Justice League vs. Suicide Squad #1
Written by Joshua Williamson
Art by Jason Fabok and Alex Sinclair
Lettering by Rob Leigh
Published by DC Comics
‘Rama Rating: 6 out of 10
The rapid rise of a team like Suicide Squad is proof of the strength of their core concept. Villain team-ups have worked time and time again because they have a few less hang-ups than their hero counterparts and subsequently creators can have a little bit more freedom with the types of stories that they are able to tell. What it seems like Joshua Williamson and Jason Fabok are trying to do with Justice League vs. Suicide Squad #1 is tell a definitive story about the relationship between the Justice League and the Suicide Squad and answer the question: “How can these two teams realistically coexist?” And with their first issue, there’s a lot of set-up here, but it’s not without it’s moments.
Williamson treats this issue as a reader’s first-ever introduction to the characters, and that’s a great way to go. Lapsed Suicide Squad readers aren’t likely to see many faces they recognize in this context, and even fans of the recent Suicide Squad film might be fuzzy on the names and power sets of some characters. Williamson dives right into some action as a means for setting up a conversation between Rick Flagg and Amanda Waller. This allows the introductions to feel natural and Williamson gets to have a little fun with the intro captions. There’s some decent characterization, particularly with Deadshot and Captain Boomerang as well as the way that Williamson helps readers understand how the Justice League understands the Squad and Waller.
However, the books stumbles to its end. The plotting is forgettable and some of the dialogue (especially Harley Quinn’s) is entirely overwrought. Plus readers without the context of recent Batman arc “I Am Suicide” won’t quite find the set-up that’s at work here as impactful. The final page reveals have an immense amount of potential, however, and if Williamson hasn’t bitten off more than he can chew, this will be a memorable miniseries.
Jason Fabok is a really good choice for this kind of book. He brings some name recognition to the proceedings and he can really draw the hell out of a big action sequence. Williamson relies on Fabok to help keep these characters straight through all the action that’s going on around them and he absolutely does. His character renderings are extremely strong with an emphasis on consistency in his expression work that only occasionally backfires. (There are a few pages where everyone has the same exact pained grimace on their face.) His shot choices, while not always the most exciting, do the best job of communicating what is needed in the script. I don’t love the digital effects used to help communicate that there’s seismic activity, but that’s somewhat to be expected in the modern era of comics making.
Overall, this is a solid foundation, even if it isn’t all that exciting. Williamson’s got the voices of his characters right, even if a couple of them are a bit grating. Fabok is a true professional in every sense of the word and his art is kind you need when you’re trying to sell readers on the idea of a definitive story. He doesn’t ever do too much but rather his art is right in like with readers expectation of the characters and their world. That’s a skill that not every artist is able to wield.
Justice League vs. Suicide Squad is a fun exercise in pitting two ideological opposites against each other in a way that makes more sense than something like Avengers vs. X-Men. The rub is that Williamson hasn’t introduced a real conflict beyond the dichotomies already established by the very existence of these characters. There’s potential for his ending to inject some more life into the title, but for right now, it’s a pretty standard heroes-versus-villains book.