What They Say:
They’re a team of death-row super villains recruited by the government to take on missions so dangerous they’re sheer suicide! Harley Quinn! Deadshot! King Shark! Defeated and imprisoned, they’re being interrogated about their mission–and about who’s pulling the strings behind this illegal operation.
One of the best titles from my time reading DC Comics back in the late 1980’s was the John Ostrander title of Suicide Squad. With the relaunch changing the time frame a bit, giving us a world in which its only been five years since Superman revealed himself and other superheroes and villains came to the fore, Suicide Squad takes the concept and slides it in well. A wide variety of villains have tried their hand at things in this time and the prisons have filled, particularly that of Belle Reve where we have a whole lot of odd and sometimes quite powerful supervillains. Considering what they are, it makes sense to try and put them to some use. And that’s where the Suicide Squad comes in, though the program has a more formal name of Task Force X.
This opening issue gives us a look at a group of seven villains that have opted to participate in the program, which means that they have to go through a ton of training and plenty of incentives to follow orders through some gadgets that will keep them from straying. This doesn’t take much time, but it’s told in a pretty fun way as we actually meet all the participants after their first mission has gone awry and they’re being interrogated together by a group of masked men reminiscent of the Scarecrow and hillbillies. Everyone is resistant to it, but the villain known as Savant blabs everything, showing us how they came to get involved, how it sucked in Belle Reve and how the mission went disastrously wrong.
Mixed into this issue as well we get to see several of the members of the team and their stories that brought them to this point. Deadshot’s past is covered easily enough with his first time going up against Batman and how it changed his career and El Diablo’s past is one that has a bit of tragedy to it that makes him sympathetic overall as one of those that could have been a real hero otherwise. The real fun for me here is seeing the Harley Quinn story, which ties into events from the Detective first issue that I haven’t read, as it shows us the road she took by hunting down the lawyers that all put the Joker away all these years by piling their dead bodies high. We’re shown quickly just how bad these guys are, that there’s some context and nuance to it, and they’re pretty varied. I mean, we have Deadshot working with King Shark, a man with a huge shark head and a hell of an appetite.
This book has been pretty controversial since the cover artwork was first released as we got a look at how the more traditional cute and happy go lucky Harley Quinn looked compared to this one. She’s got a dark streak here that does radically change her, but I’m curious to see what they’ll do with her since the other Harley never really interested me that much, especially since I could only hear the animated version’s voice with it when reading the books. The other change, which is done with only a quick panel towards the end, is with the new Amanda Waller, or at least who it likely is because she’s never directly named. It’s a huge change in her look and personality from what we can see here and it’s one that fits in more with the theatrical and live action TV incarnations of the character. It’s the kind of change that’s definitely divisive and understandably so, but it also means we won’t get a complete retread of the character in this version either. And hopefully it has some story potential to it as well.
This digital edition of Suicide Squad from Comixology contains only the first print cover with no extras as of this writing.
Suicide Squad has been a concept that I’ve liked since I first read it and I was glad when it had a release again during Blackest Night, even if it was poorly executed. Just bringing the idea back to the forefront again was appealing. With this relaunch here, it’s giving us the early missions once again with a different kind of cast to it yet with some familiar aspects as well. It’s a book that’s going to be controversial easily enough and for good reason, but if I wanted the same thing again I could just reread what they published years ago. The book has a good flow here, some solid artwork and a cast of characters that I want to see work together and die together. I went into it with an open mind and a curiosity about the changes and came away looking forward to the next issue quite a lot. It’s not a book I have really high expectations for, but it gives us a look at a different side of the DC Universe that should be more dangerous, gritty and filled with gallows humor.