The Pull List: Suiciders and the Problems of Action Comics [2nd Opinion]

Welcome to The Pull List, a weekly column where we check out a first issue of a new series and tell you whether or not to follow the comic based only on that. This week was a slow week for new series, and while I may have been interested in the new Spider-Gwen series from Marvel, my comic shop was out of it, and so, rather unfortunately, I ended up with the first issue of Suiciders tonight.

Suiciders is a sort-of post-apocalyptic tale that sees Los Angeles split into two sections after a massive earthquake, un-creatively and ham-fisted-ly titled New Angeles and Lost Angeles. The former representing all the wealthy, privileged residents, while the latter contains all the lower class citizens, with the two areas split by a gigantic wall.

Who built this wall? Who’s paying the guards that patrol this wall and apparently have autonomy to gun down anyone who tries to sneak across? Why did a giant earthquake in Los Angeles leave it immune to the rule of the federal government? None of this is explained or really explored, because the comic is more interested in it’s central Running Man-inspired spectacle at the heart of its narrative.

Which is where I encountered an interesting existential dilemma on the subject of action in comic books in general. Although I think it’s especially egregious in Suiciders, I’ve come to realize that action sequences in comics are really not that interesting.

In this first issue, there’s a big, 4-5 page sequence where two bionically enhanced gladiators duel each other in a giant arena, which sounds awesome. But it feels weird reading this scene in this book, because it plays out like a series of snapshots from a much cooler action sequence that I don’t get to see.

I recognize that this is because of how comics work, but that’s precisely my point here. Big action spectacle scenes like this aren’t really well done like this. It’s important to do more than storyboard a fight sequence if you want to convey a sense of momentum and action.

Something like the alley fight in Watchmen, juxtaposing Nite Owl and Silk Spectre’s fight with Dr. Manhattan’s speech, or the way that The Authority often utilized big, double-page spreads to encapsulate it’s grand battles, or even the interesting “diagram” style of many of Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye run all prove that action sequences in comics can be done correctly. The way they’re done in this book, certainly isn’t the way to go, though.

All this could be forgivable, though, if there was at least an interesting story at the center of this, but frankly, the writing is borderline atrocious, and I just don’t really care about anything being presented. The book is best summed up by one panel, in which one of the fallen gladiators lies in a pool of blood, while a text box (from a different conversation) reads: “big titty bitches always land on their backs.”

Isn’t there something more worthwhile to say?

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