Best Shots Review: JUSTICE LEAGUE VS. SUICIDE SQUAD #2 'A Victorious Sophomore Installment'

"Justice League vs. Suicide Squad #2" preview
Credit: Tony Daniel/Sandu Florea/Alex Sinclair (DC Comics)
Credit: Tony Daniel/Sandu Florea/Alex Sinclair (DC Comics)

Justice League vs. Suicide Squad #2
Written by Joshua Williamson
Art by Tony Daniel, Sandu Florea and Alex Sinclair
Lettering by Rob Leigh
Published by DC Comics
‘Rama Rating: 7 out of 10

Credit: Tony Daniel/Sandu Florea/Alex Sinclair (DC Comics)

After last issue’s set-up, Joshua Williamson ramps up the conflict in Justice League vs. Suicide Squad nicely with his second installment, joined by artist Tony Daniel as they make DC’s premiere super-teams butt heads. While the Justice League may come off as a bit stiff compared to the loose cannons of the Suicide Squad, Williamson quickly kicks off the dust and makes this battle royale a fun one.

With series like Avengers vs. X-Men or Civil War, there’s a tendency to overexplain why two teams end up at each others’ throats, but Justice League vs. Suicide Squad is a refreshing change of pace - it’s a team of good guys versus a team of bad guys, needing little in the way of exposition to explain things. Unfortunately though, Williamson’s story still takes a little while to warm up, because he still has to explain the central conceit of the Suicide Squad itself - namely, that they’re super-criminals hooked to Amanda Waller’s explosive leash. That leads to a little bit of bloat early on, with an overuse of splash pages that could have been better used to build up some early momentum.

Yet once the Squad is finally established, Williamson puts an old Justice League trope to good use - namely, splitting up the team and letting them explore their own mini-adventures. Because the Suicide Squad is the more active team - they have actual stakes in this conflict, whereas the Justice League is just looking for another bust - they oftentimes wind up stealing the show, with Deadshot getting in a few good zingers at Batman (“You talk pretty tough for a guy who pushes children into battle!” Floyd snipes at the Dark Knight) or El Diablo calling Jessica Cruz and Simon Baz “a pair of nobodies” as they swarm in.

Credit: Tony Daniel/Sandu Florea/Alex Sinclair (DC Comics)

The League, meanwhile, is all heart and all exposition - rather than getting to display the attitude of their villainous counterparts, most of the League’s dialogue is either reciting the Squad members’ pasts or explaining how they’re taking the bad guys down. But as the battle rages on, Williamson starts to hit his stride, particularly during a scene with the Flash trash-talking Captain Boomerang as he rescues a beach full of tourists, or Wonder Woman struggling to keep up with Harley Quinn’s unpredictable bag of tricks. The Wonder Woman/Harley battle perhaps is the most emblematic of this series’ potential - seeing the unexpected contrasts these pairings can create is what will determine whether this series is by-the-numbers or truly innovative.

Credit: Tony Daniel/Sandu Florea/Alex Sinclair (DC Comics)

Yet in terms of the artwork, Justice League vs. Suicide Squad #2 plays it a bit safe here, with Tony Daniel grabbing the baton and running with it as best he can. There’s a lightness and overcleanliness to his linework here that I think runs counter to the darkness of the Suicide Squad, and winds up detracting from the stakes of this series - Daniel certainly plays well within the sharp-angled Jim Lee style of DC artwork, but it comes across at the cost of this story’s mood and energy. Some of this can’t be helped - the first quarter of this book is all group shots and splash pages, and while A-listers like Batman, Deadshot and Harley Quinn clearly get their due, some of the other compositions wind up looking a little scattered. That said, Daniel does knock certain moments out of the park, showing particular promise with the Flash and Harley Quinn sequences, but other bouts, like Batman and Deadshot’s extended fights, wind up feeling uninspired.

Unlike Civil War II, which spent so much time plumbing the shallow philosophies of “precognitive justice,” Justice League vs. Suicide Squad plays on a much simpler theme - these are two teams with diametrically opposed goals, and just enough history that they won’t pull their punches. Of course, with a cast this large, every page matters, and a few early missteps are enough that Williamson and Daniel have to work overtime later to establish the characterization and exciting action sequences they need to justify this book’s existence. Thankfully, this creative team pulls through with this beat-‘em-up of an issue, making Justice League vs. Suicide Squad a victorious sophomore installment.

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