“New Suicide Squad” #4 wraps up the relaunched title’s first storyline, as the Squad fights to survive a trip to Russia while Amanda Waller and Vic Sage have a battle of their own. One of these two stories is distinctly stronger than the other, though, courtesy Sean Ryan, Tom Denerick, Rob Hunter and Trevor Scott.
The real meat of this issue is Waller vs. Sage, as the duo struggle for control of the Suicide Squad, despite only being five pages long. It sets the scene well for future stories, with neither able to gain full control but also able to help keep the other in check. The superfluous additions to the team (Deathstroke and Joker’s Daughter) make perfect sense in this context, Sage’s attempt to overwrite what came before him. It’s not surprising, then, that Black Manta’s worked out so well of the three additions to the lineup.
Unfortunately, the bulk of the issue is the team trying to regroup and escape from Russia. The problem is that none of this stands out in any way as being inventive or even somewhat engaging. Deathstroke and Deadshot’s confrontation lacks any real punch, coming across as by-the-book and predictable. The same’s also true for Black Manta and Harley Quinn’s attempt to save Deadshot. You could swap out Harley and Manta for two nameless characters and nothing in this issue would change at all; there’s nothing identifying or noteworthy about them in “New Suicide Squad” #4. After Harley’s tell-it-like-it-is interaction with Joker’s Daughter last issue being keenly attuned to her personality and history, it’s disappointing to see her reduced to “person with guns.”
Tom Denerick continues to provide layouts, although with Jeremy Roberts MIA this month (save for a slick if generic cover), it falls to Rob Hunter and Trevor Scott to provide finishes. The art ends up looking a little rougher than expected; some are very crosshatched and scratchy, while others look a little cartoonish, along the likes of Todd Nauck’s art. Harley in particular looks a little odd in places; her leaping through the air shooting people looks ridiculous with her legs splayed apart in one panel, and in other panels she seems more like Ragdoll from “Sinister Six” than Harley Quinn. “New Suicide Squad” #4’s art actually is a great example of how different artists can work off of the same breakdowns to create different looking comics, but it’s otherwise unremarkable.
“New Suicide Squad” #4 is another example of a series that hasn’t maintained consistency. Ryan definitely has some good ideas here, but they’re hampered a bit by some very generic sequences on occasion. When his stories feel more suited to the characters in question — Waller and Sage this issue, Harley and Joker’s Daughter last issue — everything clicks into place. If story and art could both be less variable, “New Suicide Squad” could really go places. Right now, it’s a bit too random and scattered to count on just yet.