Last month, the first issue of Task Force Z left me wanting a bit more from the Suicide Squad-meets-zombies premise. This month, the team delivers. Writer Matthew Rosenberg adds a little more flavor while Eddy Barrows and company find a sweet balance of horror and comedy. Simply put, Task Force Z #2 is a joy.
SPOILERS AHEAD for Task Force Z #2!
In the aftermath of the mission to take down Mr. Freeze, Task Force Z returns to their HQ, the Chop Shop, to regroup. For Bane and Man-Bat, two “casualties” of the previous issue, this means being pumped full of Lazarus Resin. It’s revealed here that the zombified villains receive just enough of this stuff to heal their wounds and return to fighting strength, but not enough to make them fully conscious living things again.
It’s this little twist that makes the second issue reach deeper than the first. Now that Jason Todd (and the reader) knows what exactly is happening with his teammates, it puts him in a morally compromised situation. He threatens to quit and blow the whistle to journalist Deb Donovan, that is, until he’s stopped by the shadowy figure running the operation.
Later, Jason regroups with the Arkham Knight, who is walking and talking unlike the other, more indisposed members of the team. She was given more Lazarus Resin than the others, since she lost her legs in the battle with Mr. Freeze. He’s caught off guard to see her this way, fully conscious and aware of what’s going on. Not just that, but she’s aware of what she did in her zombified form earlier in the issue. So, if / when Bane and Man-Bat get a bigger dose of that Resin, things are certainly going to pop off for Task Force Z. And not in a good way.
The latter half of this issue is where Barrows, inker Eber Ferreira and colorist Adraino Lucas get to shine. When Task Force Z is sent out on another mission, the action ratchets up to get even more brutal and over-the-top. One page in particular has Bane taking on nearly a dozen Kobra Cult goons all at once. Bane towers over them; he must be 15 feet tall on this page. One goon has a knife in Bane’s chest and is being swung around as Bane literally tears another goon apart.
There’s already a handful of bodies littered about Bane’s feet, as well. Aware of the book’s grim sense of humor, the victims’ blood drips down the page to create the outline of the bottom three panels. It’s dark, but definitely clever nonetheless.
We’re also given a hint at Bane’s Resin-induced consciousness on this page. He starts off speaking with a traditional comics font, but as the page progresses, the letters in his word balloons become more jagged and erratic. Big shout out to letterer Rob Leigh for making these small details look so great.
A quick change in font really speaks to the depth of this issue in particular. Sure, it’s great to read a comic where action scenes are rendered in grisly detail and characters have clever things to say. But now that the underlying mystery and conflict of Task Force Z is being revealed, the book has just become a more exciting read, and something to keep your eyes on in the coming months.
Another small detail I just loved was seeing Man-Bat, who is still a murderous zombie let’s not forget, just perched upside-down quietly while Task Force Z is regrouping after a battle. It certainly makes me hope he gets some more time in the spotlight like he did in Justice League Dark. For now, this brief, but charming, character moment will have to do. It put a smile on my face.
By revealing some of its secrets, Task Force Z #2 is a marked improvement over the first issue. If, like me, you were hoping for something a little deeper from this creative team, it can be found right here. Do yourself a favor, and just like Jason Todd with that Lazarus Resin, give Task Force Z another shot.
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