With an opening panel that focuses on nothing but Amanda Waller's face, Jim Zub, Andrew Coelho and Scott Hanna make it clear that this book is all about the Wall and, boy, do they deliver. "Suicide Squad: Amanda Waller" #1 shows readers just why Waller was chosen to head the Suicide Squad with an intense look into her steely characterization, great pacing, and solid -- if standard -- artwork.
As advertised on the cover, Amanda Waller faces multiple tough decisions in this special, extra-long issue. However, these challenges crop up in an organic, evenly paced manner; they follow and build off one another in a way that never feels over-the-top or forced. Additionally, and perhaps more importantly, Waller is not always right. She makes mistakes based on the information she's given and, with her narration dominating the story, the reader gets a glimpse past her tough-as-nails exterior to see just how this affects her. In this, Zub works a degree of complexity into the story, marking the conscientious decisions behind her thoughts and her actions. Zub's Waller is analytical, cool-headed and quick on her feet, but not totally without conscience. This is a fantastic take on Waller and perfectly showcases her ability to handle morally gray situations and her own regrets. He lays her inner, personal thoughts out bare for the reader, slipping in interesting facets on her character, but not focusing so much on her background as to bog her down from moving quickly forward. Furthermore, she gets a sturdy supporting cast that gets fleshed out only as far as required; they get just enough description for a reader to care, but the focus remains stolidly on Waller -- which is just as it should be.
Although Coelho and Hanna provide some decent artwork overall, their style never truly wows. It fits neatly into DC's house style with its bold inks, standard figure work, and dark color pallet. That isn't to say, of course, that their work is bad; in fact, I would only call it average at worst. With the book's truly impressive story, however, it fails to reach the reader in just as impactful as way. What's more, because of this, the hiccoughs are all the more evident; for instance, the continuity breaks a few times, as when Grazda and Woodrow are hit with a few icicles that disappear within the space of a page. Nevertheless, Coelho and Hanna do a great job with what they're given, contributing finely detailed backgrounds and engaging action sequences to the book. Likewise, Andrew Dalhouse adheres to DC's darker edge with book, only to refreshingly throw in a few colors that really stand off the page against the deep blue backdrops, like the magenta in Amanda's shirt. This, in turn, draws the reader's attention -- appropriately -- to the protagonist in a clear, purposeful way.
"Suicide Squad: Amanda Waller" #1 is a carefully wrought character study on the New 52's Amanda Waller. Although the art is lacking, the issue has a strong command of Waller's personality as shown through deliberate narrative choices and tight plotting. After reading this book, I could certainly stand to see a lot more of the Wall.