Review: Suicide Squad Most Wanted: Deadshot trade paperback (DC Comics)

The purpose of the Suicide Squad Most Wanted miniseries is obviously to have books out there bearing the recognizable names of the movie characters. That’s not a bad goal, rather smart actually, but the question in these situations is whether the actual content of these ad hoc miniseries will be any good (the quality of others for these purposes have varied). My own results with writer Brian Buccellato, absent frequent partner Francis Manapul, are often mixed, and so I was wary of what Suicide Squad Most Wanted: Deadshot would entail.

As it turns out, Buccellato’s Deadshot is very good. The story is of the formulaic sort one writes for these sorts of stories, but Buccellato has Deadshot Floyd Lawton’s hard luck voice down, and it makes for enjoyable reading even if we often know where the story is going. The work Buccellato does on Deadshot’s origin is ultimately clever even if there’s a little silliness to get there; best of all is that Buccellato includes the Suicide Squad of the day such that the story feels tied in rather than just a one-off tale. Artist Viktor Bogdanovic does a fine Greg Capullo impression and I found the book pleasant to look at throughout.

[Review contains spoilers]

I am not a fan of a one-off miniseries outside a character’s usual book where a writer comes in and declares everything we know is a lie and this is that character’s true origin. However, in the Deadshot miniseries’s case, Buccellato actually takes Floyd Lawton’s New 52 origin and foists it on someone else, returning Lawton to something closer to his historic beginnings. That’s satisfactory, though in some respects I found the New 52 “family killed by chance by drug dealers” more compelling than the classic “accidentally shot my brother” origin, and it sets perhaps bad precedent that the explanation is that the character himself found the “true” origin so feeble that he stole another one. Additionally, the story in some respects turns on “new” Deadshot Will Evans wanting revenge on Lawton simply for stealing his origin, which nobody really knew or would have attributed to him so it seems small as motivations go.

[See the latest DC trade solicitations.]

Again, the sequence of “the Squad tries to replace Deadshot, Deadshot’s replacement goes rogue, the Squad needs Deadshot to stop his replacement” is rather boilerplate. At the same time, Buccellato populates it with nice touches – a “Deadshot Red” versus a “Deadshot Blue,” for instance, which is a fun comic book throwback. As is often the case, Lawton lives and dies by his mustache, and Buccellato takes it out and brings it back as Lawton loses and finds himself. The spy games in the book are pretty great too, especially how Amanda Waller manipulates events to pit the Deadshots against one another (even, I’m pretty sure, catalyzing the whole thing by slipping Lawton the beginning’s mysterious envelope), and how Lawton slips out of Belle Reve right under Waller and the reader’s noses.

I also appreciated that the miniseries did not come off totally removed from the DC Universe proper, as well it could have. There is Lawton’s interplay with Amanda Waller, which can be read as a continuation of New Suicide Squad Vol. 3: Freedom, in which Lawton and Waller seemed to share a certain amount of friendship that she now repudiates; this all takes place in the aftermath of a certain death in Freedom. Buccellato sets this around the pages of Tim Seeley’s New Suicide Squad Vol. 4: Kill Anything, such that one can conceivably believe that this book “happened.” And around the edges there is some meta-consideration of what Lawton means to the Suicide Squad, given that – Sean Ryan’s good spotlight on Black Manta notwithstanding – Deadshot can at time be seen as the “leader” of the Squad. Despite that El Diablo’s been off the scene for a while, I thought it was particularly effective when Diablo refused a mission to go after Lawton.

Deadshot seems a character who best functions on a team; an entire series starring anti-hero Deadshot is no better or worse an idea that one starring Deathstroke, though we’ve long since become accustomed to seeing Deathstroke on his own and Deadshot with the Squad. To that end, having Deadshot with the Squad (or with the Secret Six) seems right; indeed Brian Buccellato’s Suicide Squad Most Wanted: Deadshot might suggest there’s not much to do with Floyd Lawton on his own outside retelling his origin. But the miniseries is a fun outing, and I hope it’s an indication of the quality of the others.

[Includes some original covers (alternating with the Katana book)]


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