I’ve gotten to the point where I dread reviewing Suicide Squad’s Most Wanted because Katana has been so bad. This reality is even more painful for me considering how much of a soft spot I have for her as a character, and I would honestly rather this book not exist, than be forced to sit through another terrible interpretation. Yes, Deadshot has been strong, but it’s unfortunately tied to this mess, and that makes it nearly impossible to get excited for… Today was no exception.

I DID NOT look forward to reading this book… In fact, I spent a good hour this morning looking for things to do around the house so I could have an excuse to put off reading it. But I cleaned house over the weekend, and did all of my laundry on Tuesday, so I had to sit down and just face this book… And guess what… Deadshot delivered as expected, and Katana was actually decent as well! Whaaaaaat?  Mike Barr must have had his Wheaties!

 

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Katana was the opening story for this month, and everything was as I remembered. Katana is working with the Suicide Squad, and they’ve been captured by Kobra and his men. Right away, the writing is a little hokey (as expected), and the action just isn’t that believable. It’s the standard fair we’ve come to expect… Then the unexpected happens.

About a quarter of the way through this issue, the tone shifts, and I suddenly feel like I’m starting to see reflections of the Mike Barr I was originally expecting. Katana and the Squad’s captivity doesn’t last long as they quickly try to free themselves from Kobra. A big fight breaks out, and that’s when it hits me.

“Wait a second… this doesn’t look overtly cheesy… Where’s the ‘PING! POW! ZING!’ followed by the completely unbelievable action? (Smells coffee) Nope, no alcohol in my coffee… Holy grilled cheeses! It’s semi-ok writing!!!” – My reaction in the moment.

Anyway, the escape sequence is enjoyable and I find myself invested in what’s taking place. Katana is doing her thing, the Squad is doing theirs, then BOOM! Someone on the Squad loses their head thanks to those pesky bombs in their neck. But the bomb doesn’t go off the way you might think. I don’t want to say it was shocking because there are roughly four characters I could see becoming cannon fodder and this was one of them, but this move was a step above what I expected considering the recent trend. Maybe it was just the energy of the fight, but I was actually having a decent time.

As the team flees Kobra, we’re unfortunately reintroduced to characters that I could stand to do without: the overly zealous/ pretentious child, the ratty cat, and that junky girl. See, when I was reading the team’s escape from Kobra, I think I was subconsciously hoping we were escaping everything bad about this book as well… So seeing these losers characters show back up was a bit of a downer. Thankfully, the reminder serves as just that: a reminder, and we quickly move on.

Barr shifts the narrative back to the issue at hand as the team plots how they can overthrow Kobra, and it’s at this point that the book begins to really improve. Katana FINALLY receives a spotlight that is respectable, and we get to dig into her personal life, as well as her soul taker. Both aspects are something that I find interesting about the character, and I hope it’s something we get to see more of through this run, as well as Suicide Squad when it launches.

It’s not just the story that Barr does well here though, it’s also Katana’s voice. There’s not any cartoony dialogue from her. Instead, we encounter a strong, stoic, noble warrior that is driven by honor. She actually feels like she grew up within the Japanese culture to an extent! It’s refreshing. To make things even slightly cooler (or perhaps predictable), Katana receives a physical makeover that matches the change in her tone.

Spoiler

(*cough* costume change to match the Suicide Squad movie costume *cough*)

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It does look badass though… And, I thought it was handled well.

Believe it or not, the surprises don’t stop there. Hints pertaining to Kobra’s actual plan begin to take shape, and as it turns out, Waller and the Squad have a mission other than dealing with Kobra! (Que dramatic music.)

 

The Art: Previously, I’ve discussed the art as being cartoony. To a degree, I still stand by that. I don’t think the art is bad, but I do think it is cartoony at times. But what makes it cartoony for me? I feel like it comes down to three areas: facial expressions, action scenes that resemble the Looney Tunes, and bright colors. It’s essentially a combination of those three things, and putting them together kind of solidifies my opinion.

There did appear to be a shift this month though. The action looked a little more realistic, and wasn’t overloaded with a ton of sound effects. Not to mention, the events of the action were more gruesome than before. But I feel like a big shift came with Katana’s costume change. It was almost as if the creative team collectively thought, “Ok, this is getting real now!”

Breakdowns can be found in the spoiler tag.

 

Spoiler

The Good: The action. The action took a step up this month, and I have to praise Barr and Neves for that. As I mentioned earlier, the moment it really hit me was when Battleaxe’s head was blown off due to Kobra’s device effecting the bomb in her neck. There’s still room for improvement, but I feel like I should acknowledge the improvements that have already been made.

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Katana, Enchantress, and the Soultaker. Four issues in, and this is the first time that I feel like I’m actually seeing Katana represented accurately as a character! There’s just something about the nobility she shows by granting Enchantress something she desires, after Enchantress offers an act of kindness to Katana. Enchantress has been curious about the soultaker, and Katana shares some of it’s secrets… plus, the power of the soultaker is awesome, and something that isn’t utilized enough.

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A love that travels. The other aspect that I love about the soultaker is that is houses the soul of Katana’s dead husband, Maseo. The relationship they continue to share is incredibly interesting and moving. Although he’s dead, he’s never really gone. Seeing Katana cut herself so she can put a drop of blood into the soultaker to be with her husband, also creates a really nice moment that’s full of symbolism.

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Waller’s real plan. This is a little obvious considering where DC is taking Katana’s character for Rebirth, but I was a little surprised that Waller really wants the soultaker, not Katana… Considering the power of the soultaker, and the knowledge of the souls trapped inside, I shouldn’t be surprised by this though.

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The Bad: Kobra. The cheesiest, hokiest thing about this run, is Kobra. I can barely stand to read panels where these guys are featured. It’s such a stereotypical, early 90’s, children’s villain that is evil with no shades are textures. We deserve better.

Those characters. Yeah… them. I can’t stand the little kid, and the whole thing with the cat is laughable. I’m an animal lover, but I don’t really see Katana is one. I do, however, see Katana as someone with a respect for life and death. Affection just isn’t something I imagine from Katana, unless she’s talking to Mateo.

Poor dialogue. Yes, this issue is better, but the poor dialogue is still there. Thankfully, it’s not as bad or as present as it was in previous issues. Anyone from team Kobra is still an offender though, and Harley is also terrible in Barr’s hands… Believability is important to me, and this isn’t believable.

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Deadshot & the Squad’s sentiment. Seriously? These guys are in the business of killing people and watching those around them die… Maybe if Harley or Deadshot were killed, but these guys aren’t going to remember some nobody like Battleaxe. Give me a break!

(cheers)

 

Recommended if:

  • If you’ve enjoyed this run so far, then you’ll think this issue is epic.
  • You finally want to be able to say you enjoyed an issue of Katana.
  • You’ve been waiting for the soultaker to receive more attention.

Katana Overall: Katana is still really rough, but this is definitely a step in the right direction. Despite the positive aspects of this issue, the book still falls incredibly short of where it could and should be.

 

SCORE: 5.5/10

 

 

 

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The interesting thing about this month’s issue of Deadshot, is that it doesn’t feature Deadshot. Yes, it features the new “Deadshot,” but Floyd is only in one, quick flashback… Despite that, I still thoroughly enjoyed this issue!

Will, or “Rookie” as I’ve been calling him, is front and center for this issue as he takes over the mantle of Deadshot. We get to learn more about his past, and I have to admit, the more I learn about him, the more I begin to feel bad about calling him “Rookie.” This guy is more experienced, and more dangerous than I ever thought. I have to give credit to Buccellato because I’d originally written Will off as a nobody. If you had that opinion of Will as well, and it hadn’t changed before now, this issue will definitely do the trick.

We previously learned that what Floyd Lawton had been claiming was his past, was actually Will’s past, and this issue expands on that a little more. Buccellato explores who Will is at his core, and we learn more about Will’s life between his family’s death and being recruited by Waller. As it turns out, he has quite a history as a mercenary, and did a lot of work through an organization that hosts an underground channel called the Red Market.  Why is this important? Because this issue has the Suicide Squad infiltrating the Red the Market.

Waller sends “Deadshot,” Harley, Boomerang, Cheetah, and Diablo into the Red Market in hopes of retrieving some key criminals that are drawn to the event. The question is whether or not the new “Deadshot” is prepared to lead a team, and even if he is, will he be able to keep a cool head considering his history with the Red Market. This is another high energy, dark, and edgy chapter in Deadshot that’s full of surprises and shocking moments!

 

The Art: Bogdanovic continues to deliver great art! He has a knack for capturing intense action, and I can only imagine how brutal this issue would’ve been had DC not had restrictions or ratings to worry about. He also knows how to sell the emotions and tone of the script. I’ve been tough on Bogdanovic in the past, and I still have some issues with how he draws faces – which is clearly a matter of preference. That being said, I can’t deny the improvements I’ve seen from his work over the past year or two.

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Breakdowns can be found in the spoiler tag.

Spoiler

The Good: The Red Market. I really liked the idea of the Red Market, and the concept of it basically being a weekend convention for everything evil. I especially enjoyed the element that mercenaries are advertised and purchased here. The whole concept served as a great platform to set-up who Will is, and touch on his history.

Will. In many ways, he is a copy of Deadshot. In many ways, he’s extremely different. Despite their similarities, Will has proven he deserves a place in the DC universe, and I really hope that this character isn’t just a “one-hit wonder” for this story.

That explains a lot, actually. I got a really good laugh out of this moment… mainly because the moment I read Boomerang’s line, I thought exactly that, then read Harley’s line.

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Man down. Whoa… I did not expect Diablo to get shot in the head! All I thought was, “Holy $#!&! They just killed him!” This was a total shocker… And then they showed him on a stretcher at the end of the issue, so maybe he isn’t dead? Who knows… What I can tell you, is that this played really well in the moment.

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What!? Freaking Olivia too? Buccellato didn’t hold any punches! Olivia wasn’t a major character, and as far as I know, she’s only been in this story, but she wasn’t a character that I foresaw getting killed. She was just always kind of in the background doing her own thing… and considering Will didn’t have a neck bomb, it didn’t necessarily make sense for him to kill her… but he did. What made this moment even better (and sad) was the way Bogdanovic captured it…

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Where is he? Lawton pulled a Houdini! My bet is that he’s either going after his daughter, or he wants revenge against Will… Either way, he’s incredibly injured, so I don’t suspect he’s getting too far.

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The Bad: No neck bomb for Will. Ok… this is the one MAJOR issue I have with this story, and it’s the same thing that really bothered me about the start of Sean Ryan’s run. Never… I repeat, NEVER will you ever make me believe that Amanda Waller will have someone on the Suicide Squad that she doesn’t put a neck bomb in… Her whole thing is about power and leverage… And she’s not this stupid… There are a number of things I would’ve done differently…

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Recommended if:

  • You want to learn more about the new “Deadshot”
  • You feel like Deadshot hasn’t missed its target yet.
  • You want an unpredictable story.

 

Deadshot Overall: Buccellato delivering some of his best work yet in Deadshot! If he can wrap this story on a high – which is unfortunately an opportunity of his – this could easily go down as one of the best Deadshot stories out there, and further solidify the character’s impact in the DC Universe.

SCORE: 8.0/ 10

COMBINED SCORE: 7.0 /10 
(rounded up a little from 6.75 due to our scoring scale)