We have reached the end of the year AND the end of the most recent Suicide Squad arc, The Secret History of Task Force X. After a robot from space attacks Amanda Waller, the Squad is sent to an old space station. There they meet the original Task Force X, who were tasked to destroy an alien known as the Red Wave. Before they get the chance, the monster gains control of most of the Squad through telepathy. The only free member, Harley Quinn, ends up causing a device in the Red Wave’s cell to open a portal to the Phantom Zone. This allows Rick Flag Jr. to make a dramatic return and retake control of the Squad. Will Rick be able to even the odds against the dinosaur from space or is it already too late to stop it?
With Rick Flag’s return, the Squad is forced to fall in as they have one last mission in space. They need to save Karin Grace. The problem, however, is that she is on a crash course with the sun, the Red Wave Monster in tow. When the rest of the team agree that it’s a lost cause, Rick forces them out, causing a rift between him and his team. The Squad fights the giant alien dinosaur and wins, but at several unforeseen costs.
I think my biggest problem with this conclusion is that this arc has led to restarting the whole series. Almost every form of character development made over the course of the series thus far has been tossed. Harley’s attraction to Flag that changed her personality–gone! Killer Croc’s more human side–removed! Flag’s promise to try and get everyone home–thrown out with his morals, apparently. It’s as if Rob Williams had to make the Squad as miserable as those in the Suicide Squad movie. If that is the case, it has been executed perfectly, at the cost of the comic’s uniqueness. I have no problem with a reset when it is a change of creative teams, but when it’s unannounced and the same writer, it only leaves me with asking “why?”
Even the plot points for this arc became almost entirely pointless. For example, a big deal was made about the unstable Phantom Zone portal in the last issue. The portal’s instability threatened to swallow the universe like a black hole. At the start of this issue, they seal it behind a door… And that’s it. You mean to tell me that a giant safe from the late 50’s is strong enough to hold back a black hole? I know there has to be a suspension of disbelief but this is ridiculous!
While the story began to falter at the midway point of the arc, the art team changed and improved. The penciling team did amazing work here, alongside the inkers. The characters are drawn fantastically, and with the colors of Adriano Lucas, they pop off the page. The Red Wave Monster attacking the Space Station looks amazing in particular. The colors make the monster pop, the shadows make it look menacing, and the design is just fantastic overall. It’s good to see that an arc that started with subpar art can finish so strong.
This was a very lackluster arc to end the year with. What started as a fantastic way to honor the past of the Suicide Squad ended up being a big reset for the characters. While the issue looks amazing, the story has too many faults to overlook. The Secret History of Task Force X probably should have stayed a secret.