Amanda Waller is dead! We all know what that means in comics…
No more Suicide Squad! Shut the program down, throw the team members into a proper jail, and cancel the book!… That, or Waller isn’t dead. Take your pick.
If there’s one thing that I think we all need to remind ourselves, it’s that Rob Williams knows how to craft a story. I’ve seen so much hemming and hawing about people being upset because they “know Waller isn’t dead” and “DC trying to create shock by ‘killing’ a character.” I get it. I do. I understand why people feel this way, however, I never believed that Waller is actually dead. Instead, I feel like she’s working an angle, and I’m intrigued to know why. Ironically, Williams deals with the consequences of his plots so well, that I actually found myself thinking, “Crap… She really could be dead.”
Too often writers will make something happen because it works as a great plot device, but then they never do anything with it afterwards (*cough* the first arc of All Star Batman *cough*). Here, we get the opposite of that. Waller was shot at the end of the last issue, but there’s clearly a point. Whether it’s involving her directly, the Squad, or perhaps something to do with Rustam, I can’t help but feel that a power play is at hand.
Beyond that, everything else is changing because of Waller’s death. With Waller gone, Harcourt officially takes the Squad permanently, and continues to move forward with her plans. Considering Waller was killed in New Orleans – conveniently where the Squad was taking their sabbatical – they’re all being questioned. The narrative explores the characters perfectly, because nothing is over-sold, and all of the interactions feel true to each character.
In all of this, Rustam is still at large, and he’s breaking into prisons. This plot was revealed in the previous issue, and I didn’t welcome it with open arms. My issue was that it didn’t appear to make sense, so I was happy that this issue delved into Rustam’s motivations. As expected, the Squad gets involved, and goes head to head with Rustam and some other prisoners – the weakest portion of this issue. Rustam’s team ultimately feels like another version of a Suicide Squad. Considering there’s the actual Squad, the Russian squad, and we just finished an “event” featuring the original Squad… I’m a little over villain teams. To make matters worse, Williams breaks trend and discusses these new characters, as well as their abilities, through lazy exposition. Come on, Rob! You’re better than that!
This issue continues the two-story format, and also continues the trend of the previous issue concerning the correlation of the two stories. The first arc focused on driving the plot for the first story, while the second story served as a specific character profile. Now it appears the issues will continue to drive the plot during the first story, then cover all of the character centric moments in the back-up. At the moment, I’m a fan.
The success of this issue stems from the aftermath of Waller’s death. The fact that we’re continuing to see consequences of what has taken place, drives a sense of mystery. Williams isn’t afraid to embark on some new directions, and I find that exciting. This is the benefit of having a long-term plan. The direction of a “long game” makes it easy for readers to invest in Suicide Squad, and if you couldn’t tell, I’m quite invested.
The Art: This chapter features art from John Romita Jr. and Eddy Barrows again. You all know how I feel about Romita’s art (I respect it, but I’m not a fan), but this issue didn’t bother me as much in certain portions. For instance, I didn’t mind the hospital panels. They felt more normal, less “boxy,” and overall more natural. The digital panels, however, were awful!
Barrows, on the other hand, delivers some great work with the back-up story. Suicide Squad #11 felt as though Barrows’ art were rushed to meet the deadline, but I don’t get that vibe here. The work in this issue matches the quality we’ve come to expect from him in Detective Comics. Speaking of Tec, can we just praise this man for a second? He’s completing work for two books, both of which are double ships… This guy is a machine!
Breakdowns for this issue can be found in the spoiler tag.
Flatline. I don’t, for a second, think that Waller is actually dead… But you know what they say, “Seeing is believing.” Williams takes the time to go through so many aspects to prove that Waller really is dead. We watch her die. She flatlines. There’s dna tests to confirm it actually is her. She’s buried… I mean, I know there’s still a way for her to prove this was all one big coup, but I’d lie if a little part of me didn’t think, “Crap… Maybe they really did kill her. Damn… That would be/is ballsy.” And that is why Williams is a masterclass writer!
Who did it? I loved the pages of the Squad being questioned about their potential involvement in Waller’s death! Any chance these characters can be highlighted is worth taking, because they’re all so entertaining and interesting. If you’ve ever seen Firefly, this page reminded me of a scene from the television series where Malcom Reynolds’ crew is questioned about potential criminals hiding on their ship… It’s a good time!
A whole new world. Let’s face it, the Suicide Squad without Amanda Waller shouldn’t work… but Williams is somehow drawing me in. It’s the details people. The details.
Rustam. I’m glad we know why Rustam is doing what he’s doing, but it’s the least interesting aspect of this issue in my opinion. I think this will be the one example of where we won’t fully see the consequences of an action in this book. With Rustam freeing prisoners from all prisons, it would require every DC title to acknowledge this plot to believably deal with its consequences.
Romita and the prison squad. Yeah, Romita’s art… I can’t say much else… Then there are the prisoners that fight the Squad. From the poor exposition to the Hack 2.0, I wasn’t a fan. And what in the hell happened to Katana and Flag?
- Rob Williams
- You want to know what happens with the Squad with Amanda Waller dead.
- You believe actions should have consequences.
Overall: The real gem of this issue, is the back-up story. Yes, some substantial plot development occurs in the main story involving Rustam, but I honestly wasn’t too fond of this. The back-up, which puts the Squad front and center, is where all of the magic happens! Williams has a winning formula (great characters + a well-planned plot + consequences) continue to drive this book, and leave me anxious for more each and every issue!