First off, if you’re wondering who The Banana Splits are (because I couldn’t remember them to save my life), here’s a small introduction (or reminder).
Here’s the deal, this is a black or white issue. You’re either going to like it, or you won’t. I don’t foresee there being much middle ground here. If you end up liking it, it’s most likely be because you’re completely amused with the concept. If you’re like me – I personally thought it was a waste of my time – then you’ll probably close the book and think, “Ok… Who thought this was a good idea?”
An issue I’ve had with comics for a while now, is that publishers are trying way too hard. Way. Too. Hard. If a story is in-continuity, creative teams appear to focus on telling the next “earth shattering, world changing, nothing will ever be the same, someone will die, someone will come back, holy $#!& it’s the same person, you’ll be talking about this for years” story… in practically every single title said publisher is publishing. If they don’t do that, then they go to any lengths to make a story “different.” And if they don’t do that, then they release a crossover featuring two different brands.
Now, sometimes these crossovers work. DC has had solid success by doing this with their Batman ’66 franchise, Batman/ Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Justice League/ Power Rangers, and (what I assume will be a success) the upcoming Batman/ The Shadow. Sometimes these crossovers work. They make sense… And then, sometimes you have the Banana Splits joining the Suicide Squad.
I’m all for wacky, but I think someone was on something when they decided to do this. Actually, I could see this crossover working, but it would have to be done right. I don’t feel as though this issue captures that potential. There are moments that are good, but that’s all… Just a few moments.
My biggest problem here, is that it appears to have an identity crisis. Overall, the book has a fun vibe and doesn’t take itself too seriously – which is a good thing. But it never fully lands on whether it wants to be completely slapstick, or kind of funny with some good action. If you’re going to include the Banana Splits in a Suicide Squad story, then my vote is for full on slap-stick. I mean, you have the freaking Banana Splits joining the Suicide Squad… Just let that sink in for a bit.
The conflicting tones become more apparent as more action is introduced into the narrative. The plot shifts from the Banana Splits having high sarcasm, to a need to feature villains that actually feel villainous. There’s a prison lunch brawl early in the special, which is the first time I noticed the battling tones. Those juxtapositions become more apparent when the Banana Splits meet the Suicide Squad, at which time decapitations begin occurring (granted, the final result isn’t as gruesome as it sounds).
I assume Bedard intended on playing into the humor of how drastically different these two teams are… but that notion doesn’t come through well, or at least not as well as it could. Ultimately, I felt as though the book should have either fully embraced the camp (and represented the Squad in a tone more similar to that of Palmiotti and Conner’s Harley Quinn), or run with the comedic reactions of the Banana Splits seeing the Suicide Squad do terrible things (much in the way Shaggy and Scooby react to monsters in Scooby Doo).
When all is said and done, the issue is ok. If you have time to kill and some extra cash in your account, but don’t feel like investing in a new series, then sure… pick this title up. If roughly forty-pages of randomness – which includes a Snagglepuss feature – doesn’t sound like something you’d be interested in, then you should pass.
The Art: Ben Caldwell was the perfect artist to select for this story. There’s a natural campiness to his art the plays well into the narrative, and even manages to lighten the tone of some of the action. I wouldn’t necessarily want to see him on any Gotham-themed books in the future, but only because his style doesn’t seem fitting for that world. That doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate or respect his work here, though.
- You’re a fan of the Banana Splits.
- You’ve been looking forward to the Hanna Barbera/ DC Crossovers.
- This special could have been called the Banana Squad.
Overall: The issue isn’t terrible, but it’s far from great. The tone of the story feels as though Bedard was attempting to juggle both worlds, rather than fully immerse one world into the other. While I would have preferred the latter, I must admit that despite the shortcomings overall, there are still a few, worthwhile cheeky moments.