I’ve been a fan of writer Tom Taylor since his best-selling and critically acclaimed run on Injustice: Gods Among Us and the follow-up Injustice 2 comic. Many think Taylor did the impossible, taking a video-game tie-in comic that nobody expected to be any good and turning it into high art; a Greek tragedy with tights, detailing how Superman slowly slid down a slippery slope of idealism before ultimately falling to his own hubris.
I mention this because of four things Taylor proved highly skilled at over the course of Injustice; writing dark comedy, crafting good slapstick, surprising the audience and presenting a convincingly heroic Harley Quinn. Given that, it’s a wonder that nobody thought to assign Tom Taylor the task of writing Suicide Squad until now.
John Ostrander’s Suicide Squad from the 1980s is another one of my favorite series and it has a lot in common with Taylor’s Injustice. There was dark comedy, yes, but also a fair amount of slapstick involving a mysterious pie-thrower stalking the team. The book was frequently surprising, with a sense that any character could die at anytime and that nobody, not even your favorites, were safe. And… well, there was no Harley Quinn back then, but Punch and Jewelee filled a similar role. Given all that, I had high expectations for Taylor’s new Suicide Squad series.
I was not disappointed.
The setup of the issue is a classic one. Task Force X – the secret American government project that recruits convicted supervillains as secret agents for impossible missions – is under new management. The latest incarnation of the so-called Suicide Squad been sent after a group of metahuman terrorists called The Revolutionaries. Things go south immediately, largely due to half the team not having superpowers and Harley Quinn being one of the marginally saner people on the team.
(Ordinarily this might count as a spoiler, but given that Harley tells us on the cover that half of the team will be dead by the end of this issue, I think I can safely say that much.)
In other words, Taylor has nailed the tone of this series on the first try. If you’re a fan of John Ostrander’s Suicide Squad, this first issue will be like catching up with an old friend who always bought the first round. Yet if you’ve never read a Suicide Squad comic before, it will lay out the whole concept for you and get you caught up on what little backstory you need to know.
Taylor’s script is brought to life perfectly by Bruno Redondo, who was one of his most frequent partners on Injustice. Redondo’s character designs are fantastic, with the classic characters being instantly recognizable and the new characters like The Revolutionaries having distinctive looks. The colors by Adriano Lucas are well-chosen. The lettering and word balloons by Wes Abbott likewise perfectly suited to every scene. All-star work, all around.
Suicide Squad #1 is a must read, whether you’re a fan of the classic series or a total newcomer. It manages the neat trick of simultaneously being a welcome return to form and something unique and original. This book is going to the top of my subscription list and it should be on yours as well.
Suicide Squad #1 releases on December 18th, 2019!
Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.