Review by Ian Keogh
Suicide Squad needed a new mission leader. Harley Quinn was chosen. Amanda Waller has to testify before Congress about Task Force X. The Squad themselves are sent to Bulgaria to deal with someone jerking their strings. It doesn’t end well. That’s about the opening chapter as we pull away from Earthlings on Fire and into the title story.
Since the 1980s incarnation of Suicide Squad, Batman has taken the very existence of freed criminals sent on murderous missions as a personal affront, and Rob Williams has touched on this, but now drags it into the main plot arena. That’s coupled with the emergence of Karla, an international operator that the Squad has been tracking, but who’s proved very elusive. His agenda is to take back the planet for the people, and he considers superheroes to be the greatest danger humanity faces. It’s not too far removed from Waller’s view, is it?
Most of what Williams writes is action thrills, but there are few places where improvement could be made. What’s supposed to be a big revelation near the start of the closing chapter won’t have fooled very many folk, he remembers after a long time that El Diablo is a member of the Squad, yet there’s no explanation of his absence, and one long-running secret is finally aired, but in a damp squib way. Balance that against what’s good, though, and Williams is still well in credit.
However, while Williams keeps the plots boiling nicely, the art has gone to pot. This is a series that began with Jim Lee and has been drawn by Tony S. Daniel, Ivan Reis, John Romita Jr, and Stjepan Šejić. Gus Vazquez (sample page) and Agustin Padilla not only don’t compare, they’re a massive drop in quality, adept at pin-ups, but Padilla especially poor at telling a story, and his pages so excessively messy there’s nowhere the eye is drawn. Giuseppe Cafaro is only marginally better, but it could be he’s making an attempt to match styles. He’d be the only one, as no-one in the editorial department considers artistic consistency important, and more than any other Suicide Squad book in this series Kill Your Darlings looks shoddy, and it drags Williams’ work down. We continue with a look back into the past for The Secret History of Task Force X.