A Superhero-villain Story with a Body Count: A Review of the Suicide Squad Vol. 1

In advance of the upcoming Suicide Squad film, I thought I might check out the actual comic book series, or at least the current version from the New 52 (DC’s reboot of all its properties which began in 2011).

The first trade volume, Kicked In The Teeth, is an action-packed continuous romp as the squad, officially known as Task Force X, is sent from hot zone to hot zone. Every member of the team is a criminal who has been implanted with a nanite bomb that can be activated to kill them if they get out of control. Every member is also expendable, and even in this first volume the Suicide Squad lives up to its name with at least one team member dying on every mission. New members are rotated in, but Deadshot remains leader of the group throughout the story and is the primary POV character. Naturally Harley Quinn plays a big role as well, and we get to see her origin story in this volume.

I would say that this comic is a fun read, and I will likely pick up the rest of the series in the future, but it’s also not the best story I’ve ever read. The action is great and keeps the story fun, but there is little downtime and background stories on the characters are pretty sparse outside of Harley Quinn. With so many characters in the cast and so many of them rotating in and out, it felt difficult to attach to anyone other than Deadshot, Harley, or Diablo (who also gets a fair amount of screen time).

Similarly, there isn’t a singular story thread to follow, at least not across the first volume. Some light spoilers ahead.

In the first couple of chapters we see the squad in action with one mission leading into another in which they are trying to stop the actions of a fanatical group known as Basilisk (who I guess are the DC version of Hydra and even go so far as the use the phrase “Hail Basilisk”). About halfway through this story line is dropped as Harley Quinn goes AWOL and the squad has to be dispatched to bring her in.

Granted, this is only the first volume of the story, which I believe is five trade volumes in total, but the narrative felt a little scattered. My hope is that across the total series things come together and manage to pull all of these threads together. I raise this point because I’ve read other series that treat trade volumes more like TV seasons where an arc is completed and leads into the next one over the course of however many issues are contained in the trade. That wasn’t the case here, and there are several threads left open and very little closure in this first volume.

If you want an actiony romp of a story, I think the rebooted Suicide Squad does this very well. Like I said, this isn’t the best comic series I’ve read, but it is entertaining, and I can see myself continuing with it in the future.

Bonus Section!

io9 released an article recently about the company Valiant Comics and some of its superhero properties. I haven’t had a chance to read any of them yet, but I think I’m going to be exploring them in the future, and I wanted to share in case anyone else was looking for other superhero stories to read.

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