10 Issues In: The New Suicide Squad
Well it’s been a while but I finally hit a series’ tenth issue. I originally decided to do these segments at ten issues since at that point enough issues have passed to fully judge a book fairly. However, looking back at my previous articles I see that in most cases I gush over the book since usually, if it’s not up to snuff, I’ve dropped it well before issue #10 hits stands. I’m happy to say that this time around I’ll be taking a different tone as we jump into The New Suicide Squad.
The New Suicide Squad picks up after the events of Forever Evil and the previous Suicide Squad volumes. Amanda Waller is trying to get the squad back up and running but the government doesn’t trust her after what happened in the previous volume (see Suicide Squad Volume 5: Walled In) so they turn to a young mover and shaker named Vic “Not The Question” Sage to help out. Both personalities clash quite a bit but we do get a new team consisting of holdover members Deadshot as well as Harley Quinn and new members Deathstroke, Joker’s Daughter, and Black Manta, who actually joined during Forever Evil. The team heads to Russia and while there it doesn’t take long for Deathstroke to betray the team, revealing he’s working for “the other side”. Deadshot gets shot but not killed and is taken to a Russian prison with the rest of the team now trying to rescue him. Things get off to a rocky start as Harley hates Joker’s Daughter and inevitably beats her to a pulp. Manta is left playing the reluctant parent as Waller and Sage also can’t stop fighting for control of the team. This all results in Manta and Harley setting out to rescue Deadshot by themselves.
Once the Squad returns from Russia, with Deadshot in tow, they welcome members from The Flash’s rogues gallery, Reverse-Flash and Captain Boomerang, to the team. They also get some Man-Bats as extra members so it isn’t quite a four person team while Deadshot recovers after being tortured by Deathstroke in Russia. For their next mission, they head to China where they are supposed to look into a lab that ends up being infested with meta-human clones, ones that attack the Squad upon their arrival. We get a couple good scenes here, with the most noteworthy one going to Manta as he teaches Boomerang that China isn’t a playground. Following the destruction of the lab, one of the meta-humans escapes and follows the Squad to a Chinese ghost town where they are looking to recover after the last battle, which saw the Reverse-Flash blow out his knee. A fight breaks out which also leads to the Chinese military coming into the action. Meanwhile the Sage/Waller saga continues as Sage slowly loses more pull within the organization which leads to him looking outside for help and lays the groundwork for things to come.
The current arc focuses on a segment of the League of Assassins that broke off from Ra’s Al Ghul and have been performing acts of terrorism publicly and even uploading it to the Internet (sound familiar?). Deadshot is back in fighting shape as Parasite also joins the team. Parasite quickly jumps to the back burner though, along with Harley and Reverse-Flash in supporting roles, while the main team consisting of Manta, Deadshot and Boomerang join the terrorists to destroy their weapons cache. The cache contains weapons created by a who’s who of super villains and results in them discovering who the leader truly is. Manta starts to like the ideals of the group which puts Boomerang on edge. Back at HQ, Waller finally voices what we’ve all suspected, Sage is up to something shady, we just don’t know what yet but after asking a lot of questions about a server room we know it at least has something to do with that.
Which brings us to review time! I’m in the minority here, since I did like the New 52 re-launch of the Suicide Squad. It was darker as well as less humourous and I felt since most people panned it, DC wanted to go back to the roots of a fun team that is constantly squabbling like the Squad was when they were originally introduced way back in the day. Although the first two issues gave us squabbling it wasn’t particularly fun, basically becoming a cat fight between Harley Quinn and Joker’s Daughter or a macho showdown between Deadshot and Deathstroke. We also had Sage and Waller fighting for control but that wasn’t so much “squabbling” as it was whining. I got so sick of it I was happy when Deathstroke and Joker’s Daughter took a walk but after that the story really suffered as there was a lot of long, drawn out issues where nothing really pertinent happened. I’m glad to say that problem has mostly been non-existent in the current arc, but we still get scenes of Harley playing with a bazooka for no other reason than to show readers that “Hey, they’re still here!”. This can be summed up to writer Sean Ryan still being young and trying to find his voice but I have to imagine his leash is getting short as he’s now had 12 Squad issues to play with, including #30 of the previous volume and the Future’s End issue from last fall.
The art is not much better. The arc that Rob Hunter drew looked like it came right out of a cartoon. The characters were poorly illustrated and their faces constantly seemed disfigured. Philippe Briones took over after that and, although his art is far from perfect, given the over the top facial expressions it made it seem like Jim Lee was drawing in comparison. I can safely say that I’m down on this book although issue #10 left us with a cliffhanger so I’ll likely pick up the next issue to see how the arc wraps up but after that, barring a creative team change, this book will likely get passed over in favor of some better books coming from DC and Marvel over the next few months. If you’re into dark, violent stories I would suggest you pick up the original New 52 Suicide Squad instead, if the classic “jokey” Squad is more your thing then pick up the first volume from John Ostrander, which spawned years Squad stories and will keep you busy for quite some time…mind the bad 80’s material though.