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1987 And All That: Suicide Squad #1-8

A column in which Matt Derman (Comics Matter) reads & reviews comics from 1987, because that’s the year he was born.

Squad_1Suicide Squad #1-8 (DC) by John Ostrander, Luke McDonnell, Karl Kesel (#1-3), Bob Lewis (#4-8), Carl Gafford, Todd Klein, and Robert Greenberger

The concept of Suicide Squad is elegantly simple, and maybe inevitable in the world of superheroes and villains. The difficulty of effectively imprisoning superpowered baddies has been explored in many ways in all kinds of comicbooks, and this series offers one more approach: a work release program for supervillains. And why not? There are all different levels of supervillainy, and as many different motivations for it as people participating in it, so anyone who wants to prove themselves less insane or untrustworthy than their peers might as well get a chance. Besides, giving them another venue/outlet for their abilities could potentially place them on a better path, even make them better people. Right?

Wrong, says Suicide Squad, which seems to believe that people, good or bad, pretty much are who they are no matter what. The book hinges on this philosophy, its drama fueled by the clashing and immovable personalities of its cast. In the world of Suicide Squad, the whole Suicide Squad project is a futile endeavor, an attempt to convince villains to act against their natures through an odd combination of bargains, threats, and field assignments. Trouble is, nobody can ever act against their nature in this book, so the Squad fails or at least half-fails on every outing, refusing to gel as a group and generally causing more harm than good to its members and the rest of the world.

Not everyone in the Suicide Squad is even a villain; they’re led by good guys, though in this case that’s only a relative term. The head of the program, the person handing out missions and calling all the shots, is Amanda Waller, though like all good heads of government agencies, she stays out of the actual field. The commander on the ground is Col. Rick Flag, a somewhat reluctant leader who stays in the position out of a sense of obligation rather than actually believing in what he’s doing or having any desire to keep it up. His second-in-command is the Bronze Tiger, an amnesic former member of the League of Assassins, looking for help in retrieving his memories. He is probably the most stable and self-possessed member of the cast, and easily the best and most reliable in a fight. These three people rarely if ever see eye-to-eye, particularly Waller and Flag, but the attribute they share (and that the rest of the team lacks) is loyalty. They obey orders even when they disagree with them, dutifully trying to turn the Squad into a functional unit despite the impossibility of the task.

There are other heroes in the mix as well, namely Nemesis and Nightshade. Their reasons for being on the team are a bit less clear, and it seems like they’re mainly there because their abilities are especially useful for the kind of work the Squad tends to Squad_2do. Though superpowers are almost always involved on both sides of the conflict, Suicide Squad stories tend to have more of a spy thriller feeling than that of straight superhero action-adventure melodrama. So Nightshade’s teleportation and Nemesis’ disguise skills are extremely useful tools to have on hand for all the espionage. Unfortunately, both characters struggle with the messed up morality and unavoidable corruption that comes with working alongside villains, Nemesis most of all. He eventually gets so fed up with it that he quits in the middle of a mission, then later surrenders himself to the Russians (in the 80’s!) and is arrested for crimes mostly committed by the rest of the team.

The only full-time cast members who are also a full-time villains are Captain Boomerang and Deadshot, with other baddies joining and leaving the series from one arc to the next. Though in theory these men both represent the evil side of the equation, their respective attitudes about being part of this team are quite different. Deadshot seems almost into it, happy to be have government-sanctioned targets, eager to take up any cause so long as he gets to shoot somebody. Boomerang, on the other hand, whines out loud as often as possible, and works tirelessly to gain ever more freedom for himself. He wears Waller down little by little, and is ultimately granted permission to live outside of Belle Reve, the prison which the Suicide Squad calls home, on the condition he behave himself while off-site. Of course, he quickly finds a way around that condition by dressing up as Mirror Master whenever he has the urge to do something criminal.

Finally, there’s June Moone/Enchantress, who are either two distinct beings sharing a body or one woman with a split personality, depending on who you ask. June is fragile and good, wanting only to rid herself of the selfish, violent, maniacal Enchantress who lives inside her and constantly tries to break free. The Enchantress feels pretty much the same way, her greatest desire being to take control forever and eliminate June entirely. As the series progresses, Enchantress’ power grows, and she gets harder for June or anyone else on the Squad to control, becoming more liability than asset in short order.

On top of all the regulars with their warring personalities and motivations, other imprisoned villains join up for just a mission or two in order to get their own sentences commuted, so Suicide Squad‘s line-up is always changing. The steady coming and going of fresh blood means that nothing ever settles or stabilizes, and there are no good opportunities for solid trust to develop. Indeed, the idea of everyone on the Squad trusting one another is never even approached, because everybody understands that the only reason most of them are there is to be let out of prison in exchange for doing the work. There’s no pretense of any nobler goals or team unity. It’s just criminals and their handlers hoping to keep it together long enough to make it back alive.

What I’m trying to highlight with all of this cast analysis is how internally conflicted the Suicide Squad is. Their inability to coalesce is a big part of what drives this comic, the source of much of its narrative momentum. What could be straightforward operations for a more well-oiled team become disastrous, fatal failures in the hands of this motley crew. Various members of the Squad work against its success, intentionally or not, at almost every turn. In the opening arc alone, first-timer Plastique turns traitor as soon as she can, while another newcomer, Mindboggler, is shot in the back and killed because Captain Boomerang overtly decides not to save her. It’s a pretty clear opening statement about Suicide Squad‘s general dearth of hope for its titular team, and their group dynamics don’t improve any over the course of these eight issues. They return from not succeeding, Waller reacts inappropriately to whatever went wrong this time, and then she sends them right back out on another assignment. It’s an insane, reckless cycle, and it costs several lives—Squad members, their enemies, and one person they’re supposed to be rescuing. This ceaseless stream of losing fights and personnel understandably wears on Flag, making him a worse leader, thus making the team even worse, and so on. Everybody’s trapped in these patterns, collectively and individually, because they can’t and won’t find any common ground upon which to build a congruous identity or strategy.

Squad_3This depressing, self-defeating set-up works in large part because of the consistent creative team. With the exception of inking duties, which switch from Karl Kesel to Bob Lewis starting with Suicide Squad #4, all eight issues are by the same group of creators, giving the series consistency and cohesion its star team can never have. Penciler Luke McDonnell handles the dreariest, most brooding scenes just as well as the action, and that covers pretty much everything. There’s not a lot of room in between the dark emotional moments and the fights, but McDonnell’s art makes all of that compelling and varied so that it never feels repetitive. As does colorist Carl Gafford, whose palette is bright and clear enough to make the fight scenes pop yet toned down enough to add heavy atmosphere to the moodier beats. The whole art team walks that line so the drama doesn’t suffocate and the action stays fresh. And when needed, they combine those two elements for great effect, crafting devastating scenes of unexpected violent death and/or widespread combat.

John Ostrander’s scripts have several things in common beyond the inflexibility of the cast (and the catastrophes which result) to make Suicide Squad smart, weird, good reading. The motives of the Squad’s opponents or targets are always an important part of each story. We don’t necessarily side or even empathize with them, but Ostrander makes sure we understand the perspectives of all the players, even when they can’t understand each other. He also writes short stories, with the longest arc here taking up only three issues, and another three of the issues being one-shots. Though their endings are a tad abrupt sometimes, the brevity does not, in general, detract from the density of the narratives. Ostrander has some fun, bizarre ideas, and explores them efficiently while always keeping the Squad’s dysfunction in the foreground. The ethical questions of freeing someone who wants to remain a prisoner, a rich racist using public vigilantism to secretly recruit for hate groups…even the half-page or so devoted to explaining how Belle Reve keeps Parasite alive but vegetative was interesting, lasting stuff. These are ideas that stick, and Ostrander explores and expands them while still making the most of every page.

Neither the art nor the writing do anything particularly daring, mind-warping, or outlandish. Instead, they show the power of more straightforward storytelling, focused less on spectacle than the emotional, psychological, and moral complexities of the protagonists and their work. Ostrander sets as a rule for this series that people cannot change, and then assembles a bunch of characters who are fundamentally at odds with one another and puts them in life-or-death scenarios and unfamiliar locations with little to no support. That’s a hell of a hook, and the continued existence of the Suicide Squad after each screw-up only heightens the intensity and reinforces the reader’s investment; if things are already this crazy, splintered, and awesome, it’s easy to imagine how great it’ll be down the line when the Squad has really fallen to pieces.

41 Comments

philfromgermany

August 27, 2014 at 6:26 am

Thanks for this great read, always a pleasure to read about my favorite series. It’s nice to know it seems to hold up well for you “younger” folks, too. Ostrander really managed to keep the topics from being outdated which is surprising considering the world’s political status in 1987.
While I am a big fan of the team as such his successors on the title were sorely lacking (or in the case of Kindt and Kot shuffled around for no reason). If DC had any brains they would put him back on the title.

Such a great series. You capture the reasons for that well.

I wish DC would collect this whole series. So far to my knowledge there was one trade that’s OOP.

Great series, from a time when there was a lot of experimentation going on in comics. I remember, at the time the idea was previewed (in the Legends crossover event), “Oh, it’s the Dirty Dozen with supervillains.” Well, yeah, it was, but it grew beyond that. I enjoyed the spy thriller structure, as it was something different (and something I already enjoyed) and it worked well. Waller was a hard character to take, at the beginning, until Ostrander started going deeper, as he did with the other characters. It could be a bit frustrating, as you could have long sequences of talking heads, when you wanted action; but, he balanced it here better than in Manhunter. Manhunter appeared here, during the Millenium crossover, then got his own series. The premise was supposed to be that he was a bounty hunter, chasing supervillains, who would end up working for the Squad. However, that point seemed to get lost pretty quickly. The talking heads took over, to the point that Doug Rice bowed out, as he wasn’t finding himself challenged in the way he wanted.

I stuck with the book, right up to the end, and enjoyed every minute of it. Just when it seemed to be losing steam, they revamped things a bit and threw Kobra out there as a threat, which gave it a bit of life, before they pulled the plug. There were all kinds of great little moments, like the mystery of the character Duchess, the resident psychologist interviewing the various members, the Janus Directive crossover with other books, like Checkmate.

I loved that series so much. You never knew what was going to happen or who was coming home. Glad to see time has been kind to it.

I love this series — and I’m enjoying re-reading it as it becomes available on Comixology digitally (today gave us the final two issues).

One of the pieces of greatness in this series comes later with the introduction and beginning development of Oracle. Fabulous!

LouReedRichards

August 27, 2014 at 9:46 am

I need to give this series another try. I read the first issue while I had Chicken Pox, and I think that really colored my view on it. Even today when I look at that cover all I can think of is feeling feverish and itching.

I dropped the book after issue 3, it just didn’t grab me. I didn’t really care for McDonnell’s artwork, and later on, Isherwood was even less to my taste.

A friend loaned me her copies years ago so I could read the series… and then we lost contact, and they’ve sat there unread for a looong time.

I really should try them again, I like the concept and hope I can get past the art this time around.
That’s not a slam against any of the artist who worked on the title, they just weren’t to my taste.

BTW: The Task Force X/Suicide Squad episode of Justice League Unlimited is my favorite episode from that outstanding series.

Such a great series.

My God is Ostrander’s Suicide Squad awesome.

Luke Mcdonnell did ugly art with great story-telling at exactly moment when the opposite became fashionable. Ostrander seeded high concept ideas, developed them and paid them off like a machine. The chemistry between the core cast was amazing. Just awesome, awesome stuff …

I concur with the majority of the posters here. This series is awesome. It is the moment I felt that DC had, for the first time, produced a Bronze Age comics with complete success.

I thought it was good when I first read it, and I thought it was even better when I re-read it years later.

Dean’s comment about the art is also on the money. Ugly art plus great story-telling skills displayed by McDonnell.

The only complaint I have is with part of the fandom that concentrates too much on Captain Boomerang (great as he was in this series) and overlook the fine characterization Ostrander gave to pretty much all the cast, including the minor players, with a few exceptions.

I also loved Ostrander’s Hawkman work. His Spectre and Martian Manhunter are among the list of comics I expect to read and enjoy someday. I hear such great things about them.

LouReedRichards

August 27, 2014 at 1:25 pm

McDonnell has always been a problematic artist for me. I don’t particularly care for his art, there’s a stiffness or lack of fluidity to it, but I don’t really hate it either.

I would agree that he always put the story first. That’s a quality I greatly admire, and your both right, this was at a time when that approach was becoming “old fashioned”.

For years i’ve felt that Suicide Squad, especially the 1980’s run, would make a hell of a TV series. You could have your core cast, like the core cast in the comic series, and introduce new characters for episodes or 2, 3 episode story arcs. This would allow the shows producers to attract actors who don’t normally work on television, but since it’s not an ongoing gig, they might be more apt to appear. Their character could get killed off, or if the actor expressed interest in returning, the character could survive the mission, thrown back in prison only to reappear when needed.

loved the series espicaly how bad and take no crud from any one Ostrada made Amanda not to mention how it was suicide squad where Otrada gave new life to barbara gordon as oracle.

too bad due to royalty issues dc wound up canceling plans to release a trade of the run.

They did put out a trade of issues 1-8, I hope they continue. This was one of my favorite series growing up and I have stuck with the various versions since but none hold a candle to Ostrander’s writing. It’s a shame because this could be a top book if done right. The current version gave me hope but the most recent issue was a fight scene the whole issue. Sad. Give it back to Ostrander DC! Although he would probably turn it down after what they did to Waller.

Suicide Squad suffers a bit from crossovers, both in the form of the issues only carrying part of a story as well as just sometimes jarring status quo changes happening between issues. The issue crossing over into DC’s Millennium event starts with the squad mid-mission with a new character present without much explanation. The big Checkmate crossover I believe has a couple of Squad issues both start and stop mid-story. Deadshot has a solo miniseries that results in some major changes for his status in Suicide Squad.

There is also the feeling that stuff just happens beyond Ostrander’s control between issues, due to being part of a shared universe. I later wondered if that is why Suicide Squad, which seemed a perfect excuse for getting villains back into circulation without constant jailbreaks and/or a broken legal system, tended to stick to a small set of recurring characters.

A potentially more overlooked matter is that while Ostrander gets plenty of praise for the quality of characterization and writing on Suicide Squad, there are some pretty big issues if you look:

1) Both the book itself, and the characters within the book, treat Captain Boomerang as harmless comic relief. The same Boomerang who chooses to let Mindboggler die, who convinces another character that a bomb is fake (which should have been fatal, but the character survived through the power of comics), and who put the entire program at risk with his Mirror Master run. Waller and the rest just shrug it off, when Boomerang should have been kicked to the curb long ago.

2) One character, enraged at the Squad killing his friends and ready to go on his own killing spree, pretty much just lets it go because of a pie to the face.

3) Dr. Light. DC would later do worse to Dr. Light, but here is where he becomes a child killer. But that isn’t the whole reason I list him, rather that like Captain Boomerang he stays treated as comic relief afterwards. There is even a whole issue devoted to Dr. Light’s lousy luck.

@ Billy:

… Both the book itself, and the characters within the book, treat Captain Boomerang as harmless comic relief. The same Boomerang who chooses to let Mindboggler die, who convinces another character that a bomb is fake (which should have been fatal, but the character survived through the power of comics), and who put the entire program at risk with his Mirror Master run. Waller and the rest just shrug it off, when Boomerang should have been kicked to the curb long ago.

Whoa boy … do I disagree with this.

Within the pages of Suicide Squad, Captain Boomerang is pretty damn complicated character. His fellow criminals and psychopaths do treat him like comic relief, but they are CRIMINALS AND PSYCHOPATHS. “Digger” Harkness is less dangerous than Floyd Lawton and Amanda Waller primarily because almost everyone is less dangerous than Lawton and Waller. To characters like that, Harkness seems like a clown. Rick Flag treats him very differently.

A big part of what made Suicide Squad brilliant was the way in which Ostrander turned a character, like Digger, all the way around. Everyone had a different impression of him, including Digger himself. You got to see it all, unlike (say) Claremont’s Uncanny X-Men where characters are largely the same irrespective of the vantage point that they are viewed from.

Waller, as presented, should not have put up with Digger’s antics for as long as she did. (To be fair, Waller didn’t know about Mindboggler or the guy that lost his arm due to Digger.) He wasn’t an irreplaceable member of the team, someone who’s absence would greatly reduce effectiveness. His Mirror Master routine put the program at risk, and Waller was willing to go to extremes to protect the program.

What did his Mirror Master routine net? Waller created a convoluted “intervention”, sending someone to catch Digger before real cops or heroes managed the same, then manufacturing a fake mission that would have Digger rushing back and forth switching between Mirror Master and Captain Boomerang outfits in order to try to appear to be on both mission teams at the same time.

What ultimately booted Captain Boomerang from the team? A booting that involved stranding him on a deserted island, where he *remained* until it was decided that the Squad needed him again? Pie throwing.

I’m not saying that Ostrander didn’t turn Digger into an interesting character, or that he didn’t have complicated relationships between the various characters. Ostrander did. But he did, hrm, what’s the best way to describe it? Play favorites? Bend reality/logic a bit? Digger was at his most interesting in Suicide Squad, but Waller really shouldn’t have been willing to put up with him as long as she did (nor that what eventually was too much was pie throwing, which suddenly warranted being stranded on a desert island.)

Thanks for this article. I’ve been trying to get into this series, that I passed on in ’87, ever since Comixology started releasing the issues. I even bought a bunch during the recent 99 cent sale they had. But it just hasn’t been able to keep my interest up. Post-Crisis/Pre-New52 DC is the universe I grew up loving, and I thoroughly enjoy other Ostrander work from this period so it’s been frustrating that this much loved series just won’t get its hooks into me. You’ve articulated some points here I never considered, so I’m going to give this series one more try with with this new lens you’ve given me to look at it through. Thanks!

@Papercut Fun: Happy to help. That’s what it’s all about, as they say (when they’re doing the Hokey Pokey)

Andy E. Nystrom

August 27, 2014 at 7:57 pm

Probably my favourite ongoing series of that era. A few missteps here and there (A Doctor Light-Hearted Tale) but I loved the unpredictability of the series. You never knew if one of the villains on the team (and occasionally even one of the heroes like Rick Flag) would prove more a help or a hindrance on a given mission. Amanda Waller was one of the best anti-heroes created for a comic series.

Boomer survived, that is why he kept returning and being selected for missions. Sure he shirked responsibility, acted like a craven coward, and jeopardized the team, but he survived, succeeded, bought into the Squad’s concept, and never took a moral stand. Through the run of the series, you see a lot of characters who fail to survive (Mindboggler, Shrike) fail to succeed (Weasel), fail to buy in (Slipknot), or who have moral qualms about the Squad (Nemesis and Nightshade – both of whom fare better than most, but aren’t exactly favorites of Waller).

Digger sticks around because he’s marginally useful to Waller and easy to manipulate. I think it’s easy to see how Waller (as presented) could want Digger around.

Interesting how daring it could be like when Waller talks about Bronze Tiger meant to lead the team, he says he can’t with “you know why,” meaning how he’d once been brainwashed by the League of Assassins. But Waller immediately replies “because you’re black,” hinting that it’s pure racism by the government, a wild idea to push in a mainstream Regan-era comic.

I miss Luke McDonnell. His art was leaps and bounds better than, say, Kevin Maguire’s antics on the JLI at the same time period, or that of later Suicide Squad artists. His art on JLDetroit and Iron Man was always a draw for me as well.

I agree that Boomerang’s continued existence on the Squad didn’t seem puzzling to me, either. The Squad was a terrible place to be – your life was constantly in danger. Therefore, if you were competent enough to routinely survive and if you were willing to continue to go on missions, you were going to stay on the Squad. Note, too, that Waller never actually fires Boomerang. He quits when (spoiler, I guess?) he is discovered to be the pie-thrower and THEN she punishes him, only when he has established that he will no longer be an asset for her does she break free from her pattern with him. And as soon as she feels he has suffered enough to be willing to work for the Squad again, she goes out and gets him again. Because the Squad is an awful place to work, and Waller is never going to turn down competent people who are willing to work there.

I’m also pretty sure that at some point in the series, Waller said something along the lines of, “Boomerbutt’s an idiot, but he’s an effective idiot.” Which sums up why she kept him around pretty well.

I’ve never read “Suicide Squad”. but have always had it on my list of things to read. This is a very well written article that really sparks interest in the series. It’s clear that the author was smitten with the series and his love for it comes across load and clear. CBR should do more of these type of articles as it is difficult sometimes as a hobbyist to remember all the great comics from the 70’s & 80’s. Great job…

One note about the beloved Boomerbutt. In the Legends mini-series, he was released from the Squad and quickly became a liability to the team ( he was going to expose them). So while yes he was the worst team-member ever, I think Waller kept him on the team because (as mentioned by others) he was great cannon fodder (which they did use him for) and she couldn’t trust him, so she wanted him as close as possible- and heck, maybe one day he’d get killed. Never cared about Boomerbutt until that series, now I love him. The Squad also made me a big fan of Captain Cold too.

My favorite part about the Squad was that it was the only comicbook where the supervillains could win. You could finally see why they were ‘super’ villains as they ripped apart terrorist and the like.

That’s definitely true for Captain Cold’s appearance on the team. Well before Johns beefed him up as a threat, Ostrander had Cold as a total badass in his one stint on the team. Cold is there just to do his time and during the battle he wants to avoid fighting as much as he can and tries to cut a deal with his opponent. When that doesn’t work, he just flips out and goes off on the guy – “Wanta play rough, pally? Okay! But I gotta tell ya somethin’! Hate is cold! Hell is cold! And sucker, I am Captain Cold.”

Billy can correct me if I’m wrong, but I think he is complaining not only about the in-world treatment of Captain Boomerang, but also about how the writers presented him and other characters like Doctor Light?

I can see his point. There WAS a certain amorality to the book. But I think I took that in stride. Suicide Squad had elements of a black comedy. Most black comedies have elements of amorality. You gotta laugh at how rotten the characters are.

If you take Boomerang too seriously and feel bad about how he leaves a teammate to die and is never punished for it, well… probably you’re not being able to turn off your idealism for the few need minutes as you read the book.

Had Howard Chaykin (the cover artist for the first issue) or Jerry Bingham (the cover artist around issue 11) been the interior artist, this would have been a much more successful series. Enchantress and Nightshade looked like men in drag as drawn by McDonnell. I agree that he was a good storyteller, but not a very good illustrator.

Still, I collected the entire series. I did enjoy the Isherwood issues more than the McDonnell issues, but felt the concept had somewhat lost track by then.

Ostrander also uses thought balloons really well – we tend to associate them with Claremontian over-exposition, but Ostrander shows how they can work within a more terse, less wordy writing style, using them to get in and out of characters’ heads quickly. I believe Ostrander has expressed regret that (like most writers) editors eventually made him give up thought balloons, and he does make a good case for them.

Yes, renenarciso, it was more than just Captain Boomerang. I also mentioned Dr. Light and Major Victory in my first reply.

After the Janus Directive storyline, Major Victory is ready to kill Doctor Light, because Light killed Victory’s kid teammate. After Victory is ordered to join the Squad, he makes a go at Light, only for Duchess to intervene. What ultimately removes Victory’s seething rage, though? Jewelee enters the room complaining about being pied, resulting in everyone (including Victory) laughing. Afterward, Victory just stands around calmly in the background while Light walks around unmolested.

Shlomo Ben Hungstein

August 28, 2014 at 2:34 pm

yeah love the Ostrander series i have the whole run with most of the tie-ins. the Squad from the new DC52 was abysmal even though it seemed like it had gotten off to a pretty good start after reading issue 4 i started to have some misgivings about it and after issue 10 i dropped it. nothing i saw from the series after that in reviews or previews made me regret that decision. although largely based on the New DC52 Squad i highly recommend Batman: Assault on Arkham it gets back to the magic of the Ostrander run http://suicidesquadtaskforcex.blogspot.com/

I LOVED Suicide Squad… and eveyr time they have tried to pick it up again, it has been bad.

My theory is that the original run was ‘edgy’, but th e’edge’ has moved. So now when they try to make the book ‘edgy’ it is just dark and ugly.

Ostrander’s masterpiece

some love for others C listers like Punch and Jewelee, Black Orchid, The Enchantress

One of the absolute best. Ostrander’s never disappointed me.

Look at the inspiration for Suicide Squad, including movies like Dirty Dozen, and you’ll see that from beginning to end they have a great, not just dark but bleak, sense of humor. Boomer Butt as a character was the perfect foil for the ridiculously dark tone of the series. And from a character point of view, aside from the Rogues, the only other time he was allowed to be himself was with the Squad. That’s why he didn’t want to leave, and that’s why he kept coming back.

And also, as so many others have said, Ostrander knocked it out of the park with this series.

I wasn’t a fan of Luke McDonnell’s art on Iron Man (where I was first introduced to it) but I loved it on Suicide Squad. The book seemed to reinvent itself every twelve issues or so. I personally loved the original team in Legends (not being too familiar with the DCU since I was a Marvel guy) so I figured that Rick Flagg, Bronze Tiger, the Enchantress, Deadshot, and Captain Boomerang would be around for a long time eventually reforming and we’d see the occasional sacrifice ala Blockbuster. Needless to say, Ostrander blew my mind with the stuff he did with the book where no one was safe and the changes stuck.

“Ostrander also uses thought balloons really well – we tend to associate them with Claremontian over-exposition”

I think this Claremont criticism is a little unfair (I’m assuming it’s meant to be a negative quality). You can find wordy exposition in many comic books between the 60’s and the 80’s. Claremont sold alot of comics with his style and created a boatload of imitators along the way. That was his style and it worked, the writers who copped his shtick are more to blame than Claremont himself.

@Shawn Kane; There are some terrible Claremont books out there.
I nearly faded from the pain caused by one particular Iron Fist story in Masters of Kung-Fu. Claremont makes a comparison btw street muggers and wolves and then he just takes that and runs with it for the whole story. “But then you know all about being a wolf, don’t you?” It pained me at the time I was reading it, but as I type this I actually start grinning like an idiot just thinking about it. :)

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