I swore to myself when I saw I was being hit with a double Suicide Squad week that I would save the best for last, and review issue #8 before this annual. Unfortunately, I can’t do that, because someone made the decision that the annual should directly continue and expand on issue #6 so much that reading issue #7 is basically jumping into a new story.

Can you tell this book is my personal hell yet?

That being said, this annual is REALLY GOOD. Let’s jump right in.

Matchbox 20

The 2021 annual seems to be designed to appeal to me specifically. We get answers on where Flagg’s been and what he’s doing (though nothing about who let him out of his cell), and we get some of the most heartfelt Superboy-centric writing yet.

We open on Rick Flagg’s escape from the Task Force X facility, and his inner monologue reveals some admittedly interesting plans for the future: Waller’s gone insane, and it’s up to him and a new Task Force X to stop her. Who’s going to comprise this new Suicide Squad, exactly? I’m as excited to find out as you are, but the one member we do see in this book has me extremely excited.

The meat of the story consists of a clash between our two Superboys, with a shocking reveal (if you’re unfamiliar with the character at least) that at least one of the Supers boy is a fake! This situation should be familiar to those of you that kept up with Pre-52 Teen Titans, for this whole time, the Squad’s own Superboy has been none other than Match!

Robbie Thompson handles this reveal surprisingly well. There’s an entire fight sequence where we watch him deteriorate into a more Bizarro-like form, his skin greying and cracking, his speech starting to revert to Bizarro-speak. It’s heartbreaking to watch this kid realize his whole life has been a lie, false memories implanted by a government overlord with a god complex. There’s a scene towards the end in particular, where he acknowledges that something’s been different about him, that honestly would have made me cry had it been in a better series.

This is only enhanced by the art, which, despite still being handled by three different artists, retains a consistent tone for the whole annual. Pansica, Ferreira, and Soy are all phenomenal talents, and I’m glad they’re the ones that have been trusted with this series. Not to be outdone, however, are Chris Sotomayor’s colors, which are probably the star of this issue. Every panel pops right off the page and really just satisfies the eyes.

Robbie Thompson stole my “game, set, match” pun so I don’t know what to put here

The whole annual is amazing, but feels genuinely frustrating once I realize that this is the kind of quality we could have had this whole time (spoiler alert for issue #7, we dive straight back into Mediocreville). Hell, even the side characters within Waller’s organization get some characterization. I could genuinely love these characters if Thompson just buckled down and wrote like this more often. It’s so frustrating to watch this book flounder week after week before coming up for air with a triple backflip somersault, the likes of which has never been seen. I don’t mean to keep beating a dead horse like this, but I know this book CAN be great. I know Thompson CAN write engaging mysteries. He just needs to step up to the plate like this more often. Or editorial needs to let him. Something’s going on.

Recommended if…

  • You’re as much of a Superboy stan as I am
  • Genuinely heartfelt stories of identity speak to you\
  • You’ve been waiting on the B plot (and the main plot, honestly) to pick up this whole time

Overall

This annual is fantastic. I just wish it was attached to a better series.

Score: 9/10


Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with an advance copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.