Tony Black reviews Suicide Squad #1…
“The Black Vault” part one! When a mysterious and definitely super-important cosmic item falls out of the heavens and into enemy hands, America has only one option: Task Force X, Amanda Waller’s strike team of incarcerated super-criminals. A one-stop-shop for plausibly deniable espionage and ultra- violence, this “Suicide Squad” only handles missions they’re not expected to survive. An insane new era of SUICIDE SQUAD begins here with superstar artist Jim Lee and red-hot writer Rob Williams (UNFOLLOW, MARTIAN MANHUNTER).
How interesting. Rob Williams already has the confidence with Suicide Squad‘s first issue, after a tremendous re-introduction to the saga in the Rebirth issue, which put the underwhelming movie in the shade, to tell two stories in one here. That takes some skill and chutzpah to attempt but Suicide Squad already has that in spades, telling one present day story which fully delivers the main ensemble after Rick Flag was drafted to become team leader by Amanda Waller, and sets them off on a mission into enemy territory, while telling on the flipside a tale about how one of Task Force X came to be part of the squad. It’s a really cool concept, to flank the main story with a flashback separate mini-issue which will illuminate the histories of the villains in the squad, and though it perhaps means less main story each week, it prevents a flashback awkwardly being jammed in and slowing everything down. Here, at least, it works really well.
Williams’ main story, ‘The Black Vault pt 1: I Wanna Be Sedated’ (note the same kind of lyrical connection the movie totally hashed up), sees Waller place the team on a very dangerous mission into remote Siberia to recover a ‘cosmic item’, but we know little more than that. More enjoyable than even the central story and the super cool manner of dropping Task Force X behind enemy lines from an orbital descent, are the flashes of character from the main villain ensemble; Deadshot’s boredom at Flag’s exposition, Boomerang complaining he has the shits, Killer Croc suffering from travel sickness in the most unexpected way, and the really clever manner Williams brings the Enchantress out of June Moon. All have real inflections of their crazed selves and equally we note Waller’s callousness about keeping them safe against Flag’s refusal, already, to compromise his dysfunctional team.
Beyond the main story, we have ‘Never Miss’ which provides a character profile on Floyd Lawton aka Deadshot and tells, concisely, the story of how he came to be in prison – without going into too many specifics it concerns his daughter, some very nasty criminals and a healthy dose of Batman, and skilfully gets under the skin of Deadshot to reveal there’s more than just a cold-blooded killer inside. It’s the kind of added character depth that will really flesh out this comic run and add great context to these lesser known characters, especially for newcomers to the comic.
All in all, it’s another fine issue for Suicide Squad, which might have gotten off to one of the strongest starts in all of the DC Rebirth issues yet. Rob Williams tells a great main story which has an intriguing plot and lots of character points, drawn gorgeously and darkly by Jim Lee, while his Deadshot-centric extra flashbacks story adds a great profile to one of the squad’s most interesting characters, drawn by Jason Fabok with more of a grey, depressed but effective pallet, lacking the exuberant colour of the squad together. It’s just a great package which looks set to go far.