Warning: Spoilers for Suicide Squad #1 ahead.
With a litany of offenses that range from emancipating detained immigrants to dropping decorated generals from deadly heights, a group of self-described freedom fighters known as The Revolutionaries has earned a new designation: terrorists. Now that the group possesses an armed nuclear sub in the middle of a disputed zone of the South Sea, the entire world is watching. Fearing tremendous political backlash, both U.S. Forces and the Justice League are unwilling to touch this tense situation with a twenty-nine-and-a-half-foot pole. Fortunately, Amanda Waller has a crew with the perfect amount of plausible deniability to handle such a delicate situation: Task Force X.
“Ya don’t play well with others.”
Although the plot for many Suicide Squad stories revolves around extraordinary missions that no one else can, or will, handle, the title’s heart lies in engaging team dynamics and, perhaps most importantly, violence. When you’re assembling a diverse team of supervillains, heads will inevitably, and literally, roll. Unfortunately, the drama between these characters could grow stale without exciting plot developments. With Suicide Squad #1, Tom Taylor demonstrates his understanding of this by establishing a formidable threat as well as a new status quo for the team.
Throughout the opening sequence, we are given introductions for each member of The Revolutionaries. As the team tears through the Australian Navy, we are firsthand witnesses to their “do bad for goodness sake” mentality. This sense of ethics is in stark contrast to the brain bomb blackmail ensuring the members of Task Force X serve the greater good. It would be easy to mistake all this groundwork as Taylor establishing these characters as the book’s new protagonists. Although the prospect of watching these two teams come to blows promises an interesting conflict, a late twist reveals that The Revolutionaries will be joining Task Force X.
This twist elevates the inclusion of these characters as it ensures dramatic character interactions as their ideologies clash. Even though Harley Quinn and Deathstroke express some admiration for The Revolutionaries’ abilities, it is not hard to see that a team considering themselves to be freedom fighters will have an aversion to working with supervillains. Perhaps these new characters will serve as antagonists from within the group. However, I think it is even more plausible that these terrorists with a code will find more in common with Deadshot than not.
One of the most exciting developments throughout Suicide Squad #1 was Amanda Waller’s exit from the team. Here we see Lok, a scarred military man who doesn’t play well with others, take over the reins. Seeing how “doesn’t play well with others” is a required characteristic for each member, it appears that he will fit in perfectly with the rest. However, unlike Waller, it seems as though Lok wants to be more proactive with Task Force X and use the team to change the world. Switching from Waller’s leadership will surely bring out more drama as personalities clash, and everyone rejects the new regime’s ideology. Giving Task Force X a new leader to hate, whose motivations are even more suspect than Waller’s, is a great way to shake up the series’ status quo.
“Whoa! Are you crazy? You want to kill us all?”
Tom Taylor’s use of humor throughout Suicide Squad #1 is a huge selling point for this series. Whether it is the team screaming for Cavalier to “shut up,” Harley guessing Zebra-Man’s origin story or the comedic timing of a particular character’s death, there is a lot to smile about with this issue. However, none of these moments would work so well if it wasn’t for the artwork.
This book is beautiful. Bruno Redondo’s artwork with Adriano Lucas’ colors elevates moments to something exceptional. Lucas’ vibrant colors cause the action in each panel to pop and gives each sequence the appropriate tone. I love how the opening sequence is structured. Using the general’s blood splatter almost as a punctuation mark for the dialogue between the Aerie and Wink was incredibly cool.
Additionally, I love how Redondo has illustrated Waller throughout this book. Even though she says that she has quit, her body language tells a different story. She is obviously not happy with this change.
Two sequences stand out to me long after reading this book: Cavalier and Magpie’s deaths. Cavalier’s death is hilarious due to its shock value. Throughout his battle with the Revolutionaries, I found myself thinking he was having the time of his life, even with a broken nose. In the next moment, I found myself screaming, “Holy Freaking Crap,” as his head explodes and eyeball soup puddles on the ship’s deck. This feels like an appropriate level of violence for a book titled Suicide Squad. Redondo’s artwork conveys this gruesome action beautifully. Additionally, Lucas’ bright colors serve as a nice juxtaposition to this horror.
Magpie’s death emulating a scene from a horror movie shows that Tom Taylor is bringing elements from DCeased over to this title. Additionally, this death allows the team to off their range of abilities and the fact that they are willing to play with genres. The colors are still vibrant, but everything is bathed in a red so that the colors don’t betray the sequence’s tone. I am incredibly excited for more moments like this one.
My only complaint, and it is a minor one, is that some of the characters still possess some thick plot armor. It has become a staple of this title for characters we know and love to survive, but others like Cavalier and Magpie will most certainly perish. This dilutes the stakes some, but it does not ruin the issue. Additionally, the deaths of the other characters may have been more effective if we had more of a chance to get to know them. T. N. Teen’s death was the most significant as Tom Taylor uses a few additional moments to introduce us to his character.
Overall, Tom Taylor breathes new life into this series by establishing a formidable threat as well as a new status quo for the team. Although some characters may still have thick plot armor, you’ll forget about it once the body count rises. Additionally, Rendodo’s artwork and Lucas’ colors do an excellent job conveying the action as well as the horror elements of this story.
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