Writer: Tim Seeley
Artist: Juan Ferreyra
Issues like this one serve as a reminder as to why consecutive numbering in comics has become worthless. It’s a common and not-infrequent complaint these days that frequent #1 relaunches have made comic collecting frustrating, where a title resets on a regular basis and a new first issue occurs every two or three years. Some will even lament the lack of high-numbered books, and how back in the 1980s it was “cool” to have a 400th or 500th issue of a title.
New readers need a way in, and comics are a market that struggles to bring in new blood, particularly among children. The explosion of superhero movies has helped, but still, there has to be a way to make these things accessible without overburdening the poor guy who walks in off the street and sees that Batman is on its 49th issue. Is that a good point to start in a shop that’s wall-to-wall books? Who the hell knows?
So here’s Suicide Squad–sorry, New Suicide Squad–getting a new interior artist and a new writer, and it’s on issue #17. And not to put too fine a point on it, but this is New Suicide Squad, an apparent relaunch of the book which itself relaunched back in the 2011 reboot. Meaning that this is the 19th issue of the second volume of the New 52 relaunch of a book which existed twice before in 1987 and 2002. It’s a new direction, and this feels very much like a #1 issue. This book has the responsibility of appealing to all those people who saw the movie trailer a few weeks ago–and it’s a very nondescript issue #17. Oh, and it’s apparently being cancelled in June to make way for yet another volume.
Which is to say, New Suicide Squad isn’t that bad of an introductory issue. The new Tim Seeley/Juan Ferreyra issue reads very much like a #1 issue as it lays out a new plotline and walks the reader through the members of the team. This is a “handshake” issue: hello, here’s some characters and a story; would you like to keep reading? So it’s a shame that DC saddles this thing with an unremarkable #17 on the cover without any meaningful indication that this is where a new reader off the street should jump on.
Now, as for the issue itself–it’s ok, being neither stellar nor a train wreck. Seeley gives us a “guided tour” of Belle Reve prison through the eyes of some British dignitary who’s touring the facility, so we get glimpses of some of the characters pegged for the film: Harley Quinn, Boomerang, El Diablo, and Deadshot (apparently a white, non-Will Smith Deadshot). Not restricting himself to the film cast, however, Seeley heavily works the Cheetah into the squad of this issue’s mission, and there’s glimpses of other non-film villains in Belle Reve’s gallery. By having a wide pool of villains available, Seeley can maintain the film’s cast while still having a pile of expendable bodies available for the Squad’s high-risk missions.
The overall story itself is tolerable, though not very compelling, with the Squad being sent on yet another Suicide mission apparently to protect some Chinese official from assassination. We never get too deeply into the plot beyond a generalized sense of “here’s the mission” and then it leaps into action. This story gets us into the basic concept of the Squad, but not much deeper than that. Seeley does get credit for a very shocking ending which, admittedly, will leave the reader wondering how the Squad will get out of this one. He didn’t just do that to three of the film’s big stars, did he?
Juan Ferreyra’s art is going to take a little more adjusting, as he’s certainly an atraditional artist. His advantage is that he’s both penciler and colorist, so the drawings and colors work in tandem to make the issue look as it does. However, it gives a very “painted” look to the issue which is highly unusual in the superhero genre, especially from a “Big Two” publisher. It’s not bad art, and in fact it’s quite pretty at times. It will take some adjustment for a traditional reader who isn’t used to seeing this style in a comic.
New Suicide Squad #17 is an acceptable comic and probably is as good as an entry point for a new reader as any issue will be. However, the reader should be advised that this book is likely going to be cancelled and rebooted in another four months to coincide with DC’s big relaunch and the Suicide Squad movie, so the overall consequence of this story is probably on the low side.
Rating: Three out of five Wallers.