New Suicide Squad #1 is not a great comic, but it’s not a bad one either.
It’s just there.
The thing about this is DC hasn’t put out a great Suicide Squad run since Ostrander’s seminal run on the title (Giffen’s is what I would consider good but not great). While Gail Simone’s Secret Six was the sort of spiritual successor to Suicide Squad, it doesn’t actually have that brand name so technically it doesn’t qualify. I would put Ales Kot’s 4 issues on the new 52 incarnation up there as great, but 4 issues does not make a run.
So basically we’ve been sitting for approximately 22 years now on a series of mediocre comics featuring the world’s favorite team of d-list super-villains. That’s something that is ultimately not okay. New Suicide Squad isn’t quite as awful as the prior new 52 issues of it (save Kot’s run), but it isn’t good either.
The problem is it misses the core of what Suicide Squad is all about, and instead chooses to focus on the most hamfisted, cliched action movie tropes and constitutes that as a story. The one key difference between this and something like The Expendables is that this features amoral super-villains doing whatever it takes to get the job done. It’s almost Michael Bay-esque in nature. A Suicide Squad comic should focus on strong characterization and well-defined interactions between teammates. One of the highlights of Ostrander’s run is the relationship between Deadshot and Count Vertigo. Both men are depressive and suicidal, and they both find a way to cope with it, albeit with slightly out of the norm means. It’s a solid concept with wonderful execution. Here, strong character work like that gets thrown out from the get-go. Deadshot and Deathstroke both get some silly, macho tough-guy talk, and the Harley Quinn/Joker’s Daughter interaction gets reduced to “Joker chose me!” (Can we also talk about how awful a concept Joker’s Daughter is, and why this should never have happened?). Even Black Manta is left a little directionless
Now, it’s not all terrible, even if they’ve separated Victor Sage and The Question as characters (terrible idea in my opinion). Sean Ryan and Jeremy Roberts both know how to execute a decent action sequence, and I’m actually kind of liking the way Ryan writes Waller and the President of the United States (who I hope becomes something more of a character). And the introduction of Rocket Reds in the series is a concept I’ve never thought about but would very much like to see them go toe-to-toe with the Squad. Roberts’ art is standard for DC but also pretty satisfactory. I can always get a clear grasp of what’s going on. and nothing looks primarily muddy. The 6 pages of double page spreads are pretty well thought-out too.
Overall, it wasn’t terrible, but I feel like it misses the point of the concept almost entirely. New Suicide Squad strips away what made Ostrander’s run so great, and reduces it to an inoffensive action movie. Sean Ryan’s not a bad writer, he’s just missing the point entirely (in this reviewer’s opinion). I hope to see that change in the future.
My score: 2.5/5