New Suicide Squad #13 “Freedom”
Written by Sean Ryan
Art by Philipe Briones
Colors by Blond
Sean Ryan is back with a new arc for New Suicide Squad, and considering his last arc “Monsters” raised the bar for him, I’m hoping he can do that again. He doesn’t waste any time with this story, throwing us right into the mix as Boomerang and Deadshot negotiate with a crime lord to export drugs. The problem with this, is that Boomerang is doing the negotiating… and naturally, that’s going to lead to things going poorly… Three pages in, and Sean Ryan is already falling on his typical shtick. So much for thinking Ryan was going to do something new and fresh.
I’m not going to lie, at first I was impressed that Ryan was taking the time to go into such detail with a drug deal. It felt real, had a certain edge to it, and was a nice change of pace by throwing us right into a mission rather than providing a set-up to a mission that was easy to read and predict how the course of the arc would go. And then it all came crashing down when Boomerang was too ignorant to play the deal straight…
Throughout the issue, we learn what the team was attempting to accomplish, and the parameters of the mission that were set by Sage. It’s the same as always: the team has a mission, they make a mess of it, and have to work their way out of it. As always, there’s something “unique” to the mission to help it stand out – or in Ryan’s case, make it “different.” The best way I can think of describing it, is by telling you to image a pig wearing different shades of lipstick… That’s Sean Ryan’s New Suicide Squad arcs. The first arc had the team in Russia. The second sent the team to China. Our last arc had the team confronting an Isis-esque terrorist group… So what’s the “lipstick” for this arc? Amanda Waller.
Spinning out of a plot from the last arc, Sage has convinced the U.S. Government that Amanda Waller wants to work in the field with Task Force X… I can’t tell you the number of things wrong with this. First off, Sage convinces his bosses that this was Waller’s idea. That was where this concept previously left off. Now Waller is in the field – presumably against her will. Did nobody, at any point, actually touch base with Waller before sending her in the field? And above that, did she not stand her ground when she was given the news? It doesn’t make sense, and since we didn’t get to see any of the lead-up to this, I’m not sure we ever will get the details… which may not be a bad thing considering one of Ryan’s weaknesses is providing valid reasoning or explanations.
Regardless, Waller is in the field, and while I have issue with the concept, it’s nice to be reminded of how much of a badass she can be – not only from a strategic standpoint, but a physical standpoint as well. Lest you forget, she was part of Team 7, which is essentially DC’s answer to the Navy Seal’s Team 6. What I didn’t like, was how downplayed some of the characters were treated to make Waller look more ruthless. Deadshot in particular really bothered me. Ryan essentially turned him into a whiner just so Waller could look tough. I get what the creative team was trying to do, but it ultimately made the team look like a joke… which ironically isn’t very far off from how I look at this book.
A majority of the issue is action though, and is done quite well. Some books fall short with the action, but this book excels with it. So much of the energy and enjoyment of each issue is due greatly to what Briones delivers. Nine times out of ten, the moment characterization comes into play, this book takes a nose dive. As action oriented as this book is, it can’t just rely on that. At some point, it’s going to need some substance if it ever plans on having an extended life.
Warning! There are spoilers below.
The Good: I have to give Ryan some credit. He’s continuing to improve his craft, but if I’m being completely honest, most of his last arc was rated against his own work, not the overall standard that I expect from other titles. So while I openly admit he has gotten better, he still has work to do. That being said, I applaud him for throwing us into this mission. It was a decent change of pace, and gave this book a jolt of energy that wasn’t in previous issues.
The team also appeared to function well as a unit and team. Usually they look like a bunch of chickens running around with their heads cut off, but here there was a distinct person (Waller) leading the team. Calls were made, and each member of the squad served their purpose. I don’t think that’s happened yet under Sean Ryan’s direction. The mission still turned to crap though, so who knows if he’ll ever be able to write a successful mission that is just dangerous.
Watching Waller in action was also a highlight. Her characterization still needs some work, but it was refreshing to see her kick some butt. There was even a great line between Boomerang and Waller where Boomerang says, “You know Waller, I’m more used to getting yelled at by you after the mission. I didn’t know having you here with us was going to be such a pain in my ass.” It’s small moments such as this that give me hope for Ryan… The reality to this is that I don’t think he will grow fast enough though, and I’d rather see this book reach the quality it deserves sooner rather than later.
The Bad: Convenient Storytelling. I’ve talked about this before, and it haunts each arc Sean Ryan writes. A large portion of this is tied into what I’ve already mentioned pertaining to Waller and her involvement in the field… It doesn’t make sense, by any means, and I feel like it’s a cheap way to get Waller “out from behind the desk.” I think they were looking for a way to make Waller interesting – something they were failing to do with her in a command position.
Bonnie/ Sage. There is no justifying or saving this plot. I mean this in the nicest way, but Bonnie is a moron and shouldn’t be in her position if she’s this aloof. Waller already told her that Sage was up to no good. Now Waller is in the field, where Sage is hoping she’ll be killed. Waller tells Bonnie again that Sage is up to something, connects some dots for her, and the first thing Bonnie does is run to Sage… Idiot. And you can’t claim that she’s in cahoots with him either because she’s been in a couple of one-on-one situations where she’s been just as gullible and ignorant/stupid. I just don’t get it. I half expect her to suddenly discover that the Squad is comprised of prisoners that are carrying out illegal missions for the U.S., only so their name won’t be tied to it, and then have her respond with, “Oh gosh. This is something bad people do. We shouldn’t do this. This isn’t right.” (I’m literally shaking my head… ).
Deadshot. This whole arm thing is really getting old. It’s another “convenient” element that only seems to pop up for dramatic effect. What’s bad is that this could actually be a really good character arc for Deadshot, but instead it’s only being utilized as a cheap plot device.
The Art: Briones continues to deliver solid art. This issue didn’t look as polished as what I’m used to, so I’m pretty sure he rushed some of these panels. I can’t really fault him for that though because there is a lot going on in this issue! I still have an issue with his faces from time to time, but I don’t expect that will ever go away. One of his strengths is drawing action. There’s an energy to his action panels – something that I’ve found is often missing from other artists. And considering this book will often be more action than anything else, it’s a good thing that this is one of his highlights.
To see some samples of the internal art, check out the spoiler tag below.
- You want to see Waller kick some butt.
- You’ve been a fan of Sean Ryan’s storytelling formula.
- You want to see the Squad actually function as a unit.
Overall: New Suicide Squad makes some positive gains while also falling back on some bad habits. I want to like this book, but no matter how hard I try, the execution is never as good as it should be. With the attention this title is getting, DC really needs to step of their game.