* * C
Readership down? Reboot the entire universe. I just finished the first volume of the Suicide Squad published since “The New 52!” happened. This iteration of the comic (the 2011 reboot, AKA vol. 4) features Harley Quinn. It seems to provide the bulk of the source material on which the recent film was based.
The book follows the squad, led by Deadshot, through several adventures. Diablo is a prominent member of the squad, and has a similar crisis of conscience to the one he has in the film, as well as conflict with Deadshot. Other members of the squad seem superfluous or are used as set pieces to advance the plot. The second half of the book explores a romance between Harley and Deadshot.
I’m primarily going to compare the book to the film. Deadshot comes across as even less interesting. Harley’s humour is weaker, and she lacks the charisma of the character in the film. Diablo is solid, but also came out better in the film. Amanda Walker is also much more two dimensional in the book. This is the peril of reusing well worn characters: they loose their freshness. The book does not include Rick Flag, the Enchantres, or the Joker.
While the film was able to make the characters original, the book does not. Though true fans wouldn’t appreciate a full reboot, those of us who don’t intend to read the prior volumes of Suicide Squad need enough back story to make the characters understandable. The movie delivered, but this reboot of the book series does not.
Overall, the book stumbles where most series do. Branches of the story spark and fizzle. The main arc of the first 2/3 of the book doesn’t come to a satisfying conclusion. The final arc concludes even more weakly and summarily. I doubt I will pick up volume 2.