A member of the Squad dies! Amanda Waller schemes! It's seemingly just another day in the life of the Suicide Squad... but as ever, Amanda Waller has schemes within schemes.
One of these schemes involves Superboy (Kon-El), who... isn't quite right, for some reason. But the other involves Teen Titans Academy member Bolt, who may or may not be a mole!
Writer Robbie Thompson’s Suicide Squad run feels like it’s beginning to gel with issue three. The narrative beyond standard Suicide Squad operating procedure feels like it’s beginning to come into focus, with a few key narratives wending and winding their way throughout:
- What’s up with Superboy? Kon-El has definitely been a shadow of his former self since appearing at the end of issue one. He’s been something of a zombie-fied version of himself, and in this issue Nocturna confirms that, to quote the great philosopher of our times, Hank Hill of Arlen, Texas, “That boy ain’t right.” Kon was seemingly back to his old self in Young Justice, but now, he’s just… off. More to come, and Thompson is doing a great job of seeding this subplot in such a way that readers – not to mention long-time Superboy fans – can’t help but be curious. Added bonus: tip of the hat to Eduardo Pansica for putting Kon back in his ’00s t-shirt and jeans look, which suits his character wonderfully and hearkens back to Geoff Johns’ glory days on the Teen Titans book.
- What’s up with Talon? Less pressing than Superboy’s personality issues is the presence of Talon, who is apparently so important to Waller that she’d risk the ire of Batman by breaking him out of Arkham in issues one and two. But he’s even more of a blank slate than Superboy – literally just murdering people and asking “Who? WHO?” over and over. Which leads to the next pressing subplot…
- What’s Waller’s real agenda? Anyone even halfway familiar with Suicide Squad and/or Amanda Waller knows she plays three-dimensional chess at every turn, scheming plots within plots to suit her long-term plans. It’s kind of her deal. Whatever she’s planning right now involves Talon, Superboy, and Peacemaker; everyone else is expendable, except for maybe Nocturna, who may or may not have a role to play in Superboy’s current fugue state. In past reviews I was a little hard on Thompson for playing Waller as a greatest-hits version of herself; now, as the pieces of the puzzle begin to slide into place, I have to admit I’m genuintely intrigued. Which brings us to the final piece of the puzzle…
- What’s Peacemaker’s deal? …I mean, aside from being shoved into this book to create synergy for the upcoming The Suicide Squad movie/reboot. He’s very much unlike the other members of the Squad; not overtly a villain – in fact, he almost certainly believes he’s one of the good guys. But something he’s done landed him on Task Force X. What’s interesting about Peacemaker is that despite having existed on page for decades now as an old Charlton character (and basis for Watchmen‘s Comedian), he’s essentially a blank slate for modern audiences, which means Thompson is free to go wherever he wants with the guy – silly headgear and all. Peacemaker is pretty obviously playing his own game; whether or not deliberately landing himself on the Squad is part of that plan remains to be seen.
All of this adds up to one ironclad conclusion: there’s a mystery afoot – hell, several of them – and Thompson has me intrigued. This isn’t a book I’d have originally thought to add to my pull sheet; now, I’d be hard-pressed to find reasons not to. Eduardo Pansica, Julio Ferreira, and Marcelo Maiolo’s art is the chef’s kiss; there’s little that could be argued against Suicide Squad being one of DC’s flat-out best-looking books on the stand right now. My only real complaint is that Pansica sometimes isn’t very economic with his page layouts, leaving lots of dead space unnecessarily:
It’s not that the page doesn’t flow, but the dead space behind and between the panels could have been taken up with Pansica’s actual, beautiful artwork. There’s a couple other pages in the book that have this same type of flaw to them; gorgeous to look at, but a bit too open for my tastes. But this is a relatively minor quibble. Throw into the mix this issue kicking off a crossover with Tim Sheridan’s superb Teen Titans Academy, and you very suddenly have a dark horse contender for one of the sharpest DC books – and comics in general – on the shelves right now. It may have taken until issue three for Thompson and company to find their rhythm, but now that they have, Suicide Squad is indeed a can’t-miss comic.
Suicide Squad finds its groove, and comes out swinging with a deft mix of mystery, mayhem, and gorgeous art.
Suicide Squad #3: Wheels Within Wheels
Writing - 9/10
Storyline - 9.5/10
Art - 9.5/10
Color - 9/10
Cover Art - 9.5/10
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