Writer: John Ostrander
Art: Carlos Rodriguez/Gus Vazquez
War Crimes seems to be one of those books where someone in editorial decided that the Suicide Squad hype machine should be milked as much as it can before it leaves theaters. So, they decided, let’s release one extra issue entirely unrelated to the current Suicide Squad series and bring back the guy who made it famous, John Ostrander. No offense to the man, but his return suffers from the “you can’t go home again” problem that plagues writers who return to the books that made them famous.
Look, this happens every so often. Chris Claremont returned to X-Men after a lengthy absence, as did Peter David to The Incredible Hulk. In both cases, it just wasn’t what the readers remembered. The writer changed, and the reader looked back at old runs through the lens of nostalgia. The new stuff can’t help but come out different, because the passage of time does that.
So in this case, we have John Ostrander–the guy who invented the modern version of the Suicide Squad–come back for one more stab at the current incarnation of the team. It’s OK, but nothing phenomenal. It may even be a little dated, with the story revolving around the Squad having to rescue a very obvious expy of Donald Rumsfeld, a guy who hasn’t been in the news in close to a decade. Readers will probably get the reference, but the U.S. has been out of Iraq for so long that they may not care.
Worse, as a one-shot, this doesn’t allow for much meaningful character development. It can’t, because that’s all being done in the current book. There’s maybe a little bit of witty interplay between Boomerang and his teammates, but that’s it–everyone else is, at best, an underdeveloped copy of what’s going on in the main title. It also doesn’t help that the art chores aren’t quite right. At times, the drawings are static or posed oddly given the particular sequence, such as “Rumsfeld” taking a nonsensical pose while he’s being kidnapped, or El Diablo’s head being drawn inhumanly squat.
Ultimately, War Crimes isn’t a great comic. It’s an OK comic, but perhaps not the best choice for introducing a new reader to either the Squad or to John Ostrander. The former can be done with this month’s much less expensive Suicide Squad #1, and the latter can be done with the new trades collecting the 1980s series.
Rating: Two stars out of five.