Monday, August 22, 2016

Suicide Squad #1

Okay! That's about my threshold for Jim Lee's art! Hopefully the cover was all he could finish before the issue was ready to ship.

The Commentary!
I was recently asked what I feel nostalgic for and one of the main things is probably my twenties. Not for any particular experience alone but for the general mindset of being in one's twenties. It's probably the best decade for an atheistic existentialist. I was an adult in full control of my life and yet, even though I didn't necessarily feel immortal, I knew I could defer mortality for my thirties. My twenties was a time when I knew I would have a whole lifetime ahead of me even after they were over, so why not spend them doing whatever the fuck I wanted? Some people probably get hives reading that attitude toward a person's twenties and think, "But you could have gotten started on your future financial security!" I suppose when I'm in my sixties, maybe I'll think differently about the way I spent my twenties, but I'm more of an eat dessert first and then don't eat the shit you don't want to eat and then maybe have dessert again later kind of people. My twenties were there to do as much acid as I could without the knowledge of my mortality turning every trip into a spiraling disaster of self-pity. My twenties were for traveling, across the country and across Asia, because after leaving home, I didn't have any kind of responsibilities anchoring me to any specific place. But mostly there's a kind of openness to a person's twenties. It's the last time your future is going to be composed of infinite possibilities. When I entered my twenties, I had no idea what my life would be like in my thirties. But as I entered my thirties, I was fairly certain I knew quite a bit about where my life would be entering my forties. And as I entered my forties, I sure as shit know where I'll be when I enter my fifties, unless something completely tragically random happens. That's, you know, always a possibility! Which is why I figured spending my twenties like a rock and roll vagabond was my best bet! I feel like my twenties could have been a disaster and I'd still be nostalgic for the philosophical mindset that I had during that decade of my life. There was a freedom to being able to put your life on hold because there were still many more decades to follow. Being unencumbered, in every sense of the word, meant I was as free as I would ever be. I suppose I could head back up to Snoqualmie and sleep outside on top of a picnic bench in a campground in the mountains while watching a meteor shower to try to relive some memories of the time but it wouldn't be the same. Because back then, I had nowhere to go and nowhere to be and nothing driving me in any direction. Now, I'd be lying there thinking, "Well, I have to get back to work in a few days and probably feed the cat and maybe let the Non-Certified Spouse know that I haven't died and then there's rent and bills and fuck me why aren't I dead already?" Hmm. That turned darker than it should have. I just meant to point out that it's the particular mindset of my twenties that I feel nostalgic for because I can never have that kind of freedom from responsibility and my own mortality ever again.

This issue begins with Amanda Waller contemplating the existence of evil in the world. "Evil" is a loaded word. When religious people want you to admit that evil exists, they mean something far more terrifying than mere actions. I never admit to anybody who asks that evil exists even if I think the things that some people do are evil. Because when asked that question, they're asking about some effusive substance that can enter the hearts and heads of normal men and women and turn them from a righteous and peaceful path. What they're never asking is if some people simply do evil shit because they simply suck. Would I say some act that resulted in any number of people dead an evil act? Sure. Would I go so far as to say the person was evil? Probably not. People are complicated creatures who do a lot of stupid and evil shit for reasons we can never fully understand. But one of those reasons is not that they were infiltrated by some caustic energy that turned them into an evil entity that has lost all humanity. Even many serial killers I wouldn't claim were evil because I understand, somewhat, how minds can be disastrously fucked up for a myriad amount of reasons. Although maybe the Nightstalker, Richard Ramirez, was evil! But that's as far as I'll admit to believing in evil. That dude was scary! Plus he was brought down by a bunch of regular citizens and that makes for a great story about good triumphing over evil! Even though I totally don't believe in evil! Don't fucking argue with me, Soy Rakelson!

Also don't argue with me if you're not Soy Rakelson because a lot of that was just anti-Soy Rakelson sentiment. It's like a callous built up in my brain due to my high school Catholic friend's constant attempts to get me to admit that evil is real so that he could pull me into his religious frame of mind and help save my soul. Why couldn't he just shut up and play Tecmo Bowl in silence?!

So, um, Amanda is thinking about how she's happy to find people to pay the price in her war against evil. That's her sacrifice: finding people to sacrifice. It's a tough job but nobody really has to do it. She just likes doing it. So it's, um, not much of a sacrifice then, is it? But I think it keeps her away from her kids! That's the sacrifice! Whew! I knew there was something there. Thanks artwork for showing that framed picutre of Amanda's family!

This issue is called "I Wanna Be Sedated" because there weren't enough musical cues in the first five minutes of the Suicide Squad movie. Now I'm being told how to feel by a soundtrack in a comic book that I have to sing in my own head!

Just as I thought! Jim Lee is already having trouble drawing an overweight person!

Amanda, Rick Flag, and Katana have come together to build the first team of the series. Amanda tells Katana, "Gimme a five-strong team this time." What the hell is that about? Amanda is allowing Katana to pick who goes on missions? That's not like Amanda at all! She controls everything around her! She manipulates it all! She would never allow...oh! I get it. Amanda knows who Katana will pick and they're the people Amanda wants on the team so she's letting Katana feel like she has some power and control! Oh, Amanda! You're the best! You even made people think the Suicide Squad movie had no plot because it was all about how you convinced the government to fund your group with the help of one of the people in your group you knew you couldn't control and by her losing control, you gained an opportunity to show the government what your team can do while also eliminating the person you couldn't control. Such a fat, fat genius!

I like how Belle Reve is set up in this issue. Amanda has a control center which has access to every cell in the complex. The cells are moved about so that the criminals can be brought to the command center still in there cell. It gives the illusion that a Squad can be made up of any of dozens of supervillains. Of course, we already know most of the characters that will be used over and over again because DC Comics doesn't really know how to best utilize the Suicide Squad anymore. It's still just full of characters that won't be killed and one that brings all the money to the yard.

Wait a second now. Harley Quinn gets to have guns in her cell? And Boomerang his boomerangs? Is the the Belle Reve Hilton?

In the previous scan, Amanda calls the Squad "moral ingrates." What the fuck does that mean? "I'm ungrateful for morals! Nyah!" And, let's face it, what the fuck is wrong with her beginning her speech to them with "criminal filth"? She might as well just spit on them all as she hands out assignments. I guess this shows how much she's sacrificing! She can't stand to be in the presence of these moral ingrates but she'll do it for her country and to save innocent lives! Oh, Amanda! You're such a martyr!

On an irrelevant note, I'm super horny for June Moon.

Deadshot is all pumped to go kill somebody, so he's a good fit for the team. Harley also loves the dirty work so she's not going to give Amanda any problems. Killer Croc's only request is that the Squad doesn't go into space which seems like a really stupid request because what is there to fight in space? Did a Russian get space madness on the international space station and steal one of the American's box of Oreos? And now he needs to be killed for it? But, you know, covertly! Captain Boomerang acts like he doesn't really want to go but he totally wants to go. Also he was called "Captain Boomerang" so I'm about as happy as I'm capable of being with the knowledge that I will one day die. And June Moon is all, "Don't look at my tits! I don't want anybody looking at my tits! Also, why am I in jail, who are you all, what the fuck is going on, can I have a lawyer, and which way to the bathroom?"

The mission is in Russia to retrieve a "cosmic item" and the only way to get there is a suborbital route in a spaceship. So I guess Croc isn't too happy about this. But he'll be happy about the second part which is that the Cosmic Item is being kept in an undersea prison! You know, I think maybe Katana could have chosen some better options for this Squad. Black Manta? Ocean Master? Scavenger? Killer Shark? Carcharo? Come on, Katana! Use your ramen!

The space ship can't land or the Russians might notice it so instead it just drops the Squad from orbit in some kind of reentry merry-go-round. This causes Killer Croc to vomit in his space suit putting him at risk of Jimi Hendrixing. Flag refuses to watch that happen to one of his squad and risks the whole entire rest of the team by screwing up the balance of the falling merry-go-round to save Croc.

See how Deadshot is holding Flag in two different panels and helping him maneuver? He's doing that in his sleep, apparently, because he doesn't wake up until the next page.

I get the feeling that the editors aren't allowed to tell Jim Lee he needs to redraw something he fucked up. Firstly because he'll never have enough time to draw everything if he has to redraw Harley coming out of her cell without guns or Deadshot not helping Rick Flag because he's supposed to be asleep. And secondly because he's the boss of the editors and, in the corporate world, I don't think you're allowed to tell your boss that they completely fucked up everything.

Rick gets June to wake up The Enchantress who winds up not helping at all because she's a total dick. Unless her spell right before impact is actually all that keeps the Squad alive as they punch through the ice and into arctic waters. The story ends after only about thirteen pages with the Squad sinking to the bottom of the ocean. I guess that's one way to make sure Jim Lee makes his deadlines. Just use as much story as he can finish and then shove a Next Issue box at the bottom of his last finished page and stick in some back-up material. The Next Issue box at the end of this story says "Next: Someone literally dies." Well, nobody on the Squad will die. Possibly Enchantress or June Moon. But I'm guessing the someone who literally dies will be somebody they meet next issue because that's a cute trick that won't get fans angry at all. I will say it's nice that they're trying to convince the audience that people will die this time in the Suicide Squad since nobody but Man-Bats and Amanda Waller's assistants died in New Suicide Squad.

The backup story is a Personnel File on Deadshot. It's a story about his past so that we can learn he's got a death wish, probably. He was meant to kill Bruce Wayne for Kobra so he could make ten million dollars. But I'm fairly certain that didn't happen because the story shows him in the present in jail talking with Amanda Waller. She makes sure to mention multiple times how Floyd has a death wish and suicidal tendencies. But she also makes sure to mention that he's trying to do right by his twelve year old daughter Zoe. If it weren't for her, he'd probably end it all. But since he doesn't want to fail her (in his own, weird sense of honor), he can't kill himself. But that doesn't mean he won't look death right in the eye when it comes from some other source, shake its hand, and thank it for doing its job.

Back to the past, Deadshot learns he won't get ten million for killing Bruce Wayne because Kobra thinks he'll do the job for free since they've kidnapped his daughter. I think that just means he's going to kill a whole lot of Kobras for free, actually. Lawton managed to contact Batman and they pulled a World's Finest to save Zoe. He promised Batman he'd use only rubber bullets on the mission but when one of them threatens to kill Zoe, he puts a bullet in the guy's head. Zoe learns her father is a murderer and Batman throws Lawton in jail. Lawton, having disappointed his daughter, didn't care after that. And now he's a member of the Suicide Squad! Lucky!

The Review!
I think they've got the Suicide Squad set-up as close to the original as it's ever going to get again. It's not like Ostrander's Suicide Squad has to happen again, and I don't mind a company taking a different take on a franchise. Ostrander did it himself, right? And he struck gold! But most of The New 52 Suicide Squad was crap at best and more crap at worst, with brief, brief forays into finding itself in surprisingly readable. But I can't say much about how "surprisingly readable" this issue is because Jim Lee sort of curtailed the story from the outset due to his inability to draw twenty pages in a month. So I like the set-up. I can probably live with the characterizations although this issue was so short that Rob Williams was just sticking the most obvious dialogue into their mouths so readers could get at least a bit of a handle on each character and who they are. So Captain Boomerang is the one who drags his feet and doesn't want to play the game. Deadshot wants to die and show off his skills. Harley is crazy and plays Pokémon Go. Killer Croc isn't great at amusement parks. Katana picks horrible people for underwater missions. June Moon doesn't want to be there because--and I'm only guessing at this--she really wants me to be fucking her up against a pinball machine. And Rick Flag loves his team, no matter how jerky they are. So I've got the premise and I've got the characters! Now I just need to figure out what to do with this boner June Moon gave me.

No comments:

Post a Comment