Suicide Squad Issue Eleven


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This issue has guest stars Vixen and former drug-addicted Green Arrow sidekick Speedy. Speedy was part of a great arc, and then no one knew what to do with him afterwards.


Vixen is a highly sought after model and when the issue begins she is taking a break at work, having left the superhero game.


There is a quick rundown of her origin and what’s she been doing and then-


It turns out that there was a drug transaction being done across the water and since the photographer could have captured some of it, they decided to wipe everyone out.


Realizing that prison is pointless (this is decades before El Chapo, mind you) they come up with solution of their own.


Part of the plan is to have Captain Boomerang take Vixen and Black Orchid and pose as another dealer with two prostitutes. As humiliating as being a hooker is for Vixen its still a step up from Justice League Detroit.

Meanwhile a panicked Derek Tolliver reaches out for a political ally in Joe Cray.


Elsewhere Nightshade and Speedy bond over their mixed emotions on their job and their terrible costumes. June Moone has been cooped up in Belle Reve and she puts the move on Briscoe.


Briscoe’s daughter died and Sheba is a VERY unhealthy replacement. Then again, it is handy to have an attack helicopter that can respond remotely to complex commands.


Although initially ambushed and outnumbered, Sheba gets the rest of the team out of trouble. But all the noise blows the timing of the mission.


The bad news is the drug lord has jets.


And muscular guards with no shirts, headbands and camouflage pants. Is this a David DeCoteau movie? What is the advantage of not wearing full-body camouflage if it actually concealed you? Just wearing the pants would make it look like your upper body was floating around with no support like a Pacman ghost.

Eh, it was the 80’s. Also another panel from that Speedy arc. Depressing that Neal Adams and Dick Giordano’s work here is stronger than than anything we’ve seen yet from Suicide Squad, even though its 15 years later.


Suicide Squad Issue Ten


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We already had the event comics. Now its time to do the other time-honored tradition of having a really popular comic character guest star in your book. But even though Batman appears in this book, the most important thing that happens is the addition of Father Craemer, a character that Ostrander created and used well (most notably in the Spectre run).

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Its worth noting although I skip pages, Suicide Squad focuses on all of the staff, which is something that subsequent books didn’t get right. This issue also introduces Duchess, and we have to pretend we don’t know who she is. (She is clearly Lashina)

Meanwhile, Waller explains why she never liked Rick Flag, and Flo expresses a desire to participate in missions…mostly because she likes Bronze Tiger.

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Mark Shaw decides to go private and become the Manhunter again, and Flag is too traumatized to join him. Meanwhile a prisoner they are transporting to Gotham escapes rather easily. I think you know where this is going.

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Batman easily slips around and hacks their main computer.

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Not the most essential page but I rarely give artist Luke McDonnell any credit, and he preserves the idea of Batman as a shape, almost like Michael Myers for a lot of this book, and it really works.

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Belle Reve is not set up for an A-lister. Batman carves through the guard, and although Duchess gives him some trouble initially, this is the Batman we’re talking about.

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Batman beats the rest of the Squad that’s available until its just a standoff with Waller.

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This is the part that’s hard.

There’s a brilliant bit where Batman explains to Deadshot that Deadshot is incapable of killing him. Its not that Deadshot is missing his shots on Batman, its a subconscious hitch, which explains all the times a master sniper missed Batman when he was waiting to ambush him.

But its followed by a REALLY stupid bit, where Waller explains that Batman revealed his alias, his relationship with the Gotham police – oh and he put his fingerprints on everything while he was in his cell.

And Batman basically goes – ‘aw shucks, I didn’t think about ANY of that,’ and gives the disc back. That’s what happens. Seriously. The whole ending of this comic is predicated on Batman being an idiot. But then Flag shows Waller some fire.

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Now Waller has her team leader.

Suicide Squad Issue Nine


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We’re back!

Sometimes the true test of a comic book writer is how they negotiate the dreaded crossover event. The event at the time was Millennium, which is where everyone tangled with the Manhunters, the intergalactic police force of robots that preceded the Green Lantern Corps.

Not a bad idea but the Manhunters looked really stupid. Why would a robot need blue underwear, and metal blue underwear at that.

So Slipknot, Boomerang, Bronze Tiger, Deadshot, Rick Flag, Karin Grace, and Mark Shaw in that stupid pirate getup go to Manhunter temple to deliver a bomb. Slipknot immediately starts thinking about getting out of it, since you can’t fight a robot with a rope.


The bomb is filled with xyzedium, an element only slightly better named than unobtanium. And Rick Flag has a bit of information no one else does.


Good thing they ran into Captain Atom, eh? The Squad also finds out that they don’t match up well with killer robots.


By the time they figure out how to fight the Manhunters, Bronze Tiger goes down.


And Slipknot finds out you should NEVER trust Captain Boomerang.


While Slipknot lays suffering, a mysterious (more on this at some point) woman shows up.


Shaw and Flag go into the temple with the bomb, and that’s when Flag finally realizes that the Privateer genuinely hates the Manhunters and can be trusted. Suddenly Karin appears, hanging from a cliff face. Do they save her or keep going with the bomb?


Instead of wondering how Karin ended up on a cliff, Flag immediately has a meltdown.


Karin betrays him, and explains that she is a Manhunter mole who fell in love with Mark Shaw. Except…


That’s right. Karin Grace fell in love with a Manhunter robot. The robot quickly takes down Flag and Shaw and gives the coup de grace to Karin.


And because this ties in to an event, something we don’t know about happens somewhere we can’t see that causes all the robots to fall apart at the same time. In all fairness, event comics were only a bit over two years old, so they hadn’t gotten the hang of it yet, but this is pretty lousy.

With her life ruined Karin decides to take the high road.


By the time Flag wakes up – its over. And the Squad has another casualty.


12 Playstation Games That I Really Miss – Pt 2


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SOCOM II: US Navy Seals

Socom forces you to think tactically because numbers are not on your side, and the weapons you choose have decided advantages and disadvantages. But there are a lot of squad-based commands, and this game has you globe trotting to break things up. I don’t know a lot about how games are made, but the missions are a masterpiece of layout, variety, story-telling and tension as the game progresses. I don’t know if any other game has done this better.

Silent Hill 2

Being outside of the gamer world, I did not know this game’s reputation until I looked it up. I do know that as a writer, the horror I saw in my head mostly was about a guy and a flashlight and a lot of darkness dealing with – something.

Silent Hill 2 is that game.

There are a lot of unnerving touches in Silent Hill 2, but mostly you are a guy in an abandoned town without a lot of resources dealing with bizarre and unclassifiable monsters that come when you are least prepared from them. This is everything they’ve said about it, a masterpiece that has not been repeated for some reason.

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City

This hits a few weaknesses and I have more affection for this game than any other in the series. Playing as hitman Tommy Vercetti, you basically reenact the plot of Scarface (while taking elements of a lot of other movies, of course). But it looks like a Michael Mann film, it has the best soundtrack of the series, and aside from a couple tough missions to play (the mini helicopter – ugh!) the gameplay and plot are fantastic. It all adds up to a sort of charm that I haven’t seen replicated in GTA after that.

Red Dead Revolver

Speaking of charming, Red Dead Revolver is the game that Capcom started and Rockstar finished. Capcom saw it as a ‘Weird West’ game and Rockstar liked the violent Clint Eastwood style of western. The result is a game with a huge sense of humor, tremendous imagination, fun gameplay, colorful and distinct characters.

You play a grand story from multiple perspectives and each character has their own special moves. I don’t even like westerns that much and I COULD NOT stop playing this game, there were so much variation on missions, and such an interesting plot that I was completely engaged.

Rockstar released Red Dead Redemption on their own, which obviously is several levels above in almost every way. But its sober tone doesn’t match the frenzied fun of the original.

Tom Clancy: Splinter Cell

There are plenty of shoot-em-ups out there. Splinter Cell is all about doing missions quietly and it creates a tension that’s rare in video games. You have almost no ammo, but you have other diverse weapons, (not all of them lethal) and a great set of skills that the game prefers you use.

This was the first of a good franchise, but it still stands as exceptional.

The Thing

John Carpenter’s The Thing is one of my textbook perfect movies. Very free movies have captured tension, paranoia, and horror like it. Usually tie-in games suck. The Thing didn’t.

I don’t know another game that created as much anxiety through its gameplay as The Thing. Its simple. You’re a Special Forces operative in the Antarctic who comes across the remains of the camp in the movie.

You come across monsters and other people as things get increasingly worse. But that’s where it gets brilliant. You can only carry a couple things, and the weapon you have might not take out the monster that’s ambushing you, and changing weapons will happen while you are getting hurt badly. Also The Thing has a fear/trust system.

If you meet somebody, you don’t know if they’re a monster, and vice versa. They won’t follow orders if they’re afraid of you, so you have to earn trust by killing a monster, or giving them a weapon. You could give them your pistol, keep your flamethrower and go hunt monsters, but if they turn on you, you no longer have the weapons you need to kill them, because you have to shoot them before you burn them.

If you DON’T give them a weapon and they could turn on you and attack you. Even if they have a weapon, if they lose trust in you, you will end up attacked by humans AND aliens. Negotiating people becomes a full-time job…pretty much like real life.

12 Playstation Games That I Really Miss Pt 1


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When you look at the product that’s out there right now, its obvious that games are better than they have ever been. But the Playstation 2 is the first console that I miss playing certain games, and its not because of nostalgia.

The previous generations aged badly. Aside from maybe Sonic the Hedgehog on Genesis, I didn’t miss Paperboy or Alex Kidd when the new systems came out. I don’t even remember getting rid of those games, I think my Sega Mastersystem slinked into my closet out of pure shame.

Y'all don't know about this life

Y’all don’t know about this life

Now I’m not a gamer, so my list isn’t always the ‘best’ games, its just the ones I liked. And there were times when I think I played a game on PS2, but I’m not sure. The one thing I CAN do, is briefly explain why each game appealed to me, and probably others. I apologize, at times I include videos where someone else is playing a game and is talking. Generally watching someone else play a video game is one of the dullest experiences a human being can have, but it was the footage I had.

Judge Dredd: Dredd vs. Death

This wasn’t a well received game, but I’m a Judge Dredd fan and that’s a specific market. Dredd is a no-nonsense character,  but unlike other protagonists there is a heavy dose of dark humor in his adventures. In Judge Dredd, usually the only thing taken seriously all the time is Dredd himself. Most video games take themselves WAY too seriously, so I appreciated Judge Dredd.

The game is just like that. With the Lawgiver (a gun that dispenses various types of ammunition, like armor-piercing, incendiary, explosive and ricochet) as one of the great iconic weapons, this is a first person shooter that pits you against vampires, zombies, mad scientists, cultists and general weirdos. In between you are expected to protect and arrest people.

With the numbers against you, ammo pretty low, and some reasonably tough opponents with some really silly things going on in the background, Judge Dredd was a distinct experience for me.

James Bond: From Russia With Love

It was a James Bond game where Sean Connery did the voice which automatically makes this untouchable.

EA always did a great job of making their games look great for the platform (remember Black?) and they did it here it this great homage to the early era of Bond films. If I remember quickly, it was a little short, but this was unappreciated.

Also…let’s get this out there.

Its not Goldeneye.

Every time we mention a James Bond video game there’s a few people that start talking about how great Goldeneye was and how nothing will be good and I start to feel very tired. Goldeneye was originally on the N64. The N64. People that console is so old its probably mildly radioactive or something. Let it go.

The Punisher

Most of the Punisher game is about an outmatched man fighting endless swarms of criminals, superpowered and otherwise. The Punisher also was co-written by Garth Ennis who combines a couple ideas from his comic runs, the most important being that The Punisher is not a hero that wants to rescue people, but a serial killer who prays on criminals.

This is an important distinction, because Marvel often tiptoed around the Punisher, giving him his own code of morals, making him sympathetic, and do other things to make us forget that this guy has killed thousands of people for his own reasons…which is generally what bad guys do.

The Punisher shows us THAT guy, the mad dog that most heroes despise. So the game is BRUTAL. Interrogations and executions reach Mortal Kombat levels. For all the tough talk you see from various game few reach the pure sadism of The Punisher.

The Getaway

Right after we had another run of good British gangster films came a game that understood them perfectly. The Getaway wasn’t perfect, at times I found it tough going, but I never got bored trying again because the plot was so strong and the gameplay was so interesting.

At its centerpiece, The Getaway painstakingly recreated London in hi-def right down to the curry places and pay toilets. Inside of it was a great combination of a driving game, a shoot em up, and a movie with long cut scenes.

The game was headed by Brendan McNamara who went on to do LA:Noir and then he…well none of this other stuff is very good at all is it? Yikes.

Hitman: Blood Money/Hitman: Contracts

Hitman is a great series, and I couldn’t decide between these two game . Hitman provides you an entry and a desired result, but the method is up to you. Do you use stealth, disguise and subtlety or do you try to mow everyone down? The opera house scene and the White House mission are among my favorites in the series. Also composer Jesper Kyd did an amazing job creating an atmosphere for these games that made them feel really important.

Hitman is a great experience because it gives so much freedom as a player to be creative, which is really rare in a game. These two games appealed to me because they had less of the sci-fi clone stuff, and really engaging levels that I had to think about.

Madden 10

“Madden is the same every year,” sniffs Gamey McGamington.

Well this year was different…because you could write your own plays. This feature only appeared once because most Madden players are pretty stupid and don’t actually understand football, but for anyone that understands the implications of creating a playbook from scratch this was a Godsend.

Most of the time in Madden, you take the bitter with the sweet. There are maybe 10-15 plays  in each playbook that either never work, are impossible to understand, are inappropriate for your personnel or get you like two yards a play. Madden 10 let you have the perfect playbook for your philosophy whatever this was, and is the single most missed feature from the game that I’ve ever had.

Yeah I Said It: Ronda Rousey versus Cris Cyborg goes beyond Sports


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ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND AUG. 14-15--Olympic broad jump medalists salute during the medals ceremony Aug. 11, 1936 at the Summer Olympics in Berlin. From left on podium are: bronze medalist Jajima of Japan, gold medalist Jesse Owens of the United States and silver medalist Lutz Long of Germany. Long and German Olympic officials give the Nazi salute, while Owens gives a traditional salute. Owens was viewed as something of an oddity by the German crowds. Not only was he a brilliant sprinter, but he was the best long jumper in the world, as well. And, oh yes, there was one more thing.(AP Photo) ORG XMIT: NY177

Sports has been the backdrop for social change. There are people that are not fans of any sport that try to minimize its importance in society, but that’s not a realistic opinion. Sports have had important pioneers in every context, and by having those people as examples meaningful dialogue happened.

But this is the first generation of athletes that made me realize how fortunate we’ve been so far. Our previous pioneers usually understood how important they were, and they handled things with grace and patience. They were typically exceptional athletes that deserved to be where they were. And there was a clarity to their impact, we were definitely better off for having them exist and change their sport.


We had Wilma Rudolph, Jesse Owens, Jim Thorpe, Arthur Ashe, Martina Navratilova, Ernie Davis, Jackie Robinson, Hank Greenberg, Christy Martin, Gina Carano and the list could go on for some time. But they were special.


Can you imagine if the first notable baseball player of color wasn’t Jackie Robinson, but was Barry Bonds? How bad of a setback would that have been? What if football had gotten Lawrence Phillips instead of Ernie Davis winning the Heisman? It would have been tricky after that, right?

Because that’s what’s been happening lately.

Michael Sam was the first openly gay football player. As a pioneer, he was in a tough spot. He wasn’t the biggest or the fastest guy, although its hard for me to say a 6″2 265lb guy can’t be a defensive end in the NFL when they play smaller guys at that position right now. (Sidebar: there was no excuse for a guy that light to run a 4.91 40. That was just pure laziness.)

He had a good motor and he got to the quarterback, which was his job. I think he could have made an impact in the NFL. But rookies are expected to keep their mouth shut and their head down. There might not be a bigger jump in sports than the disparity between college football and pro football.

Sam liked attention.


He was arranging a reality show with Oprah, the most tone-deaf move he could have possibly done the moment after he got drafted. After that, it was one misstep after another as it took time for him to realize that he did more for gay people by being good at his job, than getting awards and appearing in specials.

He washed out of the league quickly. The Commissioner had to call around the league and beg an owner to take him, even briefly. He was on the practice squad for the Dallas Cowboys for a month, after that he joined Dancing With the Stars which immediately killed any hopes of the NFL. He could have restarted his career in Canada, but it quickly imploded because a breakup with his fiancee caused him to flee training camp for a month without telling him team. Honestly, gay people deserve a better pioneer than this.

Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito

Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito

The Miami Dolphins fully expected Jonathan Martin to a be a future team captain. He was smart, articulate, but a little undersized and not particularly tough. But they thought they could mold him. Coaches set locker room pit bull Richie Incognito on him to mentor him and toughen him up a little, after some very disappointing play at right and left tackle.

Martin responded by collapsing, and making a formal complaint of bullying that tore his franchise apart. Modern sensibilities about how the locker room should resemble other workplaces came about because of Jonathan Martin.

Let me be very clear, there was some offensive stuff happening that came to light, and at a certain point Incognito went too far. But what the media and the public didn’t understand is that you can’t apply politically correct office standards to football.

As an offensive lineman, Martin had one of the most brutal jobs in sports. He was going to have to basically grapple some of the largest, fastest, strongest humans on Earth. And on the line of scrimmage, they say anything to get you off your game. Richie Incognito made sexual jokes about his sister because he knew that defensive lineman will probe till they find a sore spot and then exploit it verbally all game.

After this story broke, Jonathan Martin was facing a career of people talking about his family to get into his head.

Martin wasn’t tough enough. He got another shot with the 49ers who realized that he wasn’t strong enough, which is pretty much the most fixable problem an athlete can have. Then he bounced to the Panthers where he got injured and retired in frustration at 25, having accomplished utterly nothing.


Finally legendary swimmer Bruce Jenner announced that he was transgender, and changed his name and persona to Caitlyn Jenner. That is an intensely personal decision, and it apparently inspired a lot of people that had similar emotions. I can’t criticize that. But the effect it had on sports wasn’t a feelgood moment…it was confusion.

What about transgender athletes?

Fallon Fox was born a man, got gender reassignment surgery and wants to fight Ronda Rousey. No one knows what to do. Does being born a man give you a physical advantage against a woman of the same weight? Obviously it depends on the people in question, but basic questions like advantages in bone density and muscle structure are being hotly debated scientifically. And when you look at transgender athletes like Gabrielle Ludwig, you can see that there are times when previously being a man is a clear advantage.

Yeah. This is fair, right?

Yeah. This is fair, right?

Maybe Fallon Fox is a fair fight, but its an up or down vote. Would we be exposing female athlete to unfair competition by admitting transgender athletes? Is it unfair to transgender athletes to not let them compete? To say, ‘hey you’re female…but you’re not REALLY female?’

Its not Caitlyn’s fault, but the aftermath of her publicity is mostly uncertainty. And that’s where Ronda Rousey comes in. I heard about her a couple years ago, and it was from guys that didn’t talk about female fighters. They were genuinely excited to see someone aggressive like her.

And then, at some point, the female didn’t matter. She was a fighter. And Cris Cyborg is no slouch either.

I want to see Ronda Rousey and Cristiane “Cris Cyborg” Justino fight because its the next big superfight out there. It does not concern me that they are women, in fact, its irrelevant. And isn’t that the goal of feminism (if there is a goal in third wave feminism)? To not be marginalized? To viewed and respected as much as men are in their fields?

Is there any other circumstance where there were pretty equally matched women (who SHOULD fight at 140) in a male-dominated combat sport that drew this much interest? (I do not count Laila Ali and poor Christy Martin, because Martin was outmatched, and Gina Carano looked like her heart was in Hollywood even before Cris Cyborg ended her career.) This is a pioneering event that is coming together before our eyes.

And that’s why this fight is so important. Not because of what it is, which to be honest is two people messily damaging themselves, but because of what it means – that women can enter things thought to be utterly masculine and redefine them completely.

And unlike the examples I used earlier, its a clear win.

When these two step in the ring, they will likely eclipse the miserable contest between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather. They will be the superfight of the moment, and from what I’ve seen of these two, this will be a barnburner. And no one can take that away from them or tear it down. To succeed when everything is against you – to change the perception of how millions of people view women – well that kind of goes beyond sports.

Suicide Squad Issue Eight


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I’m going to pause for a bit so I don’t drown everyone in these articles and this is a good place to do it. After the disasters that have happened to the team so far, writer John Ostrander wisely slows down the pace and tell us a little more about the people, something that the recent comics have proven incapable of doing.

This issue begins with the team’s therapist Simon LaGrieve going over his notes in the middle of the night.

He remembers meeting Amanda Waller, a woman who has a lot of good reasons to be angry.


Every other iteration of Waller I’ve seen ignores anything to do with her family, but in this run, her family is an important piece of understanding her. LaGrieve helps her channel her anger, but its getting out of control.

For instance, she confronts Derek Tolliver, the politician who sent the squad on the doomed mission to Russia. He gives the wrong answer, and so she decks him.


Rick Flag’s anger has gone out of control too. He wants to rescue Nemesis, but no one is interested, especially his old flame Karin.


Flag has no idea that Mark Shaw is in the building and that Shaw (having no context for what is happening) simply sees a man attacking a woman. Flag and Shaw (dressed as the Privateer – ugh!) fight, but its not a fair fight. Mark Shaw was the Manhunter, trained and equipped by the celestial police force that preceded the Green Lantern corps.


Ben Turner aka the Bronze Tiger becomes the team leader. And his first job is to figure out what’s wrong with the Enchantress. He visits the unsettling Madame Zanadu who diagnoses the problem.


She also comes up with a solution of sorts.


But its not a real solution, its just postponing the problem.


LaGrieve realizes too late that having his young, naive assistant therapist treat the handsome, troubled Floyd Lawton (Deadshot) might be a bad idea for obvious reasons.


And they make out, and then Floyd runs away because he can’t handle it all. Oy.


Oh yeah, and Captain Boomerang is still running around as Mirror Master, although no one knows it.


The comic ends on a sweet note. Unlike the Squad, LaGrieve has a family. And it keeps him sane.


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