New Suicide Squad Volume 1: Pure Insanity by Sean Ryan, Jeremy Roberts

I’m not quite sure what went wrong here but this title ended up being flat, inconsistent, winceworthy, and honestly quite boring. And then surprisingly offensive, too – quite a feat. Someone went on auto pilot and instead of crafting an intense or fun story, we’re given painful dialogue, oddly drawn panels/figures/proportions/faces, and a fairly pointless story. It honestly felt like a hack job – and a quickie at that.

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Story: Jailed super villains are compiled to do covert political missions against communists (are we still in the 1980s?). Problem is, they either fight each other instead or make huge mistakes – while getting legs blown off, etc. Somewhere along the way they accidentally let out a communist super villain who hates all the fighting and killing and so spends many endless pages sermonizing. Cue change in team members (randomly) and Black Manta finally getting annoyed.

So here’s my problem – all of the villains were pretty much given lobotomies. Harley catfights with Joker’s Daughter constantly (lacking her quirky fun personality), Black Manta is a preachy big brother caught in the middle ineffectually, Deadshot (whose features and physique changed throughout the book – from a Freddie Mercury look-alike to the Sergeant from the Avatar movie) disproves he’s the deadliest assassin, and Deathstroke does nothing at all. What a waste.

Reading the plot, I was bored brainless. Posturing, unimaginative and overly wordy dialogue, along with a pointless set of ‘missions’. Infighting among everyone got really, really, old fast – even the communists couldn’t agree with each other! And eye rolling, over-the-top American jingoism (which I’m not sure was intentional or meant as a jibe) was wince worthy. E.g., placing a communist super soldier hanging up in the air like a crucified messiah, sermonizing peace and love, so the communists could shoot him out of the sky with their tanks. Subtle…..NOT.

Adding to the questionable writing, having Amanda Waller pull the race/gender card on her white boss and threatening to have him fired shows a level of misogyny and racism that was extremely offensive (with the dialogue: “There are cameras all over this room. And you try to punch a subordinate, African-American woman. How well do you that’s going to go over?”). Are we still in the 1960s when someone’s race has to be pointed out? Let’s not get into the male pandering of the Harley/Joker’s Daughter catfights, either, since those were especially vulgar (I’m surprised they weren’t drawn in a mud pit, too, to really push it over the top).

The inconsistency in the illustrations became very pronounced the further I went in the story. I was reminded of anime companies who send sequences to Korea or China and they don’t always come back looking like the original characters. Sometimes the villains were beefy, sometimes streamlined, sometimes squat, sometimes elongated. It was very distracting.

Obviously, not a title I will continue. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.

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