With the upcoming #50 as this title’s final issue, it looks like #48 is the start of the series’ last arc. While I’ve been rather critical of the series so far, there have also been some good issues, so I’m hoping that Williams can manage to close out his run on a high note. So, without further ado, let’s have a look at Suicide Squad #48.
The basic premise of this arc is that an unknown antagonist has captured Amanda Waller and the Suicide Squad has to save her. However, the kidnapper has very specific demands and wants the Squad to complete a mission for him, or else Waller will die and the kidnapper will give all her secrets to the United States’ enemies, as explained by Katana. While the stakes appear to be high, I have to admit that I’m not really feeling any of this. First of all, why would a bunch of super-villains even care about Waller or about those secrets being released to America’s enemies? Secondly, if I’m not sure why the main characters should care, then that means that I am not sure why I should care, either. As such, to me the premise of this story seems rather pointless. Perhaps, had the premise been presented differently, there would have been a real sense of conflict and threat. However, instead of focusing on the threat and the real dangers that should be what motivates the Squad to cooperate, the creative team has chosen to focus on a few big explosions—the likes of which we have seen over and over again—and the same old banter between the characters that doesn’t help to advance the plot, nor does it really add much to character development because it feels like it’s just a repetition of what we’ve read before.
Now, of course it’s possible that the Squad has to do what the kidnapper says simply because the kidnapper could detonate each member’s neck bomb. This, however, is never explicitely stated and so it’s up to the reader to either just assume that or come up with a different explanation. Moreover, the comic is bogged down by Flag visiting the wife and child of one of his old squad mates who must have died in war. Don’t get me wrong, the scene itself isn’t a bad scene, but it seems out of place. There is nothing in the issue that links back to this scene, whether it’s thematically or plot-wise, except that we see Flag desperately wanting to take care of the members of Suicide Squad, making sure they won’t get injured or die. But this is a character trait that has been attributed to him over the years in many different runs, so I don’t think we necessarily need the scene where he visits Susan and her kid to establish this.
The reason I am bringing that up is because, overall, the book is just oddly paced. We jump from Amanda Waller strapped to a chair in a dark room, to Flag visiting Susan, to the Squad leaping from an aircraft into the sea to infiltrate an underwater base. It’s like these different sequences are just thrown together, lacking smooth transitions.
Lastly, the villain’s plan is also very convoluted. If I understand it right, he’s luring the Suicide Squad into this underwater base for reasons as of yet unknown. So far, this is fine, because I have no problem with the details being revealed over the coming issues. However, there is a moment where Flag and Harley are arguing about their relationship, and suddenly a hatch beneath Flag’s feet opens and he falls. Then he ends up in a specific location, exactly right where the villain wants him. Now, I never like it when these hatches are used as plot devices to get a character from A to B, unless it’s thought out really well and makes perfect sense. In this issue, though, it makes zero sense. It suggests that the villain has planned for Flag to somehow step on that hatch that leads him directly to the place where the villain wants him, and while there is such a thing as “comic book logic,” this is just too convenient and therefore unacceptable. It reeks of lazy writing. Essentially it means that the villain’s plan hinges on Flag stepping on that specific hatch at that specific moment. In fact, I suppose you could say that this is a literal plot hole, and it’s not even funny.
The artwork, brought to us by Diogenes Neves (pencils), Scott Hanna (inks) and Gabe Eltaeb (colors), is largely fine. The “camera,” to just use a film term, is set up nicely as we get to see scenes from different angles. There is a nice consistency here as well; the surroundings in a particular scene stay the same and everything remains in the right place, even if the angle changes. However, at the same time, even with such consistency the backgrounds are also rather uninteresting to look at. For example, in the underwater base, we mostly just see steel walls and floors and the occasional pipe. Lastly, the action is big and explosive, which certainly catches my eye—except that it never becomes more than your standard Suicide Squad fare, and I just wish that the creative team would try something different for these final issues of the series. All in all, the artwork is serviceable, gets the job done and meets professional standards, but it also doesn’t add anything new to the aesthetics of Suicide Squad, nor does it ever manage to get me excited about certain shots or panels.
- You’ve come this far and you just want to complete Williams’s run
- You really dislike Waller
Overall: In my opinion this is a very lackluster issue. There’s a lot of action, there’s some intrigue, there are a few character moments, but none of it offers anything new to the Suicide Squad narrative. As such it feels rather stiff, like the comic is just going from story beat to story beat because it has to, and not because it has an incredibly exciting story to tell. I’m afraid I cannot really recommend this issue. Perhaps wait and see if the story picks up with the next installment, or just spend your hard-earned money on other comics.