Review | Suicide Squad #1

In what seems to be an excellent example of the dark trend to most of the New 52 from DC Comics, Suicide Squad opens with an extended torture sequence—ten pages long, to be exact.The sequence is nicely drawn by artist Federico Dallocchio; I lingered over that initial two-page spread, showing the members of the Squad all restrained and undergoing various attacks. And writer Adam Glass weaves in some snappy dialogue, along with smart if formulaic flashbacks into the painful present-day action. Still, ten pages. Ten dark and bloody pages, full of rats and jumper cables.

The premise (spoiler alerts on): New versions of villains like Deadshot and Harley Quinn, along with some new characters (including the intriguing tattooed “warrior monk,” El Diablo), have been recruited into the Suicide Squad—a team of felons sent on deadly missions. As it turns out, their masked captors aren't real enemies; the torture-fest is just a way for the Squad's boss, Amanda Waller, to test their loyalty. But why would these six criminals choose to be loyal to Waller, especially after what she just put them through? Just for the chance of parole if they survive? Getting a Valentine from Batman would be more realistic.

Speaking of Waller (whom we see briefly, on the final page), she's still a tough black woman—except she's two hundred pounds lighter than the Wall we've seen for the past 25 years. The slimmed-down version more closely reflects recent screen incarnations (Pam Grier on Smallville and Angela Bassett in Green Lantern), but I have a soft spot for the tank of a woman who could stand up to Batman without flinching. Now that she's svelte, her old nickname "the Wall" looses the oomph of the double entendre, which is a shame. Let's hope the rest of the morally complex character created by Chicago writer John Ostrander still remains. If she does, someone else will have to tell me in a few months. In the meanwhile, I'll take a pass on future chapters of this torture porn.

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Laura Baginski, Editor (@TimeOutChicago)