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Monday, July 11, 2016

All You Need is Love - A review of Suicide Squad v1 #8 (1987) by Jason Brown

It’s been awhile, but we are back with more Suicide Squad review. (Real life can be such a pesky distraction from the fiction we love.) In this entry we will take a gander at issue #8.

Before we even get off the tarmac, we are treated to another fantastic cover with the SS logo in black atop a red background with Deadshot, Enchantress, Captain Boomerang, Rick Flagg, and the Bronze Tiger profiled in yellow above a distraught Simon La Grieve working at his desk. "Personal Files!" is the promise of this issue, and I’m excited. If you’ve read any of my previous reviews you know I’m a big fan of character-driven fiction, and feel the anti-heroes of our beloved squad make for some very interesting characters. Most often full of conflict to begin with, these boys and girls are continually thrown under the bus by Waller and her associates in the U.S. government, mostly due to their previous poor life choices and general criminal behavior. The result is an entertainment casserole that leaves you craving seconds and thirds until you find it’s 2 AM in the morning and you have to force yourself to put it down and go to sleep so you will have a shot at facing all the real life bunk the next morning with at least some semblance of adult competence and responsible concern. (Just once I’d like to tell a client straight up that I’m too tired to work today because I was just up too late reading comic books.)

This issue takes a deeper look into the personal lives of some of the key members of the squad, but starts with the Wall herself. Interesting how La Grieve counseled her to use her anger to progress with her career rather than face it and deal with it. If Waller is the squad’s mother, then I guess that makes La Grieve the father, sowing the seed of his advice in the fertile womb of Waller’s anger. Y’know during the verbal intercourse of their counseling session. (I’ll stop.) We then get to see that anger manifest in the form of a punch in the face for Dexter Tolliver, the smug ass-clown from the NSC who screwed everyone over on the Russia mission. That was fun to see. Interestingly, a reference is made to Oliver North is made here that made me feel compelled to google Oliver North so I could remember what that scandal was all about back in the late 80’s. (Of course I wasn’t remembering anything at all because I didn’t know any more about Oliver North in the 80s than I do now. Wikipedia started explaining it to me, something about selling weapons to the wrong country or something, but then I zoned out and closed the window.)

Next there’s some love triangle stuff between Flagg, Karin, and Mark Shaw, the Privateer whose outfit looks like one of those generic costumes you buy at the big Halloween outlets - Swashbuckler $29.99 – and just he just put it on over his V-neck and slacks. Instead of Privateer, he could have just went with Generic Hero and it would have been about par. An exhausted Flagg and Shaw duke it out 'til Flag can barely move, which gives us some good action for a couple of pages anyway. Then Waller replaces Flagg with Bronze Tiger as leader.

the Privateer

Speaking of Bronze Tiger, he and June Moon have a pretty cool meeting with someone called Madame Xanadu and get some nifty trinkets to help keep the increasing threat of the Enchantress at bay. Something about a mystic feedback loop. I think I learned about that back in Grade 4 science class, but I’m a little fuzzy on it. That stuff would have come in handy with one of my previous girlfriends. Wow... excuse me, I’m just taking a moment to let it sink in... I think I dated the actual Enchantress. I didn’t even know she was one of those "fourth wall" characters. Or maybe that would be fifth wall? Anybody? Ah, it’s just as well. The mystic feedback loop would have traumatized the cats.

Now we cut to my fave, Deadshot. The Marlboro Man himself. Marnie Herrs has fallen pretty hard for him and is not professional enough to step down as his therapist. And can you blame her? I mean this is a real man we’re talking about here. This is the guy who faced off against the invulnerable Evil Lion-O inan abandoned elevator shaft and sent him to see the angels with all the anxiety of changing a taillight.* I mean this guy is unstable... dangerous... powerful... sexy. All the things she was subconsciously looking for in those guys who asked her out back in college, but could never find. All the things she knows are bad for her, but draw her like a beetle to a back door light in a way she just can’t explain... and she's a licensed psychologist! Shame! His demeaning accusations just egging her on to break through their shared dysfunction and sexual tension, pulled like a cheap condom over a ten pin bowling ball: violence! A slap to the face, a passionate kiss, and a walk out the door later, and they're no better off then when they began; two blind fish in a pothole on a rainy Sunday. (What follows "off camera" has a ring to it like a children’s book title: Deadeye Floyd and his Visit to the Cathouse.)

What next? Ahhh... this issue is like a sampler plate; like a really good one. I always want to call this guy Boomerang, but of course that’s a Marvel comics character. Here’s an interesting question. I want to assume Marvel got to the name 'Boomerang' first, and DC had to add Captain cause they got sloppy seconds, but I know the evolution of comic book characters can be stranger than the fiction itself. If you know which character was created first (without looking it up!) please add to the comments below. I’m making a marked decision not to not look it up, even though now I really want to, and wait to see if any comments come in. Then we can all discover the answer together, like kids coming down the stairs on Christmas morning. Either way, here we are getting neither Boomerang nor Captain Boomerang, but Mirror Master, apparently. I think it’s a cool idea that Digger is using his old mate's getup and toys to scratch his crime itch, but it erodes the believability a little. I mean being a "super-person", to me, is about being special; unique in some way. Is it really as easy as changing skins on a phone? Digger is a master with those boomerangs of his, but wouldn't it take a truckload of time and training to even be competent with the Mirror Master stuff? I mean, I know this isn’t Breaking Bad, but it’s not the Super Friends, either. I guess I’ll file this away with Chronos and his device.** (I once watched an episode of Super Friends where all of the heroes had to go to Krypton before it exploded and they all used their "various methods of time travel" to get there. I don’t even think they mentioned anything about it being several galaxies away. I think even as a young child I was like, "Hold up – how exactly did Batman and Robin get here again?") Also, Digger would look way cooler if he shaved his head, amirite? Whenever I see guys with this "hairstyle" I cringe... if that’s you, sorry! (But yeah, definitely shave it.)

In closing, it’s morning at the La Grieve household, and Simon is met by his wife Ruth, who offers to fix him breakfast. Despite all of his anxieties and fears that keep him up at night, Simon is comforted that he doesn’t have to face them alone. And honestly, this scene really gets to me, especially the final illustration of La Grieve and his wife walking arm in arm to the kitchen. It’s just really touching. This comic book has heart. A lot of people might judge "Suicide Squad" as too dark, or negative for a comic book, but in the end the message here is a great one: hold onto the people you love and love ‘em.

* see issue#1 of the Suicide Review, If You Want Blood... – helpful J
** see issue #2, What the Hell? – the ever vigilant Mr. Brown

I am a just-starting-out fiction writer and musician living in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. If you would like to contact me with work or collaboration opportunities, or just to make arrangements to send me cash, please email me. Cheers!  (Share the love! lol)

-Jason Brown  

All content in this article entry written by Jason Brown. If you want to attribute any of this work, please credit Jason Brown.


  1. Captain Boomerang was definitely first, as a Flash foe from the 50s he precedes basically all Marvel proper.

  2. Wow, the 50's huh? DC has such a rich history. Thanks for the comment!