The Suicide Squad is on assignment for the government to help deal with the problem of Atlantis rising from the depths, but Amanda Waller has more than one iron in the fire. Find out what happens when she drafts another team of criminals to deal with a problem closer to home. Let’s check out Suicide Squad Annual #1 from DC Comics.
Writers: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Ronan Cliquet
Cover: Paul Pelletier and Mick Gray
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $4.99
Previously in Suicide Squad: After foiling the latest machinations of the Kobra Cult, the team has been assigned to a major international crisis as Atlantis has risen from the sea right outside of the United States. But there is more than one crisis brewing, and Waller has to make a substitution when things go sideways in her backyard.
A NEW MISSION, A NEW TEAM
Deep within Belle Reve Prison, a team of doctors and scientist struggle to save a man who has been joined through an unknown means (SCIENCE!) to a young woman. But even their most noble efforts prove lacking. But as the man dies, the woman revives, and within moments kills those who tried to save her before disappearing into the swamps of Terrebonne Parish. Needless to say, Amanda Waller is not happy. Despite assertions that the escapee, Cadence Laramie, will be dead within six hours without her symbiotic partner, Dennis Gaines, Waller refuses to take a chance. With Task Force X dealing with the Atlantis situation, she is forced to mobilize another team of criminals, a B-Team, if you will. This is how Merylyn of The League of Assassins, Scream Queen of Scare Tactics, Shimmer of the Fearsome Five, Skorpio of the Injustice League Unlimited, Rag Doll of Batman’s Rogues Gallery and Tao Jones and Baby Boom of Helix, all find themselves tracking the escaped mad woman through the swamps. But even before they can find her, the swamp itself rises up to aid her. The Swamp Thing is determined to protect this mad young woman, and will not let a second-rate team of criminals stand in the way of what he perceives as his duty. Cadence has her own powers, and she brings them to bear in a horrifying way.
BEWARE THE WRATH OF…
To populate this alternate Suicide Squad, Cullen Bunn (The Sixth Gun, Blue Beetle) has gone into the archives of DC villainy and brought us some great ones! Some of the choices are surprising, and some are exciting. Cullen has proven his chops in writing for some of the biggest publishers over the years, and he just does it well. He’s one of those writers you hear about and hear about often in so many different projects you can’t believe he is one man. He went back to the old style of annuals with this, a done in one story that may or may not have threads lead back into other tales in the future, but perfectly enjoyable without them ever coming up again. He handles plots and subplots well, and his interpretation of Swamp Thing in these pages if excellent. Here, Swamp Thing is not some aloof guardian of the green, he is a protector who is trying to save a lost soul. His reasons may be his own, but it is nice to see him a little more human in his thinking.
Ronan Cliquet has a style here that reminds me greatly of Tom Mandrake and his original run of Suicide Squad way back when. Great character art with classily inspired panel designs bring the story alive, while bold color choices by colorist Jason Wright (Secret Six, The Flash) draw your eye across the page. It is a wonderfully visual look, and one that deserves its place in a special event such as an annual. I’ll be looking out for this pair to team-up again.
BOTTOM LINE: WALLER AT HER DIRTIEST
With the series regulars currently engaging Aquaman in the Sink Atlantis storyline, it would have been easy to ignore that and write a past tale of that squad. Luckily Bunn and associates took a more daring route and drafted a whole new team of bad guys to be the tip of Amanda Waller’s spear. The overall choice of characters is a little odd, but it works. I always enjoyed the idea of there being more than one Suicide Squad in the fired at a time, and I would not be opposed to a title which featured a more regularly rotating cast, or different teams in different situations. By the end of the story, Waller proves that while she may consider herself the most dangerous operative in the swamp, she has competition.
With a tale of another different Task Force X on the hunt, Suicide Squad Annual #1 is a great diversion from the stories involving the series regulars. It has tons of potential for follow-up and will satisfy even the most loyal follower of the regular series. Track down your own copy down at your local comic shop.