Comic Book Review – Suicide Squad Volume 1 – Trial by Fire

Suicide Squad Volume 1 – Trial by Fire

Writer – John Ostrander

Artists – Luke McDonell, Bob Lewis, Karl Kesel, and Dave Hunt

Do you ever panic read? I check out books and graphic novels from the local library once and awhile. The library system auto renews the books themselves, which is a godsend. If I see a book about to be renewed a third or fourth time, I return the book to the library, knowing I can request it later.

I checked out Suicide Squad: Trial by Fire and I wanted to read it before I went home for Christmas, but I didn’t get a chance to do so. Seeing how it was going to be renewed for the dreaded third time, I made it a priority to read it this past week and I’m real glad that I did so.

Ostrander’s Suicide Squad is a legendary run that many comic book readers and reviewers have heaped praise on for years and I wanted to get a firsthand look at this version of Task Force X.

You might think a comic series from the late 1980s might be outdated in some fashion, but this volume holds up surprisingly well. It’s a history lesson on the geopolitical quagmires of the day with U.S and Soviet relations. It’s a look at the ills of society at home and how the rest of the world views America.

This lineup of the Squad is a classic one with Col. Rick Flag leading a group of supervillains and antiheroes like Deadshot, Bronze Tiger, the Enchantress, and Captain Boomerang and features missions which include – stopping terrorists before they can unleash death and destruction on American soil, discrediting a right-wing vigilante causing tension between whites and minorities, and rescuing a political prisoner from a gulag in Moscow and helping them defect to the West. If you turn on the nightly news today, there has been some progress made but racial tension and strife and hatred for America and its citizens still lingers. The players may have changed (for example, Gorbachev in the 80s and Putin today) but the game remains the same.

What I really enjoyed about this volume is the tension between the members of the Squad and their own opinions on the missions they get sent on. Their own personally held beliefs are the catalyst for some of the arguments and disagreements they squabble about while trying to do what they do best. Issue Eight titled “Personal Files “is a great issue that delves into the back stories of Amanda Waller, Flag, Floyd Lawton, and Digger Harkness and what makes them tick. In addition to the Squad members we know, there are at least 5 new and familiar faces that join Flag and company on their adventures. Some of them won’t make it back to Belle Reve and the shock of who lives, who dies, and who gets left behind are definitely punches to the gut and jaw droppers.

I also enjoyed the pacing of the book. I miss the good old days of telling a story in a two or three issue arc. In today’s comics, eight issues would be one storyline that is so long and drawn out that you wish you didn’t start it in the first place because its mostly fluff and filler. “The Flight of the Firebird” is the three issue Mission to Moscow story that is full of so much action and intrigue that it had me on the edge of my seat. I finished reading the first two issues and I wanted to see how it was resolved as soon as possible that I quickly read it before making dinner one night.

I’m so disappointed that this lineup of the Suicide Squad wasn’t used in the movies. If I was an executive at Warner Brothers, I would have greenlit a ten-episode season one based on this first volume alone. I would have made it more of a spy thriller with a few spandex moments thrown in for good measure.

My biggest regret was sleeping on Ostrander’s run for so long. At the end of the week, I’ll request Volume Two from the library to see what happens next.

I recently recommended this volume to my friend Oscar and he was able to purchase the first volume from ComiXology for the low price of $3.99! Trial by Fire is also available on Hoopla if you have a credit or two to spare. Don’t make the same mistake I made and add it to your reading list now!