Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Suicide Squad 0, originally released September 12, 2012. Suicide Squad 0 is part of the line-wide Zero Month.
Drew: Patrick and I like to pitch terrible television shows to each other. Imagining episodes of “Jewish Sopranos” or “Time Cheers” is hilarious (though I maintain that “Time Cheers” would be a great sitcom), but the funniest thing to me about the game is that it’s actually how shows are often pitched to networks. Being able to convey the ideas as quickly and concisely as possible is necessary when you’re competing for attention, but it also addresses the realities of people watching random episodes — the easier the concept is to introduce, the easier you can get new viewers up to speed. Comics operate in largely the same way, relying on snappy synopses of the origin story to orient new readers. Returning to that origin can be tricky, running equal risks of overcomplicating the story with new twists or boringly rehashing the same information. Unfortunately, Suicide Squad 0 falls firmly in the latter category.
The issue begins “in the not so distant past,” as in “before now, but after all of the events of Team 7 in its entirety.” A team of CIA operatives find Amanda Waller playing some pinball in a Malaysian bar (you know, like you do when you’re trying to get away from it all). She’s violently unhappy to see them until she recognizes an old friend, at which point she’s violently happy to see them. Her friend, Duren, explains that some guy named Regulus has a WMD, and is planning on detonating it within the next 24 hours. They manage to capture a currier who conveniently has all of the information about the attack with him — in spite of the fact that the attack is already planned for the next day, and in fact goes off without a hitch even though nobody received that information. Oops! Did I just give away the ending? Right, the bomb goes off, in spite of the team’s best efforts. Durren is horribly maimed in the blast, so Amanda shoots him out of mercy/dramatic convenience. Cut to a week later, Amanda is pitching her own idea for the Suicide Squad “It’s like The Dirty Dozen but with a shark man.”
My main beef with this issue is that it never really gets beyond the title-page-synopsis of the Suicide Squad. I get that there are missions so dangerous, it makes more sense to send criminals than valuable operatives, so seeing an example of one such mission isn’t particularly enlightening. I suppose that would be forgivable if this issue was at all entertaining, but instead it’s just distractingly dumb.
Take, for example, the fact that Duren just happened to find Amanda exactly where this bomb was about to be detonated. And when I say “just happened to find,” I actually mean “intentionally sought out and located.” The coincidences don’t stop there. The man about to set off the WMD? He’s apparently the only thing Duren could have been there for that would have interested her.
This exchange is a MASSIVE cliche, but can we just break it down for a second? Amanda must know that if Duren said “Regulus” she’d be interested. She also must know that, if Duren went to the trouble of finding her, he must have something important to say to her. If there was anything she thought Duren could say that might interest her, why would she act like there wasn’t? Did she forget that Regulus — the person so scary she’d come out of retirement, mind you — existed, or is she just being needlessly dramatic?
The whole thing with the courier also makes absolutely no sense. What purpose does this delivery serve, other than to put this information in the hands of the good guys? “Hey, everything’s in place for tomorrow, but I think we should have the courier scooter around with the plans jus because.” That’s right, the courier is on a razor scooter, following the rule that a character can only be as practical as their mode of transportation.
On the bright side, that business with the courier does lead to my favorite sequence, when Amanda stabs a man in the testicle.
Hardcore, right? The best part is, she very intentionally only stabbed one testicle, noting, “Lucky they come in pairs, Pete.” Why is that so remarkable? Because she did it through his pants. That’s either impeccable guesswork on her part, or Pete is wearing ridiculously clingy pants. Also, “Pete”? Dude’s a Malaysian courier, not a middle-aged fly fisher. Learn some believable Malaysian names, Adam Glass.
I’d like to take this opportunity to comment on Fernando Dagnino’s leering depiction of Amanda Waller throughout this issue. Both of the examples I included have some pretty gratuitous cleavage, and that nut-stabbing shot looks suspiciously like it may have been copied from porn (possibly nut-stabbing porn). I had assumed the lack of Harley Quinn in that outfit would have limited the cheesecake in this issue, but I was way wrong. Instead, Dagnino objectifies Amanda, ‘casue why the fuck not?
What’s most frustrating about the stupidity of this issue is that it ignores answering helpful questions in favor of totally pedantic ones. Surprise, surprise, Amanda doesn’t like it when her friends die. I already know what a Suicide Squad is, but what the fuck is a Shark King? This title needs to get its priorities in order.
Patrick: Ah! Stabbing! That makes much more sense. Waller’s knife if only visible in one panel there (and only if you’re looking for it), so I had assumed that she some how punched a single testicle. I thought “Holy shit, that’s some precision ball-squashing” but I suppose your point about her accuracy still holds. Not matter what, it means she has no problem maiming this guy who is — as you mention — no more than a courier. That’s your hero, ladies and gentlemen.
Hey, speaking of dumb things: Amanda Waller takes down a helicopter with a pair of handguns? That doesn’t seem too likely, does it? I was expecting a little Die Hard 4 motorcycle-throwin’, but the solution was somehow dumber. JUST SHOOT AS MUCH AS YOU CAN!
Sure seems like DC is leaning on this Team 7 concept pretty hard, huh? This week saw the release of 4 books that explicitly reference the group — and they all have the under-lying theme of the “meta problem.” Metas — as you might already know — are human beings with special powers. And I guess “metas” are a problem… but the vast majority of the superheroes in the DC Universe don’t really fit that description. Superman’s an alien. Green Lanterns are powered by rings. Wonder Woman is an Amazon. Batman’s just a normal dude! In fact, the only member of the Justice League that can fall under this generic “meta” label is Flash — and even his powers have explanations that extend beyond a “meta gene.” I’m sorta fixated on this because the whole thing is starting to sound mighty mutant-y.
One of the great inventions of Marvel Comics is the concept of the X-men-style mutant. Anyone can be a mutant and still be basically human, and there’s never any shortage of humans capable of mutating. It’s a fantastic idea, and one that’s immediately understood by anyone that secretly wanted to be different growing up. Mutants learning to accept, understand and master their powers — that’s a perfect metaphor for the struggles of adolescence. So, I guess I can’t blame DC for trying their hand at their own version of this. But the compelling part of that drama isn’t so much the national concern over mutants, but the personal tragedies of each individual mutant. DC seems more interested in introducing us to the meta-hunters, and less interested in the poor kids struggling to understand their own bodies.
Durren’s a prime fucking example of the mismanaged opportunity I’m describing here. Regulus’ bomb is supposed to turn people into metas (there are always bombs like this in fiction — no one knows why). The tech isn’t perfect, so the bomb turns people into zombie-monsters and Amanda has to kill her bestie. Okay, fine. But what if it worked? What if Durren was suddenly a creature with abilities he didn’t understand? AND ALSO, what if he was now a creature Amanda Waller has sworn to hunt down? This is all more interesting than the mercy-killing.
Also, Drew, I’ll have you know that Sarah (my girlfriend, who will be writing next week on Legion of Superheroes), recently got a razor scooter for free through some work-event. It is a pretty dumb form of transportation, but it is objectively more fun than walking. My point is: I refuse to apologize for riding it around the neighborhood.
And because it makes me laugh, here’s a snippet from that conversation Drew referenced at the top of the article:
Drew: It’s like “Smallville,” but without that superpower bullshit.
Patrick: “Walking Dead,” but in space.
Drew: It’s like “Baywatch,” but for dogs.
Drew: It’s like the weather channel, only with fake weather.
Patrick: I’d watch that. Is it like extreme and crazy fake weather or just inaccurate weather?
Drew: I was thinking just inaccurate, but I suppose extreme and crazy fake weather isn’t exactly accurate.
Patrick: It’s like “America’s Funniest Home Videos” but everyone’s naked.
Drew: It’s like “American Gladiators,” only gayer.
Patrick: It’s like “Wheel of Fortune,” but with cats.
Patrick: It’s like “Three’s Company” only there are four of them.
Drew: “ER,” but at a much less busy hospital.
Drew: It’s like “Jeopardy” on a sinking ship.
Patrick: It’s like “Deadwood” but in Atlantis.
Drew: It’s like “Law and Order,” but with clowns.
Patrick: Jewish “Sopranos.”
Drew: Fat “Desperate Housewives.”
Patrick: “Dirty Jobs,” but the host dies at the end.
Drew: “Twin Peaks,” only weirder.
Patrick: I’d watch that one.
Patrick: “Top Chef” but for court stenographers.
Patrick: It’s like “King of Queens” only they’re both fat.
Drew: It’s like “Glee,” but with MORE COMPRESSION.
If any of those get made, Drew and I expect to see some royalty checks.
For a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page. Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore. If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to DC’s website and download issues there. There’s no need to pirate, right?