Task Force Z #1 Brings New Meaning to Life After Death

Jordan reviews the debut issue of Task Force Z.

A while back I finished a reread of every single appearance of the Suicide Squad. Obviously given the nature of the Squad, death was often assured. One common theme that spun out of this was the idea of death not being the end. What if the Suicide Squad members continued to serve. We’ve seen this take on a few forms in various runs with Blackest Night events and Waller resurrecting Squad members. However, this week’s Task Force Z puts its own spin on the idea. What if the Suicide Squad was a team made up entirely of zombies? Well, that’s exactly what we get with the first issue of Task Force Z, written by Matthew Rosenberg, penciled by Eddy Barrows, with inks by Eber Ferreira, colors by Adriano Lucas, and lettering by Rob Leigh. 

This first issue mostly exists to establish the status quo of this team. Task Force Z’s field leader is Jason Todd, the Red Hood. Jason is working with a shady government organization to lead a team of zombified DC supervillains. Among them are some pretty big DC heavyweights like Bane and Manbat. But also some more obscure and underutilized characters like Mr. Bloom and Arkham Knight. This whole outfit is funded by a mysterious unseen benefactor, working behind the scenes. This first issue establishes how Jason feels about leading a team of walking superpowered corpses. So we get to spend some quality time with Jason and some new characters he will be working with.  

The core concept of Gotham’s favorite antihero working with a bunch of zombies means Rosenberg gets to play up the comedy a bit. It’s a totally ludicrous scenario but this creative team understands that and runs with it. It’s a twisted dark comedy starring a team that would just as well save you as eat your brains. Barrows’ art gets to fill out Rosenberg’s world wonderfully. There’s a wonderful emphasis on shadow and darkness, juxtaposed with sterile environments at the team’s headquarters. 

Ferreira and Lucas have done an excellent job bringing out the atmosphere of Barrows pencils and it gives the book a mysterious and creepy visual style, while also looking like a classic superhero book. There’s some wonderful body horror here that works really well when balanced against the banal meetings of Jason and the team’s other characters. Those characters are given a fair amount of mystery and intrigue as well, establishing that maybe this team isn’t such a great idea. 

I think one issue I have so far is that this feels a LOT like another Batman book. Almost every character featured in this story comes from the world of Gotham. That wouldn’t be a problem but with a book pitching itself on utilizing DC’s dead villains, it leaves a little to be desired. Especially since Jason seems to have no real apprehension about working with many villains he has faced in the past. Just a bit of acknowledgment of the history between these characters would go a long way to alleviating this issue for me. Although this issue is not major, especially since Rosenberg has promised we’ll get to see more characters added along the way. 

For now, Task Force Z is a promising start to what seems to be an entertaining and disturbing series. The creative team has created a book with an interesting mystery and an entertaining tone of dark comedy. It’s gross, depraved, and completely messed up and I can’t wait to see where it goes next.

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