SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for "Suicide Squad" #2, on sale now.
Over the years, DC Comics' Suicide Squad has gained a reputation for three things: being composed primarily of villains, going up against extremely dangerous foes, and having a high body count. Rob Williams, Jim Lee and Ivan Reis are determined to prove that's still true in the Rebirth era, so in "Suicide Squad" #2, the team gets more than they bargained for with a surprise A-list villain -- and the death of one of their own.
Out of the Frying Pan...
Williams and Lee clearly relish having a series of cliffhangers that connect one issue of "Suicide Squad" to the next. After leaving the team spiraling to their death in the Arctic Ocean in the final pages of Issue #1, the first several pages here focus on how they manage to survive this brush with near-death. In it, Williams redefines why Boomerang is more than just a guy throwing hand-projectiles at people, greatly amplifying his abilities -- he's able to aim a massive rocket so that it arcs back around (like his namesake) and hit its goal. In many ways, he's presented as DC's answer to Bullseye, only one who requires his weapons to travel in large parabolas rather than go directly to their target.
Along those lines, there's a great backup story in "Suicide Squad" #2 where Boomerang recounts his own origin, one involving a villain named Drop Bear, a massive supervillain base inside a hollowed-out Uluru, and Boomerang as an Australian James Bond (no, not George Lazenby) able to get the girl and stop the bad guy. Williams and Ivan Reis give us a deliberately over the top, slightly deranged version of the world that ends on a grim note as Amanda Waller tells us just how fanciful Boomerang's story is, and how pathetic Boomerang's true origin story is. It simultaneously makes you sad for good old Digger Harkness, even as you're reminded what a warped version of the world Boomerang lives in.
Williams and Lee are using the depiction of Killer Croc that we previously saw in "Gotham Academy," a version of the character who could be dangerous one moment but willing to help those in need a second later. This version of Croc, who had secretly watched over Olive Silverlock and tried to protect her at Gotham Academy, goes out of his way to save the half of the Squad that would have otherwise frozen and/or drowned, and who takes great offense at being called an alien, even in jest. It's a version of the character that has strong story potential; the gentle giant is a strong archetype, but one that can prove deadly when situations warrant them.
"Suicide Squad" #2 also continues the previous issue's love of Harley Quinn, giving her most of the smart lines in the issue. It's hard to not laugh when Croc hurls Harley and Katana through the air, and Harley's response is to yell, "Yay! Flight powers activated!" With an almost heroic pose thanks to Lee and Scott Williams, it's uplifting and grin-worthy. At the same time, Williams doesn't lose sight of the fact that Harley isn't all laughs and silliness; she's portrayed as someone dangerous (but not as psychopathic as we had five years ago when the New 52 first placed her in the 2011 "Suicide Squad" series), who isn't afraid to take down the troops shooting at her. We also get a nasty little edge when Williams introduces Hack, a computer-talking character who worships Harley Quinn enough to mimic her own look after Harley. Harley's slightly dismissive response to Hack is drawn in a way by Lee that makes you want to warn Hack to watch her back.
...Into the Phantom Zone
The issue introduces several new characters and situations to keep the stakes high. Stateside, Williams and Lee give us Harcourt, a young woman in a leather jacket over a mesh top (hardly work attire) who's sent from the NSA to deliver mission intel to Amanda Waller. With the friction that immediately arises between the two, Harcourt's clearly being set up as an adversary for Waller, one that might be gunning for control of the Suicide Squad. For the moment, she doesn't seem that menacing, but this appearance is clearly only an opening gambit.
More important is the cosmic artifact the Squad's been aiming for in its first two issues. Activated by the presence of humans (it's been hermetically sealed away from human contact), it's a big, purple sphere with voices and shapes inside. It's only when new ally Hack is able to access the data that we learn just how dangerous the sphere is; it's a link to the Phantom Zone, and who's the most famous bad guy trapped inside the Phantom Zone? That's right. Kneel before Zod.
General Zod first appeared in the New 52 with an origin story in 2013's "Action Comics" #23.2, depicting him as a character who survived in the Kryptonian wilderness as a child and, after becoming an adult, manipulated his people into war on an alien species simply for the glory of battle. It wasn't until "Superman/Wonder Woman" half a year later that we finally saw the modern day General Zod break free of the Phantom Zone, having used Doomsday as a projectile to break the boundaries between dimensions. Depicted as a cruel murderer wanting to conquer all, he managed to hurl Superman and Wonder Woman into a nuclear reactor before becoming trapped once more in the Phantom Zone with his route between the worlds shattered.
Here, Williams and Lee are clearly following up on that storyline, or at least acknowledging its existence. Zod has the same look and outfit as before; a large burly Kryptonian with dark hair and a beard, wearing armor and a cape. Whatever the sphere is composed of, it's solid enough for Zod to literally tear it apart, bursting out of the Phantom Zone and back onto Earth.
Oh, and as part of that process? A blast of energy that appears to vaporize all but Boomerang's feet. Turns out when Rick Flag says, "Get away from that thing!" it's more than just a suggestion. With the Squad down a member (and while no death in comics is ever a certainty, it will be rather difficult for Williams to wiggle Boomerang out of this predicament) and one of the top five most dangerous villains of the DC Universe staring them down...
Well, we did say that Williams and Lee clearly love to end issues on a cliffhanger. This looks fairly bad for our not-quite-heroes (although since Hack has already teleported the characters once, it's not out of the realm of possibility that they can at least temporarily escape), and even worse for the rest of the DC Universe. Good luck, Suicide Squad, you're clearly going to need more than you had on hand up until now.