Written by Brian Buccellato and Mike W. Barr
Art by Viktor Bogdanovic, Diogenes Neves, Richard Friend, Michael Spicer, and Carrie Strachan
Published by DC Comics
Release Date: January 27, 2016

Two 20 page stories. Two creative teams. Two anti-heroes going off the reservation.

Deadshot is saddled with a new partner on a mission set to distract him from something much more personally important to him. Meanwhile, Katana is determined to get to a scientist that may be able to help her with a most personal request. But she’s going to need to get through Kobra first.

With the Suicide Squad film on its way, it’s no wonder we’re going to start seeing a lot more material hitting shelves featuring those characters. Harley Quinn has established her dynasty quite effectively the past two years, but she’s not alone in holding the screen’s attention this coming fall.

Enter Deadshot and Katana, the only two other members of the Squad to have had self-titled series, mini or otherwise. And the combination at first seems odd, although as the story opens up, that distance dissipates. What we have presented in these stories are both personal missions complicated by external forces, and it will eventually all come back to the Squad. But where I think both stories miss the mark is in making the personal seem more than incidental, in both plot and illustration.

Deadshot’s story is definitely in keeping with the character’s post-Ostrander characterization, with Buccellato nailing his expertise and antagonism to authority. But the key moment, that directive from Amanda Waller to go on her mission rather than deal with whatever personal issue arrives in that manila envelope, gets lost in the shuffle of male posturing and bravado. Where Deadshot excels is in his interior self, often clouded by exterior silence. It’s something we see over and over again in Ostrander’s original run, and something that continues to be missing to this day. And it makes it hard to care about the last page reveal. Because how can we know how much it matters to Deadshot?

The art by Viktor Bogdanovic and company is familiar as something of a fallback style for DC over the past four years: strong on action, light on emotional expression. The Rookie’s costume is underdesigned, which makes the story feel a little generic as well, particularly since Deadshot isn’t in his full regalia for most of the story. Contrast that to the art in the Katana story and we have an opposite portrayal, but nearly identical result. Katana and the Forces of Kobra are in costume and exploding under Diogenes Neves’ pencils and Caries Strachan’s colors. But the stealthy, personal nature of the mission is lost in the four color glory.

Katana’s story, written by original co-creator Mike W. Barr, is one long fight scene in its first installation, and the key moment again — that personal mission involving Katana’s sword of souls — gets completely lost in the shuffle. It makes it hard for me to root for the character. While the pages are well-rendered, and the fights dynamic, I get nothing of the personal importance or emotion from Katana. I don’t expect a huge outflowing of emotion, of course, for Katana — like Deadshot — is traditionally a very interiorized person. But there’s a difference between not expressing emotion and giving no indication there’s emotion being held back.

All in all, these two stories don’t add up to a strong start, and leaves me fretting over the lost potential on two very interesting and psychologically fascinating characters. Deadshot and Katana already look to be positively complex on the silver screen. Would that the same could have been said in these stories.

The Verdict: 6.0/10

(P.S. One enormous bright spot, however, is the cover art by Cary Nord. Insanely beautiful. Vibrant. If you’re a fan, it might be worth the issue buy all for itself.)


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