Suicide Squad #50 review

Here we are. The final issue of Suicide Squad. It’s not a secret that I have been very critical of this series since I started reviewing it, and even this book’s final arc—Rocket to Russia—hasn’t exactly received the most favorable reviews from me so far. With an extra-long issue to conclude Williams’s long run as well as the series itself, I wondered if the creative team could deliver and end this story on a high note, because this series was actually pretty good earlier on during Rebirth. So, is this an issue worth getting or is it best to just let Suicide Squad fade into the dark? Let’s have a look.

Well, I’m not going to beat around the bush. I’m sad to say that I didn’t manage to enjoy this final issue. That is not to say that there isn’t anything here that I like, though. For example, for all its problems, I think I’m going to miss seeing the characters every month—Rick Flag, Harley, Boomerang, Deadshot, Katana and Croc. Although the stories written about them haven’t been great as of late, I have always enjoyed seeing these characters together in the same book. This has been the main attraction for me. Over the course of the run, they have been starting to trust each other, growing closer as a family, a group of friends. This element has been the book’s saving grace and the main reason why I’ve been putting up with a lot of the book’s flaws. This also makes it just all the more sad to see the comic kind of peter out in the way that it does, because I believe that these characters deserve better than this. They deserve a great run of memorable stories with a lot of heart, humor and beautiful art. Unfortunately, I don’t think this final issue delivers on any of these fronts. I’ll explain why.

First of all, the book’s aesthetic isn’t very consistent. In total three people—German Peralta, Brent Schoonover and Will Conrad—are credited as artists. While I actually enjoyed the artwork in the opening pages a lot, the quality quickly goes downhill once the art changes. The backgrounds are no longer interesting; character proportions aren’t consistent; the action seems rushed because it’s not always very clear what exactly is going on; characters’ faces don’t always match the script; and at times panels are just so full of explosions and bright visual effects that I’m just a little bit overwhelmed. In short, except for the opening pages, the artwork isn’t easy on the eye, and as such it’s rather distracting. For this reason I found it hard to stay focused on the story because, like it or not, with a visual medium like comics the art will always have a great impact on how much I enjoy a story.

The story itself, though, isn’t a home-run, either. For one thing, it’s full of exposition. While exposition is sometimes necessary to get important information across to readers, and never a bad thing in and of itself, I think it’s not used very effectively in this comic. For example, often when characters are informing each other about the state of affairs in the story, they start talking each other’s ears off. This is not very believable, because our heroes are pressed for time and should be skipping all the banter and get straight to the point. Moreover, there are also moments where characters are explaining things to each other at highly inappropriate times. For example, during the opening pages—which serve as a flashback—we see Grier and his men walking around the underwater base in which this story takes place. Grier is telling his buddies why they are there, but this is all information that I as a reader would expect these guys to already know. It makes absolutely no sense for a group of soldiers like them, within the context of this particular story, to just walk into that underwater base not knowing what exactly they are there for. There are more instances like this in the book where exposition is mishandled in a similar way. It just doesn’t work and at worst it makes me question the narrative.

Then there is the problem of character motivations. While it makes sense for Rick Flag to want to stop Grier and the others because they used to be under Flag’s command when Flag was still in the army, I think that the reasons for Flag to stay and fight don’t work. Harley tells Flag that he killed Hack—a villain in a previous arc—in this same base, and that staying and fighting is his penance for killing Hack. But I don’t see why this is reason enough for Flag to stay. Why would he even care about Hack? Harley’s motivation is also very silly: the reason she stays is because it’s insane to stay and fight and she thinks that’s fun. Not only do I think that these motivations are revealed much too late in the game, but I also think that most of these are too convenient and underdeveloped. Even Deadshot’s motivation—fighting for his daughter—is perhaps too obvious, because now it means that his entire character can only continue to function because of his daughter. While a noble cause to fight for, it does mean that Deadshot is turned into a rather one-dimensional character. Surely he’s more complex than having only one very specific reason to fight. Additionally, it’s also a missed opportunity. What would have been more powerful, in my opinion, is if the Suicide Squad members would have stayed to fight for each other, because this would have truly completed their transition from being crooks that are forced to work together to being a true family. It would have underscored values of kinship and the need to work together to overcome the biggest threats, which seems like a good message to put into this final issue. Unfortunately, the creative completely ignores this and simply sticks to the same old, obvious motivations that have been the same for a long time.

Then there is one more point that I would like to bring up before rounding off this review. The story’s problems are resolved much too conveniently. For example, to end the conflict the Squad needs to move Tunguska—the character who spread the energy that infected Waller and Grier and the others and turned them into monsters—through a portal, and then close the portal. However, Katana—who is trying to operate the portal—doesn’t exactly know how the controls work. She decides to ask her sword Soultaker, but how is Soultaker supposed to know anything about the portal? And yet Soultaker is able to explain to Katana what she needs to do. Soultaker is also able to confirm later on that Tunguska’s infectious energy is “gone from this world.” Again, how does Soultaker know all this? It seems like the only reason why Soultaker is capable of these things is because that’s convenient for the plot. This is not great writing because it reduces Katana and her sword to plot devices. One other thing that really bothers me is that in order to close the portal, Deadshot decides to shoot the control panel, and for some reason this actually works. It just comes across as lazy writing. A quick way to end the story’s conflict.

After this, the story just abruptly ends. There is no epilogue to close out a 50 issue run that started during Rebirth. No resolution for certain character arcs, such as Killer Croc, who has largely been forgotten in this final issue and pretty much this entire last arc. It doesn’t seem like the main characters learned anything new, any new values or morals or knowledge. It’s all really too bad, because I was hoping for the creative team to turn out something great to celebrate 50 issues. That, unfortunately, isn’t the case. This just reads like an average, middle-of-the-road story that I’m sure I’ll have forgotten soon.

Recommended if…

  • You’ve been collecting Suicide Squad since the start of Rebirth and want to complete your set

Overall: I don’t recommend this issue. I want to be able to recommend it because I like these characters, but they are being handled rather poorly here. There is no strong character development, and even the final victory doesn’t really feel like a victory because the book just ends abruptly. Character motivations are also rather obvious and only serve to highlight how these characters have not learned any new lessons. And with a number of three artists working on the same book, the aesthetic is also not very consistent, which is highly distracting. All in all, this book doesn’t manage to live up to its full potential and it’s just a reminder that its glory days are in the past. It’s a shame. These characters and this series deserves better, but it just kind of peters out.

Score: 4/10

Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with an advance copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.