Warning: SPOILERS For Suicide Squad Annual #1
In this week's Suicide Squad Annual #1, the Squad that fans have come to know and love barely makes an appearance - instead, Amanda Waller is creating a whole new Suicide Squad (with a very different roster of villains). The issue is a self-contained story penned by Cullen Bunn with art by Ronan Cliquet, that turns into a blood and gore filled face-off between the new team, their target, and none other than the Swamp Thing!
The new Squad is made up of seven DC villains, all offered the usual deal: death by neck-bomb if they disobey Waller, benefits if they co-operate and complete her mission. The team she pulls together includes the vampire Scream Queen, matter manipulator Shimmer, bomb expert Baby Boom, contortionist Rag Doll, martial artist Tao Jones, archer Merlyn, and knife man Skorpio.
This time, Amanda Waller's mission is to hunt down and capture Cadence Laramie (a woman who went mad when she was kidnapped and surgically conjoined to a strange man, driving them both to go on a murderous rampage). Laramie was being kept at Belle Reve, but escaped, and must therefore be wrangled up by her fellow inmates.
So with the original flavor Task Force X otherwise engaged, it's time to build a brand new Suicide Squad.
Of course, this team isn't going to be supplanting the primary Suicide Squad (Harley Quinn, Killer Croc, Captain Boomerang, et all) - they're just taking on a single mission while that Task Force X is busy re-sinking Atlantis. So fans of the movie cast of characters can rest easy for now.
Another reason that Waller's latest group of neck-bombed bad guys won't be taking over as DC's primary Suicide Squad? Almost none of them manage to survive their mission in Annual #1. Having followed their prey into the swamps near Belle Reve, the team discovers that they are up against much more than a frightened, runaway murderer. Swamp Thing is none too happy about these villainous figures invading his space, and between Swamp Thing and the murderous ghosts that follow Laramie everywhere she goes, only two members of the new team make it back to Belle Reve alive. However, as Scream Queen disobeyed an order while on the mission, Waller calmly blows her head off (in a phenomenally bloody panel, with eyeballs flying everywhere).
With Merlyn the sole survivor of Suicide Squad Annual #1, it seems that Waller's latest team is a spectacularly short lived one... although it does lead us to wonder what is next for Merlyn. The original Suicide Squad has been undermanned lately (and they've got some extra helpers for the Atlantis mission as a result).
Could Merlyn be next in line to join the real Task Force X, and become a main players in the Suicide Squad comic? Only time will tell.
Suicide Squad Annual #1 is available now from DC Comics.