I don’t read many comics, really, and so what I do end up reading is often pre-curated through some friend for me. I’m lucky that way. However, I picked up New Suicide Squad not on the recommendation of a friend but because my interest was piqued from the upcoming Suicide Squad movie’s leaked trailer from Comic-Con.
New Suicide Squad Vol. 1: Pure Insanity, written by Sean Ryan and drawn by Tom Derenick and Jeremy Roberts, in short, is not good. The cliched themes are delivered like a shovel to the face. The characters, with the exception of Black Manta, are written without nuance and evoke no sympathy. Where a character should be at least interesting and unsettling, that character ends up being pathetic or annoying. The artwork is frequently amateurish, with badly distorted facial expressions. In fact, characters are only well rendered when wearing masks.
Here’s DC’s description of it before I get too far into this:
The new series begins with a mission in Russia that features two red-hot Batman villains: Harley Quinn and Joker’s Daughter, plus Deadshot, Deathstroke the Terminator, Black Manta and more! Collects NEW SUICIDE SQUAD #1-8.
I went into this hoping I’d finally figure out what the appeal of Harley Quinn was and then being surprised and intrigued to find that the Joker was now a woman. But instead Joker’s Daughter was an annoying simulacra of the Joker, and her interactions with Harley Quinn were predictable and irritating.
In fact, the collection fails to offer any characters of sympathy other than Black Manta, who is desperately trying to get the team to work together. There is no surprise that trying to make various chaotic villains come together in teamwork would be the biggest theme of the collection–it is the quite obvious choice. Reading about these characters has a frustration level akin to playing early adventures with a new D&D group wherein the chaotic neutral rogue keeps stealing team members’s stuff and the lawful evil sorcerer attempts to form her own side missions.
But most infuriating was the depiction of Amanda Waller, a character I’ve come to love from the animated Justice League Unlimited and Smallville. Here she’s still a powerful, intelligent black woman. But unlike my previous encounters with the character, she’s skinny. Unfortunately, her skinniness is actually a thing in the comic. Her assistant is an overweight white woman of unerring positivism. As a second mission for the team falls apart, the assistant comes in to ask Waller if she’d like anything from the cafeteria and adds as a temptation that they’ve got pulled pork sandwiches. Waller responds that she’ll take a salad, then, in the midst of her frustration at the team’s mission going awry, changes her mind, saying, “Screw it. Get me the pulled pork.” Sigh. So my issues with this one page alone:
- Amanda Waller as a fat woman was visibly a force to be reckoned with. She was in full comfort and control of herself. As a skinny woman, especially one that starves herself for that skinniness as opposed to exercise, she shows weakness. Weakness to conform to society’s standards for female size, but also literal physical weakness. A salad is not a meal.
- The assistant ends up reading like the cliched “jolly fat person”.
- Waller’s great rebellious “screw it all!” moment is deciding to eat a sandwich rather than a salad. Are you kidding me?
So, yeah, my recommendation is to pass on this one and hope the movie does it better.