The reading continues with ‘The Phoenix Gambit’ which contained Suicide Squad # 40-49. These issues are available for reading with a DC Universe Infinite subscription.
The track “Phenix Gambit” is more than a pulpy name for numbers 40-43 of “Suicide Squad”, it is a declaration of intent from John Ostrander and Kim Yale as they attempt to restart the Squad… at new. The editorial staff had already done this in the pages of “The Janus Directive” and tore it all up at the end of “Apokolips Now”. With Amanda Waller in prison and the squad dissolved, once again the pages of “Suicide Squad” are strewn with ashes for something new to emerge. Rebooting the concept of the titular team for the third time seems reckless, and to a degree comparable to the speed at which the Big Two announce the next creative teams or the next books before the end of the previous one. Ostrander-Yale’s work, however, differs in that it all still exists continuously through them, and the core functionality of Suicide Squad never really changes. At the end of the day, it’s still a Men-on-a-Mission style book, what changes is the infrastructure around them.
Amanda Waller’s latest version of Squad reads like the latest take on an established product or company trying to reinvent itself as a startup, always trying to show how ‘new’ it is when in in reality, little has changed. For herself, she wants an unconditional presidential pardon. For the squad at heart, it’s like before, access to the same batch of prisoners and the same deal as before. The support structures around them, however, are all different. The squad will now be autonomous from government and without a headquarters, no more DC political bureaucracy. They will be hired on a case-by-case basis for $ 1 million from who their client covers their expenses. In return, they will operate without a safety net “no more support or protection, no more rescue in the event of capture”. Suddenly, in this arrangement, the creative writing team injected a new dose of suspense into a book that is in its third year. While at the same time reducing the safety net it also brings them closer to being the Impossible mission it was clearly a point of inspiration for the series. He pushes them down the road, cutting jobs, and making every problem or mission a heist comic in itself.
Yale and Ostrander use a narrative device that I don’t think is possible in the Big Two’s current editorial strategy. In “Squad” # 39, readers left Waller in his jail cell after making a plea deal. When readers chose the 40s, Waller was still there, but the editorial staff and the Todd Klein series letter added a sidebar that read “a year later” 1 The idea that publisher Dan Raspler and the rest of the publishers would leave the creation The team just skipped one of their books a year in the future of DC seems bold and unheard of. While yes, DC did “One Year Later” on the release of “Infinite Crisis” which was a line-wide tenure with a lot of communication and miscommunication by the editorial and creative teams. It’s just a book, technically showing readers the future. This puts “Sucide Squad” in a space where if they wanted to, future events could be teased in a rather nifty way compared to how things normally go with their overwhelming evidence.
The push to the future also, ironically, allows the “squad” to react in a certain way to real-world events. In the 1990s, the USSR was dissolving, the Berlin Wall would not collapse until 1991, but things were moving in that direction. “Squad” was built in many ways on the plans of the Cold War era, at the end of the “Phoenix Gambit” it is positioned for the new world of constant and sudden change. It stacks the squad in the anxieties of the present moment when the nearly 40-year-old thinking beast is out the window, and perhaps something like a secret suicide squad would be very useful for rapidly evolving deniable operations.
In rebuilding the squad, Ostrander-Yale sticks to what works with Captain Boomerang, Vixen, Ben “Bronze Tiger” Turner, Count Vertigo, Poison Ivy, Ravan, and Deadshot all recruited or commissioned. And after three years of publishing, these are the characters you should be using, these are the ones readers have an emotional investment in. An investment that will seem very precarious without any of their old backing. Holding onto old hands also allows # 41 to flow easily as the squad reforms. Husband is doing well with her first fashion collection, but once Waller shows up with the promise of finding Ben Turner, she’s back where she started. Ben is in a similar state, once again plagued by identity questions claiming there is no “Ben Turner” just the Tiger. Waller, if she ever cared, has little time for her troubles and wants her field commander back and she has the money to make it happen. Batman is tasked with recruiting Ravan and Ivy, who ends up as Queen Marie Antoinette after seducing the management of the fictional Puerto Azul. Ravan is in London with CyberChurch, which serves as a cyberpunk hangout and a front for him to be a hit man or pay for his offerings to Kali. It should be noted that Ostrander-Yale and artist Geoff Isherwood blew up this church by Batman and left a lot of bodies behind as he drags Ravan into thinking that next time “maybe a little less dynamite. “. There is a casual side to the punchline, but it matches the dark humor of the book and the kind of sick gag Batman works with.
Captain Boomerang was last seen stranded on a desert island off the coast of Australia after being revealed as the Pie Faced Bandit! Surprisingly, he’s still alive and has always lived the gimmick has prepared a giant boomerang to return to the underwater lands. Husband quickly shows Boomer the error of his ways. Greg Isherwood is again in charge of the art for the majority of this book, and he’s broadened his style. The opening panels of the Boomer sequence read as if they were directed by Luke McDonnell, except for the large amount of speckled black on Waller in the third panel. There is a thin lined simplicity to the island and its inhabitant. It wasn’t until the next page where Mari kicks in that his harsher inking style begins to show. Isherwood’s inking variety is beneficial for books as it is able to render grain and texture without making everyone inhuman. The opening pages of # 40 as Waller sits in his cell show this best. The prison walls are textured but not like white noise or stucco, when mixed with Carl Gafford’s coloring they do just enough and most importantly do not distract from the purpose of the image. He manages to create a real feeling of weariness within Sarge Steel, an effect once again supported by the coloring of Gafford. Isherwood uses a light hold line and many vertical lines to trace the dimensions of Steel’s face. By creating clear dimensions, the coloring technology of the time is able to easily capture the shadows that hover over his face when he asks for Waller’s help.
This collection also does something that has been building for years, it seems, the complete revelation of who Oracle is. Technically speaking, Oracle was revealed in # 38, reacting to Flo’s death, with a prominent Batgirl doll next to her computer. But it wasn’t until # 48-49 that Barbara Gordon fully entered the game as Oracle. “Suicide Squad” # 49 is Norm Breyfogle’s best-known cover, with Gordon angrily mocking Joker’s order to “smile” at the gun. Perhaps Steve Lightle’s covers for # 48 are more interesting. You have a strong negative effect of near parallax for a background, with an image of the Joker terrorizing Barbara again in the foreground. The suggestive hand of the Joker on his stomach and opening his coat. It’s like a failed cover for a romance novel. It’s the commercialization of female trauma that would spark the righteous fury against Rafael Albuquerque’s now-canned Batgirl # 41.
In these pages, Ostrander and Yale do their best to deal with the aftermath of “The Killing Joke,” a comic that has many formal qualities that I appreciate, but like much of Moore’s work from this era, his legend bores me. Ostrander wrote a excellent blog post when The murderous joke the adaptation was announced regarding their thought process about using Barbara as a character. “We didn’t want Barbara to recover as if by magic. Considering the violence she had endured, we felt like she would be paralyzed from the waist down to her feet and in a wheelchair. However, we felt that she could still be a hero. They were successful, Oracle would be a major fulcrum in the narrative rationale, and would appear in live-action adaptations like the Short Length Birds of prey and in the next season of Titans.
But when we find it in the pages of n ° 48, it is not quite there yet. Ostrander and Yale spend 4 pages on Barbara in therapy or in her daily life. It’s not pretty, she blames herself on some level for this horrible act of violence inflicted on her. She’s mad at a lot of things. There is nothing magical about his healing process. There is nothing magical about her moving around in her wheelchair, thinking about all the things she probably can’t do – some of which fit into essentialist logic but also reinforce the way the patriarchy constructs femininity through mechanical function instead of recognizing it as the adopted class of characteristics that it is. It’s all just deeply human for a quirky, dark series. These are the pages where I’m glad Geoff Isherwood started rendering in a more realistic style. Barbara Gordon is not a pity site; she’s just human trying to get out of it and get out of it. If the previous style had been in place, it wouldn’t be as effective.
With the addition of Barbara Gordon, Yale and Ostrander completely rebuild the Suicide Squad and prepare it for new adventures in a strange new world. The wrappers around it are all different, but the core remains the same effective hook.