52 Catch Up is a series devoted to looking at issues from DC’s New 52 and seeing how they’re faring now that they’re underway, why they’re worth reading (or not), and places we hope they will go in time.
By Robert J. Baden, Guest Contributor to Fanboy Comics
A group of villains who work clandestinely for powerful higher-ups as a way of shaving time off of their sentences, the unit goes on the missions that tend to end up with someone getting killed. Microscopic-sized bombs are implanted in the back of their neck with a timer to ensure loyalty, allowing for their handler—Amanda Waller—to hold them on a short leash. These are the people who do government’s ultra-dirty work: Task Force X, better known as the Suicide Squad.
Previously on Suicide Squad: Covering Issues #1 – #6
The series starts off with 7 villains being placed through an intense interrogation using torture in an effort to get information out of them. Nearly the entire first issue is an exposition on various members and how they came to be a part of the Suicide Squad, right up until it’s revealed that the interrogation was a test to make sure no one would give up Task Force X, and one of the villains was “sacrificed” to make the point clear. Immediately after, the remaining 6 are transported to a football stadium where they must find one woman…and kill everyone else within the quarantine zone.
Upon roaming the stadium, the squad comes across a zombie-like plague, very similar to the effects of the Rot Virus from Animal Man. Soon, they find their intended target and discover that she’s the carrier of the disease, and after a fight with several infected civilians—including Deadshot possibly becoming infected—they manage to kill the woman, but save her unborn child, who seems immune to the disease. Working on the assumption that he should be able to provide a cure, the squad leaves the stadium, but not before Deadshot shoots one of his teammates as a way of planting a patsy for the massacre of so many civilians.
After a scuffle with government agents—other government agents that don’t agree with Task Force X’s methods—the squad loses yet another member to a gunshot wound, but he survives to be evacuated for medical treatment. Moments later, the unit is given another mission and two new replacements, one of which is the new patsy for the mission (of course, he doesn’t know that). After busting up an arm of an international terrorist organization known as Basilisk, the surviving squad members return to their home base to face yet another mission: a prison riot of their own HQ.
During the riot several supervillain criminals are killed by El Diablo’s telekinetic skills, as well as Deadshot’s lethal guns, and the new replacement Yo-Yo is swallowed whole by King Shark (although, it becomes apparent he’s still alive later on). Following the chaos, it’s revealed that one of the squad’s members, Harley Quinn—who just happened to have had her bomb deactivated—was the one who staged the riot so she could escape to Gotham City. Deadshot assembles another team—this time without El Diablo, but still with King Shark—and goes after her, stopping just as they see her surrender herself to the GCPD. So now, they wait to tackle one of the grittiest and fearsome police forces in the nation—and on Batman’s home turf.
El Diablo & Deadshot: Probably the best parts of the comic are the individual looks at, and interaction between, El Diablo and Deadshot. Putting these two together is like having a comparison of two sides to an argument. On one side, you’ve got Deadshot, an assassin with no moral qualms about what he does, who will shoot someone rather than try to find another way to solve the problem; on the other, you have El Diablo, a killer who is repentant for the deaths of several, who goes to great lengths to try and save his fellow teammates—especially Deadshot. Add to the mix Deadshot’s lethal aim and tactics and El Diablo’s telekinetic powers, and these two could have their own series together.
Government Dirty Work: I’m not entirely surprised about this aspect of the series—or its predecessors that share the same title—but I am still disappointed by it. To have the government denounce the actions of others like the Justice League or independent superheroes, and yet they themselves circumvent the law by utilizing the Suicide Squad is low and truly hypocritical; however, being that it is the central theme of this title, it’s hard to dislike it too much—without it, there wouldn’t be a title—but it still doesn’t set well with my sense of morality.
Rotating Roster: Because of the premise of the series, the roster of characters is almost always changing—sometimes, even within the same issue. While this allows for new characters to be introduced, and thus explored, it also makes it harder to form a lasting impression on some of the characters since they end up dead. The most exposition has been on Deadshot, and given his background as a top sniper, it doesn’t seem as though he’s likely to be taken out easily, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want the other characters to have their own explosion and exploration. I honestly think it would work better if some very serious exposition and development went into a specific character and then have said character offed in a truly horrific fashion—it would certainly create a desired shock value, and Joss Whedon’s done it enough with his characters that it’s a proven formula.
Overdone Exposition/Recapping: I understand the need to expose information to the reader, and to recap vital information concerning the progression of the plot from issue to issue—after all, it only comes out once a month, and not everyone remembers exact details—but there’s no need to continually mention that Task Force X and the Suicide Squad are the same thing. For the squad members to say, “We’re part of Task Force X—the Suicide Squad,” to one another is just too much. The same can be said concerning the implanted bombs, not to mention the teaser at the end of each issue: “Next month, someone’s going to die;” that’s what is said every month, so it’s not really a shock/tease if people already expect it. No one dying, however, would be quite the shock.
Harley Quinn: It should come to no surprise that Harley’s out to find out more about what happened to the Joker, but just what does she hope to accomplish in the end? She’s given up her past to become Harley, to be the sidekick and running gag for the Joker, and she’s dependent upon him, even with the few times she’s left him to find her own way. Now, she’s back in Gotham City and goes straight to the GCPD and surrenders as a way to get inside and see what’s left of the Joker; but then what? I’m quite anxious to see just how she accomplishes her goals, and to find out what exactly those goals are.
King Shark: At times King Shark seems to be nothing but a mindless killing machine, and then he’s intelligent and thoughtful of the future; something’s going on, but what exactly? There’s been no real look into why King Shark got put into Belle Reeve or in Task Force X, so he remains something of a mystery in relation to this series. My biggest question concerns his motives for seemingly killing Yo-Yo, only to keep him alive inside of his body; not only am I interested to find out, but a bit creeped out by the fact that the size-changing villain is actually in his body.
The Rot Virus: Only briefly explained, the disease that forced the quarantine of the stadium was the Rot Virus (as mentioned in Animal Man). No one has given a detailed explanation of just what Task Force X plans to do with this disease, or the baby that appears to be immune to the infection, but with Deadshot possibly infected, it’s bound to come up as a major plot point in the future. Given how Animal Man and Swamp Thing are crossing over somewhat, the Rot seems to have the potential to be a wide-spread situation; so, just how will it play into the ever-violent goings-on of Suicide Squad?