Monday, December 26, 2016

Justice League vs. Suicide Squad #1

This series promises to have the best fuckfights in the history of the DCU.

I just glanced at a Starbucks napkin I'm using to wipe my runny nose (not because I'm sick but because I sneezed recently and have been too lazy to blow my nose. I was busy Photoshopping a bed onto the cover of this comic book!) and realized Starbucks is as old as me. That might be a boring way to begin this commentary but the other way I was thinking about beginning it was too depressing. You see, while many people have complained that 2016 has been a terrible year because of the heartbreak caused by the people who have died (ignoring the political disaster because can't I just ignore that? Please?), I have felt nothing. I knew when David Bowie died that I should feel something but I didn't. I just don't have that thing inside of me that other people have where they feel intimately tied to an artist. Love, I guess? Empathy? Compassion? Probably all of those. It's sort of the same blank void that exists in the space of my memory where the suicide of Kurt Cobain lies. I wouldn't have thought it was a big deal if not for seeing news reports of terribly sad people all over the country. But as 2016 went on, I began to feel something. Or the lack of something, really. Everybody was getting angrier and angrier at this year due to the celebrities dying and none of it made a blip on my emotional radar. In 2016, I began to realize that maybe something inside of me truly was broken and all of my cynical, self-deprecating posts about my inability to love weren't cynical at all. Because none of the tragedies of 2016 have meant anything to me. And yet George Michael dying on Christmas Day can't be anything less than our 2016 Christmas Carol moment when the Ghost of Christmas-Yet-To-Come points at Scrooge's grave to warn every one of us, without any subtlety at all or fucks to give, that if we don't change our ways, this will be the last Christmas for everybody. But if I'm the Scrooge in this Christmas Carol, I'm completely unperturbed and unaffected. I'm buying the fattest goose in the market for myself because, as I pointed out, I still feel nothing. And so if 2016 has been a terrible year for everybody else in one way, it was also terrible for me in another. This was the year I became completely disconnected from everybody else. It is the year I realized my apathy is all I, apparently, have left. Happy Boxing Day!

This issue makes a huge statement by beginning in Death Valley. See how it has death in the name? Ominous! It also has valley in the name which is less ominous, being just a low lying depression which — let's face it — if all you've got by the end of this year is a "valley," you're doing all right! The first panel also uses a quote from John Steinbeck: "Power does not corrupt. Fear corrupts...perhaps the fear of a loss of power." I've probably said it before so I won't say it again.

No wait. That's a stupid thing to write! I'll just repeat myself for clarity's sake: John Steinbeck is this country's greatest writer and it's a fucking shameful catastrophe that he's overshadowed by hacks like F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway and that jerk who wrote Moby Dick! I mean, maybe some of those previous guys weren't hacks. But isn't that the way to debate? I have to lie about the other side to prop up my argument? Not that John Steinbeck needs any propping up! Just go fucking read some of his books. I won't even recommend a specific book because you can pick up any of them and it will be the greatest book you've ever read. Sure, I have other books by other authors that I generally rank better than any Steinbeck book. But that's just a polling error! Sure, I fucking love and adore Catch-22 possibly more than any of Steinbeck's novels. But what else is Heller fucking offering me after that? Something Happened?! Get the fuck out of here with your bullshit, Heller! If you want a book you'll love which will lead to dozens of other books you'll also love, read Kurt Vonnegut. I mean, John Steinbeck! I mean, I guess Kurt Vonnegut will do in a pinch as well. But, while every one of Vonnegut's books is entertaining, they're like puddles of piss lying next to Steinbeck's Mona Lisas. That was a terrible analogy to make and now I'm ashamed of everything I've ever written.

I will say it's a smart move on Williamson's part to stick that Steinbeck quote in there early. Now this book has that kind of pretentious swagger that makes me start off thinking it can't be too bad, no matter how boring I usually find Williamson's writing!

Underneath Death Valley, a secret man with mind control powers (Max Lord, of course! I guess it isn't so secret since he was in that spoilery double page pull-out wall poster monstrosity of an advert) is breaking into a more secret prison.

This is a better idea than Liefeld's idea of Lobo being held in a regular old prison in Colorado.

For a super secret prison with probably the best security ever, they sure dropped the ball on protecting it against villains with mind control powers. I suppose just like every other security measure ever invented, the prison is simply about the illusion of keeping people safe from the worst cosmic threats to Earth's populace. Everybody knows no safety measure can be one hundred percent guaranteed to keep people safe so why even bother making those measures with a fifty percent guarantee? Or even a twenty-five percent guarantee? Just name the place the Catacombs, bury it in Death Valley, and try not to tell too many people about it's existence. Then find a nearby Roman with a bowl of water and wash your hands. Project done!

Max and his Monsters walk off into the sunset because he forgot to bring the pale horses or a car. Then there's a double splash page of the name of the comic book which just seems like DC trying too hard to remind everybody that this is a fucking blockbuster movie of a comic book, bitches!

After that is another double splash page of the Suicide Squad killing people on a beach while Harley screams something suitably "crazy trite" which just seems like DC trying even harder to remind everybody that this is a fucking blockbuster movie of a comic book! I didn't add the "bitches" this time because I'm trying to be more sensitive to the people who hate that word even though it's the perfect tagline of a word for when you want to not just say a sentence but stab somebody in the face with it.

The Suicide Squad's mission is to stop the Brimstone Brotherhood from destroying the island of Badhnisia with a stolen Quake Pulsar from STAR Labs. Nothing in that statement explains why this is a job for the Suicide Squad. It's more a job for the Justice League! Oh, maybe this is how they'll come into contact, right? Although that still doesn't explain why the Suicide Squad has been sent on this mission. There must be some kind of diplomatic entanglement that could ensue if pro-American superhero forces get involved. Although who is left on Earth who doesn't recognize the Suicide Squad at this point? Doesn't everybody just shake their heads and think, "Fucking United States. Getting around international law yet again by pretending to have nothing to do with this violent action!" Then they probably chuckle at how silly America is and how powerless they are to stop them.

Oh, there's the explanation! Although sending in the Suicide Squad would also draw attention to it, I would think. This was one Waller should have left to the Justice League entirely. Why wouldn't they stop the destruction of an island nation? Just leave a message on the Bat-Answering Machine.

The Justice League will need to get involved at some point, being that the title of this comic book mentions them a bit. So they'll probably arrive and blame the Squad for some kind of international terrorism. Or Batman will notice that Amanda Waller downvoted one of his comments on Reddit which will drive him to finally bringing up the Suicide Squad problem to the Justice League.

The scene on the beach gives new readers a quick overview of the Suicide Squad by punctuating their names with lame quips to flesh out their one-dimensional personalities. It also gives readers an opportunity to see that Captain Boomerang loves to harass the women on the team. I'm not sure if that's his personality or if Williamson just thinks all Australians are like that? It's okay to reduce Australians to stereotypes because it's basically just a country of white males. I mean, if you ignore the people who lived their before the white males arrived. And I think Australian women fit snugly under the category of "white male."

Having a new member, Killer Frost, in the scene also allows Harley to explain how the Suicide Squad are forced to do Amanda's work due to the bombs in their heads. And now that that's all set up and everybody is on board with what the Suicide Squad is, how it functions, and who its members are, it's time for the Justice League!

I haven't read Batman's "I Am Suicide" story arc yet but to sum it up, it sounds like Amanda Waller downvoted one of Batman's comments on Reddit. Batman worked with her and the team to get something he wanted. But when he discovered Amanda broke into the Batcave and went through his shit, that was when he decided she needed to be punished. What better way than convincing the other members of the Justice League that she and her organization are exactly the kind of thing they should be fighting? Nobody really questions Batman's statement about working with her. I seriously doubt anybody questions Batman on anything anymore.

So basically the premise of this book will be that the Justice League tries to stop the Suicide Squad because they're bad. But then they realize they need to team up with the Suicide Squad because Max Lord's Super Suicide Squad is even worse. Afterward, the Justice League will realize the Suicide Squad has a place and maybe they're less bad and more of a gray area which the heroes can simply pretend doesn't exist. They won't like it but they won't deny the efficacy of Waller's program.

Cyborg interrupts Batman to say, "Speak of the devil!" He then points everybody to a monitor showing the current violence on Badhnisia. Time for the first huge fuckfight of the series!

Back on the island, Deadshot shoots Apex, the leader of the Brimstone Brotherhood, in the head and ends the mission. But not before Apex used the Quake Pulsar enough to cause structural damage all over the island. The building Deadshot was shooting from begins to collapse.

Finally! An actual suicide in a Suicide Squad comic book!


Just so everybody knows I'm not a complete and utter fool like it says in my future Wikipedia page, I typed up the code for the second image and the "Dammit" caption before turning the page and while scanning the image of Deadshot killing himself. Because we all knew what was going to happen there, amirite?

The rest of the Justice League save the innocent people who most people would have saved before saving Deadshot but Superman is special in that way that makes most people think, "I can't stand that fucking idiot."

Batman confronts the Suicide Squad and says, "What if we hadn't been here to stop that building from collapsing?" Whoa, whoa, whoa! That isn't on Deadshot or the rest of the Squad! That's on STAR Labs for not immediately reporting the stolen Quake Pulsar to the Justice League so that maybe they could stop this disaster from happening! What the fuck is going on at STAR Labs? Who the fuck is in charge of the dangerous earthquake devices that maybe STAR Labs shouldn't be creating in the first place? Maybe fire people who aren't ready to accept responsibility for their errors instead of pretending that the Quake Pulsar wasn't stolen at all and just covertly calling up one of their friends at Task Force X to see if they could resolve the problem on the DL?

Lame is an ableist term, you disgusting piece of human garbage that should immediately be thrown out of the Justice League and never given any kind of opportunity at a life again without the constant reminder that you once used an ableist term!

Waller commands Deadshot to not let the Justice League take them alive. I don't think Batman is going to be too happy about that. I hope the last panel of this entire series is just a silent panel of Bruce Wayne, Max Lord, and Amanda Waller enjoying appetizers at a Karaoke Bar in Gotham City.

The first major fuckfight begins and here are the double page spread match-ups and their probably results:

Wonder Woman vs Harley Quinn: Harley unconscious in one second. She may be smart and athletic but she's not super fast, super strong, super invulnerable, or super hot. I mean, okay, maybe these two match up well there.
Deadshot vs Batman: Batman wins on both the physicality of the encounter and the quips.
Captain Boomerang vs The Flash: Captain Boomerang wins because The Flash stops to say, "Missed me!", before remembering that boomerangs come back.
Simon Baz vs El Diablo: Simon Baz might not be the best Green Lantern but he's still a fucking Green Lantern. Simon Baz encloses El Diablo in an airtight bubble and extinguishes his flame.
Superman vs Enchantress: Enchantress uses magic and Superman doesn't hit women. He's fucked.
Jessica Cruz and Cyborg vs Killer Frost: I don't think this match-up matters. I think it was just the "Who do we have left?" match-up.
Aquaman vs Killer Croc: Oh, who cares?

Meanwhile, Max Lord is briefing his new team while his nose bleeds. I think that means he's controlling them with his mental powers so that they don't instantly kill him. His new team is composed of the Emerald Empress (who is in the 21st Century for who knows what reasons), Doctor Polaris (who appeared in Futures End which was in the future so, um, again...why is he here now?), Johnny Sorrow (who was like on a whole other world or something, wasn't he?! What is going on?!), Lobo (who isn't a twat anymore so at least that's good news even if everything is super confusing), and Rustam (who I can't remember if he's made an appearance since The New 52 began. I just searched my Blogger for "Rustam" and came up with nothing, so I guess he's still angry at Amanda Waller and the Suicide Squad from the Preboot universe). Apparently Max Lord thinks all of these villains will work for him because they hate Amanda Waller so much. Do they? I hope that's explained at some point! Anyway, Max Lord thinks he's going to save the world with this crew. I guess in Max's mind, "saving the world" and "destroying all humanity" are the same thing. He apparently doesn't understand that what people mean when they say "Save the world" or "Save the planet" is that they want to ensure a world where humans can continue to live well. He's taking the statement way too literally, I think!

The Ranking!
So far, so good! I like it in the way I like my comic books. It's sort of stupid with many of its premises but Lobo is in it.

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