DC's resurrection of the much loved Suicide Squad title has not been a particularly smooth one. The book courted controversy even before it launched when Harley Quinn's New 52 "costume" and Amanda Waller's new diet plan were revealed to the wider world. Unfortunately, things didn't really improve once the book actually got rolling. Without calling anyone out, the series has been pretty lackluster on the whole, which could very well be part of the motivation for bringing in newcomer Ales Kot to spice things up.
Kot has been making a name for himself over at Image Comics with books like Wild Children and Change, but Suicide Squad is his first time at the Big Two dance. Happily, he does quite well for himself, writing on heck of an opening issue.
Kot does a great job here, deftly bringing the reader up to speed with what's been going on while also giving an idea of what's to come during his run. His cast of malevolent misfits is mostly inherited from the previous creative team, and Kot takes some time to focus in on each member of the extended cast to look at who they are and what role they might play in issues to come.
A good portion of this is cleverly accomplished through the introduction of one of the book's new faces, who is present throughout the issue but only revealed on the last page. This process is actually quite well done, as Kot gives hints and clues, daring the reader to figure out who it is, while using that time to talk about the other characters as they are psychoanalyzed by our mystery character. I was so interested that I found myself wanting to skip to the end to find out who it was, and thankfully the reveal was a pleasant surprise.
Kot's solid writing is paired with Patrick Zircher's excellent art. I first encountered Zircher a few years back in the pages of Marvel's Mystery Men, and I must say that it was an even nicer surprise to find him here. Zircher is a skilled superhero artist, equally able to render the ostentatious costumes as he is the over-the-top situations and action that they exist within. He does a fine job here, keeping pace with Kot's dense script and occasionally adding in details that help things along.
Verdict - Buy It. When so many of DC's books feel like they're stagnating, it's nice to see something like Suicide Squad #20 upping its game. This issue is a lot of setup, but it promises some mighty interesting moments to come. Ales Kot and Patrick Zircher are creating a well-told cape story, which is always a welcome sight.
Quick Shot Reviews
Batman #20 was far more interesting without the annoying pretense of "hiding" that the WTF moment from last month was (spoiler alert!) Clayface, but it's still pretty forgettable. Only the moments of Bruce missing Damian relate to what's been going on, and these have nothing to do with the Clayface storyline, which is doubly frustrating because the video Bruce watches could easily have been tied into the whole thing. But alas. Regardless, the end result is that only five or so pages are relevant to Snyder and Capullo's ongoing storyline, which is pretty disappointing. I've long tried to champion short or done-in-one stories, but these past two issues of Batman have been too boring to recommend in any serious way.
Verdict - Skip It.
Backup by Ryan Pequin
Joey Comeau and Mike Holmes close out the second Bravest Warriors story arc, and things remain much improved compared to the first. Where before things kind of petered out towards the end, the driving force stays strong here, which is good news. However, the storytelling does occasionally feel like it's trying a little too hard to be irreverent and clever instead of being satisfied with simply being fun, which is unfortunate. Holmes' art is as good as ever though, as he gets plenty of opportunities to play around, laying down some awesome giant robots and fun action. It should also be noted that Ryan Pequin's backup stories continue to be absolutely hilarious. On the whole, this is a solid issue, although whether or not it's good enough to warrant sticking around for the next arc is up in the air.
Verdict - Check It.
THE PRIVATE EYE #2
Written by Brian K. Vaughan
Art by Marcos Martin
As you may or may not have seen, issue #2 of Brian K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin's brand-new, digital-only series dropped this week. I like that there isn't much in he way of warning for when new chapters come out. Their production schedule feels as ephemeral as their comic, almost as if it's another layer of the reading experience. And what an experience it is. While not quite as action-packed as the opening issue, the story still continues along at a quick clip, with lots of opportunity to learn more about Patrick Immelmann and the growing mystery he's seemingly gotten himself mixed up with. The writing and art remain so sharp you could bleed, and the cliffhanger they have to close things out is arguably better than last time's. We're only just starting to realize how deep the rabbit hole goes here, and with this issue continuing the pay-what-you want model (which includes $0, although I would suggest something close to a regular comic book price), there's every reason to be reading.
Verdict - Buy It.
Duane Swierczynski and Eric Nguyen continue their brutal tale of vigilante justice trying to clean up some (admittedly quite dirty) streets. X #1 picks up directly from where they finished in the Dark Horse Presents short X story they did last year, and it is surprisingly easy to follow considering how closely it is related to that earlier tale. Swierczynski and Nguyen do a great job of using, Leigh Ferguson, their new point of view character to bring everyone up to speed while also moving the plot forward. Her quest for truth intersects neatly with X's mission for justice, and it looks like this parallel will be playing a major role in coming issues, which is a plus. Definitely worth reading if you're a fan of noir and pulp.
Verdict - Check It.