“Suicide Squad” #8 has two stories in its pages, and appropriately, two different goals. It needs to wrap up “Going Sane,” as General Zod and the Captain Boomerang virus threaten to destroy everyone in Belle Reve, while also kicking off the upcoming “Justice League vs. Suicide Squad” event.
When the dust settles, the Squad has two members on its roster that weren’t present in the previous issue. And, more importantly, we’re getting a new look at an old friend who’s bound for glory in the months ahead.
“I’m Not Dead Yet!”
An early death in this latest incarnation of the Suicide Squad was mainstay Captain Boomerang, incinerated by General Zod upon his escape from the Phantom Zone. But as we learned at the end of the last issue, the initial cause of all of the insanity breaking out in Belle Reve prison was none other than Boomerang himself, somehow a digital “ghost in the machine,” causing all of the systems in the prison to go hopelessly haywire. In doing so, the Black Vault — the mysterious sphere that also acts as a gateway to the Phantom Zone — has caused everyone to act on their basest urges.
With newest member Hack able to free Boomerang’s digital form from the Belle Reve power grid (and in the process giving him a new body, leaving Boomerang free to appear in future storylines), General Zod is quickly neutralized under red sun lamps, and characters revert to their normal selves. But in the process, we get some intriguing glimpses into the relationships and personalities of a few of the members. The flirtation between Croc and June hit a passionate peak under the influence of the Black Vault; Croc wasn’t trying to kill June at the end of the previous issue, but rather hoping to finally get a little physical with her. Croc’s protectiveness of June is at an all-time high now, even as his distaste for her other side as the Enchantress has grown. This could result in some pretty bad conflicts down the line if Croc will actively resist June letting the Enchantress out, particularly if it’s the only way out of a deadly situation.
Harley Quinn’s brief journey into sanity throughout this storyline had a tragic undertone, as her regained stability was the only thing that could help rally the team, even as restoring the power and neutralizing the Black Vault also meant losing that sanity once more. It’s an interesting twist on the character, though; with so many other characters having violence being their basest urge, Harley’s desire to be restored to her old self was the overriding, hidden side to her personality. It’s a kinder, gentler depiction of Harley Quinn that goes well with the “fourth pillar of DC Comics” status that she’s been dubbed in recent years. If nothing else, Harley’s sacrifice may have not only saved the team, but presumably this will also stop Amanda Waller’s plans of using General Zod as a member of the Squad. The fact that he almost killed every person in the prison will hopefully be a bit of a deterrant.
Cold as Ice
In the backup feature, the newest recruit to the Squad is brought to Belle Reve, a character with a new-found following thanks to “The Flash” television series: Killer Frost. Over the years there have been three different characters with the same villain name and modus operandi; Crystal Frost, Louise Lincoln, and the current rendition of the character, Caitlin Snow. All of them have been connected to Firestorm in some way, a perpetual craving for warmth and heat that the character absorbs even as cold is generated around her.
This version of the character was a S.T.A.R. Labs scientist who, attacked by H.I.V.E. agents in an Arctic base, was transformed into a heat-absorbing being as part of her attempt to survive. When she absorbs heat, she can then manipulate cold, ice, and snow, although amazingly large blasts of heat striking her (most notably from Firestorm) will temporarily transform her back into a normal, human body. This version of Killer Frost has seemed a bit more likable right from the start; a good person who was turned into someone driven by meta-human biology, she can’t control her need for warmth, rather than someone who attacks people for the sake of being evil. Along those lines, writer Rob Williams plays up that softer side, with an inner monologue that shows her fear even as she tries to play up her Killer Frost name and be a bit of an ice queen.
Here, we see a new face of Caitlin’s powers as she’s brought through Belle Reve to meet Amanda Waller; the ability to empathically sense the “coldness” in people’s souls. She seems a little chilled (so to speak) by Deadshot and the Enchantress when it comes to the different members of the Squad, and the most intrigued by the fire-wielding El Diablo. It’s when she meets Amanda Waller, though, that Caitlin senses the coldest heart of all; a reminder to readers that the Wall is the deadliest member of the team, and hopefully this is a signal that we’ll see Amanda in the driver’s seat more than ever in the upcoming months.
Of course, with Killer Frost on tap to be part of 2017’s new “Justice League of America” team — it will be launched directly from the crossover that this is the prelude to — we can definitely expect a little more heat in Caitlin Snow’s future. Even when not being played by actress Danielle Panabaker, she’s one cool cucumber. Readers are going to be warming up to the queen of cold in the months ahead.