Slapping the word “new” over the logo and dropping Deathstroke and the Joker’s Daughter on the team affords writer Sean Ryan and artist Jeremy Roberts the opportunity of hitting the reset button for “New Suicide Squad” #1. Squad cast mainstays Deadshot, Harley Quinn and Amanda Waller are still present, but the previously identified duo and Black Manta now join them.
Ryan pulls the curtain back on the controlling mechanisms powering the Task Force X and introduces readers to Victor Sage, who has been given the keys to the kingdom when it comes to sculpting the roster for Task Force X, more colloquially known as the Suicide Squad. Sage throws a marketing spin on the additions, which feels disingenuous, but may be exactly what Ryan intends for the character who clearly has an agenda of his own and concerns directly leveled at Amanda Waller. That is the most interesting part of “New Suicide Squad” #1, as generic plot “Invade Russia” is a little worn thin and more than slightly retro, regardless of the current state of affairs in that country.
Jeremy Roberts’ art is serviceable, but falls short of dynamic. The opening page, with Deathstroke, Manta, Harley and Joker’s Daughter in various poses struggles a bit on the storytelling front — are these characters moving purposefully or against their will? Deathstroke is clearly avoiding fire and Harley has plans for that shovel, but what of Manta and Joker’s Daughter? Later on, Harley finds a gun in her mouth from Deathstroke, who has to be moving quicker than The Flash to get to that position. In other spots, Roberts appears overzealous with his action choices, as Joker’s Daughter appears to pulp a soldier’s face with her bare — well, gloved — hands. Roberts delivers some solid work in his drawings, but has areas that could improve, including a greater range of character facial expressions.
While filled with plenty of action, “New Suicide Squad” #1 really excels when it tackles the dynamics between the characters as the new overlord for Task Force X pulls some strings to unleash a fresh batch of chaos. Some of the characters seem repetitious, but those overlaps set up conflicts to come and internal strife built into the story. The action, unfortunately, is overshadowed by the drama in “New Suicide Squad” #1, which one would expect to open with bombastic explosiveness. Instead, it dramatically begins its run with soap opera, effectively short-selling its greatest potential asset: action. This roster and the bureaucracy behind it has grand story potential, but the opening is less than grand.