The teams introduced in both the first and final pages of Future State: Suicide Squad #1 deliver excellent Suicide Squad rosters. They’re the sort of C-list losers who can be redefined (or simply defined) by a great creative team and who would not be missed if their heads exploded, especially given that the alternate “Future State” will end after its next issue. There are a lot of elements to appreciate in this new miniseries—featuring both its titular Suicide Squad story and another focused on Black Adam—but too many moving pieces to focus on any particular player and that leaves the issue feeling jumbled, especially given the story is already halfway told.
On Earth-3 a team of minor villains have taken up the role of the Justice Squad with half-forgotten villains like Talon and Fisherman filling in for iconic heroes like Batman and Aquaman. They run on classic Suicide Squad rules, but operate as a superhero team under the orders of Amanda Waller. The characters provide a great deal of potential as those previously mentioned beg for characterization and more recognizable figures, like Connor Kent, are confronted with an intriguing new status. There’s enough in the first issue to see that potential start to shine through for some members of the team, but not nearly enough given how little space there is to tell the story.
One big idea, like the Justice Squad themselves, would be enough to power this two-part story, but writer Robbie Thompson puts a lot more on the page. There are multiple earths, reality-hopping consequences, and multiple other teams all to be considered, which makes for an overfull issue. As a starting point for an ongoing series, readers could anticipate sinking their teeth into these ideas for months to come, but instead they are left to wonder how this concludes in only 20 additional pages. The odds of any individual receiving a satisfying arc doesn’t seem worth considering.
The violence embedded in this eclectic collection of characters and their horrifying circumstances certainly delivers on their potential. Future State: Suicide Squad #1 makes no qualms about living up to its title and quickly dispatches a number of minor and major figures from the issue’s synopsis. This is an inherently unstable arrangement given the non-canonical nature of this story about already expendable characters. Artist Javier Fernandez brings the fury with fast-paced action sequences and panels that leave no doubt about the stakes in this story. The “heroes” of this team shift between funhouse mirror versions of the heroes they’re imitating and far more horrifying forms. Things are even uglier when fights are unfolding. In spite of the too busy nature of the story, Fernandez’s work makes each sequence a thrill to read anyway.
The Black Adam back-up story—from writer Jeremy Adams and artists Fernando Pasarin, Oclair Albert, and Jeromy Cox—brings readers further into the future, returning to DC One Million as Justice Legion Alpha prepares to deal with a galactic threat. The more limited focus of this story centering on Teth (now on his own planet) and Wonder Woman makes for a more satisfying single read. Villainous threats are well designed, but not needed to do more than threaten and a handful of other Justice Legion members don’t distract from the emphasis on Teth and Wonder Woman. Even readers unfamiliar with DC One Million will quickly understand the arrangement of heroes and villains as they are presented, allowing anyone to dive into this similarly sprawling, but better focused narrative. The story’s core duo also make for a compelling duo, enough that it’s already disappointing to know their story will be told by the end of issue #2.
Future State: Suicide Squad #1 brings an abundance of new ideas for readers to discover in both of its stories. The ambition on display in these pages is enough to ensure the issue is worth checking out for fans of titular team, Black Adam, or simply superhero comics in general. Characters, both familiar and barely recognizable, are provided opportunities to shine in new and unexpected fashions. Even if the overall construction of Suicide Squad feels far too full—making it difficult to imagine any of these ideas receiving a satisfying conclusion—there’s still enough on the page to deliver an interesting, if not gratifying, read. Even with its faults in mind, Future State: Suicide Squad delivers on the events core premise by trying something new, perhaps just too many somethings new.
Published by DC Comics
On January 26, 2021
Written by Robbie Thompson
Art by Javier Fernandez
Colors by Alex Sinclair
Letters by Wes Abbott
Cover by Javier Fernandez and Marcelo Maiolo