New Suicide Squad #9 “Monsters”
Written by Sean Ryan
Art by Philipe Briones
Colors by Blond

Oh… my… God… I didn’t think this issue was complete crap… I didn’t feel the need to throw my iPad out the window after reading it… I wasn’t rocking back and forth from insanity upon reaching the last page… and I didn’t need to sit in a corner and cry because I hated my life so much that some guy was putting out utter nonsense and still getting paid to be a writer… none of these things happened because… I actually enjoyed it… Da (insert beep here)?

Yes, you read that correctly, I thought this issue was enjoyable. This is, by far, the best this book has been since its re-launch. It might actually be the best of its run. Sean Ryan came out guns-a-blazing exactly when it mattered most! Does that mean this book was amazing? No. Does that mean I’ve entrusted more faith in Ryan as a writer? Well… no… But this issue was good.

Here’s the deal, this title was one of the worst things on DC’s roster for months! Before Convergence, I would’ve put money on the fact that the only reason this book was sticking around was because of the film… but I was sure DC was going to bring in a new creative team. The writing and the art were horrendous! It was a double whammy of badness, and month after month it just appeared fall in quality. There was nothing redeemable about this book. It contained bad writing and bad art. Ultimately, Suicide Squad was more like a guidebook of how to suck at producing comics. But somehow, Ryan seems to have surprised everyone and delivered a piece of work that is good! It feels like this was what the book intended to be from the beginning: a fun, entertaining, action-filled ride. So what exactly was different about this issue that made it enjoyable?

First off, there’s the art. The art here is head and shoulders above anything else this book has produced, aside from Jeremy Robert’s art in the first issue. Unlike previous issues, it didn’t look like a 4 year old drew it, and I never thought of the Animaniacs. I also never wondered how Briones got his job…. So that’s a plus. And to be clear, this isn’t a situation where I’m just glad that the characters actually look like people. The art really is good.

Briones makes the most of each panel, and does a solid job of conveying the tone for each scene. The characters look on point as well. I will admit that Captain Boomerang looks a little smaller than I’m used to, but I wouldn’t consider it bad. If there’s one thing that I would callout about the art, it’s that the facial reactions are a little over the top sometimes. To see some samples of the art, check the spoiler tag.

Spoiler

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Now, with the art out of the way, let’s review the narrative and see how it improved. I feel like there are three things that attest to this books success. The most notable improvement for me, was the fact that the team felt like they had a purpose. Their mission is set-up properly, feels relevant, and it makes sense that this team would be assigned for this. Essentially, a rogue sect of the League of Assassins has broken off from the main group, and instead of operating in secrecy, they’re radically committing acts of terrorism in public. They’re even going as far as posting videos of heinous acts online.

Sound familiar? It should. Originally these terrorists were supposed to be Isis, but it looks like someone along the way thought it best to not venture too close to current politics – much like they did with the first arc concerning Russia. I don’t mind what they ended up going with though. Having a rogue sect of the League of Assassins is believable, and it makes the threat more relatable in terms of this universe. AND,for the first time since the reboot, we actually have a clear enemy that is dangerous and feels like a threat! Which is another attribute that immediately makes this book better. The antagonist needs to be as developed as your protagonists, otherwise their motivation for causing harm is hollow. People don’t want to read about bad guys, doing bad things, because they’re bad. Make your bad guy relatable or familiar in some way so that people have something to draw from and fear. Ryan finally got that right.

The third element of this book that felt like an improvement, was the Squad itself. This issue only features three members of the Squad, so it gives him more of an opportunity to showcase their personality a little more. We basically get an entire issue of just Deadshot, Black Manta, and Captain Boomerang, and that lets readers relax into the story, rather than reading a manic action scene trying to feature six different characters equally, while also giving each one something cool or drastic to do. Less is often more, and that was proven here.

So why did I say I still don’t have faith in Ryan as a writer? If he’s made all of these improvements, then why can’t I believe in the guy? The unfortunate reality is that he’s going to need to produce at least two runs that are good before I stand behind him. When you pull back the cover of his writing style, he still has a lot of flaws. One of my biggest issues with him is that he still hasn’t found the “voice” of his characters yet. It still feels like this book could just be written as Squad Member 1, Squad Member 2, etc, and then just drop characters in after the fact. It’s often one of the hardest things to grasp as a writer.

Beyond that though, I think Ryan is weak when writing ensembles, and this is an ensemble book. I also get the feeling that he’s not the best at recovering from plot compromises, and his work tends to fall apart because he ends up rushing or just can’t develop a strong story due to changes.  Then there’s that big pesky problem where he tends to be completely unaware of cause an effect. Nothing I’ve mentioned in this paragraph has had the chance to come to light yet, but it will. And I HOPE he can prove me wrong in these points because I always want to see writers succeed… but until then, I’m going to be cautious about promoting this book.

Recommended if:

  • You want to read a decent New Suicide Squad issue for once.
  • You’ve been reading this title since its debut.
  • You’re curious to see DC’s light interpretation of ISIS. (By the way, am I the only one that thinks of Selina’s cat from Batman the Animated Series every time I hear a news report about ISIS? I know it’s terrible, but I’ve gotten to the point that I think, “Uh oh… that cat is at it again!”)

 
Overall: Montsers is by far Sean Ryan’s best work to date, and its complimented nicely be equally as strong art from Briones. While I don’t want to neglect the improvements Ryan has made, I still can’t enthusiastically tell you to add this title to your rotation, but this issue is a step in the right direction.
SCORE: 7/10