Saturday, April 18, 2020

Suicide Squad Rebirth #1 (2016) Review

Putting the Pieces in Place

Written By: Rob Williams
Art By: Philip Tan, Jonathan Glapion, Scott Hanna, Sandy Florea, Alex Sinclair
Lettered By: Travis Lanham
Cover Price: $2.99
On Sale Date: August 3, 2016


Who is excited for the Suicide Squad movie coming out this Friday??? This guy! Though, truth be told, I am not what you’d call a huge Suicide Squad fan. I read the Ostrander run, dabbled with team whenever they crossed over with the Doom Patrol, and popped in and out during the New 52 depending on reviews and hype. But since the 1980s, having to review this comic has been the longest sustained time I’ve been reading it. And it’s been a good time, for the most part, but it’s had little to do with the upcoming summer blockbuster, save for the re-coloring of Harley Quinn’s hair. That’s how I know the Suicide Squad film is going to do great: it isn’t beholden to as much comic book bullshit. I’m serious! No one is going to stand up in the theater and shriek, “Harley Quinn doesn’t kill!” No one will be upset that some middling point of Killer Croc’s continuity doesn’t jibe with something they read when Jimmy Carter was president. Suicide Squad does and has always existed in its own sort of universe, so the sky is the limit where the movie’s story is concerned. But what about the comic book? Will it hold up to the film’s success or live in its shadow? What am I, a fortune teller?? Read my review and make up your own mind!

Explain It!

It looks like Amanda Waller’s been stress eating. Who can blame her, with the President of the United States himself bawling her out in his office? He’s caught wind of Task Force X, better known as the Suicide Squad, and he’s none too happy about it. He questions the accountability of a bunch of criminals cajoled into engaging secret missions on behalf of a Black Ops organization unknown, until recently, to the President himself. It’s a pretty good question, one which Amanda Waller answers with one candidate to wrangle the team together and answer to the Executive Branch: Corporal Rick Flag, retired army guy from a family of army guy, who did good army things and was incorruptible and ate his Wheaties and worked in a soup kitchen and helped old ladies across the street and you get the idea. President Probama agrees to maintain the Suicide Squad under Flag’s direction, probably because he got an important call or something because it really doesn’t seem like a good idea to me.

Rick Flag, it turns out, is in Guantanamo Bay, stuck there for disobeying orders that ultimately put the lives of his troops in fatal peril. So this isn’t one of those, what you’d call “patriotic” comic books. Amanda Waller shows up outside his cell to find Corporal Flag in terrible condition, looking like a bunch of extraneous lines were scribbled on his face. She tells him of the Suicide Squad, and explains that three of them are on mission right now…[interstitial screen fade] They’re in Mongolia, grabbing a scientist named Mark Ljungberg, who was previously kidnapped from a science conference by a group of terrorists known as the Dogra War. He’s developed a meta-gene bomb that can give unpowered humans super powers for thirty-six hours, and also remove the powers from superpowered people for the same period of time. Deadshot, (Captain) Boomerang, and Harley Quinn have been dispatched to get the nerd, the blueprints, and the bomb, despite the fact that one has already been set off and members of the Dogra War are now super powered. They have even grown skin-tight costumes during their transformation, which is probably helpful. Waller keeps pressing Flag, just buttering him up like a Sunday Pop-Tart, and Rick Flag keeps coming up with excuses as to why he can’t lead them. It’s like Yoda talking to Obi-Wan’s ghost on Dagobah.
Flag: I cannot teach them. They have no patience.
Waller: They will learn patience.
Flag: Hmm, much anger in them. Like Trump supporters.
Waller: Was I any different when you taught me?
Flag: Hah. They are not ready.

Eventually, Waller unlocks Rick’s cage and leaves it up to him whether or not he will helm a group of ragtag psychopaths.

Back in Mongolia, the Squad are pinned down in some cave by a legion of gun-toting, super-powered beings. Dr. Ljungberg explains, probably for our benefit, that they need his briefcase, containing a meta-gene bomb and blueprints for said bomb, or they need him, since he is scared shitless and would fold under even the most minor torture. Like, they could have someone scrape their fingers on a blackboard and he could probably acquiesce. Just then, some kind of…tentacled protoplasm appears, or explodes, or something? It’s one of the new metahumans, and it’s dragging Dr. Ljungberg and his case back towards the Dogra War. Thinking quickly, Boomerang tosses a boomerang to sever the good doctor’s hands at the wrist and bring his briefcase tumbling back to the Squad. Then, thinking less quickly, Deadshot fires a bullet right into the center of Dr. Ljungberg’s forehead. Then Harley determines the best thing to do is detonate the other meta-gene bomb, thereby removing the Dogra War’s super powers, and then they can fight them mano a mano if “mano” can also be translated to “gun with lots of bullets.” Just then, Rick Flag shows up out of nowhere in full army regalia, and exhorts the Suicide Squad to victory! Most likely!

Like all Rebirth #1 issues, this one sets the stage for the Suicide Squad going forward. It’s perhaps most necessary, however, on a title where the roster changes with every new creative team. It’s no secret that this change moves the team closer to the film iteration, that’s obvious. But it contains the same action, intrigue and trash-talking that the comic has always evinced, and it seems right on the money here. This issue was really well-paced and plotted, and kept me reasonably gripped even though I sort of knew how it would end. The art…well, it’s not my style. I can tell it’s proficient, and it conveyed the story perfectly well, but I’m not a big fan of this type of comic art. I know it’s popular with many people, though, so I won’t rate against it. And I have to admit, I liked seeing chunky Amanda Waller back again. Call it superficial, but that’s how I am most familiar with the character.

Bits and Pieces:

This issue primarily informs the reader of the Suicide Squad's pecking order going forward, and there are some interesting developments. This iteration of the team seems to be moving closer to the version in the film, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. A strong showing of great storytelling and solid action that bodes well for the title's immediate future.



  1. That artwork, yech. Uncanny valley.

  2. Loved the hell out of this issue. Surprised me how much i really liked it. It almost felt like an old school Ostrander Suicide Squad. Loved the fact that they touched on the silver age by saying Rick Flag's "grandfather" was on task force x during ww2, instead of his father who ended up in vietnam. My only complaint is when they use real people in these books because it dates it for the future readers.

    1. Especially when we've got a stand-in for President Obama in one issue, and then President Nobody Special in another! Or skinny Amanda Waller in Batman, chubby Amanda Waller in Suicide Squad. But I did enjoy this issue, I was really drawn in by the storytelling and I thought the dialogue between Squad members was on point. It bodes well for the series!

    2. Yeah, I caught those Presidential goofs too. I'm just glad Waller is back to being the Wall. Never cared for super model Waller. Love me some chunky mamas that have bigger balls than most guys. She stared down the best and made them back off back in the day. Kinda like how she punked the president in this issue which I ABSOLUTELY loved :)

  3. I was really surprised by how much I liked this issue. It's exactly what a rebirth issue should be. It's not an origin story, but it brings new readers up to speed with the world these characters live in and sets the stage for an exciting future. I was disappointed with the art, but the story more than made up for it. Suicide Squad could be one of the top series from Rebirth.

    1. I couldn't have said it better myself! And I didn't!

    2. Hahaha. The only part of the WSDC reviews I read before I comment is the non-spoiler section and rating. I may need to adjust my approach because it does look like I just rehashed your whole review.

    3. I love hearing what others think about the issues...but if you think like Reggie, you best get yourself checked out!

    4. I'm definitely worried. I'll have to make a doctors appointment first thing in the morning. Hopefully this is something that a round of antibiotics or penicillin can take care of.

  4. First time reading a Suicide Squad book and I really liked it.

  5. This is in regards to what was talked about in the podcast, but when it came to the Powers bomb I got the impression that you had to make a choice with the bomb on whether to do one or the other and the bomb didn't do both with one single blast. You had to either give everyone powers or take powers away and it wasn't a role reversal bomb. I could be wrong though, it just seemed like that's how they talked about it.

  6. You are right, Amanda Waller definitely put on some weight from Batman to this. Waller strikes me as the type of person who would have doubles constantly doing her work for her.
    I enjoyed Deadshots line “Oh God. Waller, if you’re listening: Blow the bomb in my head right now.”
    I’m definitely looking forward to this series. I think it is going to be a fun book!