Come for the horror and gore.
The beauty of the Suicide Squad is you can go in many directions with these characters due to their questionable moral background. They can be violent, crazy, or even humorous. It’s why I was intrigued by the annual issue out today, written by Cullen Bunn, who has had his fair share of horror comics on the shelf. This is decidedly a horror comic, but is it good?
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
Thrown together to apprehend an escaped inmate, Solomon Grundy, Rag Doll and Merlyn head into the muck surrounding Belle Reve, but no one is prepared for a meeting with the Swamp Thing. Bodies decay quickly in the bayous of Louisiana, and the avatar of the Green doesn’t care if the Squad makes it out alive.
Why does this matter?
This book utilizes a brand new team of Suicide Squad characters, effectively making it a one-shot anyone can pick up and enjoy. It also uses Swamp Thing, one of the scariest characters in the DC universe. How does he think of the questionable morals of this team and Amanda Waller? Spoiler, not very highly.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Bunn does a good job setting up this new team of characters, some of which I’d never even heard of. It’s a crew that has two knife specialists so you can understand they’re made up more of homicidal killers than supervillains. The issue kicks off with a horror scene during surgery. It’s a scene that reminded me of the excellent Spider-Man 2 opening with Doctor Octopus. It sets up the horrific character the Suicide Squad is attempting to capture, but also the supernatural element tied to this character. The team Waller must bring in is explained well enough so that you’ll accept why there’s no Killer Croc or Harley in the issue.
As the story progresses, Swamp Thing is integrated well and his perspective makes sense. This is a very evil Suicide Squad and it’s not a good look for the human race from Swampy’s perspective. He’s sort of caught in the middle of something and Bunn uses him well. We also get quite a few interesting deaths. As it stands it’s an enjoyable, and violent, annual issue.
Artist Ronan Cliquet does a good job bringing the scary and violent moments. In fact, I was a bit surprised how gory this book gets putting it very firmly into an adults only category. Colorist Jason wright keeps the issue dark and the supernatural elements right where they belong. Swamp Thing looks good too, especially in a surprise scene in the closing pages. What can I say beyond this being a creepy visual story.
It can’t be perfect can it?
There’s really no time to feel invested in the Suicide Squad members. Most of them were unknown to me; maybe they’re completely new, but little is done to make us care whether they live or die. Given the series though, and how they can have their heads exploded at any moment, I suspect it doesn’t matter too much. That said, with so many scenes hinging on characters getting offed, there’s little in the way of caring one way or the other.
Another minor gripe is how Swamp Thing is integrated. He’s sort of stumbled into, which makes his presence somewhat unimportant to the overall narrative.
Is it good?
A good annual anyone can pick up if they’re looking for a horror sort of comic with gory violence and plenty of deaths.