After the bar set by the sensational first issue, Justice League vs. Suicide Squad #2 had the weight of the world on its shoulders. I mean, how do you follow something that embodies everything Rebirth is striving to be? With more of the same, of course.
In 1996 worlds collided when Marvel characters took on their DC counterparts in the DC vs. Marvel crossover event. It wasn’t an extraordinary or industry-changing storyline per se, but the artwork was out of this world. Between Dan Jurgens and Claudio Castellini, they illustrated iconic battle scenes that still live on in the memory. I have a feeling we’ll be remembering Tony S. Daniel’s work in issue #2 in much the same way.
Batman vs. Deadshot. Harley Quinn vs. Wonder Woman. Aquaman vs. Killer Croc. The Flash vs. Boomerang. Green Lanterns vs. Diablo. Cyborg vs. Killer Frost. Superman vs. Enchantress. It’s hero versus villain in an Injustice-styled melee that’ll get the fans drooling and talking about permutations. While the respective winners of each individual duel shouldn’t really surprise anyone, there is a surprising twist: the Suicide Squad helps each other, resulting in Superman’s powers being absorbed by Killer Frost and the Squad defeating the Justice League. The issue ends with the Justice League in Belle Reve as Amanda Waller’s prisoners.
Undoubtedly, this outcome will upset many comic book fans—especially Supe’s legion who are usually the most precious snowflakes on the Internet about his powers—but it’s a masterstroke by Joshua Williamson. If you think about it, no current member of the Suicide Squad is a primary antagonist for a Justice League member. It’s not Batman vs. Joker, Superman vs. General Zod or even Aquaman vs. Black Manta; it’s a team of A-listers versus the underdogs. Like any good sports story, the underdogs need to tap into the collective to defeat the superstars—and that’s exactly what happened. United we stand, divided we fall…and all that jazz.
Williamson’s pacing and building of suspense have been spot-on so far, and he did the right thing by limiting Maxwell Lord’s group’s appearance in this issue. The main focus here is the battle, and Lord’s team receives just three pages to remind us they’re still looming, but that’s it and rightfully so.
What the Justice League vs. Suicide Squad event proves is the fans don’t need a thousand stories within a story—sometimes all it takes is a simple clash between good, evil and the something in between. Let’s hope that the DC execs take some notes from this epic event and apply it to some other Rebirth titles.