This review contains spoilers for Suicide Squad #49.
Flag’s thumb rapidly traces the detonator’s trigger with feverish indignation. In spite of the accused’s protests, all of the evidence points to his untimely ruin at the behest of Amanda Waller. As Flag contemplates his options, a group of enemies known only as the Vets seeks to unleash a deadly infection from deep within the Temho Meyta Prison. Will the Suicide Squad be able to stop the fire-breathing baddies, or will the entire world be consumed by flames?
“Uh, you missed a meeting, pal. We’re the bad guys. We don’t do the saving.”
With Suicide Squad #49 being the penultimate issue for the current volume of the series, Rob Williams faces a daunting task. Not only will he need to advance the “Squad on Trial” storyline in a meaningful way, but also wrap up nearly 50 issues of narrative threads. Williams expertly balances these tasks by revisiting the beginning of his run on the title while grounding the story in entertaining Squad drama.
Two of my favorite elements of Rob Williams’ run on Suicide Squad are his understanding of each Suicide Squad member and the use of character interactions to drive story forward. As a result, the conflict between Rick Flag and Amanda Waller underscores his understanding of the characters and embraces what makes the title work. The quick manner in which Rick accepts that Amanda Waller not only ordered his men to their deaths but also kept him isolated in prison as a means of manipulation illustrates the negative effects that this woman has had on her subordinates.
One of the best elements of this story arc is the method in which Williams has returned to the beginning of his run. By infusing Flag’s introduction to the team with political drama he adds depth through showing his undying loyalty to his team. Additionally, making The Vets Rick Flag’s revenge-seeking former teammates only adds to the issue’s drama. Through all of this, Williams is able to provide the perfect bookend to the title as character moments receive the appropriate payoff.
Additionally, characters like Harley Quinn and Killer Croc steal the scenes that they are in with well written dialogue and emotional character moments. When Harley Quinn attempts to leave the prison after learning about the deadly infection and return to her role as the “Quinnpin of Crime,” Williams illustrates just how quickly she can revert back to her acts of self-preservation when under duress. (Bonus points should be given here for the use of the trademark symbol by her self-proclaimed title. This had me grinning as I read the sentence.) One of the best choices Williams makes is to show her character progression. Although it takes some coercion on the part of Cosmonut (a “gentle” head-butt with his freaking hammer head and the reveal of a long thought dead villain), Harley agrees to help with an, “Aw crap.”
Additionally, Killer Croc’s willingness to sacrifice himself in order to save his “family” reflects character growth over the course of the run. Initially, it would be hard to imagine any of these characters genuinely sacrificing themselves to save the lives of their teammates. However, Croc’s justification that these villains are all he has left after Enchantress’s death helps give the sacrifice some meaning.
“…I mean… You’re Amanda Waller. The chess master, Right? The Queen of Spies.”
Although Amanda Waller is the leader of Task Force X, she could hardly be considered one of their allies as she manipulates the villains to suit her needs with the threat of immediate cranial explosion. In fact, she could honestly be considered one of their greatest enemies. I love the idea of Waller being infected with this fiery energy because it will allow the Suicide Squad an opportunity to finally square off against their master manipulator. I think this is a great direction for the final battle as it may finally give each member a chance to deliver the comeuppance she deserves.
“I’ve had enough of this %$#&!”
Diogenes Neves does a good job illustrating the action and conversations within Suicide Squad #49. At times, some of the changes in eye shape can be a little distracting. However,the art here is much better than the previous issue as none of the characters’ eyes appear to be popping out of their head.
Suicide Squad #49 is a great continuation of the “Squad on Trial” story arc that advances the storyline in a meaningful way while also wrapping up nearly 50 issues of plot. Williams accomplishes this by revisiting the beginning of his run on the title while grounding the story in entertaining character interactions. Although the art does a good job conveying the story, sometimes the characters’ eyes can be distracting.