Suicide Squad #10 serves as an epilogue to Justice League vs Suicide Squad, and while this issue appears to be what you would expect initially, trust me when I tell you it’s not. “The Cost” isn’t so much about the consequences of Justice League vs Suicide Squad, but about the consequences of Amanda Waller’s actions over the past few years… and it’s one big family affair.
One of my favorite writers, Joss Whedon, was once asked something along the lines of, “How do you follow up a big, dire story? How do you make the sequel feel bigger?” to which he replied, “You make it personal.” That’s exactly what Williams did here, and it’s what he’s been doing throughout his entire run on Suicide Squad. Considering the “grandness” of Justice League vs Suicide Squad (in terms of the threat effecting the entire world… not the execution), taking an entire issue to focus on how one single person is effected in the aftermath is brilliant.
If you’ve read the final issue of Justice League vs Suicide Squad, then you know that Amanda Waller is at fault for everything. Literally everything. I could go into my thoughts about that, but this isn’t a review of that title, and Brian already did a fine job reviewing that book here. What Williams delivers, is an example of how these consequences go beyond Waller’s job and mission. This issue deals with how the events that unfolded impact Waller’s home.
As we learned in the previous issue, Rustam served as a general for Waller for quite some time, and as far as we can tell, he wasn’t a villain. All things considered, Rustam’s role aligned more with Flag or Katana’s role, rather than a villain that presents an opportunity. We also know that Waller did away with Rustam when she attempted her first Suicide Squad, because he became collateral damage when the first mission went south. It’s unclear how close Rustam was to Waller, how long he served her, and even the extent of their relationship, but the one thing that is made clear here, is that he knows Waller well and wants revenge.
Much like the event itself, this chapter of Suicide Squad serves as a bridge for upcoming arcs and stories. I’m certain the overall consequences of Justice League vs Suicide Squad will eventually come back to haunt Waller, but the more immediate threat is Rustam – who makes his purpose known by taking out most of a military facility housing nukes, just to leave a picture of Waller’s kids – a clear threat on their life. Yes, you read that correctly… Waller’s kids.
Known for taking an offensive approach in most instances, Waller surprisingly falls back in a defensive manner to apprehend and protect her children. Doing so is much more difficult than she expects though – not in terms of execution, but emotion. There’s tension between the mother and children, and what initiates as an act of love, turns into an unexpected confrontation. Waller can lie and manipulate the Squad, as well as her enemies, but the real question is if she can do it with her kids. Where does “The Wall” end, and where does Amanda Waller begin? More importantly, what is Rustam’s goal, and how far will he go to make it happen?
The Art: Giuseppe Cafaro covered art duties for this issue, and I rather enjoyed his work! He captures emotions and action quite well, and while the technical details may not meet the standard of Jim Lee, Cafaro manages to bring his own flare and identity to his art. Knowing that Lee is stepping down, I wish that Cafaro were taking his place because I would much prefer him over Romita.
Breakdowns for this issue can be found in the spoiler tag.
A family affair. I will always feel endeared to a hero or anti-hero when their personal lives are explored, and as characters, they are made more human. That’s exactly what happens with Waller in this issue. We are so used to seeing the cold, calculated Amanda Waller, that seeing a vulnerable, genuinely compassionate side of her is appreciated. It adds more depth to her as a character. I also enjoyed that Williams is rehashing Amanda’s original backstory from previous continuity concerning her personal life, and I hope it is explored further over the course of time.
Respect. In line with the reveal of Amanda’s family, I love the squad’s reaction to each moment between the family. In the end, there’s no shock or corniness, but instead a respect. When the “family reunion” starts heading south, the Squad respectfully gives Waller her space, and in some ways sympathize with her… well… except for Boomer. But we would expect nothing less from him.
Rustam. In the previous issue of Suicide Squad, I mentioned that Rustam showed a lot of promise as a character, and I hoped he wasn’t going to be buried in the Justice League vs Suicide Squad event. It should come as no surprise that Williams is the writer who has utilized Rustam the best, did so again here, and will assumingly continue to do so in future arcs. What intrigues me the most though, is that he knows so much about Waller: how she operates, what’s important to her, and how to get under her skin. I’d be willing to bet he knows more about here than the rest of the squad, and that alone makes him dangerous. The sheer fact that he issued an empty threat on her children just so she would reveal her true nature to them was a brilliant move on his part, and a sign that he’s more than just a weapon.
What did you do? Amanda’s son doesn’t waste any time in correctly throwing blame on his mother. While I have issues with the details of Amanda’s absence (more on that in a bit), I thoroughly enjoyed that her children knew what she did for a living… to a degree. The realization that she’s working with criminals, using them, manipulating them… That’s a large part of what bothers them. On top of that, realizing that Rustam is after them because of what his mother has done, is gold. The potential of future stories is exciting.
The drama. Despite the surprise of revealing Amanda Waller’s children – and subsequently, the lack of surprise that they can’t stand their mother – the drama was a bit much. I wish the whole, “we haven’t seen you for two years” bit had been left out because it made the entire encounter melodramatic and somewhat unbelievable. As crooked as Amanda Waller is, you can’t deny that she’s a smart woman. There’s no way she would expect anything other than a confrontation if she had abandoned her kids for two years. I just don’t buy her shock when they’re upset with her. I’m not saying that she should be a good mother, or would be a good mother because I know she would put her work first, but a two year lapse in not seeing your children is a bit excessive… especially when your husband, and two of your other kids are dead. Days at a time? Sure. A few months here and there? Maybe. But never two years. At some point, Amanda has to hold on to something humane, and all she really has left are her kids.
This issue and the emotion found within it is impactful, so I don’t want to take that away from the work Williams provided, but I feel as though it would have been much stronger had the drama and tension between Amanda and her children strictly been from the fact that they simply didn’t support her use of villains and killers rather than the tired, “You don’t care! You’re never around!” spill.
- You’re a fan of Rustam.
- You want to delve into Waller’s personal life a little further.
- The reveal of Waller’s kids has you thinking, “Say whaaaaat?”
Overall: One key factor that has led to Williams’ success with Suicide Squad, is balance. He manages to balance everything beautifully – the action, characters, plot progression… Every aspect of this title is thought out, and executed well. With roughly ten characters to juggle, and multiple, big, high-action, plots (including an “event”), he somehow manages to keep his narrative grounded. Unlike many writers and stories being published at the moment, Williams has a long-term vision, and it shows. I’ll be a happy man if he continues with the title for the next few years. Suicide Squad needs that kind of direction, and more importantly, it deserves it.