Thursday, 15 September 2011

Suicide Squad #1 review

The new Suicide Squad are in trouble. Captured by unknown assailants, they're being tortured. The deal is simple - give up the secrets of the Squad, or die slowly and painfully. A scorching blade. Pincers to the face. Salt in a wound. Deadshot, Harley Quinn, Savant, King Shark, Black Spider, Voltaic and El Diablo... one of them reaches their limit. The rest face a big surprise.

This new take on a DC classic begins with torture and ends with the promise of mass murder. We flash back to see how a few of the characters won their latest stint in Belle Reve prison, then it's back to the nastiness.

(Oh, there goes an arm.)

Deadshot seems to be basically the same guy we're familiar with from the Suicide Squad's golden days and, more recently, Secret Six; he's lost the 'tache, but seems to still have a little girl. Harley Quinn is nastier than I remember. Savant is in no way the same guy we saw in Birds of Prey. King Shark seems to be the Secret Sixer, but with a new head and - God help us - a thong. Black Spider looks bulkier than the Bat-villain I'm familiar with. And Voltiac and El Diablo are new to me.

And that's how they'll likely remain, as I don't fancy any more issues of this. The existing, tweaked characters seem that much nastier, and it's not just the villains - there's a well-known Squad face here who's unrecognisable. Well, unless you only know her from TV and film ...

It's not that I don't appreciate the final twist, but when the supposed good guys are more monstrous than the bad, I'm out. And while I'm intrigued by the mission set up at the end of this issue, and Adam Glass's writing is technically rather good, as with his Flashpoint Legion of Doom mini series, this comic isn't for me. Glass seems to take far too much joy in mutilating and killing characters; I get that this is the Suicide Squad, but deaths should be the exception, not the rule.

The art by pencillers Federico Dalloccio and Ransom Getty, and inker Scott Hanna, while not for the squeamish, is excellent. Standout scenes include the opening spread showing the down and out Squad from above; and the members heading for a mission, their personalities revealed by their physical attitudes (click on image to enlarge).
And Val Staples' colouring is outstanding throughout, as he adds tones to signal flashbacks, emphasise drama, pick up light sources and generally make good art look great.

Ryan Benjamin's cover is impressive, but I'd rather see Harley Quinn than Harley Quim. The other guys may as well not be there

I'm disappointed by this book. I'd love to support a Suicide Squad series and hopefully I'll be able to before long, as everyone involved has the craft to make a great comic without resorting to over-the-top nastiness. All that's needed is a little editorial change of mind.

Anyone know a cheap torturer?

12 comments:

  1. For all that horrible things sometimes happened to characters in Ostrander's Suicide Squad, people tend to forget that it was a book with a surprising amount of heart. Most of the featured characters were broken individuals who desperately wanted to heal themselves, even if they didn't know how to do so.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Glad I didn't pick this one up. I considered it -- it's the first Squad book I've ever passed up -- but when I found I had a couple extra bucks, I took a chance on Grifter instead.

    Had I heard about Waller, I wouldn't have even considered it. It dismays me more than Barbara Gordon walking again, to be honest. Unlike the change in Batgirl, this opens up *no* story possibilities. It's just a sexifyin'.

    ReplyDelete
  3. sorry Martin i'm not with you on this one. i had a great deal of uncertainty about this book given how much of a Squad fan i am after all i do have the only SS blog in the world i believe. but i thought introducing the characters with the whole torture test recruitment situation was pretty clever and helped establish their personalities of not just the felons but also of Waller. there's a lot of stuff i miss about the original series and i'm not certain if i'll be able to get used to how different things are now but as far as #1 reboot issues go it wasn't bad. plus like you said the art was great especially the cover. even though it wasn't really a reboot story Swamp Thing #1 was quite good too. i posted Youtube reviews for ST #1 and SS#1.

    ReplyDelete
  4. i'm a huge fan of Ostrander's Suicide Squad so i'm definitely going to pick this up. I had my concerns when reading Legion of Doom that Glass would bring a more gruesome violence to the series, and this review seems to confirm them. It seems a bit daft worrying about that considering the series title, but while i loved the danger the concept brought what kept me reading was the "heart" that has already been mentioned. Still gonna pick up the issue though, and try it out for myself.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Ah Knightsky, you're making me so nostalgic for the days of weirdly square eyeglasses and Batgirl plushes!

    It's funny Rob, much as the on-panel violence wasn't for me, it's the change in Waller that depresses me most. She was a powerful woman who happened to be a big gal, now she's Angela Bassett. So much for that commitment to diversity.

    I'm glad you liked the comic, David ... I'm looking forward to checking out those video reviews, and seeing what you say on site.

    If you get a chance, Mr Oddly, let us know what you make of the book.

    ReplyDelete
  6. The needles violence is what I liked about this book. I enjoy comics that forget the rules and boundaries that come along with the superhero genre and gives us a taste of the evil side of the world. I doubt this title will ever be as good as Secret Six, but it was for sure a fun read for me.

    ReplyDelete
  7. you can find the reviews in Youtube under these two titles:

    Suicide Squad #1 review for the DC 52 relaunch (spoilers)

    Swamp Thing #1 DC relaunch review & mythology recap, one big spoiler

    ReplyDelete
  8. Deadshot is not the same as before. He's at heart a nihilist, why on earth would he care about his new and unknown teammates? Why wouldn't he talk if tortured? He was the one who said famously: "The hell with it, let's kill ourselves".

    This comics was juvenile, like a 14 year old writer trying to be "grown up", in a Identity Crisis way, where "grown up" means ass-rape and gore.

    And of course, Amanda Waller.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Jimmy, I'm all for some boundary breaking, if that's what we're calling torture, but that was pretty much all we had here. I want clever moments, suspencse, the sort of things John Ostrander regularly delivered.

    Thanks David, I hope everyone's taken a look.

    Some great insight there, Nataniel - OK, DC gets to tweak Deadshot, but without the nihilism. it's NOT Deadshot.

    ReplyDelete
  10. these suicide squad "creative" team guys are a joke. they totally jacked the character "hammerhead" from an indie book called hard-bullied comics (http://graphicly.com/search?q=hard-bullied) and used him for this supposedly "new" king shark. that federico guy drawing ss was the artist on the indie before he hit w/dc.

    pathetic.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Well I finally got to read the relaunch issue and...it wasn't quite as horrible as I was expecting.

    Admittedly it fell into torture porn teritory, but after Legion of Doom (after reading which I felt like a REALLY needed a shower)this was like reading an issue of Sugar & Spike.

    As I've already said I LOVED Ostrander's Suicide Squad, and the glimpses into the minds of El Diablo and Harley Quinn reminded me of that run.

    Not impressed with the post-Jenny-Craig Wall, particularly when I read what the Squad's next mission will be. I fear we may be looking at government-stages-terrorist-attack conspiracy plot, but I hope I'm wrong.

    Still, its managed to pique my curiosity enough that I will definitely be going back next issue.

    ReplyDelete