So due to my high anticipation for next year’s Suicide Squad movie, I decided to purchase the New Suicide Squad Volume 1 last week. I always like to reiterate that I am not a regular reader of comics from the Big Two, but I am familiar with the characters from growing up watching the cartoon series and movies. I am enjoying this collection of comics though, and it is actually only increasing my excitement for the movie, even though there are many characters in this particular book that are not going to be featured in the DC Cinematic Universe… not yet anyway. I am most familiar with the Task Force X featured in Assault on Arkham, which I think is a great introduction to some of the characters for other people who may not be as familiar with the comics or older related cartoon series.
The story opens with the arrival of Vic Sage, the newly appointed director of Task Force X, bringing his idea to remodel Amanda Waller’s team with some new faces to create a more fearsome group. Following Sage’s meeting with the U.S. Secretary of Defense, we see Harley Quinn, Deadshot, and Black Manta meeting up with their newest team members, Joker’s Daughter and Deathstroke, in Russia where they are ordered to assassinate some high-ranking officials and find out what secret projects the Russian government is working on. A rivalry is quickly developed between Harley Quin and Joker’s Daughter over their relationships with Joker, and between Deadshot and Deathstroke over their roles on the team. Back in the U.S., Waller and Sage are having their own quarrels over the best way to operate the team and who is in charge, which eventually builds up to a physical confrontation. Meanwhile, Task Force X encounters a slew of problems when they are forced to deal with Russian police and military, killer robots, and Deathstroke’s betrayal. After Deadshot is taken captive, Black Manta leads a rescue mission and manages to rally what remains of the team to get them out of the country in one piece. Shortly after the mission to Russia, with Deadshot in recovery and Sage’s ego wounded, Waller quickly takes the reigns again and assembles a team composed of Harley Quinn, Black Manta, Captain Boomerang, a trio of ninja man-bats (from Son of Batman, maybe?), and a new Reverse-Flash, who are dispatched to China to infiltrate a facility where an army of metahumans is being manufactured. When Harley Quinn inadvertently awakens the metahumans contained in the building the squad finds themselves neck-deep in mayhem, only to encounter further trouble when one of the strongest of the manufactured metahumans pursues them and draws the Chinese military to their location.
While it is the latest take on the Suicide Squad rather than the version the diehard fans have come to know and love, I can see the box office appeal from the book. Antiheroes and psychopaths can actually be more relatable than men and women donning tights and capes for the sake of truth, justice and whatever… Besides, darker and flawed heroes are what people seem to be yearning for nowadays. The visuals were great, even though I think some of the panels were rushed, and the set-up for the development of characters already established as staples in the series was done really well. The only thing that kept nagging at me throughout the book was how the team continued to get surrounded by enemies with guns and somehow managed to punch-out every one of them within five panels without being shot—you can only suspend disbelief for so long. The major themes always seemed to touch on identity and finding purpose in the world, which is something everyone could easily relate to. While I may not continue to buy books in this particular series, I am glad overall that I shelled out the $13 to enjoy this one.