Suicide Squad Vol.1 – Kicked In the Teeth

The Suicide Squad, or Task Force X, is a government sponsored team of imprisoned super villains who have been assigned tasks with the incentive of a reduced sentence. The team is managed by Amanda Waller and the team members are always changing, but are usually C- to D- list characters who are expendable. The New 52 incarnation is the fourth published, but the first in the New 52 continuity.

Suicide Squad was one of the books I heard the most about when first getting into comics during the New 52. Jumping into this one I wasn’t expecting much so once I finally got around to reading it I was surprised how much I enjoyed this. The plot is full of interesting twists and cliffhangers and the characters are pretty good. There’s the obviously expendable one’s like Voltaic, Lime, and Light and there are the big name characters like Harley and Deadshot. However, I found myself more interested in the more obscure or new characters like El Diablo, King Shark, Black Spider, and Yo-Yo.

The first issue introduces most of the Squad and later issues keep adding more members. Deadshot is the team’s field leader so a lot of the focus is on him. I’m not a fan of his new design, he looks more Redneck than Spanish to me. He’s characterized as the angry, witty, does the job by the book mercenary. Harley acts like the Joker most of the time, but with just more random humor. I’m not really a fan of her either, so her new origin and costume design don’t bother me that much. The rest of the team are just more interesting, funny, and there is some level of tension with them because they can actually die.

There are two main arcs in this volume: a search for a baby who can cure this zombie outbreak and a Harley Quinn focused arc where she escapes to find Joker. The first plot has a lot going on and moves at a fast pace, but also manages to characterize the Squad pretty well. There are some cameos from characters like Captain Boomerang and Mad Dog and it’s cool to see them. The second arc keeps the theme going of good plot twists and keeps the humor and action going. The Harley focus is alright, I don’t really care about the story but I understand why they do it, she’s the most popular character.

If I have any real complaints it would be some art inconsistencies in Harley’s costume where her cape disappears sometimes at random. I understand because it’s a cluttered costume, but it doesn’t excuse it. I also don’t like Amanda Waller in this book. She just threatens to blow up the Squad all the time and makes their missions harder by not telling them things they need to know.

Other then those two things I quite enjoyed this comic. There’s also a good shot at Marvel and the Avengers by Yo-Yo. Besides Harley’s cape the art is actually real good.

Writer: Adam Glass

Artist: Federico Dallocchio

Rating: Full Price

 

Superman #1

The marathon is over and with it the first anniversary of Vintage Bullet. It’s been a wild ride with many ups and downs. I’d like to thank everyone who got me here. Special thanks to Harrison over at Juicy Reviews for the plug and the idea. With all that over with, what better way to end this marathon than with the first big superhero, Superman.

Superman #1 tells multiple stories about Superman as he does things like preventing a lynching, stopping an execution, fighting in a war, and joining a football team. When he’s not being Superman we get some pages of Clark Kent, Superman’s secret identity who works at the Daily Star. We also get a 2 page origin story for Superman.

Superman #1 is a book that confuses me in many ways. In terms of an actual story with a plot and characters it is terrible. Superman goes to multiple locations under the cover of reporter Clark Kent, but he is also sent to cover a domestic disturbance. Clark himself is boring, his only characteristic is the false cowardice he shows to cover his identity. Lois Lane is in this and she shows the strong she still is today. No other characters like Jimmy Olsen or any of Superman’s big villains appear.

However, things all begin to change when Superman appears. The character of Superman in this book is drastically different than how he is portrayed now. In this story he can not fly, he doesn’t have his super hearing, x-ray or heat vision, or his super breath. His main powers are his speed, jumping, super strength  and his invulnerability. He uses these powers mostly to intimidate and threaten people when he isn’t beating them up. His personality is more like Batman’s than Superman’s.

A perfect example of his bad behavior would be the football story. In order to break up a thug filled football racket, he decides to take the place of a member of the team they are playing next. One of the players, Burke, happens to look similar to Superman so he decides to take his place on the team. He goes to Burke’s house, drugs him so he’s asleep, and then goes to the game. I’m not gonna spoil the rest but he manages to also get Burke kicked from the team. And objectively the art is terrible. Superman’s cape and symbol sometimes disappear completely and most characters have Captain Marvel squinty eyes.

But despite all of this it has the charm of the Golden Age. Seeing Superman destroy airplanes and end a war makes me understand the character’s appeal back in those days. This book also contains the famous scene from Action Comics #1 where Superman lifts the car. I also like how the book balances multiple different types of stories without being so jumbled. I can’t be too harsh on a book like this, it’s just the time period.

Writer: Jerry Siegel

Artist: Joe Shuster

Rating: Borrow from a Mate

 

 

 

JSA #1

The marathon is winding down with JSA #1. I’d like to think of myself as a JSA fan. I haven’t read any of their comics but when I see characters from the series I want to read it. With this #1 I hope that this is a good jumping on point.

The issue begins with Kid Eternity, a hero with the power to bring historical figures to help him fight, being chased and eventually killed in a sewer. We then see a dream where the Sandman turns into sand and then dies in real life. At his funeral, Wildcat and Starman talk in a scene meant to introduce the JSA members. At the funeral more death and a fight breaks out. We end on a cliffhanger where another character, who says he is well known but I’ve never heard of him,  arrives.

As a #1 issue I quite enjoyed this one. They mention a lot of things that have happened previously to the characters without sounding very expository. There are a lot of characters and they all get a moment to shine in the fight scene. One odd thing is Wildcat’s dad, who would be very old based on Wildcat’s age, but they don’t mention him having some anti-age power.  He’s the supervisor for Johnny Thunder, another old guy, and Star-Spangled Kid or Stargirl as she is known now. Star is the stereotypical teenager in this and I’ve seen her written better in other books. Art is some high quality stuff and the artist or writer put in a reference to the Red Bee of all people. Overall it’s a fun read.

Writer: David Goyer & James Robinson

Artist: Stephen Sadowski

Rating: Full Price

Sensation Comics #1

March begins but this marathon continues. Today’s comic is Sensation Comics #1.

Continuing after All-Star Comics #8, Wonder Woman returns in her own solo series. This issue is here to create a status quo for Wonder Woman. It tells how she met her lover, Steve Trevor, how she made it to America, and how she gets her secret identity. And for the standards of the 40s this is an alright book. There’s the occasional oddity, the invisible jet comes to mind, but at the time Wonder Woman couldn’t fly. Wonder Woman also somehow gets famous for blocking bullets with her bracelets. A lot of story is covered here so individual plot lines usually last about 2 pages and then transition into the next.

The art is good and bright, which is the usual for this time. It’s odd how yellow back then was the standard for famous comic covers, but now it’s rarely used. I’m rambling now so I’ll wrap this up; the book is good but you have to put yourself into that old mindset where you don’t over analyze and question everything.

Writer: William Moulton Marston

Artist: Harry G. Peter

Rating: Buy it for a bargain

Robin #1

The month ends with a review of Robin #1.

Robin #1 takes place sometime after Azrael took Bruce Wayne’s place as Batman. The book begins with Robin (Tim Drake again,) being choked out by Azrael in the Batcave. Azrael loosens his grip after getting a hold of his sanity and Robin escapes in his car, Redbird. Now that he’s alone, Tim Drake must deal with average teenager problems. He has a girlfriend and a bully to deal with. Like always there is a criminal group, the Speedboyz, who jack car parts.

I think the key word today for this book is “bland.” Tim is bland, the plot is bland, and the supporting characters are bland. Without Batman, this version of Robin is lame. I liked Damian Wayne, Red Robin, and Nightwing when they work on their own, but this just doesn’t work for me. Being a generic high school story takes away a lot of the action and extraordinary possibilities. I do have some pros and they would be the art, which is pretty good, and the opening scene with Azrael is cool. The cons outweigh the pros but I can’t say this is rubbish, just above it.

Writer: Chuck Dixon

Artist: Tom Grummett

Rating: Borrow From a Mate

Justice League Task Force #1

The reviews keep rolling with today’s comic, Justice League Task Force #1.

Justice League Task Force follows the same idea as Marvel’s Secret Defenders, where a group of heroes are put together to solve certain missions. The book also follows the ideas of Justice League International and Justice League Europe by having the team be government sponsored. The way it finally differs from those three books is by being garbage, in at least the first issue.

The book begins with Martian Manhunter fighting crime in a scene that’s just here to show off his powers. We cut to some Caribbean island where some British guy (You can tell he’s British because he says “Mate” and “Blimey” all the time) and a blond guy in a power suit named Blitz are bartering with some rebels who want to use Blitz as a threat to free themselves from a dictator. We cut to the Pentagon, where the government wants to protect that dictator and assign some guy called Martin to create the Task Force. Martin finds Martian Manhunter and tells him to pick the best members of the JLE for this mission.

Martian Manhunter picks Flash, Aquaman, and Gypsy. After the team is together, Nightwing arrives but no one on the team except for Flash wants him around. The book falls apart at this moment. I can understand picking someone no one wants around to create drama within the team. However, the character they chose doesn’t work. Aquaman doesn’t trust him because he’s a Titan and not a Justice League member and Martian Manhunter says he has a reputation for grandstanding. Both are dumb reasons and someone like Booster Gold or Blue Beetle would have filled this role much better.

The art’s nothing special and characterization isn’t there. I don’t know Martian Manhunter’s reasons but many people better than Aquaman and Gypsy could have been on the team. Green Lantern is seen at the JLE HQ and he’s much stronger than any of them. But that’s nitpicking, and at the end of the day this is still dumb in many other ways.

Writer: David Michelinie

Artist: Sal Velluto

Rating: Rubbish

Cover for Justice League Task Force #1 (1993)

Young Justice #1

The marathon continues with a look at Young Justice #1

Three sidekicks: Superboy, Robin (Tim Drake,) and Impulse are hanging out in the Batcave. They’re bored and they bicker back and forth over actually being a team until they awaken Red Tornado, who had withdrawn from society because he believed he had lost his own humanity. Red Tornado says that they annoyed him and that made him realize he still had some humanity.  A crime at an archaeological site gets the team’s attention and they go after it. There’s a lot more here but I don’t want to spoil it.

One of the key elements of any superhero team is establishing a reason for the team’s existence. This first issue of Young Justice manages to do that, while not spending a lot of time dwelling on it. Red Tornado reveals that each member of the team falls into the three Freudian archetypes. This helps set up the origins of each character, while giving some kind of relation to each other. The writing gives every character a unique voice and manages to make each teenage character (who can and usually are written annoyingly,) more depth.

Another big thing in the book’s favor is the comedy. There’s a lot of meta commentary, but it doesn’t break the fourth wall or get distracting. Red Tornado saying he has 19 different files about Hawkman’s origin is pretty funny to me. They also play with the “random person touches an artifact and gets powers” cliche. The banter back and forth is worth a chuckle. In conclusion, it’s a solid, funny start to a series that I look forward to reading.

Writer: Peter David

Artist: Todd Nauck

Rating: Vintage