Review by Frank Plowright
DC’s reprinting of the late 1980s to early 1990s Suicide Squad material concludes with The Final Mission. For fans of Suicide Squad’s unrestrained later iterations, the work of John Ostrander, Kim Yale and Geof Isherwood may seem a little, well, restrained, but what the content lacks in outright gore is compensated for by strong plots. This is a slam bang finish all the way over two four chapter stories.
A new version of the Atom was introduced during The Dragon’s Hoard, while Ray Palmer, the original article, is believed dead. His former Justice League colleagues want some answers, while Batman has already had a couple of run-ins with the Squad and doesn’t like the way Amanda Waller operates. That’s the focus of the opening story, but raising it above the standard material of the times are the clever little touches Ostrander and Yale include, an example being the novel way Count Vertigo is seemingly cured of his depression. It might seem they’ve overcrowded the plot by not just featuring the JLA and Suicide Squad, but a group of super powered terrorists and a full complement of Israeli superheroes. Everyone has a part to play, but it is crowded, and the Squad members themselves have reduced roles in a story that resolves just what happened to Palmer. Revelations are kept close while deception and twists are thrown in. The slimy Captain Boomerang is as great as usual, now fearing for his life, and can even Waller keep wild sadism of Cliff Carmichael under control? Every chapter ending’s a shocker, and the conclusion lives up to that.
While Ostrander and Yale are a quality act, their story doesn’t play to the artistic strengths of Geof Isherwood. He’s good enough with the civilian scenes, but as soon as the costumes are introduced his bodies distort into weird poses and his sound judgement regarding layouts becomes flawed. That’s an even bigger problem for the second story with the Squad back in costume.
The reason for that is another good plot from Ostrander and Yale. Just as American gangsters once controlled Cuba, they introduce the island of Diabloverde where the super villains are in control, claiming to be the Suicide Squad. Into that situation the writers weave conclusions to several plots they’ve run in previous stories. There isn’t the room to finish every subplot, but the twists are exceptionally well dropped in, and in all the years since you won’t have seen another series ending like this one.
For all the villains and the entertainment they provide, the heart and soul of the Suicide Squad is Waller, and she’s given some great lines and some great moments. Her importance to the series in any subsequent incarnation underlines what a great character Ostrander defined. Suicide Squad doesn’t lack for strong characters and her sheer forceful spirit has kept them all in line, be they New God, psychotic assassin or even Batman. This is a very under-rated series.