Wednesday, February 10, 2016

New Suicide Squad #17 Review and **SPOILERS**

Big Trouble in Little China

Written By: Tim Seeley
Art By: Juan Ferreyra
Letters By: Nate Peikos of Blambot®
Cover Price: $2.99
Release Date: February 10, 2016


New Suicide Squad, new creative team, new reviewer! I’ve been an on and off fan of the Suicide Squad for years, though to be frank I haven’t been to “on” during much of the New 52. Sometimes I’d get an issue, take a peep, then see Joker’s Daughter or something and run away in tears. But Jim told me to dry my eyes, there’s some new blood on the squad: Tim Seeley from Grayson on writing and Juan Ferreyra from Gotham By Midnight on pencils and colors. I love Grayson, and I loved the art on Gotham By Midnight, so this should be a no-brainer, right? In fact, I’m not even going to bother reading this book, I’ll just give it a 10/10 score and be on my way…what’s that? You say that would be disingenuous of me? Well fine then! I’ll read this book, and you can read my review of it below, but if Joker’s Daughter ends up in here, then so help me I am going to be a real bitch about it!

Explain It!

We begin with a prologue, set three months ago in an area of Moscow that had just been trashed by giant robots. A Russian soldier discovers what he believes are two Americans, but it turns out they are from the internationally-sourced Horus Organization, an independent group that investigates crimes against the Geneva Convention. Let me offer a tip to any would-be benevolent international groups: if you want to help the world and be accepted by its citizenry with minimal suspicion, don’t call yourselves the “Horus Organization,” or “Shadowy Corp.,” or “Eye in the Pyramid, Ltd.” Name yourselves something innocuous, like “We Love Peace and Love,” or “Free Candy,” or “Howdy, Chum,” or else you’ll invite all kinds of paranoid comparisons. One of the members of Horus, named Adam, is heir to the Buddy Reed Coffee Shop fortune, which seems about as interesting to this Russian soldier as white bread toast. He suspects them of being part of some paramilitary group like the Suicide Squad, but when he sees they are willing to offer coffee to a destitute Russian boy, the soldier walks away because people’s emotions are easily swayed by beverage offers. Adam tells his partner Seraphine that what the world needs now is superheroes like the Victory V’s (who were essentially a British Justice League), not criminals being blackmailed into mercenary duty. Adam’s favorite part about the Victory V’s was that they. Would. Die. For. Us. Which is sort of a strange complaint when weighed against the Suicide Squad, whose members die for much stupider reasons on a more regular basis.

Cut to Belle Reve Prison, today, where Amanda Waller is giving a tour to one Mr. Ashemore, representative of Her Majesty’s Crown and Throne and Other Whatchamacallits of the United Kingdom of Britannia-at-Longfordshire. He’s checking out Task Force X—better known as the Suicide Squad—something they would like to employ back in England. I think it’s worth saying that Mr. Ashemore is very British, practically foppish in his alacrity and dry wit. Very early on, he tells Waller he isn’t interested in meeting the Suicide Squad because he’s “quite cowardly, frail, and prone to defensive urination.” What, no laughter? Hold on: think it in a British accent. See? Now it’s hilarious! (To my British readers: imagine him saying it in a Texan accent.) My only misgiving is that he wasn’t given a bowler derby and umbrella like something out of a Magritte painting. So Amanda shows off her incarcerated Squad, not only to Mr. Ashemore but to us, the readers! Suicide Squad roll call!

Cheetah: Normally a Wonder Woman villain. A partially-feral blend of human and cheetah, seen here eating a zebra, raw.

Harley Quinn: Currently one of DC’s most popular characters, yet not reminiscent here of the version seen in her best-selling comic books. More like the one from the Suicide Squad movie, which makes good sense. Writes love letters to herself for the ego boost.

El Diablo: Messed-up heavily tattooed dude that has served his time with Task Force X, but decides to keep hanging out with them because Belle Reve’s cafeteria has the best rice pudding. Shoots fireballs and generally does fire things.

Deadshot: Floyd Lawton, guy really good at precision shooting. Here he says some of the stupidest shit in the world to Mr. Ashemore, some awful dialogue about the world being a stage or some such. Which, come to think of it, is sort of ironic.

And on reserve…

Black Manta: Former Aquaman villain. Now relegated to a team less popular than Aquaman. See him appearing next on VH1’s I Love the New 52.

The Parasite: Normally a Superman villain. Sucks powers from super-powered people which makes him get all fat and blobby. Looks sort of like one of the monsters from CHUD.

New Wave: Basically has the same powers as Zan from the Superfriends: can control water and turn into water. Used to hang out with a crew called the Masters of Disaster.

Mudslide: Never heard of this guy before. Looks like he was on a more recent incarnation of Masters of Disaster that went up against the Outsiders post-Batman. Presumably does things with mud and/or slides.

Crow Jane: Another character I’d never heard of. Seems she used to be part of an old incarnation of Stormwatch. Um, wouldn’t that make her a good guy?

The Lamplighter: Okay, now you’re just having fun with me. “The Lamplighter?” Looks to be another holdover from Wildstorm, also a member of the Earth-defending Stormwatch team. Were these characters picked by throwing a set of 1990s holofoil superhero trading cards on the table and selecting a bunch at random?

Cap’n Boomerang: Yeah. “Cap’n.” That’s actually how it’s spelled on the nameplate to his cell. For fuck’s sake.

So there’s your squad, ladies and gentlemen, a few recognizable people and then concentric levels of who-gives-a-shit as we go to the b-team. You are aware that there’s a major motion picture coming out this Summer, right? About the Suicide Squad? Did anyone mention that at the DC offices? Anyway, Waller gets a call to send out the Squad because we’ve just read several pages of the most atrocious dialogue and it’s now time to see some action.

Juan Ferrerya makes some interesting artistic choices here, slanting the pages in increasingly wild angles as the scenes get more and more intense…until the two-page spread, which is laid out in a fairly standard grid of ninety-degree angles. Uh, what the hell happened here? Did the artist blow his wad on the first five pages of this scene and decide to go back to something more straightforward for the spread? The team is in Hong Kong, to protect politician and America’s buddy Chen Ho, currently being targeted by the Triads for talking too much smack. What happens next is sort of tough to describe…or more literally, is too pointless to describe since it’s just the team sort of milling about, chattering to one another about what they’re supposed to be doing instead of doing it. I suppose there’s some character building here, but it really takes the wind out of what should be ramping up to a big action scene. Eventually, the Triads grab Chen Ho, and do battle primarily with Harley Quinn. Deadshot is perched on a building and ready to take his, uh, dead shot, when he and Cheetah get blindsided by someone whose silhouette looks suspiciously like Shredder’s. The same blue beam that knocked out Cheetah and Deadshot then kills all the Triads, then kills the entire Suicide Squad! The end!

Despite my cruel nit-picking, this book was actually serviceable. It had some problems, mainly with dialogue, but it also had some funny moments, like Harley Quinn reading love letters to herself while in the heat of battle. Juan Ferrerya’s art looked a little stiff and unpolished this issue, but if I recall correctly from Gotham By Midnight, his art was a little rough for the first two or three issues, and then it just turned a corner and became sublime. The art is not the main problem with this book, though, it’s the writing and pacing. I appreciate being informed of the full membership of the Squad, but maybe you coulda saved some of those reserves for a later issue, where they could get a fuller introduction and we could, you know, actually find out what their powers are without having to read the DC wiki.

Bits and Pieces:

I can give this issue a partial pass for being a pilot episode (though it really should be renumbered, in my opinion), but I can’t give a pass to a lot of the shitty dialogue. I understand this is supposed to be the “action movie” of DC Comics, but come on. People don’t say things like “hackney carriage exhaust.” They say “car fumes.” And that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to obnoxious yammering. The art is a little stiff, but I will give Ferrerya a break here since I’ve known him to get better over time.

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  1. The dialogue is fine for the most part. It does its job of giving the characters some unique personalities that bounce off each other, something that previous runs lacked. I also like that the roster is small and isn't too overstuffed. The only part that felt off was Deadshot's intro with the after credits speech. For the most part, it's not really "blockbuster action movie", but more "dark pulpy humor".

  2. I didn't even realize the letters she was writing were to herself. XD
    I thought they were reverting her back to the in love with Joker phase


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