Task Force Z is a new series with a clever hook that writer Matthew Rosenberg revealed was editor Ben Abernathy’s idea. It’s similar to the Suicide Squad, as villains are being used as a covert ops team, but instead of bombs in their brains they need Lazarus Resin regularly injected in them or they die. In its third issue, the plot thickens as Deadshot joins the team, new info is revealed about who is in charge, and Bane gets what he’s due.
Picking up where we left off, Task Force Z #3 opens with Red Hood and his team in a very bad way. Jason Todd is dying on the slab and so far this team has had a pretty bad success rate. Thanks to Lazarus Resin, death isn’t an option, although you can see artist Eddy Barrows and color artist Adriano Lucas are making it clear this is a Frankenstein’s monster situation. Since Red Hood is very against being turned into a zombie there are stakes in play, even though we know he can’t die.
Much of this issue follows Red Hood getting his bearings and interacting with a few characters. Rosenberg does well to humanize Jason Todd and the characters he interacts with, including Deadshot who is in full zombie mode. It’s made even more clear that these characters are some of the worst villains in Gotham, but they’re also people who have hopes and desires. Hell, you even feel a bit bad for Bane even though he did kill Alfred in front of Damian.
Nine or so pages in the back half of the issue are devoted to action, which lean into the heavy inks and darker tone. Inks by Eber Ferreira draw out the gross ripples in Bane’s arms, or how the Task Force Z headquarters are cast in shadows no matter which room you’re in.
The action is intense with an impressive full-page splash to kick off their battle. Even though the team has had a lot of failures, it’s fun to see them in heroic formation complete with a fun battle cry. It’s a nice moment for the team that has taken a lot of lumps, although it’s also used to show how fast they can fall. This team is far more disposable than the Suicide Squad, but thanks to their magic Lazarus Resin it doesn’t matter much. That said, Barrows draws their pain and anguish in the fight to remind us there is still a cost to pay.
Task Force Z #3 humanizes its characters while revealing more about the darker tone of its operations. The story can feel a bit slow as Red Hood lingers with characters, but overall it’s a good issue. The cliffhanger will make you want the next issue even more, but you’ll also root for Jason Todd even more by the end.
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