The baddest woman on the planet returns in Dead Squad: Ayala Tal #1. After her experience with Col. Fisher, assassin Ayala Tal finds herself alone with no motive pushing her forward. When word of an offer reaches her ears, she must answer the question that drives us all. Is it good?
Dead Squad: Ayala Tal #1 (IDW Publishing)
Spinning out of Dead Squad comes a one-shot by creators Matthew Federman and Stephen Scaia, joined by penciller Netho Diaz, inker Jonas Trindade, and colorist Thiago Ribeiro. The focus of the issue is the titular Ayala Tal, an assassin that served as one of the primary antagonists in the original series.
Dead Squad: Ayala Tal begins with a recap page in the form of a letter from Ayala. This serves nicely to catch new and returning readers up with what role Ayala Tal has served in the story thus far, while leaving room for the issue itself to explain who she is. The issue opens with a memory of Ayala’s time as an Israeli soldier. Writers Matthew Federman and Stephen Scaia do a nice job here of juxtaposing her life in the field as well as her life at home, quickly illustrating the contrast in Ayala’s behavior as well as setting the stage for her turn against her country.
Rocket Launchers: now safely usable from short range.
Ayala continues to recount her history, a history that will be easily recognized by readers of Dead Squad before making her move to escape. It’s this sequence that stands as a highlight to the issue as the artists really stretch their muscles. Penciller Netho Diaz lays the foundation, with dynamic layouts and a kinetic energy that pulsates through Ayala’s escape. Diaz also has an eye for the little things, and the intricacy of his clothing designs and the fine details of his backgrounds help maintain the realism of the world. Jonas Trindade uses the inks to emphasize the shadows of night while also creating stronger lines that make give the book a visceral feel. Thiago Ribeiro also uses punches of color to emphasize the violent impact of Ayala’s shots that help drive home just how accurate and deadly she is.
Unfortunately, Dead Squad: Ayala Tal #1 is not without its flaws. The main thing holding this issue back is just how much it relies on the series from which it came. While the issue doesn’t spend too much time recalling Ayala’s past in Dead Squad, her emotional turn here doesn’t quite work without it. If a reader is picking this issue up, they’re likely to leave with more questions than they entered with.
This wouldn’t be too large a problem though, if the rest of the issue didn’t feel so routine. Other than Ayala’s past in Israel, which has some nice character moments, the issue feels too familiar to be particularly affecting. This couldn’t be more apparent than the issue’s ending where Ayala is approached by the head of a mercenary organization. Marvel may not have a copyright on head honchos with eye-patches, but comic book fans are likely to see similarities between this scene and any interaction between Nick Fury and Black Widow. So while Dead Squad: Ayala Tal #1 is well crafted, nothing particularly stands out as memorable.
Is It Good?
Dead Squad: Ayala Tal #1 is not a bad comic—it’s got good action and artwork. But it’s hard to recommend it to anyone outside of readers of Dead Squad. While it is promoted as a one-shot, much of the story’s depth relies on knowledge of the main series. In many ways, it works as an epilogue or a segue into a new series rather than something on its own. For those who have been following Dead Squad, this is a nice appetizer for a potential sequel, but this will do little to satisfy readers who picked the comic off the shelf.