New Suicide Squad #5. Sean Ryan- Writer, Tom Derenick- Breakdowns, Rob Hunter- Art, Blond- Colors.
This issue of New Suicide Squad is the beginning of a new story arc. As such it introduces some new ideas as well as continuing the stories of mainstays Amanda Waller and Floyd Lawton, aka Deadshot. Waller is clearly troubled at the beginning of the issue. Besides sending the Squad off on a new mission, she is obviously distracted by the physical state of Floyd Lawton. He’s struggling through rehab, unable to move his arms above his waist- a serious issue for a sniper. She’s quite cold in their exchange and seems to care an awful lot about the Squad and his role on the team.
Meanwhile, Captain Boomerang, Black Manta, Harley Quinn and the new Reverse Flash and a cadre of Man-Bats have been inserted into China to prevent the deployment of a team of government created super-heroes. Yes, created. The action is quick as the team ends up facing what appear to be insurmountable odds as the uglies are unleashed upon them.
There is a decent amount of likable humor in this issue. At times it is truly funny. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always come off this way. The scene with Lawton and Waller is the highlight. It really shows how much Lawton’s role on the Squad means to him. It could be simple self-aggrandizement, but it comes off much more sincerely, especially given Lawton’s predicament. One actually feels bad for him. When Waller leaves him in the cold, one’s sentiment drifts toward Lawton. However, the opening sequence of the issue that spotlights Waller does a good job of showing her own struggle. The placement of the title ‘Broken,’ refers to many aspects of the issue including Waller and Lawton.
The art is also ‘broken.’ It feels rushed and more miss than hit. Derenick is not bad, but Hunter has been tasked with more than inking Derenick’s pencils. Hunter clearly has had to finish the pencils in their entirety working only from Derenick’s credited breakdowns. There are quite a few awkward moments. Harley Quinn comes off as more psychotic than I like. This isn’t the lovable Batman: The Animated Series Harley. She’s almost funny, but in actuality she’s just too over the top, and not in a good way. I’m not sure what her own book is like, but this could be a shock to those readers, or I’m just out of touch with the current portrayal of Mister J’s best girl.
Surprisingly, this issue was easily understood by this first-time reader. Despite being a newer title, it offers easy entry into the world of Task Force X. Overall, it’s very uneven. The basic Suicide Squad concept is intact, and there are a few good character moments, but there’s not a sense of team yet, outside of Lawton. Harley may too much of a loose cannon, but there does seem to be potential with Manta and Boomerang. The Man-Bats do provide a wildcard element of fun to the team and oddly more predictable than Harley. It’s sort of a middle of the road book. If you like the characters then this is probably for you, but it wasn’t enough to make me want to come back. Three Daily Planets may be a bit generous, but 2 is a bit low.