Best Shots Extra Reviews: SUICIDE SQUAD, KILLJOYS

Credit: DC Comics
Credit: DC Comics

Suicide Squad #21
Written by Ales Kot
Art by Patrick Zircher and Jason Keity
Lettering by Jared K. Fletcher
Published by DC Comics
Review by David Pepose
'Rama Rating: 10 out of 10

Now this is what a bad guy story should look like.

Forget the capes. Forget the tights. Who needs great responsibility when you can just revel in the greater power? But don't think this is about the greater good. Hardly. Ales Kot and Patrick Zircher all about the bigger bad, as Suicide Squad doesn't so much defy expectations as much as execute them with extreme prejudice.

Last issue, Ales Kot really tore the roof off the Suicide Squad, introducing supercriminals old and new to the team. Yet while last issue was all about setting a tone and painting a picture of how messed up this team could be, Kot manages to one-up himself in his sophomore outing, not so much taking the team out for a joyride as much as letting them hijack the entire car. In many ways, it's surprising how ambitious Kot is here, escalating this story almost faster than his page count can handle it.

Harley Quinn proves that she's not just an annoying twerp in a Hello Kitty costume, but arguably the most dangerous and devious member of the team, while intelligence analyst James Gordon, Jr. proves to be the gift that keeps on giving as he makes sparks fly when he plays off the various members of the team. (And I love the bitter married-couple dynamic Kot is giving Deadshot and Cheetah, using only a handful of lines.) The pacing is as fast as the stakes are high - if last issue was Kot bringing things to 11, this comic has to be him bringing it to a solid 22.

Oh, and did I mention that this book even passes the Bechdel test? Suicide Squad. Who'd have ever believed it?

But if Kot is the steak, well, Patrick Zircher is the sizzle. He takes Kot's ideas and really presents them in a moody, exciting way. The beginning of the book, for example, could be confusing, as the reader is immediately thrust into one of the Suicide Squad's missions. You might not know what's going on, but when you see Deadshot pointing his measly peashooters at a 60-foot stone behemoth, you can't help but be impressed. Zircher's smaller moments look great, as well, particularly a moment where Harley shows off her true colors, staring into the cameras as she stabs a man in the gut. Jason Keity's use of reds and yellows provide some smart signature colors, giving the book a real murderous streak.

Suicide Squad. An unlikely contender for one of DC Comics' best books. But that's the secret of their success, isn't it? People underestimating them. And I think Ales Kot and Patrick Zircher might know a little bit of what that feels like. As they say, the first time is happenstance, the second time is coincident, but a third time is a pattern - and if Kot and Zircher can keep their winning streak going next month, I have the feeling Suicide Squad is going to blow up in a big, big way.

The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys #1
Written by Gerard Way and Shaun Simon
Art by Becky Cloonan and Dan Jackson
Published by Dark Horse Comics

Review by Lindsey Morris
'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10

Gerard Way has made his long-awaited return to the comic scene this week as we see the release of The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys #1. The former lead singer of My Chemical Romance is no rookie to the industry, having previously penned the acclaimed Umbrella Academy series in 2007. This time around he has joined forces with comics newcomer Shaun Simon and veteran artist Becky Cloonan (of Conan the Barbarian fame) to bring us a post-apocalyptic epic that picks up where MCR's final studio album left off.

The comic opens to a wasteland littered with body bags. A nameless teenage girl and her cat emerge from one while the radio jockey speaking from her stereo gives an idea of the situation at hand. It's been twelve years since The Killjoys gave their lives to the rebel cause, and not much has changed for the better. The girl they had sworn to protect now wanders alone with only her feline companion for company, and the resistance against the tyrannical Better Living Industries of Battery City has quieted to a whisper. The girl soon finds herself embroiled in conflict as she is brought into the folds of what remains of the rebel forces. The rest of the issue rings out with the sounds of guns and the colors of destruction.

You don't have to be a fan of Way's music to appreciate his comic writing, though much of the text in this issue is overtly lyrical. The narrator DJ Dr. Deth-Defying is especially melodic, laying down rhymes that seem lifted from song verses as his portable personality is carried around the Desert. Way is very adept at creating not just the bleak kind of world the series is based in, but one that also has defiance and hope scattered along it's edges. A single issue in and the characters are remarkably developed; a connection has been made with them, an investment. Their dialogue is natural and well-paced throughout the comic, broken only by the squawks of the DJ in the background.

Cloonan's art is dazzling and seamlessly blends into Way's writing style. The two have been collaborating on this book for five years, after all. From the character designs, to the backgrounds, to the paneling, it's obvious that this book is a labor of love. The draculoids that plague the Desert are particularly intriguing, as their origins are left unexplained but their appearance leaves much to the imagination. Immaculate brushwork is apparent in every panel, made all the more stunning by colors from Dan Jackson. The vibrant, but muted palette gives depth to the dark alleyways of Battery City and the highlights the bright waste that is the Desert. The man can really color a sunset.

It's official. Buy into the hype. Killjoys #1 is killin' it. The power team of Gerard Way and Becky Cloonan show their chops in both writing and art, entwining their respective talents to create something great. It feels like they're well on their way to building something big, and here's to hoping they can deliver further issues with the same aplomb as they have this one.

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