I thought we were done with torture porn, Entertainment. Saw 7D: The See-Sawing is never going to happen, so I presumed we were safe to officially declare the nightmare over. That was until Suicide Squad #1 came out. The series was announced as one of the DC New 52 a few months back, and rampant speculation began on what books would remain and which ones would fall. John Ostrander’s run on this title from the ’80s is one of the most beloved comics of its time, and as a recent devotee to it, I was excited to see Task Force X and Amanda Waller return… even at the expense of Gail Simone’s fantastic Secret Six. Now writer Adam Glass has resurrected the Suicide Squad, and frankly, we might have been better off without them.
This reboot was not well thought out, productivity-wise. Between axing series and demanding freelancers have three months worth of work to submit on their titles, it has been a race against time at DC, and perhaps in no other book is it more apparent than Suicide Squad. There’s no creative reason for there to be three artists on the title, each with distinct styles and pages, but it occurs in this issue! Not being a fan of “artist jams,” it left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth, even if Federico Dallocchio, Ransom Getty and Scott Hanna are all immensely talented pencillers. Their linework is vastly different from one another, and each would be qualified to take this title solo, but their contrasting style smacks of a rush job, and if the creators powered through it, shouldn’t we as readers do the same?
My biggest qualm with this book is Glass’ style — it starts off promising enough, with a harrowing two-page spread of all of the squad being worked on by an enemy, tortured in inventive ways. It works as a cold open, but then as the pages proceed, we just see more and more pain, and a flashback thrown in almost as a pity afterthought. Glass has stated in interviews that he was not a fan of previous incarnations, saying that he doesn’t think that these characters would sit around and bullshit over coffee, but that was exactly the appeal of Suicide Squad! Simone showed in Secret Six how you could combine gravitas with humor, and characters like Deadshot and King Shark became fan-favorites and three-dimensional, but under Glass they’re just hard-nosed killers, devoid of any real personality or incentive. Page One opens with Deadshot being subjected to a tin bucket being heated on his stomach so some rats try to crawl out — which incidentally was done before in 2 Fast 2 Furious — and by the end of the book, we really have no empathy other than not wanting to see someone suffer so bad… and this is coming from a guy that less than threes violence.
The issue isn’t terrible, but there is really no enticement to return except for the poor, telegraphed twist: it was a test after all, and Angela Bassett looking Amanda Waller tells the team “Hey, next mission time!” Firstly, I miss “The Wall,” and rebooting her as a slim and slender female is a dumb idea — Waller was always a fascinating character because she achieved her power through her determination, but was not afraid to punch a dude so hard his feet went flying (see: Suicide Squad #8), and not to sound sexist, but she was an intimidating woman. Granted, this Waller only appears in one scene, but she doesn’t have the personality or the presence of our beloved pantsuit wearing leader of Task Force X.
Ultimately, Suicide Squad fails as a first issue, not due to the quality of the writing (though it could use some tweaking,) but due to the inaccessibility. If I were not already a fan, I would see absolutely no necessity to return for the team’s first mission (in issue #2)! While I do enjoy a grim and gritty comic on a regular basis, this issue just feels like Glass had to prove he has the fortitude to put these characters through the wringer. While necessary, he spends more time breaking them down than building them up, and by issue’s end they may as well be cannon fodder. I’ll be back for the second issue out of obligation, but new readers most likely won’t feel the same inclination.
Rafael Gaitan was born in 1985, but he belongs to the ’70s. He is a big fan of onomatopoeia, being profane and spelling words right on the first try. Rafael has a hilariously infrequent blog and writes love letters to inanimate objects as well as tweets of whiskey and the mysteries of the heart at @bearsurprise. He ain’t got time to bleed.