(DC Comics, 2014)
Written by Sean Ryan
Pencils by Tom Derenick
Inks by Scott Hanna, Mark Irwin, Norm Rapmund, Matt Banning
Color Artwork by Blond
Lettering by Dave Sharpe
I have been a fan of the Suicide Squad since 1987 when John Ostrander was at the helm with Kim Yale as co-writers and the team roster boasted Captain Boomerang, Deadshot, Rick Flag Jr and a post Joker shooting, wheelchair bound Barbara Gordon as the information maven, Oracle among other obscure characters. Over the years the Squad has had a tumultuous existence full of inconsistent runs and less than stellar monthly and mini-series before hitting pay dirt in the New 52 with writers like Ales Kot and Matt Kindt. I don’t mean to say that all the problems were with the writing because there were artistic difficulties as well however there were some shining moments amid the mishaps; inconsistency was the culprit, to sum it up concisely.
The creative team currently working on this incarnation of the Squad has corrected many of those evils already, just two issues into their run. Sean Ryan and the host of artists now hard at work on Suicide Squad have hit the ground running with two solid, action packed issues full of intriguing plot points, engaging character development and solid artwork. This new team is made up of one the most diverse assemblages of anti-heroes, semi-reformed criminals and hard core mercenaries to ever grace the pages of a modern comic book and the chemistry is undeniable. The mélange of volatile personalities makes for some deliciously tense moments between tenuous team mates.
While the first issue dealt with some obviously much needed set up and exposition, albeit in an immensely entertaining fashion, this second issue comes out, quite literally, with guns blazing. The action begins with the first panel and scarcely lets you take a breath until the final page. Picking up precisely where the previous issue left off, we find the Squad under attack by a unit of robotic Russian soldiers called the Rocket Reds. Amidst a barrage of gunfire Manta attempts to take the reins and lead the team to victory, or at least survival which does not seem at all guaranteed at this point. In spite of all the chaotic conflict and break-neck action, Ryan takes the time to do a fantastic job of allowing the characters to shine as individuals. He has very adeptly found the voices of each of these distinct characters and done so in record time. In the case of Harley and Joker’s Daughter, Ryan has created some classic tension and turmoil. The underlying reasons are glaringly apparent though Ryan finds the more nuanced elements of the rivalry to focus on. Harley is by far the more likable character, as well as the more complex and fully developed but the Joker’s Daughter does provide an interesting and extremely vexing counterpart for Harley to concentrate her comedic tinged rage upon. Ryan writes some clever dialogue for all the team members, including Amanda Waller and Vic Sage who never actually appear on page they enter the narrative via coms, but Harley grabs the spotlight every chance she gets. The real difference between this Suicide Squad and many of the other versions is Ryan’s spot on use of humor. He is able to infuse the action with a hint of humorous hijinks through the use of witty banter and razor sharp verbal jabs traded between team members as often as with combatants. This Suicide Squad has heart, not only in the sense of bravery in the face of daunting odds but heart in the sense of humanity. These characters, with the exceptions of Joker’s Daughter and Deathstroke, who spends most of this issue seemingly cutting a side deal to work against his cohorts, are all at least for the most part likable.
As far as the art goes, Tom Derenick and company do a fine job collaboratively of creating an overall visually dynamic book. The panel placement and page composition work well with Ryan’s narrative to maintain the kinetic energy created by the high speed action sequences. The visual storytelling is as fast paced and engrossing as Ryan’s writing, building on the momentum created by the first issue and raising the stakes with each successive installment.
New Suicide Squad is a book that hooked me from the first panel of the first issue and tightened its grip as the action rolled on. Although I still wouldn’t call the book perfect, it is only a few minor tweaks away and I have complete confidence in Ryan’s writing talent to steer this book all the way to the top if given the opportunity. So if you avoided this series out of fear of past inconsistencies, I would urge you to look at this series with fresh eyes and I think you will be pleasantly surprised with what you find. (3.75/5)
Shawn is an aspiring writer/ artist who has been reading, collecting and living comic books for over 30 years. He lives in Baltimore with his wife, their son, lots of cats, dogs and other various finned and furry friends.