The Suicide Squad squares off with the Justice League. Who will win? Who will survive? What are Maxwell Lord and his Nightmare Army up to? Does Nightmare Army sound like a good name for a bowling team?
Justice League Vs. Suicide Squad # 2
When we last left the Suicide Squad, the sinister six (not to be confused with THE Sinister Six) had just successfully assassinated a super-powered dictator before he could use a doomsday device to destroy his country (not to be confused with Doomsday) only to find themselves face-to-face with the Justice League (Not to be confused with….actually, wait it is the Justice League you’re thinking of, nevermind). As things are wont to do, words turn to fists and we’re thrust into a super-powered showdown between the two teams.
Most of the issue deals with the ensuing brawl, and it’s unfortunately littered with many of the same writing and art issues that faced the opener. The opening splash page, for example, introduces the central conflict effectively enough – the squad being forced to face off with the League to help protect the anonymity of the Task Force X operation (though seeing as the entire League seems to be pretty familiar with Amanda Waller’s Home of Pain and Squalor, exactly what they’re protecting is beyond me) – but is marred by really questionable action poses.
Take a look at Batman, who appears to be attacking Deadshot with his chest while attempting the Randy Orton pose even as the assassin himself seems to be falling back as he punches. The questionable physics behind the efficacy of that punch aside, the dude has like a ton of guns – why is he punching Batman in the chest? I’d be remiss not to mention the weird “electric slide” pose that Cyborg is pulling just behind him, or flash seemingly missing a series of lazy right crosses on Captain Boomerang.
As the battle moves on Deadshot makes the call to scatter the team to try and focus on the Leaguers one at a time. This is again questionable as the JLA has the Squad outmanned, so someone’s getting double teamed by Green Lanterns (that’d be El Diablo FYI). Most of the fight at this point plays out in pretty formulaic fashion. A text box on the previous page leads into expositional banter explaining a piece of the shared history of the two (or three) combatants as the bad guys get stomped by/narrowly escape the league.
The dialogue, at times feels like 90s comic cliche bingo. Say your opponent’s code name at the beginning of your fight? Check. Tough guy action lines when you beat the bad guys? Check. Saving civilians caught in the crossfire of your super battle? Check.
That last one is particularly curious because in the first issue we established that, at the time of the arrival of our heroes, the island of Badhnisia is under attack by some sort of earthquake-causing super weapon, yet here we are mere moments later and the Flash is battling Captain Boomerang on a beach filled with bikini-clad surfers and sunbathers. Most people don’t head to the coasts to avoid hurricanes, particularly not in a revealing two-piece, but I digress.
Elsewhere, Maxwell Lord and his Nightmare Army (if not a bowling team, it would make an awesome name for a marching band) establish that their common connection is a desire to kill Amanda Waller, setting up their arc (and the macguffin that will inevitably lead the two titular teams to cooperate). The writing in this scene also feels a but under-developed, as everyone short of Lobo is the same variety of bland villain archetype – and even Lobo manages to hit most of his catchphrases in two panels.
It’s not all bad, though, as Tony S. Daniel’s pencils have moments of brilliance. The first page shot of Amanda Waller angrily screaming at the reader is pretty great, as is the scene of Killer Frost freezing the entire league and squad – though it did admittedly take me a few minutes to recognize that the heroes were supposed to be frozen in ice. I blame that more on the curious coloring of the scene as, short of a subtle blue tint, there’s no way to recognize that any character not in the immediate foreground has been frozen at all.
Overall Justice League Vs. Suicide Squad #2 is a flawed book. The art has its moments, but curious scripting and weak dialogue prevent the book from really getting out of first gear.