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Thursday, February 6, 2020

Suicide Squad: The Phoenix Gambit (Superhero) (Graphic Novel)

By Tom Ostrander (Author), Kim Yale (Illustrator), & Geoff Isherwood (Illustrator)

 Publisher: DC Comics (May 23, 2017)

Softcover, 236 pages

Collecting issues 40 - 49 of the original Suicide Squad series from the 1980s - or really the early 90s by the time these issues first came out. This volume epitomizes the old style of comic writer from the new one. The old style ones, such as John Ostrander, John Byrne and Chris Claremont, spent more time creating new ideas and characters then in destroying them. Sure they might alter a character in a life changing way or occasionally even kill one, but for every concept they destroyed they added at least five new ideas. These new ones are like vampires. All they do is kill old characters and feed off the ideas of the past.

This volume expands on the world of espionage and meta-humans, combining the two with deftness and skill. As ridiculous as superheroes are, this book reasonably absorbs the idea into the intelligence world, demonstrating how things would look and play out if they were embraced by the intelligence community. As we see in this volume, the idea has spread worldwide with nearly every secret service and country having their own sponsored meta-human operatives. The ones introduced here are the teams for Israel, Egypt, and the Soviet Union (this was first printed during the Cold War).

Three stories collide in this volume. It picks up a year after the previous book, with Amanda Waller in prison. She is quickly offered a pardon and reforms the Suicide Squad to tackle an international situation. The squad now is completely autonomous from the United States government and Taskforce X, allowing them to take jobs with any foreign power or entity who can meet their price.
They begin in fictitious Vlatvia, where Count Vertigo is being used to front a popular uprising against the communist dictatorship and some undercover Russian metahumans. In this case it is who is really using who, with backstabs and double crosses. No one seems to be there to actually seize power but to play some bizarre pantomime for back home. After that comes a single shot issue dealing with Captain Boomerang’s backstory. Then onto Israel, where Kobra is attempting - again - to bring in the Age of Chaos by blowing up a sacred monument. Finally, we hit the streets of Gotham, sans Batman, where a newly created Thinker is attempting to stalk and kill Oracle. Loads of fun. 
      For more readings, try books by Rex Hurst. 

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