I’m seeing quite a bit of praise for Suicide Squad #9 because of the shocking conclusion… Meanwhile, I’m over here like, “Umm… Did you not see the barrage of media spoiling this issue a little while back? I mean, if you work in comics, there’s no way you missed it.” So, no, I didn’t find this issue very shocking – or not as shocking as it should have been – but I blame DC for that.
For the most part, my commentary on Tom Taylor and Bruno Redondo’s Suicide Squad has been extremely positive. That will continue here, but I will say that the cracks are beginning to form. I think this has less to do with the creative team, and more to do with DC’s choice to end this run early. (Everyone yell “Boooooo!!!!” and throw tomatoes.) I just can’t help but look at this and think, “We’re ending this but not bringing a new creative team to Batman? Ok…”
Anyway, this book opens with Thylacine and Chaos Kitten infiltrating the U.S. Capitol to kidnap a senator that is one of Ted Kord’s biggest investors. I love seeing Chaos Kitten and Thylacine together, and this scene, in particular, is a lot of fun because of how it unfolds. If you were to tell me that we were getting a four to six-issue miniseries featuring these two, I’d be pretty damn happy. Anyway, the two are successful in kidnapping the senator, and then turn to Fin to find out where Ted Kord is currently hiding. Overall, the entire mission is a success.
From here, we hit a few character beats – first with Harley and Deadshot, and then Deadshot and his daughter. Harley’s scene is clearly meant to be a goodbye between the two, and while it isn’t bad, it does feel rather transactional. The exchange between Floyd and Zoe, however, is quite touching.
When Floyd hears a round of gunshots, he immediately searches for his daughter, only to discover she’s having target practice with some birds. He’s vehemently opposed to Zoe shooting, and finds himself in a bit of a hypocritical lecture with her. I found the first half of this exchange to be a little heavy-handed with lines like, “Don’t point out my hypocrisy. Especially when I’m wearing it.” I mean, I like the reality of it, but lines like this are a bit much. That being said, what follows is incredibly heartfelt, and a great moment between a father who desperately wants to be something other than the man he is for the sake of his daughter. The conversation leads to Floyd making a promise to Zoe. A promise that he won’t kill. A promise that I’m not certain he can keep.
These quiet, emotional moments that Taylor and Redondo sneak into their run that really make this book something special. Yeah, there’s solid writing, great plots, and plenty of surprises throughout, but it’s these pauses that really resonate. Taylor and Redondo both capture characterization so well, and there’s something inherently relatable to the relationships they bring forward. From the careful execution of the script, to the wonderful acting and emoting brought to life by Redondo, it’s these touches that ground a book that would otherwise just be mindless, bombastic fun.
With Floyd’s commitment confirmed through a pinky promise, the Squad starts their mission. Having tracked Ted Kord to a remote island, the team infiltrates said island – this involves a great moment with Zebraman – before quickly flashing through an all-out battle to get to the center of Ted Kord’s compound. Just when it looks as though the team will finally get their revenge on Kord, Superman arrives!
Say what!?!? Superman!?!?! Yes. Superman.
The reveal of Superman takes the issue down a spiral of twists and turns, and unfortunately some heavy-handed dialogue from Osita. Tom Taylor starts to fall into his overly political writing like we tend to see from him at Marvel, before quickly refocusing the story where it needs to be. There’s a decent – albeit awkward – exchange between Superman and the Squad before finally getting to the “shock ending” that DC carelessly spoiled for readers… Deadshot dies. It’s on the cover. It’s been in press releases. They even gave it away during DC FanDome. And I can’t express how shameful it is that DC thinks it is ok to do crap like this. “Invest in our books! We’re going to ruin the experience for all of you loyal fans, but don’t worry… We’ll see a one-month sales jump because of this! Yay!!!”
Anyway, had none of this been teased or revealed in any way leading up to the issue, I would have been SHOCKED by Floyd’s death! Instead, I knew it was coming and spent the entire issue waiting for it to happen. I feel robbed. I read stories to go on a journey. DC apparently doesn’t care about that. I want to experience moments as creative teams intend for me to experience them. DC apparently doesn’t want me to have those emotional experiences. They just want their money now, and it feels like they don’t care if I come back in the future. I find it frustrating and disrespectful.
I get that DC is trying to sell some books here, and that that was their sole reason for revealing Deadshot’s death weeks in advance… but I feel like these tactics backfire and ultimately lose readers over time rather than bring new readers on. I mean, think back to Geoff Johns Justice League of America. Remember that issue where Catwoman is shot in the head and presumed dead (which we now know was really Martian Manhunter)? Remember the media coverage that followed? People were talking! If DC had followed that strategy, more people would be talking about what happened in the book, and fewer people would be speaking negatively to their approach to marketing.
Anyway, as fun as this issue is, there are some clear cracks forming. For one, this feels like multiple issues crammed into one. Everything happens so fast, and it feels like we’ve been robbed of multiple moments. In fact, I feel as though this issue could have easily been three issues.
If you study Tom Taylor’s pacing with his scripts leading up to this, you can kind of see why I would say this. This issue could have easily been a story that predominantly focused on the Revolutionaries kidnapping the senator. You could have had heartfelt scenes between Floyd and Zoe peppered throughout, and then end with the team claiming they have Ted Kord’s location. The next issue could have been a huge action romp as the Squad infiltrates the island and battles their way to Kord’s compound. It would have been a fun, action romp that ended with the reveal of Superman. (I mean, come one… Can you really tell me that the Superman splash page wasn’t intended to be a teaser page to end an issue?)
Finally, the third issue could have featured the Squad’s exchange with Supes, them rescuing the young girl, and Deadshot’s death. All three issues would’ve contained different pacing that somewhat mirrors what Taylor has done so far and allowed the characters and plot some time to breathe overall.
Now, let’s discuss that other little surprise this issue gave us…
Superman is actually Black Mask. Yes, as it turns out, Black Mask is part of all of this, and he’s the one that kills Deadshot. What?!?
I have mixed feelings on Black Mask being the “big bad” here. It just feels as though it’s coming from out of left field, and we don’t get any explanation as to what’s going on. I mean, I’m sure we’ll get some kind of explanation over the next two issues, but for now, it’s just random. There are also no details on how he was able to make himself look like Superman, but I have to assume that this is probably the case with “Ted Kord” as well. I’d mentioned in a previous review that I didn’t believe that was actually Kord, and my suspicion is only stronger now.
With only two issues left, Taylor and Redondo have a lot of ground to cover. I definitely think it’s possible, but I also believe it will require the book to go out with a bang. Only time will tell, but I’m hoping for the best.
- The Squad finally reaches Ted Kord.
- The Revolutionaries.
- You might as well go all the way, right?
- Despite DC’s attempts to ruin this issue – which they do to a large degree – it’s still a great read. It would’ve been better had they not spoiled it, but it’s good.
Suicide Squad #9 is a solid read that begins to wrap things up for Tom Taylor and Bruno Redondo’s run. There are some truly shocking moments in the issue, and it’s honestly a shame that DC couldn’t just let fans experience it.