Suicide Squad #1 review

The Australian government has upgraded its defences with a slew of nuclear submarines, one carrying a nuclear warhead. A band of self-proclaimed Revolutionaries isn’t having it.

Team teleporter Wink and birdman The Aerie give the general who announced these ‘crown jewels’ to the world a chance to evacuate the subs before they act. He refuses. He dies. And so do all the service personnel aboard one of the crafts. Another sub is disabled. And the third, the one carrying the warhead, they take.

Watching, in Belle Reve jail in the US, are the members of the latest version of Task Force X, whose no-bull name is the Suicide Squad.

Longtime member Deadshot understands Task Force X chief Amanda Waller’s deal – survive a black ops mission for the US government, have a chunk of your jail sentence reduced. But the nattily dressed, one-eared stranger with Waller emphasises that things change.

Waller is curiously quiet as the man, Lok, tells the Squad that they must stop the Revolutionaries, who have been going around the world attacking oil fields, freeing illegal immigrants from detention centres and more. With no choice, Task Force X confront the young band of self-proclaimed freedom fighters.

There are fatalities on both sides and, after the best use of Deadshot on a Squad mission in years, the members of Task Force X get the bigger picture.

Now that was unexpected.

Will the surviving Task Force X members be able to work with people they were just warring against? Will the Revolutionaries manage to put their personal agenda aside to work for the US government? And who will try to kill the odious Lok first?

I’d not be surprised were all those scars the result of putting someone’s nose out of joint… well, he’s certainly trying to give that impression.

Maybe he’s actually a method actor who once played Two-Face? ‘Lok’ as a name evoke’s Loki, but this guy seems more a troll than a trickster. And why does he have the strangely charismatic Zebra Man stay by his side in the helicopter during the fight? In what way does he wish to ‘remake the damn world’? Maybe he’s actually sympathetic to the Revolutionaries’ cause and wants to use them ‘legally’?. I look forward to finding out what Lok’s deal is. And where he buys those nice suits.

I’m also very intrigued to learn what Amanda Waller’s up to, because there’s no way she’d abandon her baby, the Suicide Squad. If anyone’s going to bully supervillains who just want to be left alone to serve their time, it’s her.

Look at me, totally sucked in by writer Tom Taylor’s debut issue. The set-up of Task Force X vs a rival super-team is classic Suicide Squad, and while at least one of the characters killed this issue would have been fun to keep around, I’m delighted to see the stakes are real for the bad guys – unlike us, Deadshot and Harley Quinn don’t know they’re too popular to die. (Of course. Deadshot has a longstanding death wish, but I suspect he’d rather die in action than have his head exploded by some shady government type.)

The two roll calls were much appreciated, and Taylor gave most of the new players a moment; I’m especially keen to see more of the vicious Chaos Kitten, and Deadly Six, who is smart enough to sneak off to safety when the big fight breaks out. And then there’s Wink, whose brazen, devil-may-care attitude gives her a Harley Quinn vibe, but as we already have a Harley Quinn, there has to be more to her than that.

Speaking of Harley, Taylor makes her work not simply as a member of the Suicide Squad, but as de facto leader, caring for, and standing up for, her colleagues – she’s not the one-dimension cuckoo for cocoa puffs gal she’s too often portrayed as.

Taylor’s script is brought to glorious visual life by illustrator Bruno Redondo and colourist Adriano Lucas. The new character designs are mostly eye-catching – a few could, at best, be described as ‘utilitarian’, but not necessarily wrong for a team which exists not to look amazing, but to get things done. I like that Redondo looks back to classic Squad artist Luke McDonnell for his Waller, and he draws a great Cavalier (I love puffy-sleeved types, and this issue has two!). And the storytelling is first rate throughout this 28pp scene setter, well-paced and dramatic both in the quiet and loud moments. The colours of Lucas add to the vibrancy of the story, giving us a bright world to contrast the very dark characters inhabiting it. My favourite Redondo/Lucas visual is Wink’s teleport effect, perhaps best enjoyed as a ‘flick strip’ while swiping in ComiXology Guided View.

Those stat cards are a nice example of the great work letterer Wes Abbott does throughout the issue – let’s hope the entire creative team sticks around a while, including editors Andrea Shea and Brian Cunningham.

The cover should attract some Harley Quinn fans with its gleeful chaos, but I do hope the fan favourite isn’t going to hog the action, as she has over the past few years of Suicide Squad runs. Heck, the Suicide Squad has now been launched as a series four times since the New 52 hit the comics landscape in 2011, and too few stories rose above the merely average. If subsequent stories here are as strong as Bad Blood, this one is going to stick.

9 thoughts on “Suicide Squad #1 review

  1. I agree wholeheartedly. This is the best Squad debut since the Ostrander/McDonnell one.

    It actually reminds me a lot of that issue, in which we see a mission of the Squad’s new enemies, the Jihad, as they attack an airport. Then that turns out to be a briefing for the Squad.. Then there’s the confrontation, with fatalities on both sides.

    But the Revolutionaries are more likable and relatable than the Jihad ever was. We’re invited inside the group, and see the idealism behind their actions (even when those actions are brutal). They’re not 80s action-movie bad guys, they’re this decade’s fight-the-power protagonists.

    AND NOW THEY GET TO JOIN THE TEAM.

    Which is great. It means we get to learn and care about a whole new crew of characters (and we will — look how quickly we’re made to care for Fin and Scale!), but we won’t be subjected only to a bunch of our childhood badguys being slaughtered. (RIP Cavalier)

    As for Magpie? Frankly, I have my doubts she’s gone. It’s an offscreen death, and who really knows what Deadly Six can do with his powers? Can Sloth make someone’s heartbeat stop? Will powerless, overmatched Magpie become the Squad’s agent on the outside? I sure hope so. I’d sure as hell write it that way.

    But whatever happens, I’m strapping myself in for what looks like one of the best thrill rides in comics.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love your theory that Magpie is still alive, that would be a classic Ostrander move so Taylor might just give it to us.

      Given how many times Australia has been devastated in DC Comics, I can understand the government wishing to up their defences.

      I don’t see a character named Sloth… was that ‘autocorrect’ on Osita?

      Like

      1. Sorry, no… I didn’t mean Sloth as a character, but a concept. IIRC, Magpie was confronted by Deadly Six before she went dark, and his powers were listed as being able to influence people via the Deadly Sins. So if he used Sloth on her, he could slow her heartbeat to zilch… maybe put her in a type of stasis. That’s my theory, anyway. We’ll see!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve been looking forward to this book SO much and your review prompted me to pop out and pick up my standing order from Worlds Apart.

    Tom Taylor did a great job, on Twitter, of stoking anticipation by posting about the new characters and I was NOT disappointed!

    I’ve been rereading th 80s series in anticipation of this relaunch, and I agree with ROBSTAEGER that first issue is reminiscent of that first story with the Jihad. I love the Revolutionaries. I’m already invested and am not looking forward to the inevitable deaths.

    As a Magpie fan (possibly the only one), I hope we haven’t seen the last of her. Her early appearances, from what I remember, were almost a template for Harley ( “No boss! Not Happy Birthday!” ), but I always thought she had so much more potential. However, I understand Taylor has form for bumping her off in Injustice, so I won’t get my hopes up.

    Seeing the likes of the Cavalier, Magpie, ZEBRAMAN…is what the Suicide Squad is all about, as far as I’m concerned. A chance to breathe life into neglected characters. Look what it did for the likes of Captain Boomerang, the Enchantress, Lashina. Did I ever think that is care about Shirke, who’d only appeared in a couple of issues of the Detroit era J L A? And I thought the new 52 series suffered with the lack of history from which to draw some forgotten cannon fodder.

    What I’m trying to say is this issue has really gotten my nostalgia sense tingling, but it still feels fresh, particularly with the Revolutionaries idealistic motivation.

    I’m a huge fan of the Squad because of the 80s run. I will always pick up a relaunch of the book (though I might not always stick around until the end). This is probably the #1 issue that has had me the most excited after reading it.

    The writing, art and character design were all great, and I cannot wait for the next issue.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Fear not, at least three of us like Magpie! And amen to everything you say, bring on those less popular villains who can either be redshirted or developed into something special.

      And as another who was with the Eighties squad from the beginning, I’d squee if Bruno Redondo gave us some oddly square spectacles. Little things…

      Like

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