The Rebirth one-shot of Suicide Squad hit shelves mere days before audiences got to see Task Force X on the big screen. Likely by design, it felt like little more than a teaser for the film: a character showcase with a whisper-thin plot. This first official issue of the series, however, is much stronger. In fact, it’s actually good.

 Much like the film, the issue starts with the mastermind behind the super-villain team, Amanda Waller, as she ruthlessly forces some of the world’s worst criminals into doing her bidding. However, writer Rob Williams’s storytelling doesn’t seem quite so rushed as director/writer David Ayers. This is a comic book after all, a first issue (particularly of a team-up book) is allowed to just introduce the characters and anyone who’s seen the film will find a lot of familiar ground here. Harley Quinn is fun-loving and batty as ever. Rick Flag is a boy scout with a bit of a temper and Floyd Lawton a.k.a. Deadshot is pretty bored by it all—even as the space ship the team is riding in plummets toward the ground.

 However, the issue doesn’t require prior knowledge and Williams deftly establishes who each character is. Some, like June Moon/Enchantress, only get a few lines to define themselves, but the few details we get convey a lot in a short amount of time. Captain Boomerang, for instance, spends the entire issue complaining about his bowels while Killer Croc nearly drowns in his own vomit after puking into his space helmet. There’s undeniable crassness to the issue and while it smacks lightly of a desperate need to make the book shocking, it also kind of works. These are villains and psychos. They’re not going to have the nobility of a Superman or a Wonder Woman.

 Still, for those who find the main arc leans a little too silly, there’s also a really strong back-up story about Floyd Lawton’s past. There’s very little fun to be had there as we learn how Deadshot ended up in Belle Reve in the first place. What makes the Suicide Squad interesting as a concept is that while the individual members are villains, they are capable of goodness. Williams proves that here through Lawton’s attempt to save his daughter from a gang that hired him to kill Bruce Wayne, perfectly summarizing everything we need to know about the character’s motivation. Hopefully, all the characters get the backstory treatment in the following issues. That alone would be reason enough to keep reading.

 Rating: 8.5/10

By day, Marisa Carpico stresses over America’s election system. By night, she becomes a pop culture obsessive. Whether it’s movies, TV or music, she watches and listens to it all so you don’t have to.