Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Suicide Squad Annual #1 Review and **SPOILERS**

The Ghosts You Know

Writer: Cullen Bunn 
Artist: Ronan Cliquet 
Colors: Jason Wright 
Letters: Pat Brosseau 
Cover: Paul Pelletier, Mick Gray, and Hi-Fi 
Assistant Editor: Andrea Shea 
Editors: Katie Kubert and Mike Cotton 
Group Editor: Brian Cunningham 
Cover Price: $4.99 
On Sale Date: August 22, 2018


What the…? I didn’t know this was coming. Not like I checked beforehand but…hey! Another issue of Suicide Squad, and with a different writer than normal! That’s something to get curious about. You can satisfy yours by reading my review of Suicide Squad Annual #1, following now!

Explain It!

You may or may not be aware, but the regularly-appearing Task Force X—well, most of ‘em, anway—are currently embroiled in a crossover with Aquaman, wherein they are trying to destroy Atlantis, and Aquaman is trying…to stop them from doing that. So this story takes place simultaneously with the events currently unfolding in Suicide Squad and Aquaman, but this is about another team entirely, and a completely different mission. And that is kinda cool, if you ask me. It gives the impression that covert operations manager and super-dupermax prison warden Amanda Waller does more than bitch at Harley Quinn and Deadshot all day. So this team is a little unusual…it consists of Malcolm Merlyn, an archer and Green Arrow foe that first appeared in Justice League of America #94 (November 1971); Scream Queen, a vampire and rock n’ roll singer that first appeared in Showcase '96 #11 (December 1996); the matter-transmuting Shimmer, who first appeared in New Teen Titans #3 (January 1981); Skorpio, a lizard-looking dude who fights with poisons and first appeared in Steel #37 (April 1997); Kung-Fu master and force field-generating Tao Jones, who first appeared in Infinity Inc. #17 (August 1985); Peter Merkel Jr., son of the original villain and his namesake Rag Doll, who first ever appeared in Flash Comics #36 (December 1942); and the little psychic bomber Baby Boom, a little kid who first appeared in the same issue that debuted Tao Jones, Infinity Inc. #17. Cool! A new roster for the Suicide Squad! And I had to look up a couple of members to make sure they were established DC characters. And they are!
The thing to be solved here is that Cadence Laramie, who was surgically attached to Dennis Gaines as part of a clandestine experiment, has lost her partner, and now can conjure green ghosts that appear to want to attack her, but are perfectly happy to attack anyone else in the vicinity while on task. She’s busted out of her Belle Reve surgeon’s theater and is on the loose, having taken out several guards in the process. And that’s why Waller needs to send out this hodge-podge of villains to snatch Cadence Laramie and bring her back—that is paramount to the mission. Until later. See, once Cadence hits the Louisiana bayou, she encounters Swamp Thing, who wants to protect her. And once Waller sees that Swamp Thing is in the mix, her focus turns from re-capturing Cadence Laramie to capturing Swamp Thing. You can’t put a brain bomb in a plant, Amanda!
From here, it’s a rather unfortunate romp through the swamps, various members of Task Force X being picked off by spooky ghosts along the way. It’s clear that the team’s roster was padded out for just this reason, since we don’t even find out what some of their powers are. Perhaps the most funny part was when the criminals try to take out Swamp Thing with explosions and swipes—of course, he just remakes himself, Godzilla-sized. When the green ghosts tear apart Shimmer, her girlfriend Scream Queen takes revenge on Cadence Laramie and kills her—much to the chagrin of Swamp Thing, and Amanda Waller who now has neither the ghost-making lady or that shambling assortment of muck and foliage. She’s so annoyed, that she pops Scream Queen’s brain bomb while she and Merlyn are being debriefed in Waller’s office. Cadence Laramie gets the last laugh, however, as Swamp Thing (manifesting from a bowl of fruit) warns her that she is now being monitored forever—by Cadence’s green ghost mob, of which she is now a member!
Cullen Bunn is well-known for writing horror, and there’s a lot of good spooky stuff in this issue. The overall story, however, falls a little flat since the solution is “most everyone dies.” It’s not this story’s fault, but seeing Waller so quick to pop Scream Queen’s melon, when she’s been dickering with the bomb remotes in the regular series (making them give members headaches and unpleasant feelings aside from the rapid expulsion of gray matter against the inside of their fracturing skulls), was a little deflating—but more to that main series, and not this particular issue. The mood for this is correct, and the artwork is terrific, but the ending came off as a bit of a shrug. Like, Amanda Waller is plagued by green ghosts from another dimension that want to see her get her comeuppance? They’re gonna have to take a number.

Bits and Pieces:

Here's a creepy side story involving Amanda Waller and an all-new roster for the Suicide Squad, which falls unfortunately flat at the end after ratcheting the tension up over a full issue. It looks spectacular, and it's properly atmospheric, but this story fails to satisfy despite having some really cool character moments and spookiness. Maybe it will read better in October.


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