Suicide Squad (Volume 2) #1–12
by Keith Giffen & Paco Medina
The original Ostrander/Yale Suicide Squad had a lot of charm and took a great idea and played with it. This revival plays on that charm and history, but bypasses a lot of grounding and characterisation to try something that never completely clicks.
Giffen is excellent at providing the minimum information required for the reader to understand what is going on in the story. He does this mostly with dialogue and hints of backstory, but it can leave you needing a PhD in DC Universe history to comprehend who everyone is and about their interactions. This worked to much better effect on his reboot of the Legion of Super-Heroes, which I thoroughly enjoyed, with the strongly defined characters, it doesn’t quite work with some new players and a bunch of minor supervillains.
There is a lot to enjoy in these twelve issues. The banter and pacing is fun, and some of the new characters are intriguing. However, the mix of humour and death that Ostrander and Yale achieved isn’t matched here, not hitting quite the right note. We almost get to know the people involved enough to care about the outcome, which is given away by the title of the series (absolutely great logo, by the way), but don’t reach the same level as the previous incarnation.
One aspect that I enjoyed without fail was the art. Medina has a funky, muscular, cartoony, chunky style with expressive faces, which helps with the dialogue scenes, and dynamic camera movement in the action scenes.
It’s a strange mix of storytelling. The first issue has in media res and flashbacks and dialogue, then we move into action. Then issue 3 has people being eaten by ants. Issue 5 brings back Floyd Lawton, aka Deadshot, which brings a smile to the face of a fan of the old Squad, but it is brought down by the presence of an annoying old woman who knows it all but doesn’t tell everything – I wanted to wring her scrawny neck by the end, which could be what Giffen was going for, but left me hating the story. Issues 6–8 sees the appearance of a mysterious island near Kooey Kooey Kooey, only for the Squad fail to do anything effective at all.
Issue 9 is all talking heads, and nothing to do with the cover, which Medina livens up by having Havana wear a blouse that is practically cut to her navel to expose her cleavage in some scenes; this seems an odd choice given that she is meeting with her mother, Amanda Waller, former head of the Squad, who gave her up for adoption.
(Issue 9 has ‘Begin Phase Two’ on the cover, which is a little unfortunate considering the series ended three issues later.)
Issue 10, like issue 4, is a Rock and Bulldozer flashback, with some old school art, whereas issues 11 and 12 kill off the current team, using a connection to the old Squad, by bumping off the two characters, Havanna and Modem, who were genuinely interesting, and keeping mysteries around in case the book gets a reprieve. Apart from the art and Giffen banter, there was no ‘magic’ to this book that drew you back to it each month. It seemed to trade off a name and an idea, but not succeeding in doing anything special with it. Mark it as good effort but could do better.