When Warner Bros. allowed DC to access its Hanna Barbera properties, only a select few knew it would lead to the superheroes meeting the cartoon characters. It sounds a little crazy, but then again, nothing is crazier than the Suicide Squad Banana Splits Special #1.
Writer: Tony Bedard
Artist: Ben Caldwell
Colorist: Jeremy Lawson
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $4.99
PREVIOUSLY IN… “SUICIDE SPLITS”! Mistaken for metahumans, thrown in the bowels of Belle Reve, the animal rock band Banana Splits are recruited by Amanda Waller for a secret mission: to save the Suicide Squad! What follows is the weirdest team-up you never thought you’d see! How can Fleegle, Bingo, Drooper and Snorky stand up to Harley, Deadshot, Katana and Croc?
And in the backup feature, Snagglepuss is a Southern gothic playwright working with an ensemble cast of cultural figures, exploring an intensely creative time in the New York City theater scene of the 1950s. – From the Publisher
A BANANAS STORY
You may be too young to remember the halcyon days of the Banana Splits. Heck, I’m pushing 50, and barely remember any of their antics. I do remember the Banana Splits song, and I think it is the memory of what the all animal musical team was that makes this issue intriguing. I never would have put the Banana Splits in the Bubblegum Pop category – and if you ever go to prison, you probably shouldn’t mention that you are in one of those bands – but here they are, on the way to a gig, when a misunderstanding with the police lands them in Belle Reve.
There is a moment at the beginning of this issue that feels like the story will focus on the social issues of today, which makes many of the Hanna Barbera comics work so well, but then you remember this book also features the Suicide Squad. With the Squad lost on a mission, and about to be terminated, Amanda Waller pulls the Banana Splits out of their prison hell holes and throws them into a rescue mission in exchange for their freedom. It only gets stranger from there, as both teams work to blow up a factory that is churning out little girl robots that will take over the planet, and rescue Rick Flag in the process.
The story is equal parts insanity and brilliance that can only work in a comic book. I don’t think this story could work in an animated series, and it definitely wouldn’t work on the big screen – so please don’t even beg H’wood to make it.
While the action may be over the top in Suicide Squad Banana Splits Special #1, Ben Caldwell’s art makes it work. There are sequences in the issue that are literally the slow walk toward the camera, and fight scene from Inception moments. There are crazy angles that you don’t normally see in comic book art, and though there isn’t a moving camera, the image comes alive with what feels like whip pans, Michael Bay low-angles, and a huge music video at the end of the issue. Throughout it all, there is a anthropomorphic monkey with a scary-ass grin permanently affixed to his face. It is a bit unnerving to see characters that are guys in costume drawn in a way that makes you realize, there aren’t any guys in costume engaged in a prison brawl.
There is a lot of passion in every single panel, and though this is the wildest wide you’ll partake in all year, the line work and coloring are wonderful. There isn’t a beheaded robot, or Harley Quinn panel in this entire issue that fails.
BOTTOM LINE: I’M MORE INTERESTED IN SNAGGLEPUSS
While I can appreciate what DC is trying to do by mixing up two of the craziest teams in the Warner Bros. library, there is something that feels odd about this issue. Maybe it is just too crazy and over the top for my liking, but I found the Snagglepuss backup to be much more interesting, entertaining, and “deep.” If you are a fan of Crank or Fast and Furious 6, then Suicide Squad Banana Splits Special #1 is going to be perfect for you. The team of Bedard and Caldwell did a great job of bringing these two teams together and those it seems like an odd combination, in the end everything works.