Off the Shelf — New Suicide Squad Vol. 1: Pure Insanity

Suicide Squad Pure Insanity cover

Nutshell:  Just like Harley’s poor brain, New Suicide Squad: Pure Insanity is muddled and violent.  But unlike Harley, it’s not necessarily entertaining.  It has its moments, but as DC is already rebooting the lineup, I’m guessing they felt the same way.  Bonus points for the final issue, that introduces a new character I really want to get to know better. Grade: B

Story:  It’s a new day, and a new Suicide Squad Task Force X for Amanda Waller to try to corral.  But she’s got a new partner — Vic Sage — and a couple of assignments that will definitely put teeth into the task force’s nickname.  Onward, to Russia!

Best Lines:
“So while we get what we want, all anybody sees is just a bunch of lunatics doing what they’d probably be doing anyway.”
“A bunch of so called ‘super’ villains…who get beaten up by other people in tights on a regular basis?”
“I’m helping her.  I’m a psychiatrist.”

Goodies: Variant cover art gallery. (My favorite? The NSS #5 cover by Jeremy Roberts.  Breathtaking, and just a hint of Blade Runner.)

Thoughts:  Though touted as a reboot that anyone can jump in and enjoy, New Suicide Squad: Pure Insanity definitely benefits from a healthy knowledge of Task Force X backstory.  Waller “can’t be trusted anymore”? For newbies, that’s a head-scratcher comin’ straight out the gate.  In fact, the story takes of immediately.  A bit too suddenly, to be honest.  Maybe that’s because I’d like to see Harley and JD snap at each other a bit more, or at least check out how Waller got these folks to sign on to another round. BTW, the NSS lineup:
– Harley Quinn
– Joker’s Daughter
– Deadshot
– Deathstroke the Terminator
– Black Manta
– Boomerang
– Reverse-Flash
– Ninja Man-Bats (yeah.  You read that right. And they’re freakin’ awesome.)

Yep.  Putting together Harley and JD, Deadshot and Deathstroke…what could go wrong?  Well, there’s plenty, but Pure Insanity focuses on the insanity and less on character interaction.  Which is a shame, because part of the reason Suicide Squad appealed to me is getting to dig into the motivations behind these characters.  Why do they do what they do? Who are they behind the forces that drive them?  Not gonna get much of an answer here.

Gotta say I’m not loving Joker’s Daughter.  She’s just not doing it for me, other than the crazy cool cosplay possibilities.  She’s never met Joker, and yet she claims to know him.  Meh.  And before you say it; yes, I’m a huge Harley fan.  But even so, JD just feels like a mockup, a place-holder for a cool character they don’t know what to do with, or how to fully portray.  Same goes for Sage. He’s simply a brain aneurysm waiting to happen.  All bluster with nowhere to go.  He’s not an effective foil for Waller.  He’s simply a man who yells when he doesn’t get his way.  Yawn.

BTW, if you dig this NSS lineup, be aware that #9 sees a whole new post-Convergence roster.  (Regular DC readers will have seen the lineup back in February, thanks to Channel 52…which I’m sure will get its own revamp soon now that “New 52” is a thing of the past.)  That should be a hint and a half that the powers-that-be weren’t impressed with the start of this series.  Me?  I have other reasons for being meh; of course they introduce Poison Ivy after Harley jets.  But I’m not bitter.  Nossir.  (Totally bitter.)

But in any case, writer Sean Ryan jump starts the story and it’s almost PWP for most of the story. (Note: DC does have a great primer on the NSS.  But as the lineup is switching up soon, I’d check out that link sooner rather than later.)  Gotta admit the art here is violence-tastic though, as are the gorgeous colors by Blond.

The pages and panels here can be a real pain in the ass to follow if you’re reading this digitally.  Page-by-page is rough with artist Jeremy Roberts switching from two-page spread panel format to single page format.  Half the time I had no idea what they were talking about…til I hit the right arrow button.  And then I had to go back to the last page and re-read it again.  Ripped me right out of the story.  I’m usually a fan of the two-page spread — and I bet these pages are killer in hard-copy —  but with digital editions it can be a hassle.  ProTip: don’t go digital with this book if you want an understandable flow.

The best part of Pure Insanity? The final issue/chapter, when we get a look at what the Rocket Red Brigade’s super-secret project, and get introduced to a member of the Brigade (perhaps a reboot of Gavril Ivanovich?) that has a decidedly different opinion than his compatriots.  Ryan does a wonderful job getting into this character’s head, and I’m dying to know more.

For die-hard Suicide Squad fans, and lovers of the ol’ ultraviolence.  Folks looking for something more along the lines of the movie currently in development may want to take a gander at the previous ‘Squad comics.

Publication 411: Collects New Suicide Squad #1-8.  Hits shelves July 21st, 2015.

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