Review by Frank Plowright
The original premise of Suicide Squad was that jailed super villains were sent on covert missions, the success of which could see remission of their sentence. The other side of the coin was these missions being so dangerous the chances of them returning were always slim. John Ostrander’s plots are so diverting that they largely drawn attention away from the core cast, be they costumed or supporting civilians, surviving mission after mission unscathed. That changes with Apokalips Now, which shifts the entire foundation of the series.
Duchess joined the Suicide Squad in Rogues, an Amazonian woman with a gung-ho attitude and appropriate strength. Ostrander’s already pretty well confirmed who she is in The Janus Directive, but her colleagues are unaware. They find out. The cover shows Lashina of the Female Furies leading the Suicide Squad to the terrifying planet of Apokolips, where a life is worth less than a crumb to Darkseid and his ruling elite. For the human members making the Apokolips journey it’s a horrific experience, and equally so for some of those with super powers, and it provides several fine moments, not least the opening sequence of Duchess recruiting the team she wants. There’s also Amanda Waller facing off against Granny Goodness, a great moment for Doctor Light, good use of Poison Ivy, and some real tugs at the heartstrings. Ostrander collaborates with Kim Yale, and the writing is first rate.
What prevents this from ranking far higher is the unimaginative art of John K. Snyder III (sample page). He’s very design led, and frequently prioritises the look of a page and its constituent panels over telling the story. Time and again this results in a succession of single images, some very striking, but they’re not sequential. The episodes drawn by original series artist Luke McDonnell are very welcome.
A number of more introspective spotlight chapters are also very good, and not just restricted to the costumed cast. We learn of Waller’s upbringing, Bronze Tiger undergoes a psychological examination, both Oracle and the pie thrower are revealed, and Ostrander is as good as ever at switching from hilarity to tragedy. Were the art better, this content would be a first rate, character based action thriller.
Apokolips Now draws the first incarnation of Ostrander’s Suicide Squad to an end in a surprising fashion as previous sins come home to roost. He takes the brave step of jumping a year forward for The Phoenix Gambit.