Review: Suicide Squad Vol. 1: Give Peace a Chance trade paperback (DC Comics)


I felt there was nothing special, but nothing objectionable, in Robbie Thompson’s inaugural Suicide Squad Vol. 1: Give Peace a Chance. Thompson’s Future State: Suicide Squad story (included here) was particularly good, but to an extent it appears to have already delivered the most interesting thing this title has going for it; the build-up to that Future State story is not nearly as interesting. I have read worse Suicide Squad — grotesque, irreverent, none of which Thompson’s is — but neither did I feel much emotional attachment to the story.

[Review contains spoilers]

Thompson’s Infinite Frontier-era Suicide Squad is what we might call the first post-James Gunn Suicide Squad book. Harley Quinn, though prominent in the Gunn movie, is absent here (maybe the Squad iteration of Harley has finally been subsumed by the “dates Poison Ivy and does Bat-stuff” iteration), as is Squad stalwart Deadshot. In their place is Peacemaker — who, given that I’ve neither seen Gunn’s movie nor watched the HBO Max TV show, holds no great appeal to me — and Bloodsport. And, of course, seemingly the Conner Kent Superboy.

It’s worth mentioning that I liked Thompson’s Teen Titans issues a lot, and he’s got plenty good characterization here. I know what he’s up to with Conner, but it makes me think Thompson would do a good job writing a series with the genuine article. Between “Conner” and what is John Byrne’s original Bloodsport, Thompson shows a nice range of 1980s-1990s DC knowledge, right in my wheelhouse. Thompson’s Bloodsport is unexpectedly compelling (or at least more compelling than Peacemaker), in that Thompson gives him a unique voice and let’s him talk for a bit, and gives him motivation for his work for Squad leader Amanda Waller beyond just completing the mission.

[See the latest DC trade solicitations.]

But, on the whole, Give Peace a Chance feels uninspired. Thompson banks heavily on the audience having an outside connection to Peacemaker — otherwise his willingness to be framed by Waller and go along with her extra-legal missions in the name of making “peace” comes off ludicrous, if not the character becoming a parody outright. That’s fine for the movie and TV show — I get the sense that Gunn’s Peacemaker is meant to be a comedic, jingoistic character — but in Suicide Squad Thompson plays him straight, undercut by his inexplicable motivations. This results in a series protagonist the audience isn’t quite sure how to take and who doesn’t generate much emotion to drive the story.

That’s doubly problematic because neither does Thompson deliver anything but boilerplate Suicide Squad (with three different artists and four inkers, too). We’re treated to three issues of the Squad forcibly recruiting new members where all the characters could easily be swapped out for others; one issue that’s not even a “mission” as the team prevents a Belle Reve breakout; a Bloodsport spotlight; and then finally a “mission” to rescue Bloodsport on Earth-3. Though clearly something’s up with Thompson’s Amanda Waller, neither does Waller have them do anything beside battle their own and take care of internal problems.

That Thompson’s Waller has gone wrong in a number of ways — kidnapping heroes and imprisoning Rick Flag, to start — suggests an exterior force, mind control or the like. But there’s an awful lot of conversations here where a character disagrees with Waller and so Waller zaps them with electricity — four times over six issues, at least. Not that that’s not one of Waller’s go-to tactics, but Thompson doesn’t seem to be able to imagine anything more nuanced for Waller, not bribes nor blackmail nor anything but the same trick over and over.1

As mentioned, the real star of the book is Thompson’s included Future State: Suicide Squad issues, which featured the culmination of the nascent Suicide Squad shown here up against Earth-3’s Crime Syndicate. As such, this book has peaked before it’s started, and the main story’s most compelling part, another Earth-3 visit, still doesn’t outshine the beginning. We’ve got the “War for Earth-3” crossover coming a volume hence and maybe Suicide Squad will improve on the way, but still I wonder if Thompson can match what he’s already done. In this case, foreshadowing the future so well might have been an error.



Still, in terms of DC’s overall Infinite Frontier direction, I can’t complain that Suicide Squad Vol. 1: Give Peace a Chance seems so multiverse-ally motivated. As I said in my review of Crime Syndicate, I’ve wanted for a long time for DC to be setting stories in their Multiverse, not just using the Multiverse as an applause line, and here we go. Hopefully nowhere to go but up for Robbie Thompson’s series (ahead, as we know, of its impending cancellation).

[Includes original and variant covers, sketches]

  1. Rob Williams‘ great Suicide Squad was similarly insular and aimless like Robbie Thompson’s, but notably Williams's characters, particularly Amanda Waller, were much more compelling.  ↩

Comments ( 5 )

  1. AnonymousJune 26, 2022

    Yeah, I didn't especially have any interest in coming back to the Squad after Taylor and Redondo's run.

    I only really did so due to the Gunn film synergy and to get a sense of Thompson's writing. Everyone praises his SILK run over at Marvel and I'd been interested in checking it out.

    (Then again, I hadn't planned on coming back to the Squad after Rob Williams ended his run either. But the word of mouth and praise for Taylor's made check it out -- and I'm glad I did, otherwise I might not be reading NIGHTWING and SON OF SUPERMAN).

    Anyway, the Thompson run overall...good premise and fun tension as to whether the Future State, ah, future will come to pass or not. But I don't really feel Thompson stuck the landing with WAR FOR EARTH-3.

    Then again, maybe I'm just sick of the Multiverse given how much it's dominated DC for the last half a decade beginning with DARK NIGHTS: METAL.

    1. Appreciate the insights. I liked Taylor's Suicide Squad, too, though there's another one that was really an un-Suicide Squad take on the franchise. One of these days I'd like to get back to team/mission/doing a job, though of course with character stuff just under the surface.

    2. AnonymousJune 27, 2022

      After almost 4 years of a neo-Ostrander take from Williams, I can't really fault Taylor for going a different route with the concept.

      But given how the Thompson era ends, I'm unsure what the immediate future holds for the Squad. I don't think it's going back to the Ostrander paradigm anytime soon.

    3. Great comments. For me it's hard to top Ostrander's run.....and I have read the newer series from time to time, not really being wowed by them until I read Taylor and Redondo's take....which I thought was such a good read. I read the Future State story, and thought it was good.....but I didn't feel compelled to read this take....but I have to second the notion, that I'd like them to get back to team/mission/doing a job.....with strong characters....That would be great...

      As another commentor said........I'm also tired of the multiverse.....let's get back to storytelling in the main DCU without constant multiversal references.

    4. Though at least it's stories IN the Multiverse now, rather than just stories about the characters continually finding out the Multiverse exists.


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