Two stories. Two character focuses. One book. There’s a part of me that really wanted to write a separate review for each story (as in two separate posts), but if you plan on buying the monthly issues, then you’re stuck with both stories… So you’re getting two reviews in on post. I’ll score each issue individually, but finish up with a total score averaging the scores from both stories.

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Deadshot has basically been the foundation of the Suicide Squad for years. Yes, Harley is now part of the team and is easily a bigger brand than Deadshot, but I can imagine a Squad without Harely, while it’s difficult for me to imagine one without Lawton. Because of that, I’m glad that Deadshot receives a spotlight every couple of years. He’s a great character, and deserves every bit of attention that DC throws his way.

Buccellato (Detective Comics, Injustice Gods Among Us) is covering writing duties for this story, so I have an adequately high expectation. Deadshot is an edgier character, he kills people for a living, but doesn’t allow himself to get consumed by the darkness of what he does. That gives Buccellato the opportunity to provide a nice texture to the character, and it’s something he jumps on immediately.

The opening scene is solid, albeit a little expected. If you’re going to write a book about Deadshot, there’s bound to be an internal monologue about his views on killing. Disregarding the predictability, I can’t fault Buccellato, because it’s honestly the best way to introduce the Lawton as a character, while also setting the tone for the book.

The catalyst for Deadshot’s narrative stems from a solo mission he executed for Waller in the past. Deadshot was sent to South America to stop the head of the local cartel, Guillermo “Che” LaPaz. It was strictly a round-up mission as far as LaPaz was concerned – the other men were fair game to be on the receiving end of bullets – but Waller was never able to capture LaPaz. Three months later, and Deadshot is back to collect the same man. Except this time he’ll have back-up, and the plan is a little different.

Buccellato introduces a new character, Will Evans.

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Will apparently doesn’t have a code name, so I’m going to refer to him as Deadshot endearingly does: Rookie. A fellow sniper, Rookie is basically introduced to set up conflict between the two, or “competition” as Waller called it. This is honestly my least favorite portion of the book. The back and forth macho fest about who was better or more capable was pretty annoying. I tend to hate arrogance in general, and my opinion is consistent, even with fictional characters (however, Damian and Midnighter get a pass). There is an occasional laugh to be found in the confrontation, but overall, I wish it would have been toned down by a notch or two… or four.

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Within all of this, a sub-plot emerges as a Deadshot deals with a personal issue. It’s unclear at first exactly what’s going on, or who it pertains to, but the general idea is easy to put together. The situation weighs on him as he heads into the mission, a detail that provides an added realism to Deadshot’s mission. This is where having a book focus on a specific character from the Squad succeeds. Typically team books tend to feature their characters evenly at the expense of solid character development. As you know, character development is the best way to win me over, so I’ll take these moments and details any day.

The climax of the book is fun and entertaining, but again suffers from predictability. With that criticism noted, I’d hardly consider this book bad. Overall, this is one of the better books I’m covering this week, and the set-up that takes place in this issue has me greatly looking forward to what’s awaiting us over the next five months!

 

Art: I’m going to be honest, I wasn’t excited to see Bogdanovic as the artist when DC officially announced this … and it’s because of one thing: how he draws faces. I’m not a fan of his faces. I find every other aspect of his art incredibly enjoyable, but his faces really bother me. An artist typically finds a way to enhance the story, or tell their own story, with their art. One of the best ways to do this is through facial expressions. You’ve heard the phrase, “a picture is worth a thousand words,” but that’s only if the picture adequately captures a moment. Bogdanovic’s art doesn’t do that for me.

On the other hand, his action scenes are quite strong. I’ve noticed an energy in Bogdanovic’s art that plays into the strengths of Buccellato’s writing. Both men have a way of pushing the narrative forward – an attribute that will greatly help this book once the arc really gets going.

Breakdowns can be found in the spoiler tag.

 

Spoiler

The Good: Deadshot. Buccellato capture Deadshot really well. A chunk of this issue is exposition, but he still found ways to squeeze in characterization. And let’s face it, as a writer, when you have the chance to play around with a flawed, yet strangely noble, redneck who is a total badass… you take advantage of the opportunity. As happy as I was with Buccellato’s interpretation of Deadshot, I feel like it’s just the tip of the ice berg for what’s to come.

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The action. Dear God, the action was refreshing. If you’ve been reading New Suicide Squad, then you know that Deadshot has basically been presented as a neutered dog. His aim is off. He can’t shoot. He relies on pills. It’s been a wash. Here, however, he’s back to his badass ways. With a reputation of being the man who doesn’t miss, I’m glad we finally get to see that aspect of him again.

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The final page. So the personal sub-plot I referenced earlier is clearly about someone who is sick and/or issues concerning his daughter but it isn’t clear initially. All we know is that Lawton wants to take a quick leave to deal with the situation (he does know what it means to be in prison, right?), but Waller refuses to grant it to him. I spent the issue fully believing he wanted to just see someone to help them. I was way off!

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The Bad. The predictability. This issue really suffers from predictability. From the opening scene walking reader’s through Deadshot’s take on killing people, to the forced rivalry Rookie, to the fact that Deadshot is going to abandon the mission… It was one tell after another. There’s definitely a fine line between tastefully foreshadowing your plot, and completely revealing your hand. Buccellato, unfortunately, leaned more towards the latter.

Rookie. I’m ok if I don’t see much more of Rookie… unless Deadshot shoots him… I’ll take that.

Ah! Bogdanovic faces! I don’t know what it is specifically, but they don’t sit well with me…

 

Recommended if:

  • Deadshot is the main reason you read New Suicide Squad.
  • You want to see Deadshot actually be dangerous again.

 

Overall: Will this book be a game changer for Deadshot? No. But that being said, it’s a lot of fun, and a nice change of pace from what we’ve come to expect from this character. If you want a high energy books with a solid script and a lot of action, this is worth picking up!

SCORE: 6.5/10

 

 

 

 

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Those of you that know me, know that I’m a HUGE Katana fan. I was a fan prior to the New 52 when Katana was a member of the various incarnations of the Outsiders. I became an even bigger fan with the launch of the New 52 as she was reimagined for Birds of Prey, then transitioned to Justice League of America, and guest starred in various issues of Green Lantern. She was always depicted as a ruthless warrior that was as likely to kill you as she was to spare you. The difference that came about for the character in the New 52, was that writers managed to make her even more stoic, and played a much heavier hand in her Japanese culture. Katana appeared to be on the fast track to the “A-list,” and I thought it was guaranteed when it was first announced that she was getting her own mini-series a few years ago… until I read that Ann Nocenti was writing it. Right away, I knew her character was going to be tarnished.

Katana quickly fell from the spotlight, and I wondered if she would build momentum again. Then I’m sitting at a panel at San Diego Comic Con, and they announce that another Katana mini is on its way. I immediately feel the same excitement I felt as I watched the character grow and develop throughout the early run of the New 52. Mike Barr, Katana’s creator, was announced as the writer, and I was glad to see that someone who clearly cared for the character was going to helm the book. It was an excitement that’s slowly been building for the past six to seven months now… and then I got the book… and I was gravely disappointed.

After reading one page, I knew I wasn’t going to enjoy this book. The biggest problem for me was that Katana doesn’t feel true to the character that she’s become. There is nothing stoic about this interpretation of Katana. Instead, the adjective that comes to mind is generic. I was basically expecting this:

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And instead, I got this:

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I know Barr created the character, and his interpretation isn’t really an “interpretation” of the character, but more the character’s actual identity… it just feels like a step back. Katana has greatly regressed, and it’s a shame. Nocenti basically ruined the previous miniseries because she’s not a strong writer, but she at least made an incredibly strong effort to maintain Tatsu’s identity. Barr practically abandons it.

And unfortunately, it’s not just the character that’s poor here. Everything about this issue screams 80’s comic. By that, I mean that everything is over the top, unbelievable, and you probably won’t enjoy it unless your able to approach a book with a mentality of, “I’m not going to question anything because it’s a comic book.”  Katana is void of logic, and lacks the substance. If you think of a cheesy action movie from 25 years ago… this is it in comic book form…

Katana travels to Markovia in search of something, but it’s not really clear what at the beginning. In fact, it’s set up so poorly, that I’m willing to bet most people probably assumed she was there to investigate the invasion of King Kobra. And then to make it worse, the script basically infers that this story isn’t worth your time as Katana’s internal monologue reads, “This land I travel to is called Markovia. It is famous for nothing, so I have no idea why it is being invaded. But that is not my affair. My affair is only getting in and out of this beleaguered land…” Uh… that is terrible writing. I also have no clue what her purpose is for being there either.

I held out hope that the book would improve, but the dialogue remained terrible, and the plot itself is cartoony. Even the action is poor. If there’s one thing that we should be able to count on with Katana, it’s that she is one dangerous chick… and we don’t get that here! At all! Let’s do another this/that. Instead of this:

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We get this:

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What!? Are you kidding me!?!? She looks like an amateur! I’ve waited six months for this? Seriously? I want to remind you that when Geoff Johns launched his Justice League of America, the reason the team was brought together was so that the U.S. Government would have an opposition that could stop the Justice League if the day ever came that it was needed… and Katana was brought on as the person to neutralize Wonder Woman! WONDER WOMAN!!! That’s how skilled and ruthless she is!!! She’s not super human, she’s just dangerous. But nope… Katana is nowhere to be found in this book. What we have here, is some fangirl dressed in cosplay that’s pretending to be Katana (not really, but it might as well be.)

I’m not doing any breakdowns for this story. It’s bad. Trust me. I can’t think of one redeeming quality about this book, aside from the art. Diogenes Neves is a solid artist, but his work matches the lighter tone of the writing, and it just doesn’t work for me with this character. I’m not sure if it’s an accurate reflection of his style, or if he’s just trying to keep the look of the book from clashing with what’s written on the page. But seriously, aside from a few panels (yes… PANELS not PAGES), this book is a waste of time as it documents Kobra’s attempt to take over a land for no apparent reason at all.

This is by far the closest thing to Katana that's in this book.
This is by far the closest thing to Katana that’s in this book.

 

Recommended if:

  • You want to see a cool page that features the Soul Taker.
  • You want to read the Deadshot story, and that unfortunately means you have to get this issue as well.

 

Overall: Bad writing. Bad characterization. A poor plot. Over the top bad guys. No themes. What else do you want me to say? I was so excited and then so let down that I had to book down and just stop Wednesday night. With so many strong writers out there waiting for their break, it kills me to see books this poor in quality. Katana, and Barr, are lucky they’re getting the boost of the Deadshot issue.

SCORE: 3.5/10

 

COMBINED SCORE: 5/10