News Flash: Read this before Action Comics #981! This issue picks up where we last left off with Zod ready to kill the Suicide Squad with Eradicator and Cyborg Superman close by. Yeah, those odds aren’t good for a team of mostly B-level powered heroes.
Writer: Rob Williams
Artist: Neil Edwards
Publisher: DC Comics
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
“EARTHLINGS ON FIRE” finale! The saga of the Black Vault comes to an appropriately insane finale when General Zod breaks free of Amanda Waller’s control, lays waste to the Suicide Squad and prepares to welcome an army of Kryptonian conquerors from the twisted realm within the Black Vault. But help arrives from the least likely allies: the Eradicator and Cyborg-Superman!
Why does this book matter?
Directly tying into Superman’s storyline, this is a key chapter as it involves Zod’s (probable) involvement with the villains who plot to kill Superman. Writer Rob Williams has also raised the stakes so high it’s exciting to see how these heroes get out of this one.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Harley is scared and that makes me sad!
Harley’s relationship with Flag ends up being a character changing moment, which adds a layer to the overall work. That adds a human element to an otherwise batshit crazy issue with the squad fighting off Kryptonian ghosts while Zod pounds Cyborg Superman into submission. That allows Williams to write in some fun off color reactions for the team, with Boomerang standing out as particularly realistic when facing such insane enemies.
As far as fight comics go, Neil Edwards draws a strong issue with Zod, Cyborg Superman, and Eradicator going at it full tilt. It’s impressive how Zod can cut through these characters and it’s a good reminder he’s at a strength that equals or maybe even rivals Superman. The reactions of the Suicide Squad to all the lunacy is good too, like Boomerang’s excellent reaction below.
Gotta love Boomerang in this last panel.
It can’t be perfect can it?
Given Flag and Harley only recently consummated their relationship, the choice of Flag to save everyone by sacrificing himself–and the reaction of Harley after it all–seems a bit much. We’re to believe Harley is in love with the guy after so little has been shown with them, which makes for a cheapened ending for a character. This is comics though, and it’s a way to get Harley back into the full crazy mode, but it just wasn’t executed all that well. There are also moments that ring false with Waller, who goes into full shock mode straight out of a horror movie. It’s very unlike her to lose her s--t like this and when she does it just rings false.
Zod as homicidal maniac is wearing thin as well. He’s basically a rabid dog, even when talking to Cyborg Superman (who he really hates). This issue further makes Cyborg Superman and the Eradicator seem stupid or at the very least naive. They come off as desperate for Zod’s help and even allow Zod to take charge. For villains who are building towards a master place over in Action Comics they don’t come off well.
The Suicide Squad are mostly on the sidelines in this issue too. They certainly close a door when it comes to a big threat, but they can’t make a dent in any of these Kryptonian characters and don’t even know what they’re doing with the ghosts either. The stakes are high, they’re out of their element, and come out of this one looking weak when faced with big threats.
Is It Good?
A decent fight comic that seems off in a variety of ways. Characters react to things in unnatural ways, more is made of Harley’s relationship to Flag, and the team serves as bystanders to Kryptonian battling more than anything. Overall it’s a bit off.
Like what we do here at AIPT? Consider supporting us and independent comics journalism by becoming a patron today! In addition to our sincere thanks, you can browse AIPT ad-free, gain access to our vibrant Discord community of patrons and staff members, get trade paperbacks sent to your house every month, and a lot more. Click the button below to get started!