DC Comics kicks off the first big event of the Rebirth era, with two teams facing off in Justice League vs. Suicide Squad. And Batman finishes his confrontation with Bane in Santa Prisca.

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Justice League vs. Suicide Squad 1
Written by Joshua Williamson 
Art by Jason Fabok

jlvssThe players are all pretty much in place and DC Comics is ready for a battle royal between its premiere heroes and a team of supervillains being forced to do the government’s dirty work in a miniseries that was somewhat set up in the pages of Suicide Squad and kind of set up in Tom King’s Batman (more on that later). Because of his dealings with Amanda Waller in trying to stop Bane, Bruce Wayne has become aware of the existence of Task Force X, the secret “Suicide Squad,” and he FINALLY decides to share his knowledge with the Justice League, and they aren’t really pleased with the idea.

When the Squad gets sent on a mission to the hilariously named Badhnisia to stop a guy named Apex from using a device that can create an earthquake, things go a little sideways, as they are apparently wont to do with this team. It didn’t go well for Oliver Queen when he tried to stop Malcolm Merlyn from using a similar device in season one of Arrow, either. Deadshot puts a bullet in Apex’s head, but the damage had already been done and the Justice League decides to intervene to save the day. The League tries to convince the Suicide Squad – made up of Deadshot, Killer Croc, Killer Frost, Harley Quinn, The Enchantress, Captain Boomerang and El Diablo – that the League can help them, obviously unaware of the devices Waller implanted that would make them go boom if they disobey. That, also, doesn’t go well.

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Yeah, that seems like it will end well. DC Comics hyped this series with the idea that the company’s “two premiere super teams” are going at it. While I’m not sure I agree with the idea that the Suicide Squad is or should ever be a “premiere super team,” given the lack of any others, I suppose it’s true now. But the brawl between the two factions is just a feint, because a THIRD team forms in the pages of this issue. Former Justice League liaison, former head of Checkmate and all-around megalomaniac Max Lord brings together a very violent team over the course of the issue – consisting of Lobo, Doctor Polaris and others – to kill Amanda Waller and “save the world.”

The company stupidly spoiled Lord’s involvement in this series in recent promotional materials, which really hampered the effect of the final page reveal. Max Lord was turned into a big deal back in the days before Infinite Crisis when he killed Ted Kord in cold blood and then used his mind-control abilities to send Superman on a rampage before Wonder Woman killed him to stop the assault. Having him show up here makes sense, as the League and the Squad will obviously need to team up to stop him, but I wish I didn’t know that he was involved until I read the story. That would have been an amazing final page to turn to if I didn’t know.

The first issue of this six-part weekly miniseries (with tie-ins in the regular Justice League and Suicide Squad books) started off with some promise. Writer Joshua Williamson, the regular scribe on The Flash, is quickly establishing himself as an important cog in the DC Comics machine, as a year ago, this series would have been written by Geoff Johns. But he has other responsibilities now, so the company has to rely on some relatively newer blood to script its big events. Jason Fabok’s art is, as usual, top notch.

Given the Rebirth event has some other things to build to over the next couple of years, it’ll be interesting to see if this series has any lasting effect. I wouldn’t mind seeing Greg Rucka lay claim to Max Lord to be a major Wonder Woman villain, but we’ll have to see how that plays out and if Max survives this fight first.

Batman 13
Written by Tom King 
Art by Mikel Janin

batman-13The finale to “I AM SUICIDE,” the second part of Tom King’s three-part epic, was an unexpected tie-in to the Justice League vs. Suicide Squad series. While Batman is in Santa Prisca dealing with Bane, Amanda Waller just waltzes into the Batcave, looking for Batman’s files on the Squad. Waller’s confrontation with Alfred is even referenced in the miniseries, in a surprisingly tight display of continuity. Kudos to DC Comics for that.

But the heart of the issue is Batman’s battle with Bane, trying to steal back the Psycho Pirate from the former masked man’s control in order to save the traumatized Gotham Girl. Batman seems to be focused on breaking Bane’s back, I’m assuming as payback for Bane doing the same to Batman, although who knows if Knightfall is still in continuity thanks to Superboy Prime’s continuity punch, and Flashpoint, and the New 52 and Rebirth and… well, you get the point.

img_0048Bane, naked as a jaybird, seems to have it all under control. Punch and Jewelee were apparently neutralized. Catwoman had turned on Batman and the former Santa Priscan prisoner seemed poised for victory. Bane tried to convince Batman to just let it all go and let Bane show him how to be happy – apparently, let Psycho Pirate mess with your head – but of course Batman has no interest in being happy. It gets in the way of his brooding time.

Of course, it was all a setup. Catwoman never turned on Batman, it was all part of the plan. She takes out Bane while The Ventriloquist takes down Psycho Pirate. How? Well, he can’t be controlled by anyone because his puppet, Scarface, is always with him. It’s a little weird seeing a hand puppet make threats, but hey, it worked.

Batman’s own personal Suicide Squad then escapes in a life raft made of bubble gum from Punch and Jewelee, who were faking their own demise. So much eww.

Bane’s defeat here sets up the final confrontation and the third part of King’s mega-arc. After the popular Batman run from Scott Snyder during the New 52, King had big shoes to fill, but I think he’s actually doing better work than the story Snyder told. This book continues to be required reading for anyone interested in the DC Universe.

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