Whether you love or hate the film, there’s no denying “Suicide Squad” is currently enjoying its highest profile ever. Rob Williams, Jim Lee, Scott Williams and Jason Fabok continue to align their “Suicide Squad” comic with its cinematic counterpart in issue #1, which shares the same lineup of characters with the movie. While the book is still primarily in setup mode, the creative team’s personality definitely shines through.
After re-introducing Rick Flag as the non-criminal leader of the team in “Suicide Squad: Rebirth” #1, Rob Williams goes one step further here. Katana joins the team as Flag’s second in command, and Williams introduces a lineup that brings back Harley Quinn, Deadshot and Boomerang while adding Killer Croc and Enchantress. The plot itself barely gets going in this first issue, but that’s in part because Williams spends his time allowing his characters to banter. Harley ends up stealing the show with her stream of slightly deranged comments; Williams knows who the marquee character is here and he plays well to that expectation. Some of the other characters are a bit less defined; Katana in particular doesn’t get a single line of dialogue, while Boomerang and Killer Croc get nothing save complaints about the mission. To be fair, Boomerang’s has more to do with trying to get out of said mission, while Killer Croc’s is nothing but stomach problems. The book appears to going for gross-out humor when it comes to Croc, but it’s really only Harley’s comments regarding hot dogs that give it any bit of hilarity.
However, the overall setup of Belle Reve Prison has changed between previous “Suicide Squad” incarnations and this one. It’s not a standard prison anymore; now, it serves more as a series of containers that a large mechanical arm can pick up and move around, similar to a shipping center. At a glance, it may seem like just a technological jump forward, but Rob Williams’ portrayal of the Squad members being treated like little more than cargo is deliberately chilling. It fits well with his depiction of Amanda Waller here; she’s at her iciest, even as she genuinely sees herself as being a real asset to the country. Flag’s characterization is a little more ranging in tone, as he refers to the Squad as “the scum” one minute but then endangers his life to try and save Killer Croc when things go south.
Lee and Scott Williams’ artwork is a big selling point of the book, so it’s a little surprising that this story has yet to play to their strengths. I would never think of Lee’s pencils as best for characters standing around and talking to one another, but that’s the bulk of the issue. Even when the drop ship starts spinning out of control, there’s no denying that this is a sequence that’s more talking heads than anything else. On the bright side, if there’s a character that gets a truly expressive face from one moment to the next, it’s Harley Quinn; her scenes are lively in no small part because of the maniacal glee on her face. While Lee and Scott Williams do their best to provide something out of the ordinary — like the Squad’s heavy, intricate suits for their drop — it’s hard to keep from hoping that next issue has some more action sequences.
Rob Williams and Jason Fabok also provide a backup story starring Deadshot, and that’s a wise choice. Not only does it give the artists a break from the twice-a-month schedule to assure the book ships on time, it also allows for a bit more characterization in a series that may not have much time to linger on such things. Here, Williams flashes into Deadshot’s past, showing us the moment he was captured in front of his own daughter. It explains a bit more of Deadshot’s overall code of ethics, as well as his love for his daughter — the one humanizing piece of his personality. Even better, Fabok’s art looks just as great as it did on “Justice League” and “Detective Comics” over the past few years. Drawn in an overall clean style, Fabok uses extremely fine ink lines to provide detail without ever looking over-rendered. He’s really good with the action sequences too, from Deadshot planting himself and shooting to Batman crashing into a scene. You can feel the motion on the pages, and it’s a reminder to hunt down whatever Fabok works on next.
“Suicide Squad” #1 is off to a solid start overall, but hopefully the script will play to Lee’s strengths a bit more in future issues. Still, for readers who saw the movie and want to see more of its characters, they’ll almost certainly be pleased with what Williams, Lee, Williams and Fabok present here. It’s nice to see one of the best comics of the late ’80s return so strongly.