Thursday, April 14, 2011

Suicide Squad Retirement Files 032-035

With Suicide Squad #40, the team is reborn and Waller sets up all new rules. No longer attached to Task Force X or the U.S. government, the Squad now can take on any contract provided the interested party can spare a million dollars. Waller is still allowed to spring convicts from jail and give them pardons, as per the original arrangement (so one might suppose missions must pass some kind of litmus test, i.e. protect the United States' interests), but there is no government oversight. The Squad is off the books, with Amanda Waller as the sole authority. There is also a shift to more Mission: Impossible-style missions from this point on, with the Squad usually dressed in civvies. As you might guess, Squad files are a lot harder to come by than they used to. WikiLeaks can't help us here... I had to go to erstwhile Squad member, Oracle. That's gonna cost me.

Access to previous Task Force X files

Subject: RavanProfile: International terrorist (recruited)
Powers: Paralyzed thuggee with implant-assisted martial arts.
Mission: Prevent Kobra from destroying Jerusalem sacred sites.
Chance of survival going in: Fair. Since the character was created for the series, Ostrander could easily write him off, especially in a story line that involved his nemesis, Kobra. However, while not necessarily a fan favorite, Ravan still had a lot of potential, especially in regards to his relationship with Bronze Tiger.
Retirement: DECEASED. Ravan was killed in singular combat with Kobra, poisoned by Kobra's staff. (Suicide Squad #47)
Final report: Though Suicide Squad volume 2 would have us believe Ravan was only incapacitated (he appears on a monitor as an active member of Rustam's new Jihad), Ravan's death was confirmed by his appearances both as one of Koshchei's zombies in #50, as a Black Lantern in Blackest Night.

Subject: Doctor Light I (again)
Profile: Classic Atom villain turned lame Teen Titans villain
Powers: Light manipulation.
Mission: Get back into the Squad. FAILED
Chance of survival going in: Fair. Bringing back a character from the dead, you'd hardly expect the writers to kill him off again within the same issue. Except we ARE talking about Dr. Light and it would be funny if he did. In fact, he does, but he is returned to life a second time for the devils to laugh at him.
Retirement: SUMMARILY DISMISSED. He asks to be reinstated, but Waller will have none of it. (Suicide Squad #52)
Final report: As mentioned in File 025, Dr. Light would go on to more or less throw off his laughable reputation by making a deal with another devil, Neron, and then be retconned as an infamous rapist. I wonder if Ostrander would have written this little comedy if he had known.

Subject: Stalnoivolk
Profile: Superhuman Russian agent
Powers: Super-strong and tough.
Mission: Destroy stolen Soviet weapons cache in Cambodia before a Yakuza clan can get its hands on it.
Chance of survival going in: Fair. As an Ostrander creation, Stalnoivolk is considered expendable because his creator can do away with him. The fall of the Soviet Union also made Soviet characters somewhat irrelevant. His chances lay in the not inaccurate presumption that he was one of Ostrander's favorites.
Retirement: RELEASED. Stalnoivolk's deal with Waller was that he could follow his own path once the mission was over. His stated goal was to go back to Moscow. (Suicide Squad #57)
Final report: Last seen fighting the Russian vampire Schrek (I kid you not), the "Steel Wolf" was never seen again, save for a flashback sequence in the the Raise the Flag mini-series years later. Difficult to place, that flashback showed him working once again with Zastrow's Red Shadows against that version of the Suicide Squad.

Subject: Vixen
Profile: Former Justice League member
Powers: Animal powers granted by sacred totem.
Mission: Prevent Kobra from destroying Jerusalem sacred sites.
Chance of survival going in: Good. Affiliation with Justice League Detroit is not necessarily conducive to survival (see Vibe and Steel I), however Vixen was one of the new JLAers at the time who already had a track record. A strong black female heroine, rare in comics, the DCU would have been weakened by her loss.
Retirement: QUIT. After failing to renew a relationship with the Bronze Tiger and having been wounded on her last mission, Vixen chose to leave the Squad at the end of her convalescence. (Suicide Squad #58)
Final report: Vixen has not been often out of work since she left the Squad, whether with the Birds of Prey, Checkmate, Justice League Task Force, the Ultramarine Corps, and until recently with the Justice League of America.

Next week, War of the Gods hits (and much of the Squad falls)!

17 comments:

Michael Hoskin said...

>while not necessarily a fan favorite

Hey, he was this fan's favourite! I enjoyed him because he was extremely honourable and yet not quite trustworthy, an interesting combination for a character.

David H. said...

ya know i actually felt a bit sorry for Ravan as he died not feeling like his life's goal to kill Kobra remained left him "unfulfilled". that was one of the best show downs ever in the pages of the Suicide Squad. the banter between the two enemies during the fight served well to heighten the suspense. i think Ravan was a character destined to be offed at some point but he made for some memorable moments.
speaking of fights in the SS i would have really liked to have seen how that one between Stalnoviok and Schreck in Cambodia turned out. especially with all those Khmere Rouge troops bearing down on them. aside from that i think it's really interesting what DC has done over the years with the Dr. Light character. how ironic i just had a posting on the Suicide Squad blog late last week about sexual offenders.

Siskoid said...

Interesting? I think it's ridiculous, out of character and tasteless. A low point.

Aliera said...

How much is Oracle charging you?
Tsc Tsc.
There is no respect for the freedom of press.
The fase of the "free" SS was one of my favorites. It's a pity, that it didn't last long.

David H. said...

"interesting" used here is pretty open ended. going from somewhat of a goof ball character to rapist is quite a jump i'll agree. but didn't follow the progression of the character closely during those years so i'm not best qualified to make any final conclusions on the matter.
however, if you read my posting last week on the SS blog my feelings on sex offenders of all kinds are quite clear. as to Dr. Light, only the writers know what that move was all about. perhaps a posting on the matter to see how your followers weigh in would be in order some where in the near future?

De said...

DC editorial had already been going the route of continually pushing the boundaries of taste (see also the callous murders of Alexandra DeWitt and Adam Grant, to name but two). What Brad Meltzer wrote was fully endorsed by them and a former staffer alleges that an editor shouted in glee when the art came in for that disgusting sequence.

Siskoid said...

Yes, no post in the offing as I like to talk about it (or think about it) as little as possible.

The rape of Sue Dibny was retroactively inserted, so it's not a progression into the role. These Suicide Squad issues occur well AFTER that rape. And now Light is prancing around making rape comments to every superheroine he meets. It's truly stupid, unrealistic and misogynistic.

That page from Identity Crisis (which I did not read but saw on the webs later) makes me sick to my stomach. Just awful. I'm not saying rape cannot be used in a story, I'm saying this instance (and the Dr. light characterization that ensued) was not well done, nor was it appropriate for all-ages-to-teen characters.

Matthew Turnage said...

I agree with you 100%, Siskoid.

As much as I love DC's characters (and many of their current writers, generally) I've been disappointed at the crude and ridiculously gory direction they've gone in the last decade. Identity Crisis seemed like the tipping point.

I really don't know what they're doing to determine what content is appropriate any more. All the GL books are rated for Teen audiences, and the current content deserves that rating (although it seems you'd want at least one GL book anyone could read...). Last night, I read the latest issue of Superman. You'd think that Superman should always be all ages friendly, and I thought this issue was. Yet, the label said Teens.

Does anyone there have a clear vision of what content is appropriate for each character and how accurate label their books?

Sorry to get on my soapbox for a second there. I really need to address these concerns to DC editorial, I guess.

Siskoid said...

And I've seen other blogs address it (Snell, for example, is always good for calling the Big Boys out on stuff like this, though I may be thinking of something I've read on Everyday is Wednesday).

I think All Ages is only ever on "Johnny DC" books like Tiny Titans, so all the superhero books are Teen, whether they contain gore and T&A or not (I can't bring myself to call it more mature content because it's actually more juvenile).

The Squad is a good counter-example. The book's focus on moral ambiguity and cold war/terrorism politics was "more adult", while even with the expectation of characters getting killed, the book wasn't dealing in the kind of shock horror that is now commonplace. Manticore could get beat up by Duchess with his own ripped-off tail and it was still tastefully done (it's incredible how much taste is added by putting things in shadow).

David H. said...

it's a pity they don't have a letters sections in the back of comics any more. those were basically what the comment sections are on blog postings. the controversy of the Dr. Light character among readers (understandably so) is new news to me. hard to believe less then two years ago i didn't even really know what blogging was or that all this stuff was all over the internet.

Siskoid said...

Actually, letters pages are back in all DC Comics and selected Marvels.

David H. said...

well there's something else i didn't know i'm glad to have found out. perhaps someday the writers of DC will redeem themselves somewhat and arrange an encounter between Catman from the Secret Six and Dr. Light. Catman has demonstrated that he has some very worth while advice for how to deal with people like Dr. Light. for anyone out there who's interested:
http://suicidesquadtaskforcex.blogspot.com/2011/04/proper-disposal-of-pedophile-101-with.html
FYI Siskoid, i have an off topic question for you via email.

Robert said...

I remember Dr. Light being not only competent but dangerous, or at least as dangerous as any villain in a book where the heroes will always win. Then Marv Wolfman got a hold of him.

Anonymous said...

Ravan hadone of the best deadsof the Squad.

can anyone tellmeif Oracle was born in the Squad? Or did she appear before as the superheroes superhacker?

Identity Crisis had good things, but not how they handled the rape issue.

Roger

Siskoid said...

Yep, Oracle began her hacking career in the pages of the Suicide Squad. One of the best and most enduring things about the series, really.

Jay Polychronopolas said...

I'd like to make a good point in regards to what DC writers have done with the Dr. Light character. I'm not a shrink but sexual assault as I understand it often has to do more with having power then sex it's self per se. So it's really not that much of a stretch to believe that even a criminal buffoon suffering from low self esteem like Light would eventually pop and resort to sexual assault. A guy with a criminal mind set and /or who feels like a failure along with having been emasculated to boot certainly has many of the markings of a sexual predator.
For decades now the comic biz has been trying to be more edgy and contemporary. Indeed it doesn't get more controversial then the issue of sex abuse. But then again, having mainstream characters portrayed as zombies who rip out people's hearts or eat them alive in vivid detail is pretty graphic stuff too for potential young readers. I'm not saying for a certainty that DC should have taken Light into that direction but i think the case cane be argued it too. After all, art imitates life. And life is anything but PG rated much of the time.

Siskoid said...

Nope, still don't buy it. Read stories where he's portrayed that way. They are tasteless, don't fit the era in which they supposedly take place, and are tonally wrong for 4-color superhero comics. Every time he now appears, he openly threatens to rape someone. It's a big, disgusting joke, which actual rape never is.

Like I said, you can do a good story about rape or in which rape is involved or threatened. Dr. Light, the Satellite era JLA, etc. was not the right place for it and it damaged a whole lot of characters, what with the brainwashing debacle that ensued. And now Dr. Light is just a one-note parody of a serial rapist BUT ALSO APPEARING in Tiny Titans on occasion (where such a character, as he was, should)? No thanks.