The futures of several DC titles are dependent on the outcome of Justice League vs. Suicide Squad. While tremendously fun, the series has so far failed to produce the one book that turns the universe upside down. Until now. Forget everything before this, because Justice League vs. Suicide Squad #5 is the game changer for Rebirth.
With Max Lord controlling the Justice League – sans Batman – things actually don’t look too bad. All the weapons of mass destruction are disarmed, the borders and shores secured, the world’s leaders under Wonder Woman’s protection, and Lord assumes control of the United States from the White House. Wanting someone to appreciate his “saving of the world,” Lord instructs Superman to bring Amanda Waller to him. Lord boasts to her about how he’s in control of the diamond; however, Waller warns him of its sinister power. Proving her right, the darker entity eventually takes over and Lord realizes what he’s done when it’s too late.
The chaos leaves Batman with no other choice but to join forces with the Suicide Squad and a rejuvenated Lobo. Giving his pre-battle pep talk to the team, the Dark Knight shocks everyone by saying they’re now Justice League members. Together, the newly formed team face-off against the Zombie League, with the fate of the world at stake.
While we’re all sick of the fate-of-the-world cliché and glowing bad guys in the sky, Joshua Williamson does something special here. He’s written the story that should’ve become the Suicide Squad film. Williamson’s glowing bad guy isn’t a hula dancer and actually has Earth’s greatest heroes under his spell – the threat’s a legitimate one. This puts the onus on Batman to lead his new team against the biggest threat they’ve ever faced. There’s a definite Tower of Babel vibe to this arc, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Batman has a trick up his sleeve for the finale. If so, it’ll be a nice nod to the classic JLA story.
Bursting with so many characters and personalities on parade, Williamson does everyone justice over 40 pages. His dialogue is among the best in the series, with the characters’ interactions furthering the story without being too expository. When you consider how tonally different most of these characters are, Williamson must be commended for pulling it all together. His story manages to merge fun, action, sci-fi and character development in a cohesive manner.
Complementing the writing is Robson Rocha’s artwork. It’s a return to form for the series, which has featured such outstanding art (bar issue #4). Rocha might be known for his time on Earth 2: World’s End and Green Lanterns, but his exceptional work here will have the main series’ artists looking over their shoulders. He possesses the rare ability to combine the best of the older generation with the new, and his character designs – especially that of Lobo and Harley Quinn – are superb. Let’s hope the DC editors take note of his efforts and give him a regular run on a big book.
Justice League vs. Suicide Squad has finally delivered on its promise. Everything is lined up for a blockbuster conclusion, and there’s no reason it should be anything less. Williamson and Rocha, take a bow; this is a five-star issue that delivers in every way.
Finally, Justice League vs. Suicide Squad gives us everything it initially promised as Williamson and Rocha take the series to a bold new level.