It’s fascinating how we’ll soon have the Suicide Squad represented in three different mediums – in print, on television in CW’s Arrow and in David Ayer’s upcoming Suicide Squad full-length feature film. Warner Brothers surprised everyone when it announced the second film in their official DC comics film slate would be Suicide Squad – a covert operations team comprised entirely of supervillains forced into doing dirty work for the US government because they have bombs planted in their heads. It really speaks to the quality and richness of DC’s cast of baddies that they’ll beat the classic Justice League lineup to the big screen.
And while director David Ayer has already shared some classic Suicide Squad issues as inspiration for his upcoming film, here’s hoping that he also takes some cues from Sean Ryan’s current New Suicide Squad run. Not only has Ryan’s run been action-packed, he’s done a great job stripping away the pure evil from each member of the squad and replacing it with a certain devilish charm.
Speaking of, Ryan’s squad isn’t short on classic DC rogues. A few holdovers from the original New 52 incarnation remain including the ever popular Harley Quinn, Deadshot and Boomerang Man. However, there are newbies too such as Reverse Flash and the flying saucer-faced Black Manta, who, in this run, is the closest thing the team has to a real leader. But don’t get too attached to any members. The team gets switched up quite often as Deathstroke wasted no time playing traitor, and Joker’s “Daughter”, who dons the face of her supposed father, was quickly whisked away to a mental health facility earlier in the series.
But the iron-fisted Amanda Waller still runs the show – at least for now. Much of New Suicide Squad deals with her battle with agitated control-freak Victor Sage for command of the squad. But an altercation between them left Sage abandoning his assignment when Waller became physical, or more appropriately, when she kicked his ass. Still, Waller is dealing with something, and Sage isn’t completely out of the picture as we come to learn in the recently released New Suicide Squad #8.
The issue opens in typically dramatic fashion as Harley Quinn is about to be crushed by the giant golden globe that’s falling from the roof of a battle damaged Daily Planet building. Black Manta and Reverse Flash simply stare in awe, and Boomerang Man quips, “This is gonna be a mess.”
Fortunately for Harley, an ultra-powerful clone that previously escaped the destruction of an apparent Chinese military clone factory saves her at the last second. The clone has, ironically, gone rogue on his makers and begins to fight against them. The squad appears to be clear to head to the extraction point, but suddenly hundreds of Chinese soldiers appear to have them surrounded. They’re left with only one option as Quinn puts it, “Kill people. Super-Awesome.”
The team does just that, leaving bodies of soldiers in their wake, but the “defective” (as his creators call him) clone warrior appears to have a moment of clarity and denounces the killing before racing into space. Then in a brilliant use of dialogue-less, panel-only storytelling gorgeously drawn by Rob Hunter, the squad’s escape is juxtaposed with Deadshot aggressively and angrily taking target practice back at Belle Reve Penitentiary where he’s still rehabilitating from a previous mission.
Meanwhile, the Secretary of Defense applauds Sage for his work with Task Force X, the official name for the Suicide Squad, to which Sage responds with complete shock. “But they don’t complete the missions,” Sage barks. It’s then revealed that the end result of the Squad’s missions may be less important than initially thought.
The most compelling scene from New Suicide Squad #8 comes at during a confrontation between Amanda Waller and an incarcerated Black Manta back at Belle Reve. Manta wants out of the Suicide Squad, and Waller, ever the callous leader, fires back asking what he expected. Manta goes on to detail how every mission is a mess due to lack of information, the ever-changing roster and the lack of true leadership from Waller herself. Manta then singles out Waller questioning why she even wants to lead a team of deranged criminals from afar. He berates Waller with, “I’ve got a bomb inside my head. I have to be here. I can’t go anywhere. But you can! So what’s keeping you here?” as she furiously leaves the room.
Ultimately, New Suicide Squad #8 leaves the reader with more questions than it does answers, and it has already been revealed that this summer will see a major roster shake-up for the Squad. So, while this issue may not be a prime starting point for Ryan’s New Suicide Squad, his current run as a whole is highly thrilling and is shaping up to be one of the more fun team-centric DC runs in a while.