Suicide Squad #43: Review - Requiem for Spite
Suicide Squad #43
Writer: Rob Williams
Artists: Philipe Briones & Hugo Petrus
Letterer: Pat Brosseau
When I opened this issue I was a bit concerned. I know that DC is working up to the Batman / Catwoman wedding, and I was not sure that I was up for a heart-to-heart between Deadshot and Bruce. I was not certain that I really perceived Lawton and Wayne as having the same relationship as Bruce has with Slade Wilson. But this isn’t really a workup to the wedding. Maybe I could call it a Father’s Day issue? Lawton’s daughter, Zoe, has been captured, and is under threat to be brainwashed by Kobra. Bruce has broken Deadshot out from under Waller’s influence, and I am guessing out of the range of her brain-bomb kill-switch, to go on a roadtrip to save the lass. Much chaos ensues as Batman and Deadshot first fight Kobra, then each other, and finally the other members of the Suicide Squad.
It’s always problematic when you have multiple artists on one book. It’s really a matter of how well the team can control the inevitable damage, and my feelings on this pairing between Briones and Petrus fall firmly right on the fence. I like what each of them does individually. Briones’ work is incredibly detailed with lots of hatching in the costume lines and in the air between combatants in the action scenes. Both artists do a decent job of fight choreography without having too much of that jank you get when you see a panel and wonder how the hell two people fighting got from the preceding panel's positions to the next. There is one scene where Briones has Batman flipping over an over-sized Kobra humanoid and based on the scale and the fact that the fight takes place in the desert I am unclear how Bruce caught that much air. But it’s fine. Petrus does some absolutely wonderful work in the facial emotes that looks close to an Alex Ross, or really Frank Quitely. It’s highly differentiated from character-to-character and panel-to-panel and just solid A-plus work. But the problem in this issue is that one of Batman’s signature accessories is, obviously, his cape, and the two artists draw it entirely differently. Briones has the cape stitched into the shoulders and traps down to where the delts meet the top of the tricep. Petrus has the cape free flowing and anchored at the base of the neck. It’s jarring and really disappointing when, as individuals, the art looks so good. Good panel work and design overall; I especially like Petrus’ full-page layout with Harley, Captain, Cold, and Captain Boomerang showing up on a MASH-style helo. One other not is that I am pretty sure the credits have the page numbers attributed to the artists incorrectly. Briones should be credited with pages 1 through 13, and Petrus is on 14 through 27 (vice 1 through 10 and 11 - 22 respectively, as the issue credits indicate)
I think Rob Williams has been on this book for a very long time. I do not think he has helmed a full run without gaps, but I believe that he was on the run that ran up to Flashpoint, the New 52 run, and the Rebirth run. So I accept that he has a pretty firm grasp on these characters. Admittedly, under his tenure the Suicide Squad has grown out and away from the notion that anyone on the team is actually expendable. In fact, I would say that it reads a lot more like the Thunderbolts over at Marvel than earlier incarnations of the Suicide Squad. This issue is a nice story about the antagonist relationship between two fathers. I am not sure that I felt Bruce’s voice admonishing Lawton about living up to the ideal of a better father as authentic. While Bruce can lean on the memory of Thomas as representative of good fatherhood, he was only with him until Bruce was seven or eight. And as a father himself, Bruce as definitively struggled to find the right formula with Damian. Still, there is a wonderful tone in Lawton’s kinds-sorta insecurity about it having to be the case that Bruce hates his guts, and there’s good payoff when you can see that there is a chance that Batman has gone out of his way to help Lawton because he believes that he is worth it and can be a better man, father, and leader. Maybe Bruce is acting out of guilt over the Clayface thing. Regardless, it’s a good romp, basically an adventure comic with Bruce and Lawton on a road-trip, and Bruce trying to appeal to Deadshot as a father.
SCORE: 7.5 / 10
This issue is solid, and while I find the disparity between the Batman character designs an unfortunate departure that should have been caught, I cannot say that the art by either Briones or Petrus was in any way bad. There’s a neat Planes, Trains, and Automobiles vibe to the story that runs under the current of a solid action-issue. You get some classic fights, classic Harley, and a buildup to what should be a damned fine couple of conclusion issues. I will say that I feel like there is a bit too much similarity between this tonally and a lot of the scenarios and themes that we have seen Batman placed in with Daethstroke over the last couple years of the latter’s rehabilitation. In fact, the whole time that Deadshot’s daughter was being discussed and she was off-screen, it was the image of Slade Wilson’s daughter that I had in my head. We’ll see where this goes and how the end shakes up. Suicide Squad #43 was not strong enough for me to onboard with it as one of my recurring pulls. But it remains an ongoing that I love popping into from time-to-time to check it out. Good stuff.