Wednesday, 27 June 2007

I could spend all day giving you reasons why I loved John Ostrander's Suicide Squad series. Instead I'll spend one second and give you one - it's fricking awesome.

It's a story of incarcerated super-villains forced to carry out dangerous and controversial black-ops missions for the government in return for time off their sentences. It's got a rotating cast of third-stringer bad guys who, when they aren't sniping at each other, they're getting killed or having their arms blown off. What's not to love?

The one thing I never warmed up to about the Suicide Squad was Colonel Rick Flag. He's the field leader of the Squad, appointed by head honcho Amanda Waller, a tough military man to keep the others in line. What he really is though is a moody, moany jerk with a stick up his ass. Put on a team alongside such raving, drooling psychopaths as Deadshot and Count Vertigo just emphasised his distinct lack of cool.

That is until Suicide Squad #26.

By the time this issue comes around Flag has left the Squad (yayyy!) but he's been floating about in the background doing evil deeds that he thinks will make life easier for the Squad. His helpful attempt to kill a US Senator who was blackmailing Waller does more harm than good. So the Colonel decides he needs a grand gesture to show the Squad how much he cares (awwwww).

'I know' he thinks 'I'll break into the Jihad's mountain headquarters and blow the shit out of them all with a nuclear bomb'. Hallmark just don't make a card that tugs the heart-strings quite the same way as annihilating your loved ones enemies in a nuclear firestorm.

After 26 issues all it took to make Flag cool was a suicide mission of apocalyptic espionage. If only he'd thought of it sooner.

Suddenly Flag is all super-cool spy-guy. He sneaks into the Jihad's mountain stronghold with a grappling hook like James Bond, knifing guards left right and centre like Rambo, dressed in a fetching black leotard like a ballet dancer:
That's nineteen guards and not one uniform that fits. Damn you carbs!


Flag primes the bomb and is about to make his getaway when the fiery sword wielding, leader of the Jihad, Rustam stumbles across him while on his morning constitutional. Flag can't risk failing his mission by letting Rustam diffuse the bomb before it blows - so he does the only thing he can...

..he punches Rustam's teeth down his throat while the countdown ticks away:That's just goood stuff. The tension during the fight just jumps off the page and throttles you. It's stuff like this that proves that John Ostrander is a master craftsman - one of the most under-rated writers in the industry.

After calling him mean names since issue 1, Ostrander has somehow managed to get us rooting for Rick Flag! We're cheering him on as he whips out his knife and tries to gut Rustam. We're celebrating when he gets the upper hand. We're ordering the balloons for the victory party as he's about to land the final blow and then.......oh well, at least we've still got Captain Boomerang.
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