Heroes Reborn has been a fun treat for fans of DC Comics, as the series is basically Marvel’s homage to characters and stories from the Distinguished Competition. This week, Heroes Reborn: Squadron Savage reveals a covert ops team not unlike the Suicide Squad. Minus the brain bombs, but plenty of angst and manipulation to go around, this new team is on a mission to stop a reality-altering attack. Can these “savage” heroes get the job done? Considering how ruthless they are, probably!
As you can see in the preview, Elektra is running the Squadron Savage and attempting to put a team together starting with Punisher. Ethan Sacks writes a solid one-shot in this issue building up the team, setting the expectations, and then pulling the rug out as needed from the characters and readers alike. It’s similar to Suicide Squad in that the characters are all slaves to a machine they don’t control themselves and are manipulated, but it’s also Marvel in respect to the characters. That said, this issue relishes in the violence in a way that’s unbecoming of most Marvel comics. That gives the book a unique identity that suits the event.
At its core, Elektra is the team leader and aims to get the job done, which makes the first third of the issue fun as she recruits each member. It’s fun to piece together who each character is or how they are different from what we know of their identity in the Marvel universe. Characters like Crossbones and Cloak are a little different, but their core values and the heart of the characters remain the same.
The art by Luca Pizzari with colors by Carlos Lopez and letters by Travis Lanham give the book a closer feel to the action and the characters. Environments are limited and panels push in a bit closer than usual, but what is here is rendered well. This one-shot, and the event really, is about the new twists on character and Pizzari does well to capture each one here. Punisher in particular is well done as he’s a bit beefier, a little happier, and more of a reluctant hero who does as he’s told but also wants to be with his family. Pizzari captures the deep pain inside him well. There’s also a major villain rendered incredibly well with a full-page splash well worth checking out. Lopez does well with lighting effects and adds an interesting flair to Cloak that makes him touch differently.
Two things didn’t quite work. One is a nod to a classic Elektra moment, but it’s not given enough space to truly sing on the page. Another element that didn’t work is how a certain character seems to be figuring out what is really going on, but then ends up going along with the plan anyway. It seems like an oversight by the creators, but maybe the rule of mind control can allow it.
Overall, the concept of a team being manipulated isn’t new, but Heroes Reborn: Squadron Savage gets the job done. Could it have used an actual series instead of a one-shot to really open up? Probably, but for a tie-in to a bigger event it’s an enjoyable twist on familiar characters and tropes comics fans should enjoy.
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