The Belle Reve Files – A Look Back at John Ostrander’s Suicide Squad: Intro by Jordan Edwards

When Dave allowed me to consider what I could write about for the site, many thoughts were racing through my head. I could discuss the beautiful absurdity of Morrison’s Doom Patrol, the scale of the DnA Marvel cosmic work or the charm of Usagi Yojimbo. But when it really came down to it, there was only one comic I wanted to discuss. John Ostrander’s Suicide Squad. I say this for a few reasons. Partially because I recently finished a re-read and because of my hype surrounding James Gunn’s upcoming film with the team. But really what it came down to was a lack of real analysis of this material.  It’s talked about but not to the means I think it needs to be. Suicide Squad is by no means an underrated comic, it is well known and often recommended. However upon reread, I realised something, these are some of the best comics ever written. 

The sheer craft on display in these 66 issues in my eyes, is almost unparalleled. Ostrander and company deftly craft a thrilling and constantly engaging run that works as individual stories but also as an ongoing story with a definitive end. Characters grow, change and evolve in more subtle ways than most other comics. Ostrander gets how to make a story last, how to evolve his characters and push forward interesting ideas.There’s so much depth and complexity in each of the characters. Some Squad members may have a death wish, some others may be so obsessed with their job that they take no joy in anything else. I’ll be discussing all of this to really dig into what made these characters so engaging and ahead of their time. 

Tone is important as well and Ostrander’s run is able to run the gamut of what a comic can do. Ostrander can tell relevant, engaging and thought-provoking stories while also having an ongoing gag about someone throwing pies in peoples faces. 

It’s not just the writing though. Ostrander’s artistic partners, namely Luke Mcdonnell and Geoff Isherwood, are able to create incredibly unique and engaging page layouts that drive the story. The amount of unforgettable moments in this book told primarily through the pace and rhythm of the art is incredible. It’s one of those books where the creative team is so perfectly in tune with each other’s ideas and stylistic choices, it’s beautiful to read. 

While we will be mainly discussing the core 66 issue run of Ostrander’s work on the title I’ll also be talking about some peripheral material like the teams first appearance in Legends and Ostrander’s incredible Deadshot mini series. 

So yeah clearly I am very passionate about this series. Each issue has so much to talk about that I could go on and on, AND I WILL. So strap in for a retrospective series on Ostrander’s Suicide Squad. Welcome to Task Force X convicts. Let’s hope you survive the experience. 

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