New Suicide Squad #4 “Pure Insanity”
Written by Sean Ryan
Art by Rob Hunter and Trevor Scott
Before I begin my review, I want everyone to know that I was really rooting for this book. When DC announced the reboot, I felt like it was a great opportunity to leave behind some poor storytelling, and give this title a fresh, new start. I was intrigued by the characters – aside from Joker’s Daughter – and thought they would bring more depth to the title. Even though I knew that the sense of danger would decrease with this team, I thought the character aspect would balance out the story. Unfortunately, New Suicide Squad has been nothing but action, and while it was initially fun, it has been slipping in quality since.
The fourth installment of “Pure Insanity” continues this trend. To refresh your memory, Amanda Waller and her new boss, Vic Sage, have assembled a new team. For their first mission, the team is sent to Russia, and as expected, nothing goes according to plan. The team is intercepted by giant robots. Deathstroke appears to have betrayed the team from the start. Deadshot is kidnapped. Harley beats the crap out of Joker’s Daughter (yay!). And that ultimately brings us to where we are now. Black Manta and Harley are on a mission to rescue Deadshot, while Deathstroke potentially has other ideas for the wounded hostage… or is it all just part of the plan?
Let me go ahead and tell you, it isn’t part of the plan. Deathstroke wants nothing more than to make Deadshot suffer. It’s a great start to this issue, and it reinvigorates my interest for what could potentially happen. What I really loved about this, was Deadshot’s antagonistic comments to Slade. It was perfect, and true to the character. There’s been so much action in this book so far, that the characteristics of each person hasn’t been able to really shine through. I feel like you could essentially have the plot with (mostly) the same actions, and insert random characters in, but still get away with it as being acceptable because everything is semi generic. So this bit, between these two was refreshing. And it looks great as well!
Then BAM! I’m greeted by Hunter’s horrendous art as Harley and Black Manta break in for a grand rescue. I commented on his art last month, and it creates the same problems here. It’s just bad. Every time I see his attempt at drawing Harley Quinn, I feel like I’m looking at something that a seventh grader (with some artistic potential) delivered. And then I realize why this book has been on a nose dive for me. It’s the art.
I’m ok with the fact that this is an action book. I think a fast paced, action filled narrative is a smart approach to Suicide Squad. Clearly, you will sacrifice some of the emotional depth that helps ground stories, but if the action is smart and done well, then it will still be entertaining. Unfortunately, here, the action isn’t done well. More than half of the book is of Harley and Black Manta taking out Russian soldiers, and eventually fighting Deathstroke… and all of it looks cheesy. It’s over-the-top, unrealistic, cartoony action. And to be clear, the words “suicide squad” and “cartoony action” should not be in the same sentence. Imagine watching a Batman film where all of the action scenes haven’t been completely choreographed, and are filmed by stuntmen that aren’t trained. That’s what this book looks like! And for a book that relies so heavily on action, that’s a big problem.
I then realized that the action is also why I’ve had so much trouble reviewing the past two issues. Unless I provide a play by play of assault tactics, there’s not really much to talk about. I mean, I could take the time to write out the sequences (probably in a more entertaining fashion than Hunter draws it), but that would defeat the purpose of buying the book. But I don’t want to say that the book itself is bad, because I think it is actually decent. Hunter’s art just destroys what should be the best part of each issue.
The pacing is also a slight problem. Essentially everything that has happened in four issues (over five months), has all taken place within 24 hours in the story. This is going to create a better read once the arc is collected in a trade, and will fix some of my frustrations. But reading an issue each month really kills the momentum. Factor in the Waller/ Sage storyline that is more annoying than interesting, and an average plot with poor characterization, and you find yourself wondering what the difference is between Suicide Squad and New Suicide Squad. That’s never a good sign so early into the creative change.
- You want to see Deathstroke finally do something.
- You love reading banter between Deadshot and Deathstroke.
- You wonder what it would look like if your nephew drew a comic book.
Overall: I’m not providing a “good” and “bad” section, because most of what is available to call attention to without ruining any plot points in this story are listed above. If you’re looking for an average adventure with “familiar” characters, then go ahead and pick up the issue. I’m warning you though, the art is going to leave you disappointed and craving something better.