In Review: Justice League Vs Suicide Squad #3

Given the hype of these two groups, one would expect the story and visuals to be a bit stronger.

The covers: An appropriate trio to find for the third issue of this series. The Regular cover is by Jesus Merino, Andy Owens, and Alex Sinclair, the artist, inker, and colorist for the interior of this book. Amanda Waller looks upon her handiwork in Belle Reve: the Flash, Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman in containment tubes. This was revealed at the end of the previous issue and is a good visual to bring readers up to speed to the state of one of the book’s title teams. Aquaman is a little too dark, being in the foreground, and I do wish that the pair of lanterns had been on the cover, but there’s only so many characters that can be shown on a cover. The first variant cover is by Joe Madureira and Sonny Gho. This is the image I chose to accompany this review. This is a spectacular image of Wonder Woman raising her sword to swing at Harley Quinn who’s leaping at her with her signature sledgehammer about to smack the Amazon down. The artwork is gorgeous and the coloring spectacular. I was so glad to see that Gho went with a white background which makes the figures riveting. I love this! The final variant is by Amanda Conner and Laura Martin. Both are sensational artists and this is a superior cover. Harley is coming down from a leap in the upper left with both guns blazing, a maniacal smile on her face. The bottom of the cover has Wonder Woman using the bracelet on her right hand to deflect the clown’s bullets, while she uses her left to spin her lasso around the villain. All of the Amazon’s legs can’t be seen because she’s knee deep in an insane pile of bullet casings. The art is beautiful and the coloring gloriously bright. The logo has been tilted on its side because Harley would either be covered by it or it would be covered by Harley. This has got to be a print or tee shirt at some point. Overall grades: Regular B, Variant Madureira A+, and Variant Conner A+

The story: Katana and Rick Flag are somewhere in the bowels of an underground installation retrieving a black box from a series of cells that are no longer in use. Both wonder who was being kept there, but they find the box and quickly exit, knowing that “Waller’s going to need help with her new guests.” Their leave isn’t easy going as the corridors are littered with corpses of guards. Meanwhile, Batman is being taken down a hallway in the infamous prison Hannibal Lecter style, with him in a straight jacket, attached to a dolly, face covered in the iconic serial killer’s mask. He says, “You know these restraints can’t hold me.” The leader of the six man team tells the Dark Knight that they do a better job than at Arkham Asylum, but the hero proves otherwise. Joshua Williamson starts the story well, introducing the mystery of what’s in the black box and seeing Batman in action is always good, but whom he speaks with after he dispatches with the guards didn’t work. I cannot believe he would act that way with the character on Page 6. He’s too tolerant. Besides, he’s the “world’s greatest detective” and should know the answers, or at least good guesses, to the questions he poses. Better is the back and forth between the Suicide Squade and the JL, who are in their pods as seen on the Regular cover. I loved the dialogue, with the Flash and Superman’s being the best. The villains of the book make an appearance, with their leader torturing a character for information that isn’t made known to the reader, which is good; I don’t want to know until the last moment. I had a hard time believing in the League’s response on Pages 20 and 21; after what they’ve just endured they would leave or fight, if one team member says otherwise. The last page is a good reveal and a solid cliffhanger to set up both teams working together in the next installment. The Suicide Squad comes off more accurately written than the League, but this is still an enjoyable story involving both teams and I want to know where this is heading. Overall grade: B

The art: Jesus Merino does the pencils in this installment and Andy Owens the inks. They do a fine job, though there are areas that could have been better. Katana’s introduction on the first page is outstanding, but Rick Flag is unrecognizable given the light he’s sporting. The carnage on Page 2 is a good layout, but so dark it becomes messy. The splash on Page 4 is a super introduction for Batman, but the top right has a lot of empty space; it’s almost as if Owens though the majority of dialogue would go there or there was supposed to be more text. Batman’s escape from his bonds is very well done, and is followed by the introduction of the character he wants to speak to. This individual has a good introduction (Merino and Owens handle the remaining characters’ entrances very well) on Page 6, but that second panel has a lot of dead space. Again, it seems that more dialogue was expected. The double page splash that has the two teams meeting is done well, establishing the size of each character to the other. Harley and Killer Frost have the best illustrations in this encounter, with Superman getting some excellent work as well. The rest of the book looks okay, though the reader is way too far away from the characters in the first panel on 18; the reader should be focusing on the characters, not the setting, which is fairly generic. The backstories provided on 22 – 25 are extremely well done with the visuals being strong and allowing the perfect amount of space for the text. If it weren’t for the text in the third panel on 28 no one would be able to tell what’s going on. The book does close on a strong note with a full page splash of the villains. This book’s visuals are better than average. Overall grade: B

The colors: Alex Sinclair with Jeremiah Skipper do what they can to brighten up the book, but with the majority of this set within Belle Reve, there aren’t too many opportunities for bright colors. Brights are used in the panels containing actions and surrounding some dialogue balloons when people yell, but it’s really not until all the title characters are in the same room can anything beyond a bland utilitarian steel be used. Thank heaven for gaudy costumes and the Kryptonian’s cell. The villains appearances and the location they’re at returns the book to a really dark color scheme. I would have preferred Sinclair and Skipper cheat a little with the colors to brighten things up, but, as with the art, what they do services the story fine. Overall grade: B 

The letters: Dialogue, scene settings, the story’s title, the book’s credits, video text, sounds, yells, Croc’s unique font for his speech, a weakened character’s speech, character identification, and the tease for next issue are crated by Rob Leigh. The sounds that Leigh creates add just the right punch to the scenes they’re in and the unique fonts for two characters’ speech sets them nicely apart from others. There’s no grousing over any of Leigh’s work. Overall grade: A 

The final line: An okay issue of the two teams meeting, though one is better written than the other. The visuals are also just fine. Given the hype of these two groups, one would expect the story and visuals to be a bit stronger. Worth checking out if you’re a fan of any character in this book. Overall grade: B

To order a digital copy of this book go to https://www.comixology.com/Justice-League-vs-Suicide-Squad-2016-3/digital-comic/441821

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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