Review by From the Booth‘s own KEN
After reading the DC New 52 version of the Suicide Squad, I was hooked. Unfortunately the second trade doesn’t come out for a few months so I decided to pick up some pre-reboot stuff. Still not familiar with the larger DC Universe or the pre-reboot Squad, Suicide Squad: From the Ashes seemed like a good choice since it was an 8 issue miniseries.
It’s fairly surprising that the creative team on this book is made up of virtual unknowns even though it’s not a flagship book. John Ostander is a new-to-me writer having previously written Star Wars: Legacy and Grimjack (whatever the hell that is). Javi Pina doesn’t even seem to have a bibliography on DC’s main website. [Editor's Note: Let's not tell Ken that John Ostrander is the creator of the modern Suicide Squad and the Amanda Waller character. Just point and giggle when you see him. -Dave]
The book opens with Rick Flag Jr. making a one man assault on Dinosaur Island. Seemingly killed in an explosive blast, Flag is taken captive and the Suicide Squad is shelved until his rescue, several years later. Upon his return, a new team is assembled including his now-superhuman former commanding officer, General Wade Eiling. Of course Deadshot is on hand to act as a sort of non-commissioned officer along with Blackguard, Bronze Tiger, Count Vertigo, Multiplex, two generations of Captain Boomerang and several others. After some initial building of the team, the squad is deployed to Dubai to stop a global conglomerate from selling a plague to the highest bidder.
This miniseries was not at all what I expected it to be. It takes place concurrently with Salvation Run and an important arc of Checkmate. The first four books read like a Wikipedia synopsis to those not fully immersed in the universe. In one issue Amanda Waller is suddenly the White Queen of Checkmate with little explanation. By the next issue, she’s lost that position also without explanation. You get the headlines, but none of the texture that would make you care about the characters. The last four books actually tell a very good action story but the first four are a slog.
I can’t tell if this fractured narrative is the fault of the writer not being able to summarize the outside story well enough or if it just wasn’t possible given the source material. I’m willing to believe it was probably the latter since the last four issues were really exciting. The art is good throughout and I’d like to see Pina get some more work in the industry. This is probably a pass for casual readers who will probably find the New 52 more interesting (review here).