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Thursday, August 4, 2016

(I Have) Special Issue(s) by Jason Brown

Well the wait is over and tonight I will see the Suicide Squad movie in UltraAVX. Being a comic fiction fanboy, I would have seen it regardless, but since becoming a fan of the original series, and through doing these reviews, I feel a special privilege in having got to know some of these characters in more depth before being introduced to their Hollywood counterparts. I feel I have a special "inside track" the general movie-going population won’t have access to (and in many cases even knowledge of). It kind of feels like I’m an acquaintance of the real squad going to see a movie about them, some production teams interpretation of the people I already know. Unlike characters the world knows well like Batman or Spider-man, our Task Force X is significantly more obscure. I remember building Suicide Squad teams in heroclix before I knew who they were, and they kicked butt! (If any of you are familiar with the game, let’s just say my SS force was topped off nicely by a few layers of Multiplex to tie up my opponents nicely while I flayed them open with the rest of my team.) But since reading the original series, I have also been very pleasantly surprised by the depth of character and story which is at least as good as anything I ever read from Marvel... it’s just so damn well done. And so, with the help of the Suicide Squad, God, and several twelve-step programs, I am well on my way to finally becoming the man I always knew I could be; thanks Captain Boomerang!

I was going to continue with reviewing the issues, but in anticipation of going to see the movie, I decided to do a "special issue" and review my impression of the series so far, maybe compare it to other stuff, and y’know, just talk about whatever I feel like. Due to my demanding work schedule and the high-octane thrill-ride which is my life in general, I’m actually only about half-way through the series. I've also read the DC New 52 Suicide Squad reboot. I've also seen a Netflix animated movie [Batman: Assault on Arkham] that was pretty good. But this is DC in the 80s, so I’m only reviewing the original. Oh and I was using a bit of sarcasm about my life being a 'high-octane thrill-ride'.

So I used to read Marvel at a few different points in my life, but read very little DC for some reason. Looking back I probably just started out as a highly biased, know-it-all, asshole teenager that can’t just have some opinions about some things, but had to have very strong opinions and final judgments about everything. I think this is the reason many people miss out on things they think they don’t like. They really like Coke, so they don’t like Pepsi. They taste virtually the same, so what actually happened is that their cool older cousin drank Coke, so they chose Coke, and this was reinforced every time they saw a commercial about world peace through Coca-Cola, or polar bears drinking carbonated sugar-water. And when their friend on the next block mentioned how Pepsi was better, a dumb-ass, 13-year old argument ensued. Which is absurd, because as I already stated, they taste the same. Even as I write this, I can feel the resistance, the outrage from your end. "No!", you think. "It's not true! Coke/Pepsi is better than Coke/Pepsi! Jason, you're clearly a moron, because anybody will tell you Coke/Pepsi doesn’t taste anything like Coke/Pepsi." Yeah, I know. It’s not exactly the same. But it’s pretty damn close. It’s our social programming that deeply entrenches us in our need to identify with brand. So it is with Marvel and DC. And Conservative and Liberal. And Jesus and Buddha. Whatever brand you like is fine, and liking one doesn’t necessarily vilify the other. The point is, yeah I was a 'Marvel man'. But then I grew up and got over it. Good is good, and Suicide Squad is very good. So Deadshot/Bullseye, Captain Boomerang/Boomerang, Rick Flagg... I don’t know, Duke from G.I.Joe? All creative works are influenced by other creative works. Darth Vader was inspired by Doctor Doom, and I’m pretty sure Judge Dredd is a perfect mix of Captain America and the Punisher. These characters are all archetypes in various mixes and variations which I’m sure could be traced back to the dawn of civilization. But It’s what you do with your incarnation of the archetypes that matters.

So coming from a Marvel background, I expected something similar to Thunderbolts; some cool characters who can kick some ass with some moral dilemmas. And to some degree, I was right, but not totally. As a total package I did not expect the book to be at the level it is. From what I’ve seen so far, this is really well done. It’s tight. I actually find the lower power levels of the characters, the way their compliance is coerced, and the social interactions between them more realistic and more believable than what I remember from Thunderbolts. Now don’t get me wrong, I love Thunderbolts. A lot. But whether it’s Coke or Pepsi, I’m just calling it like it is. Suicide Squad is just a little more adult. Just a little more compelling. It’s like lately on Netflix, I had a season of Archer to watch, and a season of Bojack Horseman. At first I thought I would go back and forth between the two, cause I really like both shows, but no... I couldn’t stop watching Bojack. When I thought about it, although Archer is cutting-edge comedy (at least it was when it started) ultimately the characters and relationships in Bojack Horseman just have more depth and are more compelling. In some ways the comedy in Bojack is a little more hit-or-miss, and Archer is sharper – even the animation looks a lot better – but in the end, the fact remains, I just find Bojack more entertaining. Period. So I might think Mach IV is the coolest looking character with the coolest back-story and Bronze Tiger seems like a generic fill-in with generic abilities and wears a costume that looks like a fabric golem ate a bunch of hot dogs slathered in mustard and threw up on him, but guess what? I feel more entertained by Suicide Squad. Not by a huge margin, but it’s there. I’m not Marvel, or DC. Just whatever is good. Just based on the comics I actually read, which is not all Suicide Squad or Thunderbolts, by a long shot. Also, I think it’s important to point out, and this should be obvious, but we all like different things. And that’s ok. Unless you’re an asshole teenager. Well, to be fair maybe these millennials are smarter than that. I’m just a disillusioned Gen X, so what do I know. (I think Gen X vs the Millennials actually sounds like a great title for a comic book.)

I’m racing to finish this so I can go see the movie and see if they do this fine book justice or not, so I’ll wrap up. Suicide Squad original series has very cool characters who can do very cool stuff. They kick ass and get things done. The art and writing are fantastic and show a depth to the characters that really makes you invested in them and whatever shitty fate faces them in the next story arc. Thanks to the creators, the fans, and to Justin for introducing me to a great work of fiction.

I’ve purposefully stayed away from reviews and am looking forward to a totally unbiased viewing of Suicide Squad movie. (I really just think they should’ve gone with a Marlboro Man-style Deadshot. Ahhh, ok, I’ll give Will Smith a chance.) Later guys!

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! 

-Jason Brown

All content in this article entry [except for the editor's note] written by Jason Brown. If you want to attribute any of this work, please credit Jason Brown.

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