Suicide Squad: The Nightshade Odyssey

I’ve reached the point on “the shelf” where I’m reading “volume ___” of any given comic publication.  There aren’t as many new trades popping up; instead, they are all continuations of the same storylines, following the same set of characters.

I have to admit, I rather enjoy all the continuity between comics.

What I don’t like is the fact that due to so many stories overlapping, you never truly get a complete story in any of these collections.

I was really looking forward to reading this second collection of Suicide Squad issues, having greatly enjoyed the first batch.  That excitement quickly turned to annoyance as I turned page after page only to see these obnoxious little blurbs from the editor, telling me to see “such and such publication, on sale now!” for the full story:

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Here, editor Bob even comes right out and says what we’re all thinking: yep, give them all your money if you want the full story.

Don’t get me wrong.  At this point I’m not really a comic novice.  I get how these things work.  With so many characters jumping between publications, there are bound to be numerous tie-ins that expand on a story.  What I don’t understand is the need to tease the reader with a single-panel set up, only to say, “Nuh-uh, if you want to know how this plays out you have to go out and spend more money on a separate comic.”

I like picking up a comic and reading about how it ties into something else that I’ve read.  What I don’t like is being coerced into buying additional comics in order to get a complete story.  Why can’t the comic just omit this single panel, and if the reader happens to pick up the tie-in comic, they’ll understand the larger context of the story, but won’t feel like they’re missing out if they stick to reading a single series?

It may seem like a moot point since these comics were released over 25 years ago, so obviously the editors aren’t looking to get my money, but I’m sure it’s a cheap ploy that’s still used today, and it just irks me to have to wade my way through such blatant cross-promotion.

But anyway. Back to the comic at hand.

Prior rant aside, I actually really enjoyed this comic.  It follows the same formula set up by the first volume, collecting a rag tag group of criminals (and a few morally ambiguous anti-heroes) who have been sent off on missions that are too messy or controversial for morally upright groups to handle.

This comic employs a variety of graphics to create an enjoyable reading experience.

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This is just a very cool series of panels, plain and simple.  It may not be as elegantly designed as some others (the recent Green Arrow trades come to mind) but it’s still a great layout, and one that keeps the reader engaged.

What I liked most about this comic, however, was how it expanded on the Squad’s overall setup and gave us more details about how certain people came to join up.

Some, like Captain Boomerang, didn’t really have a choice.  It was either this or rot in prison.  Others, like Vixen, volunteered for the project, out of their own personal desires for justice or, sometimes, vengeance.

The most intriguing origin story presented in this trade is the one given the most attention: that of Nightshade.

Nightshade’s story is detailed in a Secret Origins issue that is also collected here, as the reader learns that Nightshade joined the Suicide Squad in the hope that the group would help rescue her brother from her home world.

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Her entire backstory is too well-told in the comic for me to summarize here, but suffice it to say, her character is well developed and her motives are clear.  Considering there are many characters across the entire DC universe for whom this does not hold true, Nightshade is a surprise.

My only gripe is that her story is not completed in this trade, and I can only hope and pray that Mistah J has the continuation of this storyline somewhere on “the shelf.”

If not, I may have to take up drinking.

Also, I may be getting too attached to the comics again.

Like so many other recent collections on “the shelf”, The Nightshade Odyssey is not a self-contained story.  This collection is loosely centered on one or two main storylines, but its beginning and end extend far past the pages of this book.  I’m finally beginning to adjust to this type of prolonged storytelling (yes, it takes some adjusting. I’m a girl who would generally sit and read an entire novel in one sitting.  Having to wait god-knows how long to get a complete story? It’s torturous, let me tell you.)  Not only that, but I’m finally starting to really appreciate the slow, gradual style.  New bits of information are given out piece by piece, ever so slowly, but when a connection can be made between something you’re reading now and something that you read about in the past, it makes the story feel so much more engaging, as though it’s all happening right now.

It’s possible that, once again, I’m reading too much into it.  It doesn’t really matter though.  These stories are enjoyable to so many people for any variety of reasons.  It doesn’t really matter why a person likes them; it just matters that they keep wanting to read more.

Now somebody get me the next volume of Suicide Squad before I have a meltdown.

-Jess

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