May 24, 2022

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Noteworthy Issues: Suicide Squad #2 (April, 2021)

Peacemaker has to fight his way out of Arkham Asylum before Batman shows up.

Amanda Waller, in the first issue of the current Suicide Squad series, said she was tired of losing and wanted to build her own Justice League.  Rick Flagg was knocked out and locked up when he objected.

What does Peacemaker get out of all this?

Issue:  Suicide Squad #2, April 2021

Writer:  Robbie Thompson

Artists:  Eduardo Pansica and Julio Ferreira

The Plot:  Peacemaker and Talon are trapped in Arkham Asylum, surrounded by guards, with Joker gas creeping through the building, and Batman is on his way.

Commentary:  I don’t think it’s too big a secret why Peacemaker is on this team.  He’s in the most recent movie, as delightfully played by John Cena, and there he’s some sort of largely dim-witted guy who just follows orders, at least in the movie.  In his TV series, he’s still pretty dim-witted, but he’s also more conscientious and haunted by his past than he let on in the movie.  It’s a credit to Cena that he made that guy likeable at all.  But yeah, it would make sense to put one of the break-out characters of that movie into the most recent comic book series.

Of course, this Peacemaker is very different from that Peacemaker.  Robbie Thompson, unlike James Gunn, is not playing this Squad even remotely for laughs.  Instead, this is a fairly serious story as Peacemaker is here, in part, because he believes Amanda Waller set him up somehow.  Yes, this Peacemaker doesn’t see the harm in lethal force in the name of peace, but that doesn’t make him a happy warrior for whatever Waller is doing.  Of the Squad sent into Arkham to retrieve Talon, he’s the only one left.  Dozens of guards are headed their way.  Joker gas is seeping through the building and killed half the dead members of the Squad anyway.  Oh, and Batman is bound to be there at any minute.  If Batman catches the Squad on the premises, Waller’s plans are probably       going to be dashed.  She wants her own League, and while the issue never explicitly says so, Talon is probably her choice for the “Batman” role.  After all, she had already acquired a “Superman” in what looks like Connor Kent’s Superboy.

Regardless, this Peacemaker may not be completely on board with whatever Waller is doing, but he’s still doing the best he can to see the mission through.  A lot of guards attacking the pair does mean Talon will at least fight them instead of him, and Peacemaker is apparently good enough in a scrap to hold his own with Talon.  He’s also perhaps not afraid to die, at least on his own terms, as he makes it clear he’d rather let his head explode with the brain bomb than let the Joker gas get him.

However, Waller wants Talon at least alive, and she does send the rest of the Squad to come get them, including Superboy, and he seems more inclined to get guards to safety before either the rest of the Squad or the Joker gas kills them.  That actually means Waller has to assert whatever she has in Superboy to control him, but Waller is clearly planning ahead here.  She knows Batman will show up, and part of the plan is making sure Batman has no evidence of what happened.  At least, there shouldn’t be enough evidence to indicate Task Force X (or Z perhaps in this case) came through.  That level of planning makes for a better read, and even though a few more members of the Squad die in this issue, the survivors aren’t hard to guess at:  they were the ones who got more of the spotlight for this issue.

As it is, Waller already has her eyes set on another recruit, and if she doesn’t mind a mission that cost her the lives of a half dozen or so members of her Squad already, she may be reaching a level of ruthlessness that even past incarnations of Waller never quite made.  I’m intrigued so far, so I am curious how far she’ll go at this rate.

Grade:  B+

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