NOTE: This article contains SPOILERS for “Suicide Squad Most Wanted: El Diablo and Boomerang” #1
Had Warner Bros. and DC Films’ Suicide Squad been a runaway critical darling, there’s a good chance that the fan conversation surrounding specific aspects of the film would be less productive – when everything works, it’s hard to single out one feature in great detail. But with a mixed reception, the component parts have been more painstakingly analyzed. And for most, two facts are agreed upon: the character dubbed ‘El Diablo’ (Jay Hernandez) turned out to be more pivotal to the plot (and visually interesting) than most assumed, and ‘Captain Boomerang’ (Jai Courtney) was as unlikable as his comic counterpart (intentionally or not).
In a sweep of truly inspired timing, those two members of the team have been handed their very own comic book run, “Suicide Squad Most Wanted: El Diablo and Boomerang” with the first issue now available in both physical and digital comic book stores. The pyromancer and ‘ranger star in the latest version of the Squad double feature, and for fans of the film eager to follow one or the other, Issue #1 (of six) artfully straddles the line between the film’s fictional world and the larger DC mythology – packing more than a few twists into its first chapter(s).
El Diablo Earns His Freedom
Now for those wondering if “Most Wanted” will be acting as a counterpart to the newly-rebooted “Suicide Squad” series, it should be clarified that these titles are not existing explicitly in ongoing continuity. In fact, this particular series is a product of DC’s internal Writers Workshop program, designed to recruit, train and showcase new talent. For Diablo’s story, “Home Again,” it’s writer Jai Nitz and artist Cliff Richards entrusted with Chato Santana’s realization that he’s finished his voluntary service, and is eager to return home.
Most versions of Santana/Diablo’s story maintain that his service on the Squad was by choice, as a form of penance for his unintentional murder of innocents while using his powers. In “Most Wanted,” it’s literally voluntary, and when he is ordered to burn a church to the ground, the man of faith decides that it’s time for him to return home – since his deeds under Amanda Waller are more sinful than the ones that got him locked up to begin with.
Unsurprisingly, Waller refuses, claiming a new, more dangerous mission requires Santana’s skills (and likely, his life). Thankfully, a powerful figure steps in on his behalf with a mission of a… different sort.
Uncle Sam to the Rescue
Now, the less said about the character of Uncle Sam is probably better. But for those curious, Sam is a DC Comics mainstay as a supernatural entity created by the Founding Fathers and fueled by the belief and support of American ideals and values – known for his leadership of the Freedom Fighters super-team. So it’s somewhat fitting that he should be the one to step in on Chato’s behalf, considering that every part of Waller’s program and treatment of prisoners is what most would call “un-American.”
But Sam doesn’t have the authority to step in and overrule ARGUS on his own, and the reveal of his new status comes shortly after. Apparently Sam has found himself as the White Queen of Checkmate, the clandestine government organization typically charged with maintaining balance between the world and its superpowered criminals. After removing Santana from his prison cell, the new White King, Jake Dalesko arrives to make him an offer he… actually, can refuse: to join up with the organization as an opportunity to use the skills that Waller and, in a larger way, America has prevented him from putting to heroic uses.
It’s a self-aware and timely statement being made by Dalesko and Sam, stating that Chato’s Hispanic roots and upbringing in a lower-class neighborhood meant many of the productive, heroic channels typically open to young superheroes-in-the-making were never presented to him. In other words, he used his powers for crime and violence because of his environment, formed by forces and systems that Sam seems to believe are below what America is capable of.
No matter how compelling the argument, Chato decides that a return to his home and family is preferable to more military service, and is given his freedom… of course, the world conspires to show Chato that some heroics are, and always have been in store for him. The time, he’ll just be doing it under a different name.
El Diablo, The Black Knight of Checkmate
After returning home to find that his reign over the neighborhood – based on respect and admiration – has been replaced with a new metahuman tormenter – ruling by fear, and through violence – Chato is forced to act, unleashing his powers on his new enemy. Again, demonstrating that, just as Waller, Uncle Sam and Dalesko claimed, his experience on the street mastering gangland psychology has given him an edge over those who think along military lines. As a result, he really is the only man for the job Checkmate has enlisted him to tackle: a new metahuman enemy attempting to enter the United States through Mexico’s northern border (an area Chato is familiar with from his days smuggling people into the States).
The nobility of Checkmate’s goals are obviously a mystery, and the story, sadly, shows Diablo once again being pulled between two massive, shadowy, powerful groups. Fans can only hope that he won’t be abused or exploited in the same ways Waller was most skilled in, but those wondering will get to see the question answered over the course of the story. And movie fans who wanted more of Diablo’s unconventional but ultimately noble motives will be getting exactly that.
Boomerang Gets Left Behind
Unfortunately, not as much can be said about Boomerang’s story, “What Goes Around Comes Around” just yet. True to his character in both the comics and film, the surly, inconsiderate member of the Squad winds up left behind by his teammates who… well, never really bothered to check if he had made the exfiltration or not. Left stranded in an unknown South American country being pursued by a warlord’s metahuman, likely-brainwashed child soldiers, Boomer is forced to team up with a smart-mouthed young metahuman girl named ‘Breaker’ if he hopes to survive – once he kills the warlord in question.
It seems that writer Michael Moreci and artist Oscar Bazaldua are going to deliver some lighthearted antics for those who enjoyed the villain’s un-heroic aspirations, making this issue an enjoyable double-feature anchored by El Diablo’s personal story (and connections to the larger DC Universe). And while these may not be the exact same versions of the characters seen in the film, they’re all close enough to the source material of each Squad member to act as a welcome entry point for movie fans eager to see more Diablo/Boomerang-centric adventures.
Suicide Squad Most Wanted: El Diablo and Boomerang #1 is available now.