Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Rob Williams
Artist: Jim Lee, Scott Williams
Release Date: 14th September 2016
So in case I never told you – and let’s face it, how many of you reading this have I actually directly spoken to? I dunno… one? (Hi, Mum!) – I quite enjoyed the new Suicide Squad flick. Sure, it was a throwaway story – big enough to seem threatening, small enough that Batman or Superman wouldn’t show up for the roll call – but it was different enough whilst keeping it all in-house, and it resolved itself rather neatly. Fun stuff, if hardly Oscar-bait.
And baseball-sliding in on the film’s wake, we have this series, which opened rather disappointingly with what felt rather suspiciously like a half-issue, padded out by a well-written, but rather too long back-up strip that didn’t even bring the issue up to what one would consider a decent length, even for a DC headlining series. Much as I really wanted Ceej to be wrong – a dangerous statement if ever I’ve uttered one – I can’t help but share his disappointment in this.
The problem here is that it’s pretty much exactly continuing on the trajectory that the first issue set out – it looks terrific, as you might expect from a DC book these days, and this issue does up the interest just a touch – the promised ‘somebody actually dies’ thing at the end of issue #1 wasn’t a drill or a joke, folks – but only a singular touch. Which is shame, because there are the building blocks of a truly great series going on here, but the fact that for whatever reason, Lee’s artwork being spread so thinly is massively to its detriment, with Williams and co doing their absolute best with having to work around this.
It just feels throughout like so many compromises have been made to allow the likely perpetually busy Lee to have the main strip’s art duties. As Ceej pointed out in his review of issue #1, it doesn’t attempt anything particularly interesting in terms of the plot, or indeed make any attempt to reinvent our perceptions of Task Force X, as other Rebirth titles have been at least having a crack with their respective characters. Familiar beats in the story expedite familiar, albeit highly polished, beats in the art. The only minor redemption is that Williams and Lee’s depictions of the characters are so bang in terms of art and dialogue that it’s literally impossible to hold it against them.
It’s not bad. Absolutely not – the caliber of the creative folk on hand renders that an unreasonable thing to say. Williams’ scripts – as cut-short, and padded out as the main and back-up strips feel respectively – are razor-sharp otherwise. Then there’s an absolutely joyous sequence in the middle of the main strip where Williams’ dialogue synergises just beautifully with Lee’s story-telling. Gosh darn it, but it looks too good to call bad – when you have Lee and Reis on board, that’s par for the course. It’s just that aside from good moments that you barely need one hand to count, there’s just not that much really going on here, and it’s almost wearily predictable in what the stories do manage to pull out the bag. And considering that this series is absolutely riding on the surge of interest that the film will have generated in the series and characters, it’s such a shame that they’re playing it so very small and safe.
I never, in all my days, thoughts I’d give a Jim Lee/Rob Williams team-up this low a score. I hate myself a little, but…
[Click to Enlarge]
The Writer of this piece was: Ross Sweeney
Ross tweets from @Rostopher24