I just had an interesting visceral reaction to a news report over at Newsarama regarding something near and dear to my heart.
Back in the 1980s, I proudly had a hand in the creation of Suicide Squad, reviving an old DC team and thoroughly updating it for modern times. It was a very Silver Age thing for me to do and I delighted in planning and scheming with writer John Ostrander.
From the outset, the reader identification character was to be Rick Flag, the original team leader from the Brave & Bold issues. He was the sole survivor of the team and a veteran of some ugly battles. Flag had a bit of a death wish given his survivor’s guilt, letting him take unnecessary risks to get the job done.
It was also clear to John that Flag was going to pay the price for that recklessness sooner or later. We had decided we’d close out the series’ second year by letting Flag go out in a blaze of glory, dying in a nuclear explosion. It worked for stirring things up for the title and for the character.
So, I was reading Greg Rucka’s thoughts on the latest incarnation of the team, soon to appear in his Checkmate. Buried towards the interview’s end was his comment that Flag was back from the dead. I say out loud, “No, he’s dead!” No doubt, I have now joined the legion of editors, writers and artists to disagree with an editorial decision regarding characters once under my control.
Flag’s story was told. It all was tied up with a very nice boom. I can see little reason in resurrecting him. On the other hand, he now joins an illustrious collection of characters whose stories were told only to find yet another chapter awaited them – Bucky, Jason Todd, Arisia, Kilowog, and so on.
Still, it’s been a while since I read something that earned such an emotional response. I loved working on Suicide Squad, getting some terrific work from artist Luke McDonnell and Karl Kesel. Heck, Karl loved the series concept so much he would send lengthy handwritten ideas to me and John, labeling them “Kesel’s Epistles”. Together, we must achieved something with the title – it lasted 66 issues and has been resurrected time and again, not a bad addition to the mythology.