friends! Just like you, I am excited to see Task Force X hit the big screen:

   But this leads us into our FINAL Suicide Squad fun fact:

FUN FACT 10: The Suicide Squad has already made live-action appearances in "Smallville" season ten (revealed to be working for Chloe Sullivan, Clark Kent's best friend), and in an episode titled "Suicide Squad" in season two of "Arrow." John Diggle, Oliver Queen's best friend, is a former member.

   I hope you enjoyed this journey into the origin and evolution of The Suicide Squad as much as I have. I've tried to hit all the high points, but if you have more to add, or feel that I have missed something important, please feel free to shoot me some comments.

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  1. The Suicide Squad roster changes more often than the Avengers. :)
    That's a sweet setup if you want a movie series.

    It'd be fun if DC would catch up to Marvel on movies. DC is holding their own on the TV front.
    (Did you see the Agents of Shield season 4 teaser? 30 seconds, but it reveals a new character that shows up in ep 1.)

    1. Absolutely, Robbie,

      Suicide Squad can become a franchise that can introduce so many characters to the big screen. I hope they have plans to move it that way.

      I think that DC is about to have a successful explosion this time - one that leads to a rich filmverse for fans like you and me. I don't think catching up with Marvel is a possibility at this point. Marvel's got a lead by years, and DC is far more pressed to make every film a hit, so they must take their time and do it right. Marvel can have a misstep here and there and get away with it.

      One thing that is good me is that DC is going to have to keep digging deeper into it's forgotten archives to bring out some of those cool characters. If Marvel keeps cutting DC off at the pass with movies like Ant-Man, it'll be hard to sell old faves like the Atom (Silver Age) on the big screen because fans uneducated in comics history will see him as an Ant-Man ripoff. I'm excited for Doctor Strange, but does this mean I'll never get a Doctor Fate film? I hope not.

      I haven't seen the trailer. Now, I want to. I've heard rumors of Ghost Rider, though. A cool Ghost Rider spinoff show could be sweet. Hey, I'd take a Deathlok spinoff!!