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Review: War for Earth-3 trade paperback (DC Comics)

It may very well tell you all you need to know about the War for Earth-3 crossover that two of the three series involved would be cancelled within two issues. Without having finished those books yet, I can’t say for certain that War for Earth-3 is totally irrelevant, however you might define that among serial comics, but my guess is this event will affect Flash not at all, nor the soon-to-be-cancelled Teen Titans Academy. The also soon-to-be-cancelled Suicide Squad is the series most attached to War, but I’m skeptical there’s great importance in the last two issues of Squad following War before that book ends.

As mentioned, War for Earth-3 is really a Suicide Squad book, following direct from Robbie Thompson’s Infinite Frontier-era Suicide Squad #12 and culminating a variety of story threads Thompson’s been building. Jeremy Adams' Flash and Tim Sheridan’s Teen Titans Academy are just along for the ride, coinciding with the story in the flimsiest of ways and exiting just as blithely.

Which is not all bad. In an era of super-mega-crossovers, War for Earth-3 feels old school, and the inclusion of otherwise unrelated characters is charmingly quaint — that the Titans and the Flash can get randomly sucked in to a Suicide Squad conflict makes the DC Universe landscape feel more real, where wrong place at the wrong time stuff does happen. It’s also fun, as always, to have a whole mess of characters on the page that you don’t often see together — Rick Flag and Starfire and Mirror Master and Ambush Bug and a variety of Multiversal counterparts.

War starts in the middle of things; the story structure sees it often jumping around in time, not with obvious necessity; and by the end the book pretty well falls apart. All of which is to say that overly discerning readers may need not apply — this will not go down in the annals of great DC Comics events (and, for a contemporary comparison, Trial of the Amazons is better). Equally if one’s main focus is Flash or Teen Titans Academy, the tie-in issues can each be found in those books' own trades. For Suicide Squad, this is more of a must-read, though not the franchise’s finest hour.

[Review contains spoilers]

To an extent, War follows in the auspicious wake of Infinite Frontier and Justice League Incarnate. Grant Morrison’s well-defined Multiversity Multiverse is now open for the using, and Robbie Thompson and company do just that, if not quite as well as their predecessors. We’ve a Clayface from Earth-23 here (President Superman Calvin Ellis' Earth) and Harley Quinn from Earth-8 (the Marvel analogue), though neither seem to embody recognizable aspects that tie them to those Earths. Similarly Thompson’s most impressive creation is Etrigan the Brainiac 666, a techno-horror wonder, though the writers never deign to determine where he’s from. This is better than nothing, though other similar works are better.

[See the latest DC trade solicitations.]

To the Squad writers' credit, late in the book they start suddenly and unceremoniously killing villains, a time-honored Squad tradition that’s not enacted as much any more. “Death” is a loose concept in Thompson’s Squad given that Amanda Waller has figured how to bring her soldiers back from the dead; as such, the death of Talon William Cobb is shocking but swiftly mitigated. But I was taken aback when Bloodsport kills Parker, an underling with whom Waller has been surprisingly close (shades of Bonnie from Sean Ryan’s New Suicide Squad run). Thompson has built up a connection (I half expected Parker was a disguised Rick Flag) and so Parker’s sudden, inglorious death seems like Squad at its truest.

But again, the goal here seems more amusing mayhem than good sense, not to mention it’s a rare crossover that doesn’t get messy in wrangling all the different pieces. Flash picks up with the Crime Syndicate’s Johnny Quick in a different place then he was last seen, and on a side mission for Waller to steal the Cosmic Treadmill, which isn’t ever actually used in the story. The Earth-8 Harley Quinn morphs into our Harley Quinn between Sheridan’s Teen Titans Academy and Thompson and Dennis Hopeless’s War #2, and it’s not clear which writer intended what. Flag’s team goes specifically to recruit the Titans (in a groan-worthy fight-and-team-up issue), though why Flag wouldn’t want the Justice League instead, I’m not sure. Cyborg appears fighting on a cover even as he’s comatose thoughout the story.

At the core of War, the conflict is as much between Amanda Waller and Rick Flag as anyone else; Flag is trying to stop Waller from doing whatever she’s doing on Earth-3, though it may be more about Waller breaking faith with Flag (as Nightwing astutely points out to Flag, he knows all about mentors behaving badly). But Flag doesn’t actually know what Waller’s doing on Earth-3, so the conflict Thompson and Hopeless have created sags a bit; all the heroes (and heroic villains) are too happy to follow Flag into battle, though it’s never clear what they think they’re trying to prevent.



Still, at the end of War for Earth-3 it does feel genuinely Squad-like as characters begin to switch between Rick Flag and Amanda Waller’s teams with abandon. Even if Robbie Thompson and Dennis Hopeless were never convincing that Waller is in the wrong here, her hero turn is well done, even if it requires a variety of stupid moves on Flag’s part. Again, for a crossover “event,” War is not strong (and particularly struggles in the art); it’s a boon for the Infinite Frontier Suicide Squad to have rated a between-the-pages event, but it’s befuddling the series should be cancelled right after.

[Includes original and variant covers, character bios]

This post first appeared on Collected Editions | Blog, Collected Comics Review, please read the originial post: here

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Review: War for Earth-3 trade paperback (DC Comics)


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