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Comic Book / Justice League vs. Suicide Squad

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Justice League vs. Suicide Squad is a 2016-2017 crisis crossover published by DC Comics —and the first major event of the DC Rebirth era— written by Joshua Williamson with art by Jason Fabook.

For years, the Suicide Squad operated in the shadows under Amanda Waller's tight leash, assembling only when needed. Nobody could ever learn of their existence, and nobody outside the loop ever has.

Except Batman, that is. Turns out he's known about Task Force X —the Suicide Squad— for a little while now, but has never had any reason to divulge his intel with the rest of the Justice League.

Until now. As you'd probably expect, their first meeting doesn't pan out very peacefully. But when a Greater-Scope Villain threatens both teams equally, they'll have to come together to stop it — or die trying.

While the aftermath of this event is sure to be substantial for both sides involved, perhaps the biggest product of Justice League vs. Suicide Squad is the new Justice League of America (Rebirth) series written by Steve Orlando (Midnighter), featuring Batman forming a new iteration of the JLA populated with the likes of Black Canary, Lobo, The Ray, Vixen, Killer Frost, and The Atom.

Compare to Marvel's Inhumans vs. X-Men, a similar event series running concurrently to JLvSS.

Justice League vs. Suicide Squad provides examples of:

  • Adaptational Wimp:
    • Maxwell Lord was so dangerous pre-Flashpoint because his control was absolute once it was established. Here it can be thrown off and by Max's own admission his powers are closer to an amped-up Charm Person than actual mind control; he can't make people do something that they absolutely don't want to do. That being said he can tweak even the slightest thought that a person has in order to take control of them.
    • Johnny Sorrow's powers are so dangerous because nobody can really withstand them unless they are ungodly powerful. Here, while they are hyped up, his Brown Note Nightmare Face's only successful target is himself, with Harley Quinn being nigh inexplicably immune.
  • Artifact of Power: Not only are Simon and Jessica Green Lanterns and thus have the rings, but Emerald Empress's Eye functions as this.
  • Artistic License: One flashback issue takes place in Marblehead, Massachusetts, but features a Catholic church (the only Catholic church in Marblehead is Our Lady Star of the Sea, which looks nothing like the one presented), and has Maxwell Lords' parents interred on Old Burial Hill, which is a historic cemetery.
  • Avengers Assemble: The mini-series begins with each of the villains displaying their powers, even if the villains themselves aren't shown.
  • Batman Gambit: In tie-in issue of Suicide Squad, after their first mission, Amanda understands that the members of the her first Suicide Squad are too dangerous and hired Lobo to kill the member Cyclotron because, unknown to "The Man", he is a human bomb. The explosion knocks out the group and they are locked away.
  • Big Bad: Maxwell Lord. His plan is free the first Suicide Squad and use them to retrieve the Eclipso diamond and increase his mind-control powers.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The world is saved from Eclipso, but most of the villains have scattered. Batman recruits Killer Frost and Lobo into the League, but Waller has plans for Max Lord involving a mysterious "Task Force XI".
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Max Lord uses the Eclipso diamond to mind-control the Justice Leaguers, sans Batman.
  • The Chessmaster: If Max is to be believed, then the entire event was because of Amanda Waller herself, freaking out at the idea of Batman discovering the Squad.
  • Continuity Snarl: The premise of the crossover is that the League have just found out about the Suicide Squad and are fighting Waller over the idea of them. The thing is, in the New 52, basically everyone, including many Leaguers, already knew about the Squad. It was easily one of the worst kept secrets in the world.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The possessed Superman delivers one to Batman. Not even the Kryptonite Ring works on him.
  • Designated Girl Fight: Played with. One of the announced (and very hyped, as depictions of it appear on multiple variant covers for the series) matchups was Wonder Woman vs. Harley Quinn, a fight that on paper sounds like an obvious Curb-Stomp Battle in Diana's favor. The actual fight is exactly that, with Wonder Woman more annoyed with Harley than anything else.
  • Didn't Think This Through: As Cyborg points out, Eclipso never messed with someone with psychic powers and is enjoying playing with Max's head, meaning that for all of Max's precautions, he was still possessed.
  • Evil Is Not a Toy: Max was sure he could control Eclipso's power. He was wrong.
  • Evil Counterpart: Rustam is one to Rick Flag, as he was the field commander of the proto-Suicide Squad.
  • Generic Doomsday Villain: Eclipso makes the world descend into chaos because?
  • Healing Factor: Lobo has this, to the point where he regenerates his head being blown off by one of Waller's brain bombs. It gives him Nigh-Invulnerability.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Wonder Woman defeats Johnny Sorrow this way by using her bracelets to reflect his image to him.
  • Idiot Ball:
    • The League attacking the Suicide Squad without giving them the chance to explain the situation.
    • Superman faces the Enchantress, the only magic-powered member of the Suicide Squad, and therefore the only person who could hurt him. To take it a step further he even lets his guard down when she pretends to be June.
  • I Gave My Word: Lobo agrees to kill Cyclotron after Waller promises him a bigger payout. Cyclotron points out that Waller is most likely lying through her teeth, which Lobo agrees with but still goes through with his attack because he already made a deal to do so.
    • Lobo offers Batman his services free of charge for one job whenever Batman wants. Batman almost immediately hires Lobo to be a member of the Justice League. Lobo tries to back out but agrees when Batman asks if Lobo is a man of his word.
  • Insanity Immunity: When Harley looks into Johnny Sorrow's face, which usually kills anyone who sees it, she's unaffected, describing it as "cute", and subsequently explains to Wonder Woman "Once you've looked into one abyss you've seen 'em all".
  • Intangibility: Johnny Sorrow is intangible while he's wearing his mask, as he demonstrates against Captain Boomerang.
  • Kryptonite Ring: Averted. Batman tries to use this on the possessed Superman, but it doesn't work at all.
  • Lampshade Hanging; In issue #1, Simon Baz points out how absurd it seems for the two groups to be fighting, since the League seems far more powerful.
  • Large Ham: Johnny Sorrow is this. He is a pre-talkies actor transferred through time, and also a big dramatic speech-maker.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: Which you probably guessed from the title.
  • Let Us Never Speak of This Again: When Flash rescues Captain Boomerang from Johnny Sorrow's demons, Boomerang asks Flash to never mention it again, and never speak of it to the other Rogues. Flash agrees.
  • Magnetism Manipulation: Dr. Polaris has this. Cyborg reveals that he specifically built an electromagnet into his body to negate magnetism used on him, and prevent opponents with Magnetism Manipulation from taking control of his body.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: When Waller forces Max to see that he didn't save the world, he sent it into chaos, and Max is horrified by what he's done.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: What makes the group of Emerald Empress, Lobo, Rustam, Johnny Sorrow and Dr. Polaris such a threatening group? They were the first Suicide Squad, trained by Waller herself. Max Lord breaks them out and agrees to a Roaring Rampage of Revenge on Waller.
  • One-Woman Army: Killer Frost takes out the entire Justice League after absorbing the solar energy in Superman's body.
  • Oh, Crap!: In issue 5, Killer Frost notices that the sun is being covered by an eclipse. When asked, Boomerang declares that this is where the dingo ate the baby.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Waller outright asks the Justice League for help against ask Max and his team. Given how much of a stubborn Control Freak she is this showcases just how dire the threat is.
  • Psychic Nosebleed: Max still gets these when he uses his powers too strongly. Waller exploits this in the final issue by pumping him full of blood thinners so that if he tries using his powers he'll suffer fatal blood loss.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: The epilogue for the story has Rustam go after Waller, only for him to allow her to kidnap them to "protect" them. When her daughter reveals that she's pregnant, she shuts her out of her life because she shut everyone else out of her life in favor of her work.
    Waller: This feels like losing. But I won.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: When Superman catches sight of Max Lord, his eyes flare up, remembering what his Max Lord did to him in the lead-up to Infinite Crisis. He scares the crap out of Captain Boomerang when the latter feels he isn't that frightening.
  • Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory: Emerald Empress and Johnny Sorrow are both able to perceive that reality has been altered due to their powers and supplementary material confirms that Sorrow remembers the Justice Society despite history being changed.
  • Sequel Hook: Lots. Emerald Empress panics when the Eye gets damaged and attempts to escape, ranting about trying to find Saturn Girl. Both Green Lanterns have no idea who Saturn Girl is, but Superman does, though an Editor's Box lets everyone know that story'll continue in Supergirl (Rebirth). The other escaped villains will also show up in other titles. Also, Batman recruits Lobo and Killer Frost for his own private version of the Justice League. And at the end Amanda Waller forces Maxwell Lord to join Task Force XI, setting up Justice League: No Justice.
  • Shout-Out: Twice in issue 4:
    • When Batman recruits Lobo and the Suicide Squad into the Justice League, they're positioned the same way as the popular cover to Justice League (1987) issue 1
    • When Max Lord crows victory, he shouts "I did it! I DID IT!" while throwing his arms in the air, which is what Ozymandias cries out when he achieves peace.
  • Sir Not-Appearing-in-This-Trailer: Neither of the Rebirth Green Lanterns (Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz) or the Enchantress and El Diablo appear on the cover of #1, making them the only members of their teams not pictured.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Killer Frost is the most focused character in the story and the key character in the defeat of Eclipso.
  • Summoning Artifact: Johnnty Sorrow's mask is apparently sentient, as it calls to a new owner. And it can be used to create a portal and summon demons.
  • Super Prototype: The Big Bad Ensemble, sans Maxwell Lord was actually the first attempt by Amanda Waller to create a Suicide Squad. It's later revealed that Lobo was never a member- he was hired to kill them all and flubbed it.
  • Team Shot:
    • Issue #1 features one of the Justice League when they show up to apprehend the Squad.
    • Issue #4 features one when Batman inducts Lobo and the Squad into the League.
  • Wham Episode: Issue 6 serves as one both internally and for the greater universe. The entire event was apparently planned out by Waller in order to keep the Batman and the League from disbanding the Suicide Squad. The villains that Max recruited have escaped and are free to pursue their own agendas, with shots of both Empress and Johnny Sorrow's mask hinting at involvement from the Legion of Superheroes and the Justice Society in the future. The issue ends with Waller revealing that she intends to recruit Max not for Task Force X, but for Task Force XI, meaning the history of the project goes much further than ever realized.
  • Wham Line: A few at the end of issue 6 that hint at things to come and turn the whole event on its head:
    • First is Max wondering how he failed, which leads to this line:
    Max: It's clear that every single step was meticulously mapped out before I even conceived of a you, Amanda.
    • While going on about the escaped villains Empress is seen planning her next move:
    Empress: If I can't find Saturn Girl alone... perhaps I can do so with five."
    • An ARGUS tech hears Johnny Sorrow's mask whispering to her and talks about what she's hearing:
    ARGUS Tech: The mask—It's whispering—About a lost Society.
    • Finally there's Waller's talk with Max about what she has planned for him, in response to thinking she's drafting him for the Suicide Squad:
    Waller: Your talents would be wasted in Task Force X. But you're perfect for Task Force XI.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Killer Frost chews out Batman for wanting to try to save the day alone, pointing out that the world is her home, too, and she isn't going to let the Eclipso-affected heroes stop her.
  • Your Head Asplode: Batman frees Lobo from mind control by shoving one of Waller's brain bombs in his mouth, blowing his head up. He knows his healing factor will bring him back.