The more I read Rob Williams’ Suicide Squad, the more I wish he would helm the upcoming Justice League vs Suicide Squad crossover. I’ve greatly enjoyed his work so far, and feel that he’s doing a great job of balancing the various tones of the book brilliantly. Yes, the stories are shorter, but that isn’t hindering this title at all. Instead, Williams is using that to his advantage! In the main plot, we’re getting fast-paced action, while the short stories help delve into the characters themselves. There’s also enough grit thrown in that people who prefer darker, more intense stories will be satisfied, without the story ever really reaching a “Whoa! That was dark.” territory. Each issue has essentially been one surprise after another, and I keep wondering when this formula will begin to feel old. But considering Williams appears to have an incredibly well planned story on his hands, as well as the fact that the formula changes a little here, I don’t think that’ll be happening any time soon!

“Going Sane Part One: Shock Treatment”

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Despite my overall satisfaction with Suicide Squad, I was a little disappointed with how the previous issue ended. Everything wrapped up rather quickly, and without much resolve. Based on Jim Lee’s comments prior to this book’s launch about story structure, I was concerned the creative team might jump right into another mission. Thankfully, that’s not the case. In fact, this is the best possible follow-up because it strictly deals with consequences.

Yes, I know. There’s that word. Consequences. Some of you are probably rolling your eyes because in the past, I’ve discussed a lack of consequences in stories. Well, this is different because it focuses on numerous potential fallouts that could stem from the squad’s last mission, as well as their formation in general. Breaking into a top secret, Russian facility to steal a mystical item? Expect some consequences. Discovering a portal to the Phantom Zone that’s holding Zod, then stealing said portal? Yep, there’s going to be some consequences. Discovering that the top secret facility is actually the base for Russia’s version of Suicide Squad? Consequences!

Everything from the previous mission is lingering to play a part in the overarching narrative, and that excites me to no end. I love when a story builds on itself, and that is exactly what Williams is doing here. All of the characters have an opinion on what has taken place, which also means there will be some conflict. On top of that, the Black Vault is creating some disturbances at Belle Rev, but that’s not stopping Waller from pursuing her own interests. She makes some decisions in this issue that initially had me thinking, “Come on! Waller is smarter than that!” But the more I let it sink in, the more I realized that it is completely something she would desire. Her proposal isn’t earthshattering or anything, but it could definitely serve as foreshadowing for the Justice League vs Suicide Squad crossover.

Compared to the previous issues, this chapter is surprisingly lacking in action, but it held my attention all the same. There isn’t even much plot progression. Instead, we’re treated to quite a bit of set-up for future stories and conflicts, but it’s all told naturally through character reactions and development. While Waller and Flag are at the forefront of these moments, the real character worth taking note of is Hack. I originally thought she was introduced as a means to an end for the conflict, but Williams and Lee are setting her up. It appears as though she might serve as the actual catalyst for JL vs SS. While I believe Zod’s arc might reveal his role for the crossover, I believe revelations concerning Hack might actually lead to the need for the event. But the character development doesn’t stop there. June Moon and Croc receive a nice focus as the two acknowledge Croc’s actions in the previous issue. I still find Moon annoying, but Williams pushes her in the right direction here. When it comes down to it, this is easily the best issue without needing to rely on shock value. There’s no need for gimmicks here, this is simply an amazing, well written issue… and then there’s a shocking cliffhanger to leave you craving for more…

The Art: Jim Lee delivers some of his best work for Suicide Squad in this issue! Since there aren’t any big action scenes, he’s able to provide more focused and detailed panels that feature characters conveying emotion and tone. An average reader may not be able to identify how much this aides Williams’ script, but it is practically the equivalent of having Cynthia Addia-Robinson (Waller from Arrow) playing the part, then having Viola Davis step in to play the part. So many additional textures are added through facial expressions and body language. Sometimes the best story you can tell, is the one that is unsaid. That’s exactly what Lee does here!

Breakdowns for “Going Sane” can be found in the spoiler tag.

Spoiler

The Good:

I don’t want to eat you. I’m not a huge fan of Croc’s overall presentation in Suicide Squad because Williams is driving the “stupid, cannibal” aspect really hard. I think Croc should be uneducated, but Williams’ take is really extreme, and that’s a shame. Thankfully, he’s redeeming that a bit by showcasing some of Croc’s humanity. June asks Croc why he saved her, and he simply answers her by saying he doesn’t want to eat her. In a weird, twisted way, it is sweet.

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Testing. I expected Waller to have her team run scans on the Black Vault, but I did not expect them to pull Zod back out and run tests on him! This was my, “Come on, Waller’s smarter than this!” moment. But “the Wall’s” arrogance precedes her, and her drive for advancement fuels that arrogance. So having her inspect Zod for any way to control him so she can utilize him for her Squad… totally believable. Unwise, but believable.

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Hack. Hack has already been winning me over during the course of the last few issues, but this chapter drives that home. There’s A LOT that could be done with her character, and that becomes apparent after the creative team reveal some potential storylines. The real question is, “Who is Karla?”

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Blam. Whoa… That escalated quickly! I’m sure it’s the effects of the Black Vault, and I’m pretty certain Katana is going to save Waller since she’s standing behind her, but that doesn’t take away the shock value of Flag’s actions.

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The Bad:

Vomit. Come on! There was a perfect opportunity for a vomit joke since Croc was chowing down! He could’ve taken a bite, gagged, and said, “Gristle.”

 

 

“Hack: Prisons”

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The character spotlight for this issue features Hack, and it couldn’t have come at a better time! More than ever, the back-up story adds so much to the main plot. There’s very little that we know about Hack, and “Shock Treatment” only creates more questions. We’re given the opportunity to take a glimpse into her backstory, how she used her powers, what motivates her, and a hint into what her potential goals are. If there’s anyone who should be weary of Hack, it’s Amanda Waller.

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Recommended if:

  • You’re curious to see the aftermath of Waller inheriting the Black Vault.
  • You want to learn more about Hack.
  • You’re could use a character driven story before jumping into another mission or conflict.

 

Overall: “Shock Treatment” is easily the most gripping chapter of Suicide Squad’s main story since its Rebirth special. There isn’t much action here, nor is there much plot progression, but there’s a whole lot of set-up and character development. Once you add in Hack’s character spotlight – a story that add great intrigue to the main, arcing narrative – you’re left with a real treat. I’m more excited for the future of Suicide Squad than I’ve ever been, and you should be as well.

 

SCORE: 8.5/ 10