NOTE: This article contains SPOILERS for “Suicide Squad” #2
Just because more people than ever now grasp the concept behind Amanda Waller’s off-the-books task force, that doesn’t make the Suicide Squad any less crazy an idea. At least, not with the “Suicide Squad: Rebirth” creative team taking the gang of villains to even stranger (and deadlier) heights.
The recent movie might have raised the bar on insane villains, missions, and technology, but with the second issue of the “reborn” Squad revealing the real threat of their first arc, DC Comics fans will have a lot to get excited about. It isn’t magic, mutants, or even demonic forces that Deadshot, Harley Quinn and Killer Croc will be fighting – but a tyrannical Kryptonian general breaking out of his famous dimensional prison – and the first casualty has already been lost.
The New Squad’s First Mission
For those who may still hear of the “Squad” and picture the movie version (understandable, since they’ve got plenty in common), the team of the comic books has only recently gained something resembling legitimacy. Since DC’s Rebirth isn’t an actual reboot, the Squad’s latest relaunch began with Amanda Waller being called to the carpet by President Obama himself for all the chaos caused since the New 52 began. The compromise was the addition of a reliable, proven soldier to command the band of criminals and killers: Rick Flag, the same scarred colonel who led the team when they first debuted in the 1980s.
To say that things settled down with Flag in charge would be an overstatement, since the team has had some truly insane moments already. With Waller assembling the new Squad roster under Flag (and Katana) to seek out a high priority item of “cosmic” significance, things went wrong immediately. Long story short: Killer Croc almost drowned in his own vomit, and in saving him, Flag almost killed the entire Squad – with Enchantress saving them at the last second… to drown in frozen Siberian waters. It’s where Issue #2 picks back up, and despite the creative team’s tease that someone would “actually die” all members make it into the underwater base housing the item they’re after.
Once the team actually makes it out of a certain, icy, watery grave, the host of enemy soldiers is dealt with in almost comedic fashion, with Katana slicing her way through a squadron without seemingly touching the ground. But since this is Amanda Waller giving the mission, what should be a simple task is complicated further. The team doesn’t need an item, they first need a metahuman to help them find the item (what role the other imprisoned souls in the facility may have in the future remains unclear). But find the item they do, and as is usually the case, realizing the true nature of the danger Waller’s thrown them into leads even Flag to retreat, citing this target as “outside our purview.”
So, what’s so terrible about a floating, shimmering, clearly somehow energized sphere? That is, what makes it more intimidating than the world ending plagues, armies, bombs or other weapons the so-called “suicide squad” have encountered so far? The answer comes in the form of two words gleaned among the “whispers” coming from the device: Phantom Zone.
Thats right, the same Phantom Zone every Superman fan knows as the otherworldly “prison dimension” to which Kryptonian criminals were condemned before the planet’s fall. And of all the villains to spit back out into the Squad’s lap, they wind up with the worst one possible.
Kneel Before Zod
Now, exactly how General Zod manages to literally tear his way out of the Phantom Zone with his Heat Vision isn’t quite clear (presumably, the forces that were experimenting upon it helped to open the door), but the reveal isn’t a complete shock. As mentioned above, the creative team behind the new Squad had teased a brand new member coming to the team, with the candidate one of the following: Doomsday, Mr. Mxyzptlk, or Zod. When the former wound up getting a rematch with Superman, it seemed he was out of the running (the lack of any higher intelligence would also have been a hurdle). And as much as we would like to see a magical, extradimensional imp give Harley a run for her money, Zod seemed the most likely candidate.
It’s not the first time Zod has escaped the Phantom Zone, either in his entire history or even the New 52 continuity. Having previously escaped with his lieutenant Faora and given Superman and Wonder Woman a brutal beating, the last readers saw of the Kryptonian commander was being once again contained within the zone by Clark and Diana. The question now becomes: how and why will Zod become a member of the Squad, as the storytellers have teased?
And even more pressing: what will he do when he finds out another man now calls himself Kal-El of Krypton?
Suicide Squad #2 is available now.