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Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Suicide Squad: The Dragon's Horde (Superhero) (Graphic Novel)

by John Ostrander (Author), Geof Isherwood (Illustrator) 
Publisher: DC Comics (December 12, 2017)
Softcover, 232 pages

Collecting issues 50 (a double sized issue) - 58 of the original series from the 1980s. Actually, most of these issues travel into the 90s when comic books started to go bad. The degradation occurred mostly due to the rise of Image comics, which suddenly took a large chunk of the market with substandard material made by renegade creators from Marvel. They hit with an impact and it rippled across the industry. Comics with intelligence were out. What was needed was guys with large muscles constantly beating the crap out of each other- not plot or characters. Ultimately, Image lived up to its name- it was all image with no substance, but not before significant damage was done and great comics like these were canceled. It was around this time that I quit collecting comics for most of the decade.

Suicide Squad wasn’t entirely cancelled yet, however. This is merely the penultimate book leading up to the concluding story. Once again, the squad is sucked into various missions taking place all across the world. I will say this about the title, it really gave you a sense of worldwide geo-politics in a superhero world. Most of the follow up titles all seemed so American-centric, as if no other places existed on Earth, or that they wouldn’t have their own squads.

The main story of this collection, “The Dragon’s Horde”, takes place all over the map from Afghanistan, to Japan, to Cambodia, to America. At the tail end of Russian-occupied Afghanistan, a general betrays his own troops and smuggles thousands of weapons to a cache in Cambodia with a plan to sell them onto the Yakuza. Sounds like a spy novel. Essentially it is, only with superhero teams for the Russian, Japanese and our dear old Suicide Squad added into the mix.  Intelligent, violent, and all sorts of fun.
Book-ending the main tale are a few shorts. The double sized issue takes a look back at the original two iterations of the Suicide Squad from the 50s and 60s.  Following that is a solo issue dealing with Deadshot and his psychosis. A further one focuses on the deceased Dr. Light and his return to this side of the river Styx - easily the weakest of the stories.
The last issue in this volume is part of the forgettable D.C. crossover event for 1991, War of the Gods. It spanned twenty five issues across different titles like Dr. Fate, Wonder Woman, Starman, Animal Man, Hawk and Dove, The Demon, etc. ad nauseam. In this storyline, after the Amazons announced themselves to the world, Circe has been lurking behind the scenes watching Diana's every move. Circe is responsible for a series of brutal murders where various artifacts of power have been stolen. The Amazons are framed for these crimes and public hysteria is whipped up against them. Not that great. The big event results in nothing permanent happening in the DC universe. Presented only in single issues, a slice of a much larger pie, it was forgettable. I found myself rushing through it, so as to get back to stories actually important to the title.
For more readings, try books by Rex Hurst. 

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