Thursday, September 20, 2007

Occasional Reviews: Booster Gold #2 & Suicide Squad #1

Blasts From The Past: Occasional Reviews tackles DC's Booster Gold #2 & Suicide Squad: Raise The Flag #1!

Booster Gold #2
Writer: Geoff Johns

Artists: Dan Jurgens & Norm Rapmund

Reading Booster Gold, I'm reminded of something I heard regarding Stan Lee's The Last Fantastic Four Story. Basically, you have to put Booster in context in order for it to "work."

Booster Gold the comic book, like the character, is caught in a time-warp. Say, circa 1991.

This is essentially a DC comic from the late 80s, early 90s. It has more talk than action, art that serves the story rather than the other way around, and a certain whiff of quaint naivete that most of today's comics don't have anymore.

The above is not meant to be an indictment on Booster Gold. There were a lot of enjoyable DC Comics in 1991.

Now, you might remember Guy Gardner as being particularly over-used in this era. So obviously he must make an appearance in Booster Gold #2.

It's all in here: a pre-Green Lantern Guy Gardner drinking his sorrows at the pub, feeling like a failure. Guy mistaking Booster for a homosexual who wants to pick him up. The warm fuzzy ending where Guy decides, "You know what? I don't think I'll be a dick today."

And Sinestro. Of course.

The book is not rocket science, but it's goofy & fun. And while Dan Jurgens's art may seem "dated" to the post-Image Comics crowd, it is professional and sharp and just tells the damn story. And just telling the damn story is a plus for me.

Suicide Squad: Raise The Flag #1
Writer: John Ostrander

Artists: Javi Pina and Robin Riggs

A good comic book you shouldn't have to make any excuses for. It should read good and smooth and be a seamless, enjoyable experience.

Suicide Squad: Raise The Flag is one of the best books DC has out right now. Sure, we can add All-Star Superman and such to the mix and quibble over which book is really the best. But I'm putting my money behind Suicide Squad.

If you remember that classic 80s/90s series at all and loved it as much as I did -- well, you won't be disappointed.

And if you've never heard of the book at all or just remember that short-lived revival a few years back -- Suicide Squad is pretty much like Thunderbolts. Villains pressed into service to assist a dubious American government. Substitute Songbird for Bronze Tiger and Penance for Deadshot and you're good to go.

Ostrander is one of the great comic book writers -- solid storytelling with a good sense of the craft. You don't have to have a running history of old Suicide Squad lore or the latest "Countdown" to enjoy this book.

Javi Pina & Robin Riggs provide fresh, clear, detailed art that looks great. And I never quite realized before how much of his own style & stamp Riggs had lent to his inking work until I admired it in this book.

I have two quibbles with Suicide Squad. First, the continuity, in relation to the rest of what's going on with the DCU right now, is a little uncertain. An editorial note says that this story takes place before Salvation Run. Also, Captain Boomerang is on the mission, and I'm pretty sure he's dead now. The fact that this book was in the pipeline & stalled from even when I was at working at the company probably explains that. And really, it is better off for it.

Second, while I like cover artist John K. Snyder's work, his art is too washed-out on this cover, the reds and yellows overpowering the inks. This leads to a weak cover image, which I'm pretty sure is going to effect sales on what is an otherwise awesome issue.

And there is one more reason to pick up Suicide Squad: Raise the Flag:


  1. Possibly my favorite bit of BG # 2 was Booster undoing all the advice he'd given Gardner just by giving it to him, and Booster being kinda sorta responsible for the Corps being gutted at the moment.

    Okay, so two favorite bits.

    And Suicide Squad was great fun. Anybody who invents a super awesome secret Nazi base and then blows it up three pages later wins my vote.

  2. Wow, thanks Val! Email me your snail mail address so I can send you a free autographed copy of #2.

  3. I am really enjoying the Booster Gold series; I'm predicting a BG versus Doomsday arc at some point. Just a guess, but it is my precioussss guessss.

    As to Suicide Squad, I was a big "eh." on that. The classic Suicide Squad? Was great. No quibbles with that. I was just left bored as hell by this issue, though. I get my Wall in Checkmate, & I'm happy to do so.

  4. There's no significant problem, continuity wise, apart from the horribly compressed timeline, since this whole issue is a flashback. When Flag showed up in Checkmate, Waller remarked that Flag had survived Jotunheim and Skataris (which is where he probably is at the close of Raise the Flag #1, given his playmate).

    The Jotunheim mission took place "two years" ago, and the mission we see in Raise the Flag is "six months" after his apparent death in Jotunheim. You'll notice that Oracle is at Belle Reve, in her Amy Beddoes disguise, so that places it post-Waller's release from prison (this is the only real problem, because Waller was supposed to have been in jail for a year before her release for "The Phoenix Gambit") and before the disbanding of the Squad at the close of their series. Boomerang was, of course, still alive at that point.

    You may now proceed to mock me for being able to remember these things.

  5. That's some wicked continuity-fu you got there, T.

  6. I'm a big Suicide Squad fan, as you probably can tell - except for the Giffen version. I'd snap up a Showcase of the 1960s B&B Suicide Squad in a flash if they came up with it.

    To those who've never read Suicide Squad, I describe it as The Dirty Dozen meets Mission: Impossible meets superpowers — an impossible mission, an intricate plan, the inevitable cock-up, the hasty improvisation, and the bitter taste of ashes. That's your typical Squad walk in the park ("I got one fled, one dead, one in a hospital bed," as Waller put it once).

    To my mind, only two, possibly three people, can write the Squad properly. Ostrander, of course. The others are D. Curtis Johnson (Chase was the closest we got to having the Squad back, for a while) and the possibly is Greg Rucka, even if I didn't like the idea of bringing back Flag initially.

    So I'm really jazzed the Ostrander is back in the hizzouse. So jazzed that I don't even care that I just used the word "hizzouse". I really hope people pick it up, and the eventual Showcase TPB. To have the Squad back on a regular basis, as a counterpoint to Checkmate, would just make my fanboy day.

  7. Ah, Booster Gold. How I love thee, continuity porn that I don't need to have the minutiae of DC canon memorized to enjoy.

    And you're right, darn it. Comics should be fun, and BG is where the fun is.

    I enjoyed Suicide Squad a whole lot too. Then again, Ostrander gets an automatic "pass" from me, so, my opinion is probably not much worth there...

  8. Bah. My continuity-fu sucks — that's not Oracle, that's Flo Crawley (miscolored). The Iran mission they're talking about is from Suicide Squad #32, but the rest more or less fits: Deadshot was in Arkham at the time and Nightshade had taken a leave of absence after Flag had "died". But Murph wasn't a big black guy, so that's an art mistake.

    Someone also pointed out that when Zastrow and Stalnoivolk show up in SS #37, they have a mad-on for the Squad, which SS:RTF #1 might go some way to explaining. Which is kinda cool.

    I'll get my coat.

  9. Maybe I should read it again. I loved the Suicide Squad, though at first I felt guilty buying it because the concept just seemed too dark and I was young and always felt like I was succumbing to evil.

    But I read this Suicide Squad and it just didn't grab me. I was looking for a strong complement to CHECKMATE and didn't get it. I think I have another couple issues already ordered, so we'll see...
    but the portrayal of Waller especially turned me off.

  10. The only thing for me to hold onto in Suicide Squad was the promise of Rick Flag. That's it.

  11. I was thinking Murph was a white dude.

    Man, the Squad was some good comics.