Best Shots Review: REBIRTH SUICIDE SQUAD #1 'Fails to Strike While the Iron Is Hot'

Suicide Squad #1
Credit: DC Comics
Credit: DC Comics

Suicide Squad #1
Written by Rob Williams
Art by Jim Lee, Scott Williams, Alex Sinclair, Jason Fabok and Brad Anderson
Lettering by Nate Piekos
Published by DC Comics
Review by Justin Partridge
‘Rama Rating: 6 out of 10

Suicide Squad #1 follows up a solid reintroduction to the team with… yet another solid reintroduction to the team. While writer Rob Williams provides a crazy first mission for the titular task force as well as some big visuals for the art team to chew on, much of the comic’s page count is devoted to perfunctory introductions to DC’s latest Hollywood stars — a team that audiences and readers across the world are well aware of at this point.

Along for the ride is artist Jim Lee, along with longtime inker and colorist Scott Williams and Alex Sinclair, all of whom lean into the tumultuous tone of the series, with the usual polish of the team’s work replaced by a sketchier and wilder set of visuals. Though the ending backup story with art from Jason Fabok and colorist Brad Anderson give the issue some much-needed emotional clout, Suicide Squad #1 stands as another fast paced, but largely empty roll call issue.

An powerful cosmic item has fallen from space, and it is up to Task Force X to retrieve it. The only thing standing in their way are rogue Russian soldiers, an undersea research lab and themselves. (In other words, just another day for the Suicide Squad.) While the needless reintroduction to the title’s team hampers the overall story, writer Rob Williams certainly goes for the gusto with this opening salvo. Suicide Squad #1 is certainly big, but that bigness which comes in the form of a botched orbital drop into the mission zone, isn’t enough to distract from the minimal development both in plot and character. Though Williams displays a firm handle on the voices of the main cast, this debut issue is largely table setting as it tiptoes when it should be strutting.

But while the main action of the first issue is skeletal at best, Williams salvages the momentum with an emotional back up story focusing on Deadshot. Framed by a cold but engaging conversation between Waller and the assassin, Williams focuses on his apparent death wish, his relationship with his daughter and his Batman-inspired origins as he is forced to take a job with the villainous Kobra and reveal himself to the seemingly hapless Bruce Wayne. This shift in focus culminates in a rousing and heartfelt look into the blackened soul of the antihero and provides this issue some sorely-needed development.

As for the artwork, artist Jim Lee shows a whole new side of his work with this debut issue. Though usually his offerings are highly glossy and almost too well-blocked, his pencils here, backed by the inks of Scott Williams and rich colors of Alex Sinclair, look sketchy and rough-hewn. This fits the tone of the chaotic team in theory, but don’t land as well as they should in practice. Lee also seems to be limiting himself when it comes to his layouts, his usual bombast and splash pages reduced to tight panel grids filled with small character portraits. But the backup story comes to the rescue again here, thanks to the smooth pencils of Jason Fabok and the darkened color palette of Brad Anderson. While Lee’s pencils look overly wild, Fabok’s offerings look polished and well-rendered, much like his Justice League issues. With a jarring but engaging visual contrast, Suicide Squad #1 may not wow as a whole, but it sends readers off on a high note thanks to a well-produced set of backup pages.

Though Task Force X is bringing the heat to the box office, Suicide Squad #1 doesn’t quite get past its initial smolder. That said, if we know one thing about these characters, it’s that they are great at setting fires, and the spark is there for future issues. With a keen characterization and hints of a thrilling first mission, Rob Williams misses the larger mark as he gets tangled in set-up with little execution. Couple that with the uneven pages from a usually stellar artist, and you have an experience that fails to strike while the iron is hot for a team that is at the peak of their popularity.

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