Battered and blood-soaked, Amanda Waller awakens to find herself on the opposite end of her scheming shtick. Bound to a chair in an underwater prison and blessed with her very own brain bomb, Waller has been summoned to trial by a group of shrouded enemies. Presiding over these proceedings: Rick Flag. With a twitchy finger on the trigger, the man most wounded by Waller’s tactics will determine her final fate. Will the halls be decked with Waller’s brains and bone fragments or will Rick Flag find forgiveness for the manipulative leader of Task Force X?
“Hooray for explosions!”
With a book like Suicide Squad, a large part of the enjoyment can be derived from character interactions. On paper, many of these characters should not be in the same room, let alone work as a team when the fate of the world is in the balance. The dissonance of these personalities largely makes the book interesting to read as the clashes between squad mates drive the book’s drama. Rob Williams is in exemplary form with Suicide Squad #48 as he nails the team dynamic and character’s dialogue.
Although Waller’s capture drives the narrative forward, it is the drama surrounding Rick Flag’s unwelcome return that makes the story so engaging. Harley’s reluctance to work with the leader who abandoned their team speaks volumes to her character’s abandonment issues. At the beginning of the issue she screams, “We’re perfectly capable of messing things up ourselves!” Not only does this line perfectly encapsulate her feelings regarding his return, but it also provides levity via the self-deprecating humor that her character is sometimes known for. Without spoiling anything, these moments, including Harley’s discovery of a “brand new super power,” are some of my favorite moments from the issue.
Similarly, Rick’s need to save these squad mates, in spite of their opinion of him, is a testimony to his experience as a leader. The man does not want to make the same mistakes and will do whatever it takes to save those in danger. The interactions between Flag and Harley make me believe, and I could be wrong, that Rob Williams is positioning not only Rick Flag and Amanda Waller, but also Harley Quinn to be the stars of this story arc.
I would be remiss if I did not mention Williams’ work with character dialogue. Little touches such as Harley’s written dialect help to give the characters an individual voice within the ensemble. These details enhance the delivery of the issue’s comedic lines.
“Okay… I have no idea what’s going on here…but I’m ready to listen.”
Suicide Squad #48 sets the stage for “Squad on Trial” story arc. Much of the narrative is fairly straightforward in positioning the characters into their perspective roles, however Williams elevates the story by establishing a few mysteries. Who are the killers who have captured Amanda Waller and what is their connection to Cosmonut? Will Rick Flag push the button? (He probably won’t.) The resolution to these mysteries, combined with the character drama, will draw me back for the rest of the story.
Diogenes Neves’ pencils with Scott Hanna’s inks and Gabe Eltaeb’s colors do a good job of maintaining a consistent style with recent issues in the series. Their art retains a cartoon quality that matches the story’s tone. One of my only problems with the issue is some of the characters’ facial expressions. There are a few panels where some of the characters eyes change style and this can be a little jarring. One panel in particular makes it look like Captain Boomerang’s eyes are popping out of his head.
Ultimately, Suicide Squad #48 is a great setup for the “Squad on Trial” storyline. Rob Williams’ work with character drama and dialogue makes the straightforward narrative incredibly fun to read. Additionally, the mysteries set up within the issue leave me desperately craving the next issue. Unfortunately, some of the artwork, especially a few of the characters’ facial expressions, can be jarring for the reader.