New Suicide Squad #12 “Monsters”
Written by Sean Ryan
Art by Philipe Briones
Colors by Blond
You’re not dreaming… I promise… I really enjoyed this issue… And yes, you’re remembering correctly, this is the second issue that I’ve enjoyed from this arc. Either someone is helping Sean Ryan write, or he’s been reading reviews around the web and has worked on his craft! So what exactly has he done within the past six months to transition the book from unbearably bad, to decent? And beyond that, what happens in this issue that allows him to raise his bar? Find out below!
For those of you that haven’t been tuning in each month – trust me, I understand why you wouldn’t – the squad is currently investigating a rogue sect of the League of Assassins that are stealing and stockpiling weapons. For all extensive purposes, this League sect is ISIS. Waller has been commanded to assign the squad to infiltrate the sect, find their weapons storage, and discover who their leader is. Three members of the squad: Deadshot, Black Manta, and Boomerang, were sent in undercover, while three other members: Harley, Reverse Flash, and Parasite, are stationed outside of the base of operations to serve as extraction. When things don’t go according to plan – big surprise – the extraction team has to jump into action, but they fall short of saving the day, and get captured – aside from Reverse Flash.
This issue picks up with Parasite being experimented on and tortured so the league can learn about his abilities, and hopefully determine how to harness them as a weapon. Harley is being held captive, as is Boomerang, while Deadshot, and Black Manta are both continuing to operate undercover. Reverse Flash, however, is on his own trying to get back in contact with Waller and team. The issue is a quick read, but not because it’s full of nonsense and action – although there is a decent action sequence featuring Harley that should serve as a reminder that she shouldn’t be underestimated. No, instead it’s a quick read because there are actually some quiet moments that focus on the characters themselves instead of a crazy, wacky, over-the-top mission. I know! It’s shocking!
The distinct difference in this issue specific issue that isn’t in any other issue of Ryan’s run, is that we actually get some character development! And it’s not like it’s just a fleeting scene, before quickly transitioning back to nonsense. Each character is highlighted in their own way, and while some scenes are definitely better than others, they’re good enough that Ryan actually deserves some credit – especially for the moments featuring Harley and Deadshot. It’s nice to finally see some personality in these characters. For once, it didn’t feel like the script was written featuring “Squad Member 1,” “Squad Member 2,” etc, before dropping in known characters into those slots. Instead, we’re treated with actual moments! Enjoyable moments. Depth… Have I told you that I’m shocked?
As for the plot, there’s not much progression here, but that’s not a bad thing… Quite frankly, it was needed. The one positive is that some of the issues I’ve had with the plot – particularly Black Manta’s – is finally addressed. I still have issues with the plot because of how long it’s taken to address Manta’s actions, or question why he hasn’t been more proactive sooner, but at least it’s finally getting something! This plays into the “cause and effect” theme that I’ve been preaching about with this title for a while now, so I’m glad Ryan is continuing to make an effort to ask the questions, “What caused this, and what are the effects?” before writing these scenes. When all is said and done though, I enjoyed the issue enough that I’m not completely dreading the Annual that’s coming up at the end of the month. Let’s just see if Ryan can maintain or improve on the quality…
Warning! There are spoilers below.
The Good: I mentioned it previously, but the moments featuring Harley and Deadshot are damn good. Harley is being held captive with the children that the League is rearing. The moment I realized this, my thought was, “What a wasted opportunity. If this book would have had a better writer, this could be a really funny moment.” And then Ryan made me eat my words. Not only was it funny, but it was also heart-warming. Yes, heart-warming… and it’s a scene of Harley making fart jokes… I’m being completely serious. It was great.
Deadshot’s scene was way more grounded, and circles back to a scene from earlier in the arc. It touched on the one thing – in my opinion – that really makes Deadshot an amazingly dynamic character… his daughter. It’s become a more frequent plot over the past few years, but it’s an effective one.
The Bad: Black Manta’s stance in all of this still bothers the hell out of me. I just don’t believe it. If he really is converting (or converted), it doesn’t make sense that he’s been quiet this long about what their original intentions were for joining the group. And if he’s playing the League, then it doesn’t make sense that he would end this issue telling the general that he needed to inform them. The only plausible outcome that I might be able to forgive, is that if this is a coup, and Manta’s pulling one over on everyone… but even if that is the case, I feel like Deadshot would’ve shot him by now and retreated…
I’m also hating Reverse Flash’s piece in this. When Waller and team said he was worthless and has been injured most of the time, I agreed, and I’m sure nearly everyone else feels that way too… but… having the characters call it out like that just isn’t believable. And then having Reverse Flash happen to hear it over the comms so that he gets pissed and pushes himself? Come on! That’s cheap storytelling. I kind of feel like they’re going to try and spin this as Waller knew he could hear, and wanted to motivate him, but that’s just as bad in my opinion.
The Art: Briones art is really strong, and is worlds above what we were getting in the last arc. The step-up in artistic quality already pushes each issue 2 or 3 points above what it would’ve been before. I still have issues with his faces when characters look surprised though. It’s a little cartoony, and I partially blame the way the eyes are drawn. Speaking of eyes… what was up with that kid’s eyes that
To see some samples of the internal art, check out the spoiler tag below.
- You’ve been waiting for some character development in New Suicide Squad.
- Harley Quinn making fart jokes sounds like a good time.
- You want a reminder of why Deadshot is a great character.
Overall: Every few issues, Ryan improves his craft, and raises his own bar. The book is still far from great, but I am starting to wonder if – within time – Ryan might actually pull out a full arc that is good.