Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Bullet Review: Suicide Squad Annual 2021

Last month I did a bullet review of Suicide Squad #6. I had been a little confused by the quick change in Superboy in this book given how he had just been portrayed in the Bendis' Superman and Young Justice books. In Suicide Squad #6, we got the answer. The Squad's Superboy wasn't Conner. Excellent turn and certainly one that allayed some fears of mine.

Suicide Squad Annual 2021 came out last week and followed up on that story giving us all the answers behind the Superboys and the Squad. It does explain things nicely, calling back a Superboy villain from the 90s, leaning into the new continuity that everything sort of happened. All this worked for me. 

The art is a mix of Dexter Soy and Eduardo Pansica. There are a lot of splash pages and double splash pages in the book. Given the over the top action, I suppose some of these pages were warranted. But there are so many it made me wonder if they were all there just to pad the page count to bring this single issue script up to Annual length. Soy and Pansica both are solid artists and the action is rough and tumble, befitting the story.

On to the book.

The book starts out with Rick Flagg imprisoned and being tortured by Amanda Waller.

He recalls the beginning of the Squad and how even from the beginning his motives differed from Amanda Waller's. 

I love this shot with the classic Squad! Bronze Tiger and Deadshot! Duchess!! Incredible.

Flagg is able to escape though. He knows Belle Reve like the back of his hand.

I never thought of Flagg as a caring sort. But this comic makes him seem like he is there to mentor and support the Squad members.

Meanwhile, the Squad was heading to a lab to get their Superboy some 'medicine', something to stop the bouts of pain he is having.

But before they can enter, the team is confronted by the 'real' Superboy. It's a staredown.

Now this is splash page worthy. A confrontation worth a big view.

No big surprise that the staredown ends up with a fight as they Superboys decide to exchange blows.

Both claim they are Superboy. But who really is.

I think this is Soy's work here, muddy and grungy, befitting the fight.

Conner ends up getting the upper hand here. A simple trick to intentionally miss a direct blow, instead toppling a building on to the Squad's version.

Nice page layout here with the smaller panels showing the action from afar, widescreen.

But I also like what Conner says here, about needing to sound like Superboy. It shows the expectations of the S-shield. What do you say when you are wearing that crest.

And then the reveal.

Without the 'medicine', the Squad's Superboy devolves into Match. 

In the 90s, Match was a sort of Bizarro Superboy, a clone of Superboy who is himself a clone.

From an art view, I love that the S-shield has been destroyed here.

But that doesn't mean the fight is over.

Match wakes up and hasn't given up the fight.

But now ... get ready for it ... he is doing Bizarro speech. Lots of opposites here.

And really, another double page splash of the two Superboys fighting.

And then the whole Squad and the two Superboys get to the inner most parts of the lab they are raiding.

In a scene spoiled on the cover (WHY!!), we see countless Superboys in tubes.

But when the Squad offers Match the syringe that could return him to normal, he smashes it. 

Match says 'Waller must live!'. Knowing she speaks the opposite, I guess it means she must die.

We don't get much discussion about the lab though. I wonder if we will hear more later.

I do love this scene.

Waller ends up teleporting her team out, including Match.

Match ends up saying that he isn't the broken one, Conner is.

Now, if he is truly only speaking backwards then he means he is imperfect and Conner is whole. But the thing is this sounds real. Conner has certainly had his share of identity crises and bouts with gray. 

So I loved that scene with Conner small and alone, left pondering if he is the broken one, not sure of who he is. 

Good stuff there.

A bit more stuff happens. Flagg is on the run and reveals he has an insider on the current Squad, a nice plot twist.

But the meat here is this reveal of Superboy's origins. I am glad that the Bendis' stuff with Conner from Young Justice remains intact here. And bringing back Match is brilliant. Having him be Superboy for the first arc of this book was a great feint by writer Robbie Thompson. 

Solid annual here, building on the main book but a big enough story to deserve this special.

Overall grade: B+


Anonymous said...

You're right about padding, I think - DC has changed a number of things about annuals this year.

Two of the changes are:

They are now all 40 story pages - previously, they were 38 story pages.

They are now all $5.99 - previously, they were $4.99. So - 2 extra pages for $1.00.

(By way of comparison, the 38-page annuals were giving an extra 16 to 18 pages of story for $1.00 above the regular $3.99 monthly price for 20 or 22 page stories. )

It's a significant price increase that I think has slipped under the radar.

DC is getting as much mileage out of this as it can, thus giving us, in addition to the titles that "deserve" an annual, premature annuals for Teen Titans, Suicide Squad, Green Lantern, and, in November, Son of Kal-El, Robin, and Joker.

The last week of November, DC will publish 8 oversized annuals, one over-sized Batman special, one regular size but over-priced Tom King "card stock covers ONLY" issue, and one 96-page Giant. So every book will be $4.99 except for the one that will be $9.99.


Anj said...

Good breakdown of pages ...