SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for "Suicide Squad: Rebirth" #1, on sale now.
With the "Suicide Squad" film's debut mere days away, it's a perfect time for DC Comics' release of "Suicide Squad: Rebirth" #1, launching the new series starring the team of villains sent in to do the truly dirty work. Along those lines, Rob Williams, Philip Tan, and company are trimming down the Squad line-up, as well as introducing a character who's not only in the film, but also was an important member of the early incarnations of the Suicide Squad.
Raise the Flag
In pre-Flashpoint continuity, Colonel Rick Flag Jr. was best known as the leader of the first two years of the '80s "Suicide Squad" series that spun out of "Legends." John Ostrander and Luke McDonnell introduced readers to Flag as someone who (at first) came across as the voice of sanity; working for the U.S. Government, his job was to keep the criminal element of the Suicide Squad in line and funnel them towards achieving their goals, no matter what the mission. But of course, nothing was ever quite that simple when it comes to Task Force X.
Flag was actually a member of the Silver Age version of the Suicide Squad, debuting all the way back in "Brave and the Bold" #25 in 1959. In the intervening time, he'd gone on a mission that went terribly awry, with half of his team going MIA as a result. By the time he took over the '80s Suicide Squad, he was still the quintessence of a controlled military man on the surface, but inside, he was an unstable wreck. Having his ex-girlfriend (and former original Squad member) serving as support staff probably didn't help, but over the course of his original 26 issues, Rick Flag went from cool and decisive to a distinct liability for the team, flying off the handle and going on missions of his own choosing.
Up Against The Wall
The other members of the Suicide Squad we meet in the Rebirth one-shot have been part of this incarnation of the team over the past five years, with some minor tweaks applied. Amanda Waller remains the no-nonsense overall director of the Squad, though it's worth noting that after years of her being redesigned to looking a bit more slender to presumably match Angela Bassett's depiction of the character in the 2011 "Green Lantern" movie, this latest incarnation is more solid, like we'd seen before. She's still as manipulative as ever, though, preying on both Flag's guilt and his sense of justice to successfully goad him into joining the Squad. She's always been someone to be extremely careful and cautious of no matter who's written her, and this looks to be no exception.
Deadshot, Harley Quinn and Boomerang have all stuck around from the previous version of the Squad, and with all of them also members of the team in the film, as well as Deadshot and Boomerang's memberships stretching back to the '80s, their presence on the team makes perfect sense. Boomerang's depicted here as the worst of the three; there's no sign of any sort of moral code within him whatsoever, and his methods used to try and stop their enemies from gaining the upper hand are truly vicious and bloody, even for a "Suicide Squad" comic.
Deadshot is still the most dangerous of the three, with an uncanny aim that never misses, but he's also portrayed as someone completely cold and lacking any real emotion. Boomerang may be more bloody, but he's also got the explosive personality to go alongside it.
Harley Quinn feels slightly toned down, but in a good way. She's still got some funny dialogue and at times is reveling in the destruction around her, but at other moments seems to almost regret what's happening. It makes her a more attractive character from a reader's standpoint; she's a little crazy, but not overly so, and without being over-the-top psychotic. It allows readers to enjoy her one-liners that much more, while still making her feel like she's very much a part of the team.
With images of two other characters from the film on the cover (Katana and Killer Croc), it's obvious that this is hardly the complete lineup for the new "Suicide Squad" series. As a core team, though, it feels like a smart choice. If nothing else, it's great to have Rick Flag back in the DC Universe. Here's hoping he can keep his head attached to his shoulders -- both physically and mentally -- a little longer this time around.
"Suicide Squad: Rebirth" #1, by Rob Williams and Philip Tan is on sale now.