Saturday, April 22, 2017

Suicide Squad, Vol. 1: The Black Vault

 There's a phrase that I have been accused of overusing, but one that I enjoy nevertheless: Profoundly stupid. SUICIDE SQUAD, VOL. 1: THE BLACK VAULT is exactly what I'm talking about when I use that phrase....a book, TV show, or movie that goes beyond stupidity, but runs with that stupidity until it is writ large, until the stupidity becomes a thing unto itself, the entity's prime reason for being. The book/TV show/movie almost becomes a stupidity-delivery engine, perpetuating itself with its own dopiness and preposterousness.

 That's not to say that something that is profoundly stupid can't be entertaining. The SUICIDE SQUAD movie was a prime example....it had a stupid story, terrible editing, it was murky and hard to look at, it was horribly written, had clunky dialogue...yet, I had a ball watching it. The cast sold me, and you could tell that people had a good time making this movie. It wasn't GOOD, I wouldn't necessarily recommend it, but....I had fun.

 SUICIDE SQUAD, VOL. 1: THE BLACK VAULT was not as much fun, but it was every bit as profoundly stupid. I reviewed a few of the issues that are collected here last year, but the few measly pages of the main story that each issue contained made me give up on the individual issues, and wait for the collected edition.

 The collected edition has the exact same problem.

 This volume collects SUICIDE SQUAD: REBIRTH and SUICIDE SQUAD #'s 1-4. Jim Lee, who was my sole attraction to this book, only pencils issues 1-4, and only about 14 pages of those issues, with the remainder being a back-up solo story. So, in essence, what interested me about this volume could have been published as a 48-page one-shot, instead of a 161-page collection.

 The entire collection is written by Rob Williams, who is a terrible writer. Williams is British, and keeps having briticisms worm their way into the dialogue, which takes me right out of the story. (Someone like Harley Quinn, an American, would say "tastes like", rather than "tastes of"....there are a lot of instances like that, where an Editor should have stepped in and suggested changes.) Williams' idea of characterization is to give a few of the Squad members gross quirks, such as Killer Croc smelling like vomit, or afflicting Captain Boomerang with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, so he poops his pants constantly during missions. Hilarious....

 The main story finds the team sent to invade a Russian military installation to retrieve a "cosmic item" that he being held there. Williams has the group sent there with no extraction plan, but, luckily, they find another prisoner being held there who can teleport them home as soon as they get what they came for. SUICIDE SQUAD has never been better written than when John Ostrander and Kim Yale were at the helm (Hell, I'll go you one better and say that it has NEVER been written well other than the Ostrander/Yale team...), and the lack of actual, intelligent, espionage-driven stories REALLY hurts this title. Williams tells a stupid tale, filled with pants-shitting and vomiting and grievous bodily injury, and it's slightly buoyed by Jim Lee's detailed art, but that's just 48 pages. And it ends on an abrupt stop, which makes me feel like DC could have included a few more issues to A)- Round out the storyline, and B)- Give you a little more value for your money. The SUICIDE SQUAD: REBIRTH issue is a done-in-one that is equally stupid (Mongolian terrorists kidnap an American scientist who has created a "Meta-bomb", which can give/take away super-powers when it is detonated. They kidnap the scientist, force him to build the bomb, which they detonate, but never have the guy, I dunno...WRITE DOWN HIS PLAN FOR THE BOMB, so they can build more in case he gets killed....? Stupid.)

 The four back-up stories center on Katana, Harley Quinn, Deadshot, and Captain Boomerang, and they range in quality from decent to dopey, but here's my main problem with this collection: Take away the copious amounts of covers, variant covers, credit pages in the beginning of the book, and tons of original art pages, and you only get about 80-something pages of actual story content for your
$16.99. There was a certain amount of dopey fun to be had from this book, but, much like the floppies that are collected here, there's not enough there to justify the price.

 SUICIDE SQUAD, VOL. 1: THE BLACK VAULT earns five out of ten Killer Crocs:
🐊🐊🐊🐊🐊

 DC Comics provided a review copy.