After feeling like I was in the minority for my appreciation of the fun that was Suicide Squad Volume 1 I feel like I sunk right down with the rest of the crowd with Basilisk Rising. The laughs and surprises just weren’t there this time around and the bad guy left a lot to be desired.
There’s a mole inside the Suicide Squad and the cult Basilisk that was hinted at in the previous volume is about to make their move. It’s not a bad premise but it wasn’t executed all too well. This book collects issues #8-13, #0, and issue #9 of Resurrection Man. Like Justice League International Vol. 2, Suicide Squad is bogged down by the shoehorning in of desperate characters from soon-to-be-canceled books. With JLI it was Batwing (who hasn’t been canceled but his character is getting a complete overhaul next month) and… I don’t even remember his name now (Hulk knock-off with blue fin on his head. His damn catch-phrase is “I Am ____!” He says his name for crying out loud and I still don’t remember what it was– that speaks volumes). Here in Suicide Squad’s new book we have a Resurrection Man popping up in a 2-part story that didn’t make a whole lot of sense because it required that I read Resurrection Man’s book. It’s since been canceled. Then there’s Team 7, one of the quickest series to be canceled so far in the New 52. Team 7 is mentioned numerous times throughout this comic and it gets pretty annoying. Nobody cared about Team 7, that’s why it went away. Of course the only instance in which Team 7 references mattered was in issue #0.
Unlike Batgirl or Red Hood and the Outlaws, this Suicide Squad trade didn’t kick things off with its #0 issue. Instead it saved it for last and that made for an immensely unsatisfying conclusion. For one, the first chapter here (issue #8) is a bit of a prequel itself that shows us how each member was brought into the squad and how there is indeed a mole in the organization. Great. But issue #0 shows us how Amanda Waller started the squad to begin with AND introduced us to Regulus, our main villain for the remainder of the book, AND gave us a very good reason to hate him and root for Amanda Waller. Saving that chapter for last was foolish. I had no investment whatsoever in what Regulus was up to or whether or not the team brought him down but there would’ve been at least a quantum of caring had I known what he did to Waller in the past. And if there’s one thing that Suicide Squad definitely needs, it’s a reason to care about Amanda Waller. I’ve always found it hard to give a damn about the diet-coke version of Marvel’s Nick Fury. I will say that I did like her more when she wasn’t just another idealized comic book hot chick. Seeing a Maya Angelou type boss around the likes of Superman was always entertaining. But so far in the New 52 I’ve found her to be nothing but annoying. There’s a lot of talk about how bad ass and smart she is but I have yet to see it. Her plan seems to always be “Send in EVERYONE. Send them in HEAD-ON. Tell them NOTHING even if it’s vital intel that could make the mission easier and it wouldn’t be a problem if the team knew.” The team of course always gets in over their head, the original plan fails until they stumble upon the vital intel themselves, and then they succeed while Waller yells incessantly.
And that’s basically what goes on throughout Basilisk Rising. It’s the same formula again and again. The previous volume was rather unpredictable and I never knew what would come from chapter to chapter but everything here played out as expected. I even guessed who the mole is by looking at an extremely obvious clue in the first chapter. The cast never changes either. Last time around there were characters getting killed and replaced right and left but now we seem to have settled into a more permanent group. Well, there is one death that happens near the end but its given no importance whatsoever because rather than visit the aftermath of those events we are shown the #0 issue which ended things off with a whimper.
Since we’re a Batman site I figured I should address Harley. Oh, how I can’t wait for the day when we see a new character design for Harley Quinn. I hate this cape and perma-white nonsense so much it’s not even funny. And then in this book she has split-personalities. Harley and Dr. Harleen take turns speaking and it’s….I hate it. And when we take into account how unpredictable she is and how she almost got the entire team killed in the last volume it really makes no sense for Waller to keep her on this team.
While the story of Basilisk’s rise and the hunt for a mole never quite pulled me in, the artwork never quite elevated the material either. Matt Yackey’s colors were all great and some of the covers were good but the interiors on all these stories were all pretty straight forward. Fernando Dagnino does a fine job but I can’t say any of the imagery stuck with me. It’s odd how even in this book nobody can decide on how Waller should look. Some pages she’s a little chubby, some she’s model thin, others she has greying hair, etc. Carlos Rodriguez’s pages were easily the weakest. Many of the characters looked like they were hastily scrawled and their faces appeared muddled. One shot of Black Spider on a beach looked particularly odd because his leg was all twisted in an extremely odd way.
Several pages worth of early Regulus designs and cover sketches. As always there isn’t any illustrator commentary or anything. It’s just the pencils and thumbnails that led to the finished product. I was surprised at how committed Fernando Dagnino was to the Regulus design. He’s one of the more flamboyant looking villains I’ve seen in the New 52. I wasn’t a fan of his look at all. He’s really one of the least threatening baddies I’ve come across.
Suicide Squad usually sells for $2.99 a book and this includes 8 issues plus a copy of Resurrection Man #9 all for $16.99 at cover price. That’s not a bad deal at all but the re-read value on this is quite low. I don’t feel like reading this story was a waste of time, but it’s not something I will need to read ever again.
Basilisk Rising never reaches the same level of fun, humor, and unpredictability of Volume 1. You get quite a bit of comic book for your money with nine comics at $16.99 but it’s not a book that warrants repeat readings. It’s just exciting enough to not be a slog, but not entertaining enough to be memorable. I can’t help but think it would have been a far better story if the villain was more interesting and the narrative had been structured differently.