Review – Suicide Squad #33: The Innocent Bystander

Reading Time: 3 minutes
Suicide Squad #33 cover
You know, he’s right. Image copyright DC Comics

Suicide Squad #33 – Si Spurrier, Writer; Fernando Pasarin, Penciller; Oclair Albert, Inker; Blond, Colorist

Ratings:

Ray – 7.5/10

Corrina: Interesting New Angle

WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW

Ray: Suicide Squad #33 is easily the best issue of this series, as Si Spurrier steps on board for a two-part arc that turns out to be a dark, twisted issue that cuts to the core of just how horrific the Suicide Squad concept actually is.

This issue is clearly influenced by Ostrander, who – unlike the current movie-focused team – frequently brought in new members who rarely lasted past their first few missions. This issue focuses on one such unfortunate, a young man named Juan Soria. A low-level metahuman – the nanites in his hand allow him to unlock any lock – he grew up as an immigrant idolizing the Justice League. After he got his powers, he applied for membership (in a segment that feels like a bit of unreliable narrator) and was rejected. Struggling to make ends meet, he turned to petty crime, and after being arrested he was sent to Belle Reve – where he was eventually gang-pressed into the Suicide Squad.

If I have one complaint about this mission, it’s that everyone here is dialed up to eleven. Amanda Waller is eviler than ever, dispatching dozens of grunts with the elite Squad to serve as cannon fodder for the monstrous alien parasites they’ve been sent to clean out. Harley is more manic than ever, and Croc, in particular, is just a dim monster who eats anything in sight – including, he hints, his teammates. But again, this entire issue is from the perspective of Juan Soria, who spends the whole time terrified out of his mind. That gives this issue the question of whether he’s quite interpreting everything correctly – but if he is, the Squad has descended into untold levels of evil. There are some fun meta elements to this issue, commenting on the different rules that the main Squad plays by. It’s not perfect, relying a bit too much on shock visuals, but it creates a very intriguing character as our “Red Shirt” and is a classic Suicide Squad comic done well.

Suicide Squad #33 page 1
Juan’s no good, horrible, really bad day. Image copyright DC Comics

Corrina: This tale is a breath of fresh air, bringing some much needed outside perspective to the Suicide Squad and, for the first time since I can remember in this series, I actually feel for someone drafted into the Squad. Juan isn’t exactly heroic or smart but he’s in over his head, he knows it, and he does regret the choices in his life that led him down this point. (Sorta. As Ray points out, he’s an unreliable narrator.) But he’s utterly terrified not only at the mess he’s been thrown into but also at the callousness in which is life is deemed worthless.

But the downside, and what keeps the issue from a higher grade, is what Ray called the “dialed to 11” concept. Ostrander used to kill off characters, true, but his Waller was more complex and there were hints she used the missions to try to redeem the villains or, at least, make them see their own past in a new light. For someone like Juan, she might be encouraging, rather than dismissive. Oh, she might still send him out on the mission, if it would save innocents, but Waller once had some regard for life. Here, she just sends people to their death and shrugs them off.

Will Juan escape his seemingly inevitable fate? Perhaps. If it answers all my complaints in part two, my respect for this arc will increase exponentially.

Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.

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