Monday, July 6, 2015

Suicide Squad Vol. 2: Basilisk Rising

For as picky as I am about books, it's never exactly fun when I have to write a really negative review. Contrary to all appearances, I am not dancing on top of the book, howling with wicked delight and wishing all manner of evil upon it.  In my experience, a not-good book occurs when one or more of three things happens:


  1. The author had a really cool idea for a book, but it didn't quite come together properly.  Here, we should all glare at the editor.
  2. The book contains content that is patently offensive or completely fallacious.  Yes, even in fiction, verisimilitude is important.  For example, if you have a character who's French and she says, "Mais je regarder dans le sac voir l'atlas," you really need a proofer/beta-reader/editor who speaks French or can wield an online translator better than that.  It was painful just typing that.  
  3. The book and I just didn't click.  Ranganathan strikes again (I adore invoking that man)!  Every book its reader, and and every reader her book.  It's completely fine to just dislike something.  Full stop.  No explanations needed.  Although explanations are helpful to other readers (hi!  Like me!), you should never feel compelled to justify not liking a book.  For all their universality, books are also exceedingly personal.  A bit like perfume, actually.
So, that little Treatise on Reading aside, what does that have to do with Basilisk Rising?  I love the idea of the Suicide Squad--expendable villains working off their time by running high-risk missions for the side of good (or is it?).  Plus, it's got Harley Quinn, who is quickly becoming one of my favorite comic book characters (joining Hawkeye, Batgirl, Rocket Raccoon, Ms. Marvel, and Adrienne from Princeless).  Strange company she keeps.  I mean, this should be awesome, right?


*crickets*

Okay, it is not awesome.  In fact, it's pretty doubleplusungood.  Let's do this.

Characters appear out of nowhere, disappear in some panels, and then reappear.  Like there's Iceberg.  A bit-player version of Mr. Freeze, he's sometimes there and sometimes not.  I know the whole point of the Suicide Squad is that they're expendable, but the dramatic irony inherent in the situation is that the reader should theoretically become invested in them.  I mean, look at the three Expendables movies.  People want to see underdogs win against crazy odds and also explosions.  I want to see Jason Statham but that's just me.

There's a traitor in them thar ranks, but I couldn't care less. We knew that from the earlier issues, and since the author is trying really, really, really hard to make you think it's Deadshot, it's obviously not Deadshot.  Harley Quinn is miraculously saved from being gutshot by Amanda Wallace's Belle Reve team, and she's back in--kinda.  Wallace seems to take particular pleasure in torturing King Shark, who, aside from Harley, is the only slightly interesting character.  Now, this may be solely due to the fact that he is an anthropomorphic shark god with a loincloth (do sharks really need loincloths?), but nevertheless, the idea of this evil land shark is so hilarious that I have to embrace it.  Plus, he eats people.  Then there's Black Spider, who's a ninja, and El Diablo, a tattooed hombre who shoots fire and thinks that he's doling out God's Vengeance.  So pick one of them and they're probably the traitor.

However, do you want to know how much I cared?  To quote from one of my favorite memes: "Behold, the field of jots that I give!  And lo, it is barren!"

There's a weird issue with this guy who can resurrect himself and take on different superpowers and his Stockholm Snydrome-struck doctor back at Belle Reve.  However, the so-called plot of the main story arc ties in with the traitor.  The traitor was recruited and conditioned by an Evil Organization called Basilisk, which is basically a Hydra rip-off.  The Basilisk people even say "Hail Basilisk!"  Give me a break.

I mean, really.  Are you kidding me?  Do you think that's funny in a sort of subversive way?  Because it's not funny.  It's just really sad and tired.  The leader of Basilisk is a guy called Regulus, and he looks exactly like a combination of Loki and Kalibak.

BEHOLD:




BECOMES



For pity's sake.  My brain facepalmed itself when I saw this panel.  I don't even know how that's possible, but it happened.  

So this ... Regulus guy is the head of Basilisk and he wants to build an army (yawn) to rid the world of metahumans (double yawn) and RULE IT ALL!!!  He also has some sort of mind control, so, whoopee.  

To get to Regulus*, the Suicide Squad takes a plane, which very conveniently is infiltrated by a Basilisk recruit, who blows herself up.  El Diablo manages to save everyone by generating a heat shield and they all fall into the ocean.  King Shark, in a rare moment of loquaciousness brought on by finally being fully submerged in water, announces that they are near the Yucat√†n.  Conveniently, the Squad stumbles upon a lost tribe of Mayans (?) who drug them (???) and prepare for the human sacrifice!  Thankfully, Basilisk soldiers swoop in and snatch the Suicide Squad off of the altar and drop them in Regulus' lap.  I honestly didn't think it could get any worse but it does!  That's some sort of talent, albeit one I'd rather not have!  

My absolute favorite part came when it was revealed that all these people were Basilisk sleeper agents, activated with a code-word, but just as easily brought back to their senses by a good conk on the head.   

I cannot, with a clean conscience, recommend this to anyone.  May your sufferings be upon your own head should you choose to read this.

P.S. I hope you appreciate my extraordinary self-control in selecting a comic version of Loki instead of spamming you all with visuals of Tom Hiddleston.  

*All I could think of was Space Station Regula 1 in The Wrath of Khan, which is one of the best movies ever, and should not, even by auditory association, get dragged into this mess.

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