With the help of a mysterious new member Waller begins an exercise that will tear into the psyche of the team; Voltaic is taught a thing or two about discipline, and Deadshot learns of the Samsara Serum.
Despite my love for Deadshot and Harley Quinn, I had stayed away from the New 52 Suicide Squad due to all the negative word of mouth it had generated. However, when Ales Kot took over writing duties for the series to near-unanimous critical acclaim I felt it was only right that I gave it a shot, and went in blind. I can’t say I had high expectations for this issue, but if I had they’d definitely have been met and maybe even surpassed.
Suicide Squad #20 starts off giving us a brief recap of the team’s focus, and a rundown on the members: Deadshot, Voltaic, Harley Quinn, The Unknown Soldier, and King Shark. Much of the time in this issue is spent between the unidentified man, whose shocking identity is revealed at the end of the issue, and Amanda Waller. The two of them converse as the team undergoes a ‘break-and-rebuild experience.’ Kot’s unique approach allows for some interesting insight into some of the characters as Waller’s exercise, and the mysterious new character, attempt to tear the team apart.
The experience kicks off with Voltaic antagonizing The Unknown Soldier, who responds brutally in order to teach him ‘discipline.’ Deadshot’s greatest wish, to die in a remarkable fashion, is exploited as Waller reveals a truth behind two of his previously assumed deaths. Waller then asserts that King Shark is nothing more than a monster, despite his apparent change, and uses King Shark’s own past of neglect and torment in an attempt to prove it as the unidentified character recounts his assessments.
Meanwhile, Harley Quinn is visited by someone who has terrorized her and shaped much of her past. The Unknown Soldier also had a part to play in Harley’s scenario—one that has me curious as to what exactly Waller is trying to set up with the team.
Kot certainly hit the nail on the head with this issue, especially when it came to the characterization. By breaking them open and exposing each character, we could see that he understands who they are at their core. Patrick Zircher’s art and Jason Keith’s colors did an incredible job of conveying what each character had felt, and the duo manages to create an atmosphere and pacing that sucked me in from the get-go.
There were several reveals in this issue that are sure to shake up the book, chief among them the newest addition to the team. His presence is certainly an interesting one, and it’s unclear exactly what purpose he’ll serve. He was brought in to provide Personality Assessments on the team, though he pointed out that Waller could have had David Graves (from the Justice League story ‘The Villain’s Journey’) provide the same service.
I think it’s going to fantastic to see how this character reacts and interacts with the rest of the team, especially Amanda Waller, as his exchanges in this issue were enjoyable. Waller has a reveal of her own this issue, introducing the Samsara Serum which she intends to use to insure that the team carries out their sentences.
There were none. This was a fantastic starting point for the series, and I couldn’t have asked for more.
Kot hit the ball out of the park on this one. Suicide Squad is an unlikely team with a group of characters from which you’ll never know what to expect. Between the brief glimpse of Cheetah and David Graves locked away in Belle Reve, a place which holds no regular prisoners, and the newest character’s addition I can’t help but wonder what’s coming next.