In this chapter of Suicide Squad, we get silly, fun action with a giant, red, dinosaur-alien. To quote the great Samuel L. Jackson from Jurassic Park, “Hold on to your butts.”
After an attempt to assassinate Amanda Waller fails, the Squad begins investigating Argent – a covert government agency that appears to be defunct. The investigation requires the Squad to break off into two teams, with one team flying to space and the other team checking out an abandoned airfield. Then to sum all of this up, the last two pages of each issue contains a backup story, “King For A Day” to help tie the history and elements of the current story together. Essentially, you’re getting three stories in one, but they’ve all been of varying quality each issue.
Most of the focus for “The Secret History of Task Force X” features the team that travels to space. Their mission has brought them face-to-face with Rick Flag Sr., who was a member of Task Force X during his youth. Flag informs the Squad of an imminent threat called the Red Wave that needs to be stopped, and the team to agrees to assist. Harley, Katana, Croc, and Boomerang all turn into the best little space rangers a guy could ask for, but something about Flag seems off – and no, it has nothing to do with Harley awkwardly making sexual advances towards him in a previous issue. The last chapter proved these instincts to be true when it was revealed that Flag is being controlled by the Red Wave, and that his goal is to actually free the creature, not destroy it.
With the Red Wave loose, the Squad must do whatever they can to stop the beast before it kills them or turns them to enact its will. There’s a decent amount of action and suspense that any reader should find entertaining if that’s what you’re looking for. Each of the characters is allowed a moment to shine, but the playout feels natural rather than forced – a testament to Williams’ ability as a writer. It should come as no surprise that Boomerang delivers my favorite moment of the issue, and as expected, it’s a humorous one.
Red Wave also creates an interesting antagonist for the team as well. For one, it’s a brute force of power, but it’s ability to infect humans and control their minds adds an entirely separate threat. It’s the latter that I find the most interesting, although, the Red Wave’s abilities aren’t explained in great depth and that leaves me with questions pertaining to how people become infected, and why everyone isn’t getting infected.
The “B-Team” doesn’t receive much face time in this chapter, but there’s literally nothing for them to do. Enchantress uses her powers to fly a plane… and that’s about it. Waller does discover some information concerning Argent and the Red Wave, and that appears as though it will play out in the next chapter.
Meanwhile, the back-up continues to be the story I wish I was getting more of. At two pages, there’s never enough narrative to really sink your teeth into, but the impact Williams is able to make with these pages is pretty spectacular. The story follows King Faraday, his history with Argent and Task Force X, and provides insight into how Flag Sr. and team got into their current predicament. More importantly, this issue covers the details of what happened to Faraday himself, and it’s the most exciting part of the book.
When you break everything down, this is a solid chapter. There’s nothing wholeheartedly bad or great here, but it is a satisfying read – especially if you’ve been following Suicide Squad since Rebirth. Just know going into this that you’re dealing with a giant space monster. If you like cheesy fun such as this, then you probably won’t have many complaints. If you fall more towards the direction of simple, street-level stories, then “The Secret History of Task Force X” probably isn’t the story for you.
The Art: Phillipe Briones delivers art for the main story, and does a respectable job. His pencils are clean, and along with Adriano Lucas colors, he delivers a vibrant book that matches the tone of Williams’ script. In fact, I’d say that one of Briones’ strengths, is his ability to capture a range of emotions quite well. From intense action, to silly humor, to emotional despair, each element is executed with near perfection. If I have one complaint, it’s that his pencils are a little inconsistent at times, but I fully place the blame on the double-ship schedule.
In the back-up, Wilfredo Torres serves more outstanding art! From the tones he uses in his colors, to the stylization that is unique and easily identifiable… I want more. I want more “King For A Day,” and I want more of Torres’ art in other DC books… Perhaps a Gotham Central series?
Breakdowns for this issue can be found in the spoiler tag.
Boomerang, Triumpha- Oh… Nevermind. If there’s one character that Williams writes incredibly well, it’s Boomerang! In this instance, Boomer steps in to be the heroic figure, saves Harley’s life, gets a zinger of a line about keeping your space helmet on, and right as it looks like he’s about to deliver a badass moment… he gets crippled by his brain bomb! I literally laughed out loud.
Warning. The only interesting thing to come from Waller and team in this issue, is a warning that Waller finds scribbled in blood. The warning itself isn’t very interesting, but the assumption that Faraday wrote the warning is. It’s even more interesting once you learn Faraday’s outcome in “King For A Day.”
Steve Trevor. Hey! Would you look at that! The not-crazy Flag Is floating in the Phantom Zone! He’ll get to come back in time to stop his evil grandfather!
Faraday. From the art to the story, “King For A Day” has been a pleasure to read, and I wish we could have gotten more of this story. There’s so much that has gone on in between each of the parts, and it’s turning out the be the better story – both in quality of the execution and intrigue of the plot. I really enjoyed the brief, yet complicated, relationship Faraday has with Karen, despite Karen’s love for Flag. Seriously, it’s some good stuff, and there’s so much substance within roughly one page of story.
We also learn how Faraday dies… And that only makes me curious as to his role in the present day. Clearly, someone had to have left the warning for Waller, and Faraday seems like the most obvious answer. If this is the case, one has to wonder why the effects of the Red Wave monster are so different for him than for the others who get infected.
Red Hulk Croc. Hey, look at that… Killer Croc went all Red Hulk… Hmm. The moment I discovered that Red Wave could infect people and turn them to enact his will, I knew that at least one Squad member would turn. It was as sure to happen as the sun is to rise, and Croc was the obvious choice because he hasn’t had any purpose in this arc. It’s not a terrible moment, just cliché and predictable.
Red Wave’s Abilities. Red Wave’s abilities need to be sorted out. Apparently, Flag has been infected this entire time, we just didn’t know it. But now that we do know he’s infected, he’s turned into this gray, dino-human type creature. I just don’t understand why his appearance changed. The same could be said about Killer Croc. He turns red after he’s infected… So why is Flag gray, and Kroc is red? Beyond that, why doesn’t any of the other infected people’s appearance change? These feel like artistic decisions to make the issue look cool/different. The problem is that it doesn’t come off as cool when there’s no consistency or explanation. I also have to question why some people are getting infected, but others aren’t. Again, no consistency, and no explanation.
- You liked the idea of the Suicide Squad in space.
- “King For A Day”
- You’re a completist and have been with Suicide Squad since Rebirth.
Overall: Suicide Squad #30 is a cheesy, but fun, action-packed romp about space. Whether you like this story or not will mostly depend on whether you like the idea of the Suicide Squad in space. I’m not the biggest fan of this concept, but even I have to admit there’s plenty of entertainment to be had here.