FUTURE STATE: Suicide SQUAD #1
Written by: Robbie Thompson / Jeremy Adams
Art by: Javier Fernandez / Fernando Pasarin & Oclair Albert
Colors by: Alex Sinclair / Jeromy Cox
Letters by: Wes Abbott / Wes Abbott
Outside of the Bat-books, the Future State line of titles has offered more of a series of What If comics than a cohesive universe. Future State: Suicide Squad is a double sized issue with two stories, one connected to the dark future of other titles and the second is an otherworldly “what if” that gives unexpected depth to a villain. Both work and leave readers with enough questions and engagement to come back for more.
The opening story, written by Supernatural and Teen Titans writer Robbie Thompson, is loaded with deep character cuts. Small time villains for Wonder Woman and Aquaman are reimaged as warped versions of their heroic adversaries in a twisted incarnation of the Justice Squad. Thompson pits villain against villain and mixes the narrative perspective just enough to question who the heroes are. But in Amanda Waller’s orbit, there are no heroes only degrees of gray, and the Justice Squad is quickly reminded through Waller’s traditional explosive implants. The initial plot feels small as an alternative Earth rescue mission for the Crime Syndicate is teased for the next issue.
Unlike some other Future State titles, the narrative does not feel rushed. While the reader is dropped into the middle of the action, the meaningful engagement with the characters comes after the action slows. Thompson humanizes these heroic villains and provides reasons to care about them.
Thompson and Jeremy Adams both successfully weaves in and out of DC history juxtaposing characters and causing readers to wonder at or look up the original connections. Adams, the writer on the second story, focuses on Black Adam. Adams mixes cosmic level versions of the Seven Deadly Sins along with characters like Dove and Vandal Savage. Combined they create a threat large enough to take out Mogo and Superman Prime.
Adams spends time developing the peaceful character of Black Adam (Teth) who has renounced his violent past. Teth Adam has found love, become a father, and created a peaceful safehaven planet of Kahndaq. The inclusion of Kahndaq and the Seven Deadly Sins ties back to Black Adams’ comic past. While the newfound peace provides depth and richness to Teth’s character even thoug he takes back up the mantel of Black Adam in order to attempt to stop the Seven Sins. The peaceful techno rich world of Teth Adam lives in nicely contrasts with the grounded magical harshness of Black Adam’s past.
Fernando Pasarin and Oclair Albert’s capture that techno rich peace and the rapid threat of each of the Seven Sins. Jeromy Cox’s bright colors work well and serve as a contrast to the cloudy grays in Alex Sinclair’s world of the Justice Squad. Both colorists use tones that reflect the reality of their worlds and provide an emotional heart for stories that are quickly paced.
Thompson and Adams stories could each carry a satisfyingly standalone issue. Packaging them together prevents the story stumbling that has occurred in other Future State titles. That is a victory worthy of returning to for another issue.