Task Force Z Vol. 1: Death’s Door
(COLLECTS ISSUE #1 – #6)
Matthew Rosenberg (Author), Eddy Barrows (Illustrator), Jack Herbert (Illustrator), Kieran McKeown (Illustrator), Matt Santorelli (Illustrator), Max Raynor (Illustrator), Darick Robertson (Illustrator), Eber Ferreira (Inker), Dexter Vines (Inker), Adriano Lucas (Color Artist), Rob Leigh (Letterer)
My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars
Honestly… I was tempted to give this a 2-star rating when I first started the series.
It’s a weak concept that’s not terribly exciting and frankly feels boring and derivative on the surface. Under the surface… it’s still mostly that, but it’s not pathetic and not entirely boring.
The only reason I checked it out was because I do like the Jason Todd character and feel he’s had one of the most roller-coaster times in the DCU with real peaks and valleys – even the Red Hood and the Outlaws book that started waaaay back with the ugh-ly New52 era and was a book that I felt had a lot of potential, became pretty weak, had good moments and then when it was revamped with Jasons second Outlaws team of Artemis and Bizarro, really came into its own as a decent series. (Yes, I know, I’m probably one of the few people that will openly admit that, flaws taken into account, I actually enjoyed the series).
As for Task Force Z… Jason is taken captive by a secret govt organisation that has plans to zombify and revive super-villains and use them as a kind of Suicide Squad and in fact seems to be competing with Wallers’ pet project. The hilarity is that a couple of issues in, the concept of having brutal agents supposedly doing good under mandate of a shady organisation, being shredded/shot/stabbed/exploded and then pieced back together made me think “Guys, we’ve done this already! It was by Image Comics in the 90’s and it was called Bloodstrike!”
But anyway, there’s an attempt at intrigue, inter-agency “chess-playing” (more like tic-tac-toe) and mostly it’s peopled by characters that are bland and not interesting. Their cleverness is not very clever and the mysteries are not interesting enough for me to want to pay to own any more of this series and even barely enough to source for free and read the rest.
This is NOT to say that it’s a terrible book. I’ll be honest that there are good moments littered around. There are aspects like Jasons angst at having to work with Bane who was responsible for killing Alfred, the too-few bits with Mr. Bloom and Man-Bat which are all given less space because there’s focus on the bigger game instead of the people in the game – would have made for a more compelling story and given me more of a connect with these villains.
I can say that Rosenberg does try and balance things, but somehow it all doesn’t carry as well for me as a reader and the whole seems weaker and less enjoyable. Given some of the great books he’s written like his time on The Punisher, this is definitely a weaker and less enjoyable entry into his bibliography.
The art is perfectly passable. There’s some great panels, the dark and moody colours are very much suitable for the book and I think overall it is a good choice for the kind of story being told. But that said, some panels aside, it’s not all that exciting so I can’t take the time to say any part or issue really stood out for me.
Overall it’s a solid attempt by the writing and art teams. It’s a serviceable book that will get us from A-to-B with this mystery of WHAT Task Force Z is and WHY it exists and all that and lead in from when Jason was brought into this from the other books til wherever he goes after this ends and what it will mean for his relationship with his former mentor with the pointy ears. But that’s all these first few issues feel like nothing but competent, passable, filler.
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