Wednesday, May 21, 2014

I Reads You Review: SUICIDE SQUAD: Amanda Waller #1


PENCILS: André Coelho
INKS: Scott Hanna
COLORS: Andrew Dalhouse
LETTERS: Carlos M. Mangual
COVER: Giuseppe Camuncoli with Blond
48pp, Color, $4.99 U.S.

Rating “T+” Teen Plus

Amanda Waller created by John Ostrander and John Byrne

“Sacrifice in the Storm”

Dr. Amanda Blake Waller, or simply, “Amanda Waller,” is a DC Comics character.  Waller first appeared in Legends #1 (1986) and was created by John Ostrander and John Byrne.  [Ostrander plotted the series, while Len Wein wrote the script.]  Waller does not possess super-powers, but she has been and is a powerful ally/antagonist of the DC Comics superheroes, as well as being an antihero.

In The New 52, the restart of the DC Comics Universe, Waller is the commander of the Suicide Squad (or “Task Force X”), a team of super-villains.  Members of the squad take on risky missions in exchange for time served.  The team’s base of operations is Belle Reve Penitentiary, a special prison for meta-humans and super-villains located in Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana.  Waller chooses the Suicide Squad’s membership and basically has the power of life and death over those members.  The New 52 Amanda Waller is a slim, attractive young woman, whereas the original version of her was a portly, older African-American woman.

Suicide Squad: Amanda Waller #1 is a one-shot comic book set after the events depicted in Suicide Squad #24 (The New 52 series, of course).  Entitled “Sacrifice in the Storm,” the story finds Amanda Waller confronting a super-powered attacker and focuses on the decisions she has to make in order to save some lives.

The story opens with Waller traveling aboard a U.S. Air Force plane with a military escort.  She is negotiating the cooperation of Dr. Algot Issen, who has developed genetic testing equipment that not only classifies super-powered beings, but also offers the opportunity to control them.  However, an entity from Dr. Issen’s past, called Kriger-3, has come back for some payback.  Now, Waller has to make the tough decisions that will decide who dies and who survives … if anyone survives.

When a young actor is hot… well, let’s be honest… When a young white male actor starts getting hot, the major Hollywood studios/corporations (Warner Bros., FOX, Universal, etc.) will find a “star vehicle” for this hot stuff.  A “star vehicle” is some kind of action movie or comedy with an uncomplicated plot, but has an interesting idea (once called a “high concept”).  Basically, it’s a chance for YWM (young white male) to showcase whatever it is about him that might make him a movie star.

The movie will feature a young (usually) white actress as a sidekick slash arm candy slash girl who probably gives him some booty (off-screen or on-screen, depending on the rating).  This film will have a mixture of respected older actors, venerable character actors, and actors (regardless of age) who specialize in playing such supporting characters as best friends, sassy friend-girls, kooky coworkers, etc.

Disturbia was a star vehicle for Shia LaBeouf.  Most of the films in Channing Tatum’s filmography of the last six or seven years are star vehicles.  Enemy of the State was a star vehicle for Will Smith (one of the Negro exceptions in Hollywood).

Suicide Squad: Amanda Waller #1 could be seen as a star vehicle for a fictional character.  To be honest, I only picked up this comic book because I am a fan of writer Jim Zub’s work on IDW Publishing’s Samurai Jack comic book.  [And Black Jesus knows DC Comics acts as if it would kill them to hire a Black writer to write about a Black character.]

Anyway, I think Amanda Waller makes an excellent choice to star in her own series or occasional miniseries, one-shot, or original graphic novel, especially if Jim Zub were the writer.  Zub’s story focuses on Waller, but is also told in the context of Suicide Squad’s central idea – imprisoning super-villains and sending them on deadly missions no one else would take and Waller’s part in that.

Zub sends Waller on a mission that is dangerous in every sense of the word.  To live, she has to make some brutal choices, and no, I won’t spoil the story by listing them.  I can say that to stay alive, Waller has to go to the heart of darkness and his cousin, ugly.  I am not saying that this is great work.  In some ways, it is merely professionally executed – nothing particularly special.  However, this story does mix internal character conflict and explosive superhero action quite well.

The art by André Coelho (pencils), Scott Hanna (inks) and Andrew Dalhouse (colors) is good.  The colors heighten the drama and beauty of the compositions with its clean line and “exacto” inking.  The storytelling, however, rests on Jim Zub’s efforts, so I hope we get more Suicide Squad: Amanda Waller, with the right storyteller.


Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux

The text is copyright © 2014 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog for syndication rights and fees.

No comments:

Post a Comment