Think what you will, but I’ve always argued that it’s the bad guys who get all of the fun. Why, isn’t it the bad guys who get to have flexible morality, so much so that their agendas are constantly in flux? They get to preen around, making the audience boo and hiss, and if we didn’t have criminals then where would all of the do-gooders be? They’d be bored, and we’d be equally bored in reading their monthly comic book titles. Yes, the baddies are the ones who inevitably make the hero a much more interesting character; seeing how they operate – and how they suffer their comeuppance – is more than half of the fun in following any graphic adventure.
But what do you do when the bad guys are forced to, suddenly, do things for ‘good’? You get the SUICIDE SQUAD, a close-knit tactical ops team who’ll stop at nothing to … to … well … mostly get the job done.
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and characters. If you’re the kind of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last paragraph for my final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
The mysterious Amanda Waller has a plan: her idea is to run the Suicide Squad, an ever-expanding ‘Task Force X’ of supervillains specifically recruited from prisons around the U.S. so she can send them on highly covert ‘suicide missions’ when no one else is either available or interested. In return, the baddies can earn reduced sentences. But how do you recapture the magic once you’ve let it out of the bottle? Well, you plug their necks pull of nanite explosives, and you warn them that if they try anything funny you’ll blow their heads off.
Works for me!
Except – in the world of DC Comics – it didn’t quite work for me, and here’s why: when you’re dealing with an entire universe full of heroes, superheroes, and metahumans – especially one that practically requires they serve as part of a greater Justice League or Justice Society in order the protect our planet – it kinda/sorta rings hollow that there would EVER come a time when one of the good guys was unavailable. To his credit, writer Adam Glass cleverly tries to concoct his scenarios not so much to leave the good guys out of the mix; rather, he tries to create scenarios that, due to time restrictions, might not garner their attention OR need to stay out of the limelight (or mainstream press coverage).
Now, I’ll admit that’s a small shortcoming in the world of comic book adventures, but I think it’s still one that could pose problems for where Glass and his companions want to take their various Suicide Squads. What I did find impressive is that they’re not entirely against sacrificing a member of their team – they’re certainly not above giving the appearance that these forced do-gooders are all expendable – and that does make for a certain bit of ratcheted-up lunacy on the part of the players.
Also, when you think about supervillains … well, what’s not to love? They’re all egomaniacs to begin with (isn’t that job requirement number one?), and they’re never quite convinced they can truly trust much less rely on one another to ‘do the right thing’ when the situation requires it. Can any motley crew hold a semblance of ‘team’ together long enough to save mankind as we know it IF they won’t get public credit for it? Again, Glass and his partners have peppered much of SQUAD with secret agendas – some which work in conflict – and that does make for one entertaining read.
If anything, I’d suggest that SUICIDE SQUAD might be better served as an occasional (maybe ‘yearly’) minor event title instead of an ongoing; and I say that because of the risks cited above. Eventually, they’re bound to draw the attention of either the media or the Justice League. When that happens, look for the stuff to hit the fan real quick-like.
SUICIDE SQUAD: VOLUME 1: KICKED IN THE TEETH is published by DC Comics. The book is written by Adam Glass; it’s drawn by Federico Dallocchio (and a whole host of others over these chapters); its coloring is by Val Staples (and a few others); and the lettering is by Jared K. Fletcher. For those who need it spelled out perfectly, this trade collects the first seven (7) issues of the ongoing DC title, which is part of ‘The New 52.’ The book bears the purchase price of $14.99, and, for my tastes, that was very respectable.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. A winning premise? Check. A shadowy government agency? Check. A terrific plotline? (Mostly) check. Some impressive visuals? Check. Still, I’d argue that SUICIDE SQUAD might be one of those titles that’ll never effectively rise above its limitations, namely the fact that a book centered on a bunch of supervillains can only take so many chances before it has to resort to killing off some of its semi-regular cast – which it does in this first trade paperback, though methinks one probable death is little more than a ruse given the significance of the character. Based on the strength of the trade, though, I’d probably pick up another. I wouldn’t read it monthly, however; it just didn’t seem all that enticing (but plenty gimmicky) to this old school reader.
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