It’s finally here—the new and improved Suicide Squad! Tom Taylor crafts an exciting start to this new series that’s funny, a bit gruesome, and subverts expectations. And yes, true to the cover’s promise, half of the team is dead by the end of the issue (just not the half or the team you were expecting).
This issue is specifically designed to set the stage for the rest of the series. That doesn’t mean it’s boring, or overloads you with information, it’s the opposite. In fact, it does a solid job of setting up themes, introducing characters, and setting up the future conflict really well. On top of that, it does it in a fun, bombastic, kind of way.
The opening pages introduce us to the largest portion of characters we’ll meet in this issue and it feels very much like a cold open for a tv show. Taylor opens in the middle of a mission where a group of young people are on a quest to disable a nuclear bomb on a ship. The characters shown here are a varied bunch—collected from all around the world, each one featuring their own skill set and superpower. Wes Abbot’s bubbles give concise information about each character, including name, nationality, and notable abilities. It’s also made clear through these that this group is not the Suicide Squad. In fact, they’re a terrorist group called The Revolutionaries. This was the first real surprise and a subversion of my expectations in this book. I haven’t been following the news for the series super closely on Twitter, but from the few things Tom Taylor’s tweeted out, I was expecting all of the characters to be part of the team right away, and thus expected this mission to be one from the Squad.
In total, there are 16 members or potential Suicide Squad members introduced this issue. This is an incredibly large number of characters to manage, especially when you consider the fact that they’re not even all the characters with speaking roles in this book. Of course, not all of them survive, but the final character count is still very high, creating quite the roster to participate in future issues. That’s one of the reasons I think using the first issue specifically to introduce us to the characters and show off their powers is a great idea. This way, we’re familiar with them all and Taylor can jump straight into the story next issue.
The fact that much of this book focuses on two fights– the opening mission and the face off between the Suicide Squad and the Revolutionaries– means there’s ample opportunity for each character’s skill set to be put on display in a natural fashion. Most of them don’t get a lot of time, but what time they do get is used well. Little moments like the fight between Scale, Finn, and Shark, or Osita’s quick talk with T.N. Teen are enough to tell us established facts about these characters. It’s a really nice way to introduce readers to these characters while still pushing the story forward.
I have to mention that this book is gorgeous. From the very first page the colors, lighting, and art are magical. The majority of the issue takes place just off the coast of Australia, and the art team wastes no time making the best first impression possible. Adriano Lucas’s colors are stunning, especially during the scenes on the water. The way he works with light and color as the sun dances off the water and highlights flying characters makes them almost glow. And his sunrise and sunset colors feel like they were plucked from the sky themselves. Bruno Redondo’s art is clean, and his designs for the new characters are delightful. I also can’t get over the way he placed a silhouette of Aerie behind the panels on the first two pages. It’s so unique and cool, and it’s a really interesting way to start things off. To tie everything together, Abbott’s letters make the action pop and add even more movement and life to the pages. I specifically love page 3, where a yell spirals all the way down the page as someone falls from a great height.
In comparison to the open, bright, and free feeling surrounding the Revolutionaries, the setting changes drastically when the story moves to introduce the Suicide Squad. The difference in mood is immediate and reminded me of all the reasons I’ve typically avoided Suicide Squad stories in the past. I’ve never been a huge fan of the idea of characters being stripped of their freedom and forced to do something, especially if the choice is to do it or explode. The colors are dark, the bunker they’re in feels cramped, and instead of a feeling of comradery, there’s bickering and immediate violence. It’s stifling and lacking the hope that filled the book just a few pages earlier, and it’s very effective. Lok’s threats and lack of hesitancy to physically assault his team is in direct contrast to how Osita leads the Revolutionaries. It’s all very intentional and works well.
The Suicide Squad as we’re introduced to them is made up of 6 canon characters. Out of those six the most familiar are Harley Quinn and Deadshot, but I also recognized Magpie and Cavalier. I’d never seen Zebra-Man or The Shark before this book, but a quick google search confirmed they’re previous villains as well. It’s a pretty zaney group, and nowhere near as sleek and polished as the Revolutionaries are. The Suicide Squad almost instantly starts bickering with each other, Waller, and a new agent named Lok. They’re also against being sent out to stop the Revolutionaries, and both Deadshot and Harley are vocal about the fact that their team is no match for their adversaries.
This book is a host of contrasting elements, all building to create conflict that will probably carry the title through it’s first arc at the very least, if not longer. There are strong themes of freedom versus force, and it’s interesting that the positive elements are shown as the ‘villians’ in this instance. The Revolutionaries are labeled terrorists because they’re trying to bring peace—albeit through their own style of vigilante justice. They will kill, but they don’t want to. While the Suicide Squad’s members are more than happy to use deadly force first and ask questions later. It should be obvious that Lok is after the Revolutionaries not to stop them, but to recruit them to Task Force X, and that recruitment is forced in every sense of the word. I’m excited to see how these opposed groups end up working together in the future, and how the characters rebel against the constraints forced on them after the events of this issue.
- Tom Taylor, do you need much more?
- You like fun, wild, stories with the promise of even more wild and fun things
- You like seeing a diverse cast of characters in your comics
- If all that doesn’t sell you then the art alone is worth the price of admission, it’s stunning to look at
First issues are often hit or miss, and this one hits it out of the ballpark. Tom Taylor has put together a fun team of both new and old characters and set the stage for some really interesting conflict in the future. Again, because it bears repeating, the book is stunning. The creative team pulled out all the stops this time, giving us something that’s a joy to look at as well as read. It’s easy to tell just from this first issue that there’s a plan for this story, and after such a well balanced and fun start, I cannot wait to see where it goes from here.
DISCLAIMER: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.