Suicide Squad Vol. 1: The Black Vault by Rob Williams, Philip Tan, Jason Fabok, Ivan Reis and Gary Frank (graphic novel review).

As far as I can recall, there have been at least three versions of the ‘Suicide Squad’. One set of soldiers in WW2 somewhere in the late 60s and the super-villain team ran by Amanda Waller in the 1980s, although I only read its introduction in the ‘Justice League’. The ‘DC Universe Rebirth’ of the 2010s is a second variation of that because I do recall Captain Boomerang being killed off before. Getting criminals to do the dirty jobs goes back to the 1967 film ‘The Dirty Dozen’ into TV with the likes of ‘Garrison’s Gorillas’ (1967) and ‘It Takes A Thief’ (1968-70). The original ‘Suicide Squad’ owing a lot to ‘The Dirty Dozen’.

The tales here are taken from ‘Suicide Squad: Rebirth’ and Suicide Squad # 1-4 from 2014.

Amanda Waller has to explain to President Obama on his discovery of the Suicide Squad’ existing why Task Force X, its official name is out there. Waller’s explanation of keeping the Justice League’s hands clean and a need for a dirty tricks expendable team comes over well. Each member also has a bomb implanted in their skulls in case they don’t do as they are told, although looking at the action here, there is also a broad perimeter as to what they are allowed to do to complete their missions. Considering how much they are attacked, you do have to wonder why these bombs have never gone off.

Obama relents providing they have a good squadron leader whom Waller offers off is accredited war hero Colonel Rick Flagg, son of the father who ran the WW2 Suicide Squad. What she doesn’t tell Obama is Flagg has currently locked up for insubordination and not obeying an order to send his military unit into battle, where consequently they died. There is some parallel to a 1965 film called ‘The Hill’ in that regard.

Waller gets him released but not adding a bomb to his head as far as I can see to lead her team. The latest mission is to get a dangerous artefact from a Russian deep underwater prison base and then find its guarded by the soviet equivalent to them, the Annihilation Squad. The artefact is Kryptonian and you do have to wonder why it isn’t in the Fortress of Solitude. Also one of its prisoners has zod out.

The Harley Quinn of this team doesn’t look much like the version I’ve been reading in those six graphic novels I’ve been reviewing in recent months but she’s definitely more psychotic. If you know your DC Comics, then you should recognise the people on the cover a little even if some of their costumes have had some make-overs.

The end part of the book recounts three of the origins up to this point and no doubt more to follow. After that, a very healthy collection of alternative covers for Suicide Squad # 1 which makes buying the original issues a bit redundant if you completing the set. This is followed by pages of the original pencils for some of the issues.

You do have to wonder how the Suicide Squad stays below the Justice League’s radar because they do tend to get involved in events that must surely catch their attention. Yes, they do the dirty jobs but you do have to wonder why the likes of Batman with his super-computers and the Man Of Steel himself aren’t investigating the violence action they must have happened around the world. More so as three of them were on Batman’s radar because they escape imprisonment so much. I mean, if this was a proper super-villain action, then they would be in like a shot.

In many respects, ‘Suicide Squad’ covers the current comicbook requirement of more action than social activity, although I doubt if you would see them all sharing bar-time yet. There’s enough clues laid down that will make you want to look up the next volume and I’m curious to see what happened next.

GF Willmetts

February 2021

(pub: DC Comics, 2017. 160 page graphic novel softcover. Price: I pulled my copy for about £ 7.00 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-40126-981-4)

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