This Week the honor goes to a DC book flying under the rader but still serving up diabolical goodness
I often feel bad when my turn comes at choosing TWF that I tend to pick new #1 issues. On one hand, I’m giving new titles and creators a shot constantly. On the down side, I feel like those books I’ve been following for awhile don’t get recognized for all the things the creators do to try to improve or tell a better story. In this regard, New Suicide Squad was the second most anticipated book on my pull-list behind a number one but still won me over for the conclusion of its most recent arc.
On paper, Suicide Squad should be a powerhouse seller. A team of bad guys fighting heroes or other bad guys to reduce their jail time? Its hard to balance its premise though, many writers would be tempted to make them less like villains and more like anti-heroes. Not only is this a cheat, it robs the characters of their reason for existing. They’re bad guys; let them be guys that do bad stuff. One of the biggest TV dramas ever followed a villain and never let the viewer forget all the atrocities he had committed.
Thankfully, Seely understands all of that and allows the members of Task Force X to be despicable and pits them against people even more heinous. After finally escaping Amanda Waller’s grasp and the US Government’s control, the members of Suicide Squad (Deadshot, Harly Quinn, Cheetah, El Diablo) believe they can enjoy a relatively safer career as security for the heir to a coffee empire, Adam Reed. What actually happens is they become trapped in a castle of death, the targets for the Fist of Cain cult who murder high value targets for points to advance within the cult. Their savior intends to offer them up as sacrifices so he can ascend to the head of the Fist of Cain’s leadership and awaken the goddess of murder.
Naturally, all of that can sound very dense and outlandish but Seely built all of that up over the course of five issues. He found a way to make the Suicide Squad’s fixed location in a survival game compelling by raising the stakes gradually. By this issue, the Squad is desperate for an escape and still outnumbered a thousand to one by the Fist of Cain. This gave Seely ample time to give each character their own defining moments; Deadshot’s death wish, Harly Quinn psychoanalyzing the Fist of Cain members, Cheetah taking on the goddess of murder and El Diablo looking for a way to redeem his soul. Even Amanda Waller and Captain Boomerang get their moments, as Waller seeks to prevent word of her failure reaching her superiors and Boomerang waits for an opportunity to outdo Deadshot.
“No matter how you slice it, you think you’re better than everyone else. And you think that means you deserve to take whatever you want. That’s what makes us Evil Bastards.”- Captain Boomerang, New Suicide Squad #20
That quote sums up why Seely’s vision of the Squad’s cast is so enjoyable. There is a lack of pretense to them being supervillains, but that doesn’t mean they’re not relatable . They have wants and needs, they also happen to murder, lie, and steal.
On art, penciling duties switched from Juan Ferreyra to Gus Vasquez while the former handled colors, inks and breakdowns. While there is a sense of continuity with the color and inks from previous issues, there is less artistic flourishes with experimentation. Instead, Vasquez’s storytelling is more straightforward with a cartoonish style that plays up the horror and absurdity of the events in the plot. The colors help to make the art more vibrant and switch from warm and cool to show the mood of the scenes. They also smooth out the pencils which goes well with the defined inks.
Although Vasquez doesn’t take as many chances as Ferreya, he instead lays out his panels to overlap along with camera pans to make the scenes more intense. This broken panel structure feels both familiar but appropriate for the story. His style works with a gentle line and figures posed like characters in an action movie.
At the close of the issue, Waller and Boomerang do indeed come to the rescue of the errant Squad members as the death castle goes up in the most epic way possible. Punishments and rewards are doled out accordingly while Harly and Deadshot meet to discuss their next escape attempt. It’s a hilarious cap to the adventure and sadly Seely’s last story in the series as Sean Ryan returns to end it. It’s perhaps the best story told within the series or its predecessor since the New 52 began and one with which I’ll be comparing every future story to come.