After something of a prolonged absence, I’ve been catching up with some DC Comics in the wake of SDCC and all the good stuff coming out of that. I want to do a separate blog on those things, but suffice it to say, I’m finally excited for Suicide Squad, and have started to read the comics!
The first volume, Kicked in the Teeth, is very much an introduction to the team, or at least, to the idea of Task Force X, as we see them go on a few missions that appear to be somewhat unrelated. But at least we get to see the dynamics of the group, which is made up of Deadshot, King Shark, Harley Quinn, El Diablo, and then a rotating cast of additional characters. The book ends with more of an actual storyline, as Harley’s bomb is taken out of her neck early, and she escapes from Belle Reve prison to find out what happened to Joker, having heard that he’s dead. Apparently this is a tie-in to a Batman storyline, but I’ve not read that one yet, so it was a bit of a shock, though I don’t actually believe they’ve killed off such an iconic character, even though we get to see the Gotham PD have his face in a glass frame…
Having known of the team for years, it was pretty good to finally sit down to a story with them and, while some reviews have criticised the book for essentially being a bunch of random missions for the team, it’s definitely worth sticking with it, as these random missions (and group additions) begin to pay off as early as the second book:
Volume two, Basilisk Rising, sets up the main antagonist for the Squad, Basilisk. They’re basically H.Y.D.R.A for DC, having many of the mannerisms of the Marvel villains. Things like this used to annoy me, especially when I’d hear people refer to DC as ripping off Marvel stuff, but the fact is the two companies share a pool of writers, so to some extent we’re bound to see similar ideas crop up. Anyway, rant aside, Basilisk is determined to undermine their future enemies now, before the new world order is in place with metahumans ruling the globe. We’ve already encountered one Basilisk agent in volume one, but here we get more on them. I thought it was a really good book, though it does take a long time to get going, unfortunately, and we have one crossover story with Resurrection Man, a character I’d never heard of before, but was intrigued to find out that Dan Abnett was the writer for that comic! It being a crossover, there is a distinctive disconnect in the artwork as we get the one rogue issue before returning to the main Squad storyline.
Anyhow, volume two connects really strongly to several of the random elements from volume one, such as Captain Boomerang being captured by Basilisk, and King Shark eating Yo-Yo, so it’s worth sticking with volume one, even if you don’t know where it’s heading.
Overall, I really enjoyed my first foray into Suicide Squad, and have a couple more books on the shelf waiting for me to get round to them!
We’ll finish up for today with the first book in the Batwoman line. I thought the opening of this book was really hilarious, as it featured Batman and Nightwing trying to find out who Batwoman is – while I also struggled with the question! There are several members of the Bat-family, of course, and I’ve previously talked about Batwing on this blog, as well as the man himself, and while I was aware of a title called Batwoman (as distinct from Batgirl), I had no idea who she was. Anyway, turns out she’s Kate Kane, a former cadet from West Point academy, the daughter of a military family, but left the service when she came out as a lesbian. After an encounter with Batman that made her realise she too could fight crime in Gotham, she donned the persona of Batwoman.
There’s a lot going on in this book that I wasn’t all that familiar with, namely the Religion of Crime supervillain group and their connection with Kate’s dead sister (dealt with in the book Batwoman: Elegy, from what I can tell). This is somewhat symptomatic of the New 52 series as a whole, which was touted as a perfect jumping-on point for new fans, but still deals with a lot of the established story from back in the day. In this case, it’s not all that bad, as you pretty much get the story of the earlier book, but it does often leave you wanting more. But I digress.
I thought the storyline overall was pretty interesting, as we have Batwoman investigating a series of kidnappings that were perpetrated by a ghost, while she is herself investigated by the Department of Extranormal Operations, in the hope of learning Batman’s true identity. The fact that Kate is shown to be a lesbian superhero is extremely powerful stuff, as this is something I feel is distinctly under-represented in mainstream titles. The fact that Batwoman isn’t relegated to some sideline book but has a prominent place in the lore here is really good. But even leaving all of that aside, Batwoman is a sufficiently complex character to be interesting, and well worth investigating for that!