Suicide Squad Annual #1

Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Ronan Cliquet
Colorist: Jason Wright
Letterer: Pat Brosseau
Cover Artists: Paul Pelletier, Mick Gray, Hi-Fi
Publisher: DC Comics

Review by Cameron Kieffer

For the uninitiated, Suicide Squad is about Task Force X, a team of villains recruited to perform missions too dangerous for average soldiers and too morally-compromising for superheroes.  This oversized issue Suicide Squad Annual #1 opens with a young woman named Cadence, who has a rather unique disposition: she’s currently conjoined to a man, with whom she has a symbiotic (and murderous) relationship.  Her unwilling companion has just died on an operating table, and after a seemingly accidental rampage, Cadence escapes from Belle Reve Prison, the headquarters of Task Force X and their leader Amanda Waller.  With the team currently indisposed, thanks to a crossover event with Aquaman, Waller is forced to recruit a back-up team to track down Cadence before she kills again.

This team is a who’s who of D-listers (at best) including Merlyn (of Arrow fame), Rag Doll (formerly of the villain team Secret Six), the sexy vampire Scream Queeen, her lover(?) Shimmer, the amphibious Skorpio, martial artist Tao Jones (seriously), and the diminutive Baby Boom who looks like the result of an unholy union between Shirley Temple and Chucky from Child’s Play.  If you’re familiar with at least half of those names, you’re better versed in obscure DC villains than I.  The team doesn’t get much time to bond, however, as they quickly become embroiled in a struggle between Cadence’s bizarre abilities and those of her would-be savior Swamp Thing, all the while trying to stay alive.

Writer Cullen Bunn is typically pretty great with villains (check out his work on Magneto and the latest run of Uncanny X-Men), but sadly, these characters don’t fare as well as others.  Despite the higher page-count, there are just too many characters so few of them get any real development.  The dynamic between Shimmer and Scream Queen seems fun, but it is mostly unexplored, to the point where the vampire seems kinda…rapey.  Others like Baby Boom and Tao Jones have a few good lines but don’t really get to do much of anything.  To make matters worse, and without veering too far into spoiler territory, the majority of this team won’t get another shot at proving themselves.

The art by Ronan Cliquet is solid, but the depiction of certain characters seems a bit off.  His portrayal of Swamp Thing in particular just doesn’t fit the character.  With his large frame and even larger muscles, he looks more like the Hulk with a Fu Manchu-stache than the mossy protector of the Green.  On the positive side, he has a very classic style, reminiscent of Alan Davis or Mark Bagley, and his work is well complemented with Jason Wright’s colors.  Pat Brosseau’s lettering also fits the dark, increasingly violent tone of the story.  And, while the wrong font can distract or even ruin the look of a comic, you won’t find that here.

The Verdict: Check it out.

If you’re already picking up the monthly Suicide Squad, then this book will offer an interesting alternative to the current crossover.  For new readers, this standalone story is fairly accessible and doesn’t require much knowledge of past or current events.  On the other hand, the story lacks any real focus, and the majority of the characters aren’t likely to be seen again anytime soon (if at all).  You may be better off spending your hard earned $4.99 on something else this week.

Cameron Kieffer
Cameron Kieffer wears many hats. He is a freelance writer and artist, creator of the webcomic "Geek Theory" and is co-host of the Nerd Dump podcast. He lives in Topeka with his wife and increasingly growing comic book collection.

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