Writer: Rob Williams
Pencils: Phillip Tan
Inks: Jonathan Glapion, Scott Hanna, Sandu Florea
Suicide Squad Rebirth is a gateway comic. OK, so all of the “Rebirth” titled-books are gateway comics which serve the dual function of giving new readers a clean jumping-on point to the DCU and establishing the status quo for the way ahead. Some of the “Rebirth” books to date have even been metatextual reflections on the titles themselves. Suicide Squad Rebirth is as jumping-onish as they come, maybe sans the metatext. Out of all the “Rebirth” one-shots published to date, Suicide Squad Rebirth is most definitely one of them.
I don’t mean to be so bland about this, but since the New 52’s inception, we’ve had multiple jumping-on points for this title. There’s the original 2011 issue (which was recently reprinted on Free Comic Book Day), the relaunched New Suicide Squad a few years later, and issue #17 of the same title which was touted as a clean jumping-on point to commemorate the upcoming movie. And there’s also the April Fool’s Special (reprinted as a freebie this week) which is essentially an early setup to the first issue of this book (coming later this month). In other words, DC has given us no less than four entry points to this book prior to this “Rebirth” issue, and they all functionally do the same thing.
The main distinction is that Rebirth finally reintroduces Rick Flag to the team who, as far as I can tell, hasn’t shown up in the New 52 universe yet. Writer Rob Williams takes the opportunity to add him to the team as a Naval officer who’s in prison for an unnamed crime of conscience, with an opportunity to lead the team as an alternative to life in Guantanamo. (Note to Rob Williams: the Navy doesn’t have colonels.) It’s OK, but not stellar–the story is thin on plot beyond the basic premise of setting up Flag’s role on the team. It’s competent, but nothing that a longtime reader hasn’t already seen.
More disappointing is the fill-in art by Phillip Tan, which is fine if this book wasn’t being sold on Jim Lee’s art. Tan does fine, if a little exaggerated–the wideness he gives to Flag suggests that his art style is a Jim Lee-lite to get us ready for the main draw. (Also, his take on President Obama looks a little off.) Still, would it have been that hard to get Lee to draw this issue as well? In a collected edition, this comic is going to read a little funny, assuming that Rebirth is sandwiched between April Fool’s Day and the non-Rebirth #1.
If your non-comic reading friends are looking to jump onto a Suicide Squad book after seeing this week’s film, then sure, give them Suicide Squad Rebirth #1 and see how they take to it, but it’s not phenomenal, and that free April Fool’s Day reprint might make for a cheaper sampler for your friends. Let’s hope that the non-“Rebirth” #1 coming on August 17, which actually had Jim Lee’s art, fares better.
Rating: 2.5 Harleys out of Five.