SUICIDE SQUAD BLAZE #1 [Review]

SUICIDE SQUAD BLAZE #1/ Story by SIMON SPURRIER/ Art by AARON CAMPBELL/ Color Art by JORDIE BELLAIRE/ Letters by ADITYA BIDIKAR/ Covers by AARON CAMPBELL & MATIAS BERGARA/ Published by DC BLACK LABEL

A metahuman with all of Superman’s powers and none of his ethics is on a killing spree. With no apparent rhyme or reason to the killings and the World’s Finest heroes seemingly helpless, Amanda Waller enacts a secret government protocol called Blaze, which it is believed can empower the powerless and make the powerful more-so. The downside lies in why the protocol is called Blaze – those who ingest it are destined to go out in a blaze of glory, burning twice as bright for half as long. Or three months, give or take.

After the most reliable members of Task Force X turn down Waller’s offer of power at a price, she starts shopping around for ordinary criminals who are crazy or desperate enough to risk their lives for a taste of power or a chance to do what the Justice League can’t. This leads to a new Suicide Squad being sent out. Half hardened veteran, with the other half being newbie metahumans living on borrowed time. Unfortunately, there’s one other side-effect to the Blaze process that The Wall neglected to mention. And it may set the team to killing each other faster than their new enemy…

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The short-lived 2019-2020 John Constantine: Hellblazer series was, in my humble opinion, the best thing to be done with the character in over a decade. I was saddened that it was cancelled before word had spread that the twisted Hellblazer of the good old days at Vertigo Comics was back. Thankfully, the same creative team has come back with a vengeance for Suicide Squad Blaze and it’s even more twisted than their last collaboration.

Simon Spurrier is in fine form here, introducing us to the new squad through the eyes of one of the five ordinary criminals recruited to test out the Blaze protocol. We see familiar Suicide Squad mainstays, like Captain Boomerang and Peacemaker, but from a truly terrifying perspective. Suffice it to say, I don’t think Harley Quinn has ever been as horrific as she is here. Yet there is also comedy, but it is a dark comedy. Dark as a Guinness Extra Stout going through the event horizon of a black hole.

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The artwork is of equal quality. Aaron Campbell has a fine eye for detail and masterfully manipulates light and shadow with subtle shading. My only complaint, and it is a minor one, is that I prefer the classic Amanda Waller design that doesn’t look like Viola Davis. (That being said, Campbell’s Waller IS a good likeness of Viola Davis.) The colors by Jordie Bellaire are fantastic throughout, being appropriately muted for most of the issue as befits the prison setting, with sharp tints accenting the action scenes. The lettering by Aditya Bidikar is also eye-catching and memorable.

If you are a fan of Spurrier, Campbell, Bellaire and Bidikar on other comics, you will want to give Suicide Squad: Blaze a try. If you’re a fan of Suicide Squad, regardless of the era or the creative team, you will also want to give this one a try. In fact, every comic reader 17 and up with the stomach for a bit of dark humor amid the horror should read this book.

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