Event books are a drag, as any comic book fan during the last decade will tell you. For every Secret Wars or Forever Evil the Big Two put out there will be a handful of Civil War 2s bad enough to make the reader question why these books exist in the first place. At best they are unneeded, at worst a cash grab that sucks the titles surrounding them into a black pit of mediocrity. Though unnecessary, Joshua Williamson and Jason Fabok’s Justice League VS. Suicide Squad #1 is entertaining enough to justify the price of admission.
Williamson captures the Squad’s disparate voices pretty well. We get the measure of each character and how they relate to one another as the issue progresses, and Williamson takes some joy in contrasting the hardscrabble world of the Suicide Squad with the more traditional superheroics of the Justice League. Unfortunately, the conflict between the two teams feels forced and at no point in the issue is the case made for why they should come to blows now of all times. The idea of a fight between two very different groups of characters with sharply opposed ideologies is fun in itself, but if the conflict between them isn’t earned then it’s all just an excuse for well-rendered fisticuffs. Also, why the Justice League is choosing to confront Waller’s crew several years into this new universe is a question that remains unanswered.
The reveal of a third group of characters frustrates the plot further. While the introduction of these characters raise some interesting implications, their presence is an assurance that any conflict between the Justice League and the Suicide Squad will be put on hold so they can confront this third group of antagonists.
Fortunately, the art pummels where the writing sags. Fabok’s work was perhaps the most anticipated thing about this event, and he does not disappoint. His panels are cinematic in quality, giving life to every punch thrown and building shattered. The centerpiece of this punch fest is a two page spread of the Suicide Squad rushing at the Justice League after several panels of speechifying. We never get to the actual fight promised by the title, but what Fabok has done thus far is enough to garner some interest in the issues to come. Here’s to hoping that Williamson can deliver on the artwork’s promise in subsequent issues.