New Suicide Squad #1 Review: Task Force… XL?

Warning: This review contains spoilers.

It’s a brand new era for the Suicide Squad, now with 100% less boomerangs. In New Suicide Squad #1, writer Sean Ryan and artist Jeremy Roberts (with colors by Blond) are tasked with reinvigorating DC’s team of government-sponsored baddies, and do so with the sensibilities of a summer blockbuster. Despite some fundamental flaws, including cringe-worthy dialogue, the issue is overall entertaining as it commits to popcorn sensibilities.

The issue opens with a discussion between the Secretary of Defense and Victor Sage, the latter whose name should pique the interest of longtime readers, discussing the future of Task Force X, aka the Suicide Squad. Sage argues for a more ruthless and feared team, proposing they upgrade to “Task Force XL,” one of the laughable uses of dialogue in this sequence. He also proposes that Black Manta join the team because, as put so eloquently, “He does have a cool look. Plus he’s got the word ‘black’ in his name. That never hurts.” Why does that never hurt? Is it because it makes him sound scary, or because it helps fill a minority quota? The answer is never revealed as the conversation quickly moves to the removal of Captain Boomerang from the team, presumably so that he can join up with the Rogues in The Flash, which is where he belongs.

The book improves as the focus shifts to the team itself, which is a powder keg waiting to explode. The new team members are not welcomed with open arms, specifically  the Joker’s Daughter’s encounter with an enraged Harley Quinn. Deadshot and Deathstroke equally as friendly with one another, albeit less physical. It is later revealed that Sage has assembled a team with two mercenaries and two Joker groupies is merely to instill a little friendly competition – one of the issue’s truly humorous moments. The remainder of the issue is the new Squad undergoing their mission as Sage monitors their progress with Amanda Waller. Sage’s hubris is countered by Waller’s trepidation which, along with interwoven images of the team’s progress, makes for a genuinely entertaining sequence. In true to form, the mission does not go as planned.

The introduction of Deathstroke and Joker’s Daughter to the Squad adds a new wrinkle to the team – they are two members without explosives implanted within them. It should be interesting to see how this impacts the character dynamics in future issues, but for now it serves as a means to explain how these two were coerced to join the team. With Deathstroke, the explanation is fairly simple: he’s a mercenary, so he’s being paid. The Joker’s Daughter, on the other hand, is given a much more flimsy excuse that is more indicative that the creators – or editorial for that matter – do not know what to do with the character.

 

Jeremy Roberts’s art is very good when taken as a whole. His layouts in particular are very good. Though nowhere near groundbreaking, the pages are structured in a manner that allows the reader to easily navigate and understand the story. The other elements of the art, from character models to scenery, including backgrounds, are well structured and detailed. If there is a complaint, it’s the cheesecake depiction of Harley Quinn. Relaunching the series gave the creative an opportunity to fix one of the biggest complaints about the previous Suicide Squad series, and they fail to take advantage of it. Aside from this, any other flaws in the artwork are nominal.

Despite a rocky start, Suicide Squad fans should give this a try. Though it pales in comparison to the legendary series by John Ostrander, it is not trying to be that and should not be judged as so. This is a perfect title for readers looking for popcorn entertainment. However, anyone looking for something with a little more character depth and stronger storytelling should give this a pass.

SCORE: 6/10

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This entry was published on August 18, 2014 at 4:10 pm. It’s filed under Reviews and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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