A New Hope Darkly – a “New Suicide Squad” #19 (Review)
New Suicide Squad #19
Writer: Tim Seeley
Art and Color: Juan Ferreyra
Since I made the decision to go back to single-issues about 6-weeks ago, I’ve been holding open tryouts for any books that wanted to make it onto my refreshed pull-list. New Suicide Squad made the team with a walk-on tryout last month with Issue #18 in a spectacle that was bloody, comical and a bit poignant. Difficult as it is for me to believe, this month’s issue, sub-titled “The House of Meat”, is even better. And Juan Ferreryra’s art is the star of it all.
Last episode, we left our intrepid villains at the point of realization that their apparent path to freedom was yet another dupe. Delivered by none other than a disciple of the religion of Cain, a cult that believes in appeasing their deity/prophet by delivering them murder and mayhem. A robust point system puts the villains on a quantifiable scale that leads to some members of the squad being targeted more than the others. Jealousy ensues. But out of the violence, true esprit exudes, and we obtain the realization that the bombs in the backs of their necks is not the only thing that keeps the Squad together. It’s like an episode of The Walking Dead, except that the Walkers are very much alive and thinking in this one.
Holy Cow, freakin’ Juan Ferreryra!!! I’m not sure if he just draws better interiors, which is where most of the action in Issue #19 takes place, than outdoor shots, which was most of last issue. Because after reading Issue #18, I did not think the art in this series was anywhere near what is on the pages of The House of Meat. From the cover until the final outro, every line in this book is a fine steak; a cut of top sirloin that is as sumptuous on the first page as it is on the last. What stands out the most is how each of the Cain brutes, each with different scar tissue and tattoos, is drawn in exquisite detail. There is a lot of brutality in this issue. A lot of out-and-out killing and a lot of just dealing out pain. With every blow, Ferreyra made me wince, and if I felt a connection with the character, I also felt emotionally distressed as the artist made the waves of pain lift right off the page and waft directly into my brain. The first character to fall is the most heart-wrenching and cruel, and it stuck with me throughout the entire issue. There is also one page about two-thirds into the book, a gunfight featuring Deadshot and Deathtrap versus the Caininites, that is just one of the best action layouts I’ve ever seen. Ferreyra then continues with horizontal layouts for three pages in total and it’s just wonderful.
Another thing that I like is that Ferreyra can also go Southpaw. I don’t know if he actually switches and draws left-handed, but it’s a metaphor meaning that he has two distinct drawing and coloring styles. It appears that he uses these interchangeably to depict certain pairs of characters in one palette or the other. At a minimum, his shift in style to one or the other seems to follow the drumbeat of the scene. So big gunfights get a grittier, dirtier feel. While more character-piece pages get the softer, more sepia-toned color palette. Just marvelous. And the panel layouts are great, too.
I think that Tim Seeley has gotten downright comfortable penning the Suicide Squad. And that is perfectly fine, because he is doing one hell of a job. He has a ton of characters to deal with here. The Squad is split up and all over this ancient castle. There’s stuff going on with Waller back at the HQ. There’s veteran Squad members mixed in with this International team of Suicide Squad-mirror members that have made very brief appearances in three issues max. And yet the story never seems janky or scatter-brained. The plot is pretty tight and it sort of allows the story to write itself. But there are little touches of character vignettes that expose the deepest inner-workings of their psyche. The whole thing knits together amazingly well, and comes off as well as the best Justice League story in terms of managing actors onto the screen and back off.
I have to admit that I was not entirely certain that I was doing the right thing by allowing this to take up one of the precious 12 slots in my monthly recurring pull-list. This is not squarely in my typical interest target area. Needless to say, my decision has absolutely been justified if this is the work I have to look forward to (at least for the next two months until Rebirth and a new creative team take over). This is another series I’ll have to enter into the same category as the recent 15-issue run on Batgirl…what turns out to be a great comic in the New 52 series that I never got around to. Luckily, at least I am discovering some of these now. When all is said and done, I think we may all look back on the New 52 and decide that this age may not have been as bad as some of us have tried to say it is. If you don’t believe that might be the case, all you need do is pick up New Suicide Squad #19, and let Seeley and Ferreyra convince you otherwise.