Suicide Squad: Rebirth #1
Written by Rob Williams
Art by Philip Tan, Jonathan Glapion, Scott Hanna, Sandu Florea and Alex Sinclair
Lettering by Travis Lanham
Published by DC Comics
Review by David Pepose
‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10
Just in time for the much-heralded film, Rob Williams, Philip Tan and an army of inkers are getting readers locked, loaded and fully acclimated with DC’s Dirty Half-Dozen in Suicide Squad: Rebirth #1. While fans might be disappointed that DC co-publisher Jim Lee’s work only appears on the book’s cover, Williams delivers a solid entry to this team of killers and ne’er-do-wells that transcends the occasionally inconsistent art.
While Williams’ Harley Quinn and the Suicide Squad April Fool’s Special was a peppy introduction to the Clown Princess of Crime as well as a stealth pilot for the rest of the Squad, Suicide Squad: Rebirth #1 doesn’t rock the boat, instead opting for a meat-and-potatoes approach to establishing Amanda Waller and Task Force X. But to paraphrase a film from DC’s Marvelous competition, sometimes old-fashioned is exactly what we need - rather than getting bogged down with lengthy exposition, Williams sums up his three major villains in just one page, letting the script ride on the interplay between the Squad in action and Waller playing the political long game.
Although Williams doesn’t bring quite the inspired lunacy of Harley Quinn riding a Man-Bat like he did with the April Fool’s Special, the interplay between Deadshot, Captain Boomerang and Harley Quinn shows some promise, with Boomerang in particular seeming to skew more towards the irreverence seen in the popular Suicide Squad trailers. While the action is fairly run-of-the-mill at first, Williams wind up throwing in a nice twist reminiscent of Speed, showing that while the Squad might be operating for the so-called “greater good,” they’re still stone-cold killers at heart.
That all said, Williams might upstage himself with Amanda Waller’s characterization, as she goes toe-to-toe with President Obama, leveraging her cold pragmatism against the Commander-in-Chief’s idealism. While in certain ways it feels like a straw man argument - particularly during this election season, where it seems as though at least one presidential candidate would be wildly on board with the idea of a Suicide Squad - there’s a certain level of audacity that Williams runs with here, leaning into Waller’s cachet as a DC power broker to make her stand convincingly against a real-life world figure.
But even as the script starts off on solid if safe footing, the artwork will likely be what makes or breaks this book. I feel bad for Philip Tan, because he’s going to get all sorts of comparisons (both fair and unfair) on his run on this book since DC now can’t deliver full Jim Lee stories like they initially promoted. While Lee said during Comic-Con International: San Diego that he and Tan have collaborated to create a stylistic middle ground, Tan’s pages can’t help but look inconsistent thanks to the trio of inkers he’s working with - when you’re trying to emulate a style like Lee’s, rendering and other small details are crucial, but pages will often fluctuate between scratchy linework and more fluid shadows. Tan is at his best when he’s drawing Harley Quinn, perhaps because he’s able to have less rendering and more expressiveness, and while sometime’s he’s able to imbue a Humberto Ramos-like fluidity to his action, other times his characters feel too sketchy, like a close-up of Captain Boomerang that looks almost animalistic.
That all said, Tan’s style has enough of that Jim Lee-style energy that many readers will likely go along with the book, especially when it’s anchored by the solid colors of Alex Sinclair, who adds depth and weight to each page. And in many ways, that’s Suicide Squad: Rebirth #1 in a nutshell - it doesn’t revolutionize the team or superhero comic books in general, but has plenty of solid elements to make up for its bouts of inconsistency and ease new readers into the villain-centric status quo. And while this team has been known for its body count, with a movie in theaters this week, it might just make sense for Suicide Squad to play it safe.