When your book is called Suicide Squad, fatalities are to be expected. And, to be honest, enjoyed. What’s not expected is a resurrection. Sure, such things happen in superhero comics, but wouldn’t a Lazarus-like return in this series cheapen the brand?
Not when the brand is the vision of writer Tom Taylor and artist Bruno Redondo. Jog, the meeting of super-speedster and Dad bod, was killed a few issues back, so it’s fair enough that he begins this issue in a morgue. He’s surprised, though, to find himself awake. And not alone.
Offered a trip to the realm of the New Gods, Jog takes a rain check – his team needs him.
And that’s how the final issue of Suicide Squad starts, with a surprise that works perfectly within the context of the DC Universe. Of course he’s the Black Racer’s kid!
Previously able to run at super-speed only in short bursts, it looks like that limitation has gone. Ascended to ‘Joghood’, Samuel Song zooms to the island nation of Badhnisia where Osita, Zebra Man, The Aerie, Wink, Chaos Kitten, Thylacine, Deadly Six, Fin and Harley Quinn face an explosive situation.
Jog, showing new confidence to match his power upgrade, comes up with a way to save the day, but the team members barely have a moment to catch their breath before the World’s Greatest Superheroes show up, demanding to take charge.
The Squad, though, get welcome support from a third party and the Justice League leaves without a fight. Harley Quinn soon goes too – she has work in Gotham City, where teenager Zoe mourns her recently killed father, Deadshot.
What a great scene and, while surprisingly tender for a property whose trademark is crazy, brutal action, it’s typical of this issue – heck, the whole series. Taylor constantly goes places you didn’t quite expect, yet they’re always logical given the characters he’s using, whether they’re veterans like Harley or the near dozen newcomers he’s created with Redondo. The writer also shows a Paul Levitz-like knack for having players use their powers and skills in creative ways, with this issue’s use of Deadly Six being a prime example.
While the Suicide Squad have always operated out of Belle Reve, Louisiana, I love that Jog’s corpse was sent there, making the revival and revelations a nice nod to Swamp Thing’s ‘Anatomy Lesson’.
Most comics don’t lose anything by being read in digital guided view, and while it’s great to see the detail in Redondo’s art, and drool at the gorgeous colours of Adriano Lucas, full-page first is the best way to read an issue of Suicide Squad.
That’s because Redondo is a master, using well-considered layouts whose panels work as individual moments, and together as a storytelling unit. The varied points of view, true-to-life body language and explosive action moments make Suicide Squad one of the best-looking books around. Perhaps it’s because Redondo designed the new characters, but they have some of the most interesting looks in the DCU. Then again, Zebra Man and Harley predated this series, and they look wonderful too, as do the League members; it seems Redondo can take any character and make them his own.
Favourite scenes this issue include the Flash greeting the team after their team-up in his recent annual, the determined look on Osita’s face as she ponders the future and the conversation between Harley and Zoe. The cover is a stunning piece of work, trade paperback ready. And I love Jog’s updated power signature, super speedlines with added Kirby Krackle.
Finishing the visual feast are the chromatic creations of Lucas – the way he blends background tones, sometimes in the service of naturalism, at others to bring the visual fizz, is award winning… if he hasn’t got gongs yet, believe me, they’re coming. Just look at sunset on Zoe’s street.
He’s great with skin tones and light sources too.
Wes Abbott, who, like the rest of the creative team, has been with this book since the beginning, does another fine job of ensuring dialogue gets the correct emphases. And when the title page finally arrives he totally earns his pay cheque.
This is the first series Andrea Shea has edited solo, and I won’t say she’s destined for great things… she’s there already. Congratulations, chief!
Suicide Squad ends on a high note, as a very different team to the one which headlined the first issue sets off on a new adventure. If we don’t get to see it, in a series with a different title, it will be a rotten shame. In 11 issues, Tom Taylor, Bruno Redondo and friends – let’s not forget the excellent Daniel Sampere, who illustrated three of the chapters – have produced a story that’s firmly part of the DC Universe, but entirely its own thing. I envy anyone who comes to this for the first time in the coming collection, not having to wait a month between issues. (Flash Annual #3 has a different creative team but fits firmly between #5 and #6, so should be in the collected edition too, even if ‘only’ at the end.)
It’s been a pretty rotten year but Suicide Squad has been a monthly bright spot, full of excitement and fun. Viva la revolution!