You’ve had your six, Suicide Squad. I was willing to give this book a chance based on my love of team-ups, anti-heroes, and describing things in hyphenates, but it has proved a fruitless endeavor. It could never hope to replace Secret Six, and in all likelihood didn’t intend to, but losing Gail Simone’s series to a dry, witless and mean-spirited comic is almost insulting.
There’s very little to like in this issue, but what there is is solid. Adam Glass can structure a comic and the story has a neat little twist, but where he fails is in his characterization. This hardly even reads as from the same writer. While #1 was rife with meaningless and vitriolic torture, this issue makes attempts at personality that are grating and disingenuous. Harley Quinn started this reboot as a Juggalette and has graduated to full-fledged idiot, spouting jokes and remarks that would make Flashpoint‘s Element Girl think she was overdoing it. With all the fervor of the Red Hood and the Outlaws and its portrayal of women, Suicide Squad has turned its lead female into a babbling dummy, making unfunny video game references and tripping all over herself every time Deadshot does something “edgy” and “badass.” There’s a moment of “redemption” when El Diablo tells her she doesn’t have to act that way, which she follows up with a joke about her relationships! Just because you point it out…
Conversely, Deadshot is stone-faced and inflexible. As the makeshift Rick Flag of this Suicide Squad, Glass has turned him from a dangerous yet relatable lunatic into just a straight-up walking growl — it’s as if Christian Bale’s Batman voice took on a life of its own. He spends the entire issue barking orders, yelling, and shooting innocent people and teammates alike. It’s almost as if he’s vibing all the hilariously misunderstood parts of Rorschach under the guise of tough-guy shit.
The art is mostly successful — Federico Dallocchio has a good eye for kineticism and positioning, but he occasionally struggles with facial reactions — a scene of Amanda Waller shouting makes her look like she’s being buggered. There are a few pages done by Andrei Bressan, who also has a very unique style that is reminiscent of Carmine Di Giandomenico, but his talents are distilled by two seemingly arbitrary pages that could have been condensed into a caption. Ultimately it’s not the artists’ fault — they deliver the product successfully, but Suicide Squad just isn’t any fun. I like hard-boiled tough shit as much as the next guy, but the disconnect between issues and styles smacks of obligation, maybe even dismissiveness.
Glass has stated that he didn’t think the original Jon Ostrander series rang true because of the “human” moments, but the balance of those with the action are exactly what made that book a classic. Glass thinks that he can do better — that he’s an idea guy and his storytelling isn’t in question — but by vocally proclaiming that he doesn’t intend to give us anything more than what’s on the page, why should we watch a bunch of archetypes walk around and grimace at one another? This Suicide Squad will almost certainly die early, and frankly I won’t miss it at all.
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.