Death is an interesting thing in comics. There used to be stricter rules. DC Comics was pretty good at upholding those rules. The dead stayed dead and were replaced by legacy characters, like the various Flashes and Green Lanterns. Or Rick Flag Jr taking the place of his father. Nobody really expected Superman to stay dead but as a marketing strategy it couldn’t be beat. The passing of a well-developed supporting character who’s unlikely to return can make a reader feel like they’ve lost a flesh and blood person, while the death of a major protagonist can leave one feeling cold.
That tone works with a book like Suicide Squad where death is just business as usual. With issue #20 we find the team leaderless. Rick Flag Jr has gone off to join his father in the Great Beyond (for now) and Amanda Waller has the uneasy task of finding a replacement from among the team’s ranks of kooks and killers. The final result may be predictable, but the journey to get there is fun.
As writer Rob Williams has Waller stroll from cell to cell interviewing Flag’s potential replacements, it feels very much like how the cast was introduced in the Suicide Squad movie and it sets the stage for the new status quo. This balance of familiarity with new information makes this issue a good jumping on point for new readers.
The middle of the story is the strongest, as Killer Croc and The Enchantress explore their burgeoning relationship in a series of events that unfolds like a “rom-com” from hell. The humor is great here and reminds me of the golden days of Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis’ run on Justice League International.
On this issue, Williams is paired with artist Stjepan Sejic, a creator whose work I’m enjoying the more frequently I see it. He has a painterly style which makes his work stand out and his character design is nearly flawless, although he does tend to rely on a stock facial expression when drawing females. The half lidded eyes and thin-lipped toothy grin is becoming overplayed, but it does work effectively with someone like Harley Quinn.
His storytelling technique is strong. His action has a liquid like fluidity when moving from panel to panel. This is highly effective in the scenes detailing the interviews of Katana and Captain Boomerang. In some scenes his background art does seem a little rushed, with shapes being reduced to loose outlines and amorphous blobs and smears.
But overall the flaws are minor. Again I’m reminded of DC’s past with Justice League International, and I see Sejic joining the ranks of legends like Kevin Maguire and Adam Hughes.
Story- 4/5 stars
Art- 4/5 stars
SUICIDE SQUAD #20 from DC Comics
Story by Rob Williams
Art by Stjepan Sejic
Review by J.P. Harvey