I'll admit that I was slightly prejudiced against the new "Suicide Squad" before it debuted. I'm a huge fan of the original series helmed by John Ostrander and Kim Yale, and the spiritual heir in the form of "Secret Six" was another favorite. So adding in some ugly redesigns for Harley Quinn and King Shark, advance glimpses of the new "Suicide Squad" seemed less than pleasant.
But I promised myself I'd give this series a second issue, because the first issue was nothing but set up from start to finish. And to my surprise, this issue? It's already improving and getting a strong voice. Adam Glass is doing a good job of juggling his new cast of Squad members; they run the gamut, from the striving-for-redemption El Diablo, to the psychopath Voltaic that gets a thrill out of electrocuting anyone and everything.
Glass also softens the blow from last month's cliffhanger; it's not a random slaughter of 80,000 people inside the Megadome, but rather the putting down of a compromised and captive population. It's a message that while at a glance "Suicide Squad" seems to be horrific, the reality is that Glass is deliberately faking us out until we get a closer look. From Harley's wry comment about not being as dumb as people think, to El Diablo's struggling against the inevitable, he's already showing us that no one is quite what that first impression gave us.
The one thing that isn't quite clicking yet, though, is the art. We'll leave to one side, for the moment, the hideous redesign of Harley Quinn (which I'm led to believe is at least based on the "Arkham City" videogame rendition of the character) or uninteresting change of King Shark, both of which Federico Dallochio and Andrei Bressan inherited before they ever came on board. The art just doesn't quite work, be it a gritty and hyper-realized style, or an overly cartoonish, balloon-breasted take on the characters. Neither one is attractive, and if anything borders on ugly. I was sad to see Marco Rudy not on the book as originally solicited, but hopefully with time a different art team can be found to better render Glass's scripts. Right now, it's the art that's going to chase people away.
"Suicide Squad" is showing real promise, and I feel bad for having doubted it. With a stronger art team, "Suicide Squad" could actually turn into a winner. For now, though, I'll come back for a third issue based on Glass's scripts. The jump in quality from #1 to 2 was already big, and it gives me hope for the long-term potential of the comic. So far, not bad.