Writer: Brian Azzarello
Art: Alex Maleev and Matt Hollingsworth
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: August 3rd, 2021
Brian Azzarello and Alex Maleev combine their BATMAN expertise for the first time in this inaugural issue of SUICIDE SQUAD: GET JOKER! #1. The plan? Well, it’s pretty straightforward. Get Joker! In this opening DC BLACK LABEL installment, RED HOOD is tasked with leading the SUICIDE SQUAD on a mission to stop, track down, and kill BATMAN’S greatest foe, as well as the very sinister psychopath that killed this Boy Wonder so many Moons ago. However, can the RED HOOD put an end to the Clown Prince’s reign of terror? Frankly, has anyone? Let’s jump into SUICIDE SQUAD: GET JOKER! #1 and find out!
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What truly makes this issue shine is the fact that it’s DC BLACK LABEL. Not only does that provide fans with more graphic overtones, as well as heavier “adult” dialogue, but it also provides the wiggle room of being outside continuity. Therefore, Azzarello and Maleev have full access to tell the story they want without any constraints. And readers, that’s exactly what they do in this opening issue.
Fans new to Jason Todd will get the quick backstory for the dramatic birth of the character known as RED HOOD. However, longtime fans will be a bit jaded as to once again see this origin story again. Alas, it is quick and offers little explanation as to the how and why. Yet, it’s not necessary for the current story other than to fuel the animosity between the RED HOOD and the Joker. In this reviewer’s opinion, the backstory is needed to provoke the conflict for the series as it divulges. So, hang in there with the 6-page backstory, as well as the 6-page setup before the issue takes off. It is pertinent to set the stage and mission of the story.
Readers unfamiliar with Azzarello’s writing will instantly see the mastery of the characters through the conversations and dialogue amongst the personalities involved. He nails Amanda Waller perfectly with her snarky, domineering tone and dominance. Furthermore, Azzarello’s RED HOOD is pure excellence. Throughout his exchange with the characters, fans will see Jason’s wit and tenacity. However, his appearance and attitude permeate this sense of depression and feeling of lostness that attracts him to this team.
Lastly, this wouldn’t be a SUICIDE SQUAD book without Harley Quinn now, would it? Azzarello does a fantastic job making Harley less maniacal and more of a simple loose cannon. This makes her character a bit more realistic and fits well within a DC BLACK LABEL interpretation, unlike the zany, almost comedic tone she’s been portrayed as in recent years. Moreover, the unique makeup of this SUICIDE SQUAD is a great mix of semi-forgotten and brand-new characters that add just the right texture to this series making it fun and exciting.
For those uncommon with Maleev’s work, his style is more realistic and less “superhero”. It’s down-to-earth, gritty, raw, and natural, which is exactly what this DC BLACK LABEL title needs. Maleev merely understands how to conjure up emotions in illustrations compelling readers to feel like they are in the moment with the characters. For example, as I was reading this issue of SUICIDE SQUAD: GET JOKER! #1, I felt as though I was in the cell alongside Jason or standing beside Waller at the shocking ending. Maleev just has this knack for adding that “edge of your seat” surprise that keeps the story inviting and engaging. If you don’t believe me, check out his extraordinary DAREDEVIL with known other than Brian Michael Bendis. I have no doubt you’ll love it!
SUICIDE SQUAD: GET JOKER! #1 has all the fixings of a spectacular SUICIDE SQUAD that fans accustom to will crave. Yet, it also feels like a BATMAN title without… BATMAN. Moreover, Jason Todd fans should flock to this issue and treat it as another RED HOOD title. It depicts the classic characters involved in a true, almost gritty way that almost made this opening installment feel like a movie. Brian Azzarello and Alex Maleev truly do combine to showcase a sensational opening issue that’s worth the heavy cover price. I can’t wait for the next issue and I highly recommend checking out this series. Heck, if you’re looking for more Azzarello and Maleev, look no further than BATMAN: DAMNED or BATMAN: NO MAN’S LAND for the same mastery and feel. Check this out, let me know what you think, and God bless!