Tom Taylor delivers his second issue of Suicide Squad, which contains more bombastic action and a good dose of character development as well! If you didn’t pick up the debut, you’re going to want to jump on this bandwagon before it’s too late. Trust me.

The Story

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Tom Taylor. The guy can write some crazy, entertaining, suspenseful, heartfelt stories – and yes, you can actually get all of these elements in a single issue under his pen.  Who would’ve thought? We’ve seen him execute this in the likes of Injustice: Gods Among Us, DCeased, and even Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man. Considering he’s delivered story after story that balances plot and characters quite well, it seems pretty obvious that DC would assign him Suicide Squad. And man, I’m happy they did!

Last month, Taylor introduced us to a new team in the Revolutionaries. Some viewed them as heroes and warriors for justice, while others – specifically a number of governments – viewed them as terrorists. So, what do they have with the Suicide Squad? Nothing. Yet. But that quickly changes when the new head of Task Force X, Lok, wants the Revolutionaries added to his roster of potential soldiers.

Going into the run, the book warned us that characters would die in the first issue, and it lived up to that promise. There were casualties on both sides, with the Squad eventually becoming the victors over the Revolutionaries. Staging their death, Lok and Task Force X recruit the Revolutionaries and have free reign to use them without any suspicion. Which is where this issue picks up. With hardly any time to cope with their losses, both teams are thrust together for their first operation. The question is, will the OG Squad and the Revolutionaries be able to work together? I doubt it.

Let’s face it, the Revolutionaries have a lot to be angry about. Not only have they been attacked and kidnapped at this point, but they’ve lost people they care about – especially Fin, who watched his brother get eaten alive by King Shark. Nobody would be surprised if the Revolutionaries tried to enact a coup – and, quite frankly, the Squad knows this as well, which creates quite a bit of dissension for all parties. It’s not exactly the chemistry I would want to have going into a mission, but that’s exactly what we get here.

This issue starts towards the end of the mission, and as expected, things are not going well, but not necessarily for the reasons you might think. Deadshot, Osita, Wink, and Aerie have been sent to an island off of China to help rescue a man who was recently elected President for his nation, but the government refused to recognize his appointment.

The Squad’s intel of the island’s security isn’t accurate though, so the four team members sent to rescue the President find themselves in an ambush, and the mission itself may not go as planned. Are we shocked? No. It creates for a fun, action-packed, fast read though – but not fast in a genuinely disappointing way, more so in a, “No! Don’t tell me that’s the last page! I want more!” way.

There are also political undertones associated with the mission that mirrors real life, and that can make for a read that is equally interesting and gripping. Nothing like a little self-reflection to remind of how awful humanity can be sometimes. And yet, never did I feel as though the book moved to a “preachy” standpoint. I consider that a huge win!

As fun and engaging as the mission is though, my favorite aspect of Taylor’s Suicide Squad is the characters. The way Taylor infuses characterization and growth into his stories reminds me of how Joss Whedon would approach characters for Buffy, Angel, or Firefly. It’s simply masterful, and Taylor handles ensembles unlike anyone else in comics at the moment.

While a number of characters get a respectable spotlight here, Fin, for me, is the standout. Tom Taylor has a knack for delivering gut punches, and despite only knowing Fin for one issue, I feel for him incredibly. The opening pages with Fin feature him sitting in his confinement tank reflecting on how different his life is now that his brother is gone. He’s never spent a day without sharing a psychic link with his brother… until today. There are only a few panels of it, but the exploration into his sadness and loneliness is heartbreaking.

This isn’t’ just a sob story though. Fin has ways of coping, and they can be quite violent – both for members of the Squad and the opponents they encounter. It’s how he moves on from this loss that really allows me to connect with him, and ultimately has me rooting for him throughout the story. I know a number of characters will surely die in the coming issues, but I hope Fin isn’t one of them!

And he isn’t the only character we get to explore. We learn a little more about some of the other Revolutionaries, as well as the new head of Task Force X, Lok. Most of what we learn about Lok is indirect. It’s not so much about him, who he is, or where he came from, but more so how he thinks and works, and what his ambitions are with the Squad. It’s interesting, and as much as I love Amanda Waller, having a new person in charge gives this run of Suicide Squad a unique energy… Although, I hope Amanda we see Waller doing something behind the scenes later in the run, because I can’t imagine she’d just hand over her project so willingly.

All in all, by the end of the issue, you get a good dose of action, drama, humor, and suspense, along with a cliffhanger and twist that will leave you eagerly awaiting the next chapter. If this isn’t a formula for writing great comics, I honestly don’t know what is!

The Art

Bruno Redondo covers the art for this issue, and I feel as though he’s not going to get the credit that he deserves from many people! So, with that in mind, I want to be very clear.

This issue would fail completely if not for the work of Bruno Redondo!

The opening pages of this issue feature a portion of the mission without full context, and because of the nature of Suicide Squad, you’ll assume its just standard Task Force X set-backs. By the end of the issue, however, you revisit this very scene, and nothing is what it seems. I’m not going to say it’s the greatest twist ever – if you’re looking for twists or read into things well enough, you might suspect the outcome – but it is executed expertly thanks to Redondo. I always try to talk about storytelling through art, and this is a personal example of that.

In addition to this though, Redondo matches Taylor’s character work incredibly well. Whether it’s the emotional beats with Fin that I mentioned previously, or the humorous interactions between Deadshot and his teammates for the mission (aka: the plane going down), every panel is excellent. And on top of all of it, the look of his work is aesthetically pleasing as well!

Also, I have to give a huge shoutout to Adriano Lucas and Wes Abbott for their colors and pencils! They add so much character and presence through their work that could easily be overlooked, but would definitely be noticed were it not included. For instance, look at the image above. So much energy, tone, and characterization come through just by the way these two artists approach Wink. There’s such a strong collaboration of storytelling through Redondo’s panels, to Lucas’ use of color to signify Osita, Aerie, and Wink’s plan, to the impact of Abbott’s “WINK” and “THD.” Great work!

Recommended if:

  • Tom Taylor and Bruno Redondo kill it!
  • You enjoyed Suicide Squad #1
  • You want to read a book that has a little bit of everything.

Overall

Tom Taylor has a knack for balancing bombastic action and intimate, character-driven storytelling, and he delivers that combo incredibly well here. Then, to make it even better, all of it is elevated brilliantly by Bruno Redondo’s art. With their Suicide Squad, you get all of the action and adventure you expect, and all the character development and relationship work that probably has no right to pop up in a book about criminals being used by the U.S. government… But damn am I happy this thing exists!

SCORE: 9/10