NEW 52 REVIEW: Suicide Squad #1

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DC Comic’s team of nasties and ne’er-do-wells returns with Suicide Squad #1. Will this relaunch accomplish its mission or will it make readers want to… um, yeah…

SUICIDE SQUAD #1
Writer: Adam Glass
Artists: Federico Dallocchio & Ransom Getty & Scott Hanna
Colorist: Val Staples
Letterer: Jared K. Fletcher
Assistant Editor: Sean Mackiewicz
Editor: Pat McCallum
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

Previously, on Suicide Squad: Gail Simone’s run on Secret Six was one of the best in (my) recent comics memory. Its replacement in the new DCU is the Suicide Squad, which reintroduces the concept of a government superteam made of supervillains, willing to risk death for a chance to get out of prison.

BAD GUYS DOING BAD THINGS

To me, Secret Six is the greatest casualty of the Great DC Reboot and so its spiritual successor Suicide Squad engenders some bittersweet feelings. It is unfair to compare it to its antecedent, but somewhat impossible not to. Luckily, Adam Glass has written an issue that is violent, funny and a proper number one. Glass introduces the main characters (via brief flashbacks), explains the concept clearly and does an expert job in setting the tone for the series. The exposition is delivered naturally through dialogue, and everything is explained comprehensibly for new readers.

In regards to the tone, make no mistake, this is going to be a brutal book. From issue’s beginning to end, horrible things happen. The first page features rats attempting to nibble through Deadshot’s midsection, and various other tortures are committed upon Harley Quinn, El Diablo, King Shark, Black Spider, Voltaic and Savant throughout. Arms are bitten off, ants crawl on faces, families are set on fire. Glass makes it clear that this is going to be an ugly book about brutal people doing brutal things. And for a series called Suicide Squad, that’s appropriate. The narrative really got under my skin like a good horror film, and the ending was suitably freaky enough to sign me up for the next issue. It could be too rough for some people (it makes Marvel’s Thunderbolts look like pussycats) but if you’ve got a strong stomach, you’ll be fine.

JUST PICK ONE AND STICK WITH IT

Much virtual ink has been spilled regarding some of the questionable character design choices (e.g. skanky Harley Quinn, hammerhead King Shark, skinny and sexualized Amanda Waller), but none of those topics trouble me as much as this issue’s frustrating inconsistency in overall artwork. As you can see, no less than three artists are credited on this issue, and believe me, it shows. It wouldn’t be so bad if one artist worked on the flashback sections while another did the modern day work, but no such division exists. Some of the art is great and shadowy, some of it is bad and rubbery, but the fluctuation between the two styles is the greatest sin. It’s jarring. This issue has been planned for quite some time – did they have to use a fill-in artist or is this just bad choice? It really hurts the quality and officially bummed me out.

CHECK IT OUT

This is one of my favorite books to come out of the DC relaunch, but it definitely isn’t for everyone. If I didn’t make it clear enough, this book is mean, but it happens to be my kind of mean. It is also one of the best of DC’s number ones at making clear just what it is doing right out of the gate. There isn’t any questions about what is or isn’t in continuity, and the ending literally drops the team into the action in classic cliffhanger fashion. Unfortunately, the shenanigans on art left a sour taste in my mouth, making what could have been a stunning debut merely really good. Four stars out of five.

Rating: ★★★★☆