Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Suicide Squad: Volume 1: Kicked in the Teeth

Suicide Squad: Volume 1: Kicked in the Teeth by Adam Glass, Federico Dallocchio, and Clayton Henry, 160 pages.

I've recently been getting into DC Comic's "The New 52" revamp series.  I'm a huge Batman fan, so I've been sticking within the Batman universe.  I was a bit weary of DC's recent "New 52" makeover, but after several graphic novels, you can colour me impressed.  DC's initial direction with the 52 revamp was to bring their main series to a younger audience.  With all the heroes getting a complete back-story makeover at the expense of making most DC canon now defunct.  This goal, I suspect, was to give new readers a fresh starting point, letting them explore Batman et al. without having to worry about their convoluted pasts.

After reading several of the collected series, I find the "New 52" to actually be more mature.  There is an increase in violence, gore, and the sex appeal has, in most cases, been upped.  My favourite series so far, is the Suicide Squad.  The Suicide Squad has been around for a while, but sticking with the fresh start theme of "The New 52", I'm not going to go into that.  Volume one, a collection of issues 1-7, gives the back story for this new iteration of the Suicide Squad.  What we have is a collection of villains: Deadshot, Harley Quinn, King Shark, and others, who have been placed on Death Row.  In steps the government, offering them a way to possibly see freedom again, by undertaking covert operations.  These missions tend to be nasty, illegal, and nearly always involve killing several people.  The members of the Suicide Squad have small nano-bombs placed in their necks, which can be remotely detonated, to keep them in-line.  What we have is a bunch of nasty bad guys, undertaking missions that traditionally good superheroes couldn't be seen doing - killing a pregnant woman to stop a cyborg-zombie outbreak, for example.

I love the format of the Suicide Squad, as the high death toll of its members, allows for the introduction of new B-list villains each issue.  Characters, whom otherwise, wouldn't get much page time.  There has been some controversy over Harley Quinn's sexed-up new design, but I like it.  If that makes me a misogynist, then so be it.  Comic books have, and still are, overwhelmingly read by males, and with that comes the usual pitfalls.  Let's remember, there's not too many men that can live up to the male body image portrayed in comics.  But, I suspect if sexy ladies in skimpy undies, kicking arse offends you, then you most likely aren't going to be reading many superhero comics anytime soon.

So far I'm a big fan of DC's "New 52" re-boot, and Suicide Squad is the cream of the crop for me.


  1. I dunno. By and large the "New 52" reboot seems really misguided. The idea was - as you said - to cut out a lot of the chaff of messy, overcomplicated canon that they'd built up to be more welcoming to new readers. But they sort of failed at all of their bullet points.

    Sure, they restarted with each character's origin, but for many of them, they promptly started adding NEW convoluted messes of backstory... so that if you come in new, even at issue 3, you're already dealing with the same kind of pre-reboot problems - this is apparently most notable with characters like Green Lantern, but also many of their other big names.

    The end goal is to get fresh blood into reading comics (DC ones specifically), right? And as you said, the bulk of current readers are male. So your biggest potential gain in readership is from females. So then why take the already kinda awkward female costume designs and make them MORE extreme? And then have storylines where the mission is to kill pregnant women? And then (this is a real thing) commission artists to draw your female character nude in the tub committing suicide? It's like they heard all of their biggest criticisms... and turned into bratty toddlers and said "Yeah?! Well how do you like it when I make it even worse?!"

    Listen, I like seeing attractive women kicking butt as much as the next guy. But arguing that it's not awkward to have all your females in underwear just because "it's always been like that" seems like pretty flawed logic. I think for the most part, it's okay to have stories targeted at guys or stories targeted at girls. And I think it's okay to enjoy or like or love quote "problematic" stuff, so long as you're willing to acknowledge complaints or problems with it (take it from someone whose latest SLPL Book Challenge review was of a debatably-sexist manga). But just saying "Oh girls... you don't like being unanimously portrayed in underwear? Go read something other than superheroes!" seems kinda... not great.

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