Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artist: Jason Fabok
Colors: Alex Sinclair
Letters: Rob Leigh
The internal strife of DC’s two flagship Rebirth team books finally comes to a head in Justice League vs. Suicide Squad #1. DC teased this event a few months ago but to be honest it really didn’t stoke a fire in me like other announcements have. I’m a long time Justice League fan, going back to the Gerry Conway era when I was a very young comic reader but came to love the league during the Giffen & DeMatteis JLI era. But the recent era of the Justice League has ben less then stellar. I appreciated Geoff Johns run for what he was attempting to accomplish and it was consistently pretty with Jim Lee, Ivan Reis, and Jason Fabok as the primary artists on the title. But recently the book has been a tad mundane for my liking. It’s not that I don’t like what Bryan Hitch has been doing. I appreciate that he is trying to bring back the larger then life world shattering events the Justice League is built to defend the Earth from, similar to his work on the Authority and what Morrison established when he rebooted the league with JLA. But the execution has been a bit lacking. I was enjoying his New 52 Justice League of America run but like many things Hitch it was delayed and delayed until it just whimpered to an end. His Rebirth Justice League started strong but has been inconsistent at best. I still have hope and am looking forward to Steve Orlando and Ivan Reis’ Justice League of America that will spin out of this mini-series.
When it comes to the Suicide Squad I’m a novice. I haven’t read a Suicide Squad book since the 1980’s run by John Ostrander. I’m obviously aware of the current take on the team as I don’t have my head buried in the sand yet I have not consistently read the book in some time. I did read the Suicide Squad Rebirth #1 since I’ve been a Rob Williams fan since Cla$$ War and I’m always a sucker for Jim Lee art but it wasn’t enough for me to stick around. I also saw the movie and although I did not hate it I didn’t love it either and had many questions but as a whole it wasn’t a complete waste of time. So with that knowledge I jumped into Justice League vs. Suicide Squad #1 and found that as long as you’ve seen the movie you’ll be fine with this interpretation of the Suicide Squad.
Justice League vs. Suicide Squad did not blow me away. I wanted to like it as I found the opening intriguing. The book begins in an ultra secret prison built for the worst of the worst and a hidden villain with mind control abilities breaking out these prisoners. Longtime Justice League fans will know who the hidden villain is but newer readers it will be a complete mystery, even with the reveal at the end. As a sidebar this is an issue DC has with Rebirth, continuity is so jumbled now it is hard to remember who is who as well as who is still alive and who was reborn and kept alive in New 52 continuity. Maybe it’s time for a new Who’s Who in the DC Universe? Either way after our mystery villain’s prison break we finally get to our principle players. The Suicide Squad is shockingly on a suicide mission to stop a doomsday cult on a small island in the middle of nowhere. Other then the addition of Killer Frost (I’m sure as a tie in to CW’s the Flash) this is the movie team. The Squad are ultraviolent and if they didn’t have bombs in their heads they’d be out of control which is where the Justice League comes in.
As the issue continues to establish its characters the Justice League is meeting aboard the Watchtower to discuss the discovery of the Suicide Squad by Batman. If you haven’t been reading the current Batman run then you may not know Batman had a recent run in with Director Waller and has issues with how she is using some of the individual League members rogues galleries in her Task Force X (aka the Suicide Squad). With perfect comic timing the Justice League learns of the Suicide Squad’s current mission and decide it is time to end the deep black covert team and of course in traditional comic book fashion it comes to blows, which will of course be the basis for our next issue. Luckily, if you’re interested, you won’t have to wait long as this is a weekly mini-series and issue #2 will hit the stands next Wednesday.
On a whole Justice League vs. Suicide Squad feels like a color by numbers, straightforward cookie cutter mini-series. The formula is apparent as a mystery element is introduced, our two teams come into conflict and I feel safe in predicting they will eventually have to join forces to combat a mutual threat. It’s a bit disappointing, as I would like to see DC let Joshua Williamson off the leash. I’m really enjoying his current take on the Flash and with his indie background he may have a more unique take on this obviously editorial controlled mini-series. Jason Fabok’s art is excellent and it is nice to see his return to the Justice League after his departure at the end of the New 52. Alex Sinclair’s colors are rich and lend them perfectly to the different locales and situations present in this issue as well as to drive home the violence apparent in this book. Unfortunately even the beauty of the art can’t save this book.
Verdict: Pass. There is very little substance here and the motivation behind this mini-series is apparently to cash in on the popularity of these two teams as well as tie into their struggling DC Cinematic Universe. Joshua Williamson writes a straightforward superhero team up book and Jason Fabok’s art is beautiful but neither is enough to save this book, especially if DC wants me to drop $4 on it for six straight weeks. There are better superhero team ups in print, save your money and search those out.