Things are not looking up for Deathstroke’s Suicide Squad! After an unexpected betrayal and the loss of their high value target, the team desperately retreats to the Flash Museum.
Whether the team realizes it or not, their unexpected escape was part of Constantine’s plan. Several issues ago, Constantine mentioned that Deadman will be insurance against any team member who turns. When Azrael’s ticking time bomb finally does goes off, it is Constantine’s quick thinking that once again keeps them safe. Unfortunately, they no longer have a reasonable plan to turn the tide in the war. My first instinct in seeing the squad in the Flash Museum was to find weather wizard’s technology. Instead, Rosenberg and Paknadel decide to have Deathstroke do something stupid, then subsequently call himself stupid for trying.
This issue also follows up on Mary Marvel’s tragic subplot. At some point before All-Out War began, a vampire bit Mary in human form. To evade her hunger, she remains transformed to hide her secret. Mary is also Deathstroke’s biggest supporter, because he understands her act of “friendly fire.” The relationship fostered within the group became her shining light and motivation. Mary’s shame of ruining the mission with her secret, and her faith in her friends, leads her to seek out self sacrifice. Whether it helps or not, doesn’t affect the extremely low morale following the group at this point.
The overall mission possibly happens upon a new angle at the Flash Museum. A mysterious snowfall blankets Central City and peaks the interest of the party. Disregarding the other ridiculous coincidences at the Flash Museum like a convenient Lazarus pit or its “Speed Force” powered building; the team stumbles on the frozen body of Captain Cold. While none of them are quite sure how to use it to their advantage yet, they are certain that it can be helpful in some way. Lastly, I’m certain we haven’t heard the last of Chekov’s Lazarus pit fueled vampire bite. I can hope the healing factor and cauterization does the trick, but Rosenberg wouldn’t write it in for no reason.
The star player in the series at this point is the artwork. Nicole Righi’s mindful use of red as a feature is a constant highlight of each panel. The clashes of blood or lightning filled red skies illuminate the otherwise noir book with life and relentless appeal. The line art takes on a gorgeous sketchy quality that is a step up from its sometimes stiff gestures within the previous chapters. Each panel has great uses of line weight, bombastic action poses, and momentum. Some of my favorite moments happen within the electrifying battle between Shazam! and Mary, including the somber, well designed resolution.
Hawksmoor in “Dead Cities”
All-Out War‘s back-up story includes an unexpected revival of the Hawksmoor character from Wildstorm. For those unfamiliar, John “Jack” Hawksmoor was the metahuman leader of Stormwatch. Much like DC’s Traci Thirteen, Hawksmoor gained abilities based on the life of the city he resides. This is disconcerting in this case because most of the cities in this universe are undead. So much of the story involves John searching for a way to bring life back to the cities to prevent his further transformation. The writing and illustration make for a decent reading experience. I especially like how it creatively ties Wildstorm lore to the current reality. However, I think the twist with Apollo ruins a lot of the effectiveness of the nightmare world in the series as a whole. If someone like Apollo is still alive, then why would anyone need or want Weather Wizard to save them?
- You want to read a well illustrated vampire story.
- Mary Marvel is your favorite member of the Shazam Family. (Shazam-ily?)
- You have been fiending for Wildstorm stories, post-apocalyptic or otherwise.
Another win for Vs. Vampires is always welcome. The series is steadily turning around issue by issue. The artwork is pleasing to tear through and the interpersonal development of the characters has been gentle on subjects of grief and regret. Although, they have yet to convincingly resolve Azrael’s story arc or whatever Baron Cinder has planned. Hopefully it all comes together in the final issue of All-Out War.
DISCLAIMER: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purposes of this review.