If you’ve kept up with the site for a while you may recall my review for the first issue of B-Squad. Then you might also recall the successful Kickstarter that funded the completion of the first volume, which is what this review is covering. To quickly sum up the story, it’s about a squad of misfits that work for a security firm doing risky jobs. Jobs that always end with one of them dying. Seriously. That’s the gimmick of Eben Burgoon’s series, he kills a character each issue/chapter and you’re left wondering who it’ll be.
After the first issue you really are left wondering “who’s next?” because it’s never apparent. Burgoon makes use of your knowledge of a character’s death coming by faking you out at times which multiple deaths. This is all coupled with a new edition to the team in the next issue/chapter of the story to replace the victim. Having already summed up the story in my review for the first issue (read that here) I’d rather spend some time talking about what worked and what didn’t.
The deaths work. Sometimes they’re exciting, other times they’re kind of flat. I think that helps keep it interesting, but I’d be lying if I didn’t want each death to be really exciting. What Burgoon does quite well is give you the character’s back story after their death. It’s interesting because all of the character’s kind of come across as losers. I mean it is the B-Squad after all. Sure in the military the “B” team may not be a bad thing, but if you ever played school sports you only wanted to be on the A-Squad. These backstories though, they really humanize the characters that just died. You actually begin to feel bad for them, whereas previously you may have laughed at them.
But you are supposed to laugh at this cast of characters. A guy who googles everything named MacGoogle. A French man who is so stereotypically French that it hurts. A dude wearing a Montreal Expos hat and Bill Murray. Burgoon put an incredible amount of work into making these characters quirky and funny.
I liked the overall story, but it is very long. I know that’s a strange complaint in this day and age of short ass comics, but at times I felt like there was too much time spent on the setup and then I was just waiting for a character death to know when the chapter was over. Towards the end you’re so familiar with the formula that it gets a little dull so I would recommend not reading it all in one setting. Halving it would be my suggestion because read all at once you stop enjoying the jokes as much and really begin to wonder why they’re sent on these missions at all. Which is hinted at, at the very end of the comic.
The dialogue is also hit or miss at times. The cast is large so sometimes you’ll sit in one location waiting for every character to take their turn talking. If felt like a role-playing video game where you have to talk to your entire crew to keep them happy and really you’re just reading dialogue tree after dialogue tree. It’s not bad, but it would have benefitted from being trimmed down. Again, read it in chunks and you’ll enjoy it more. Otherwise you’ll probably be numb to some jokes after a while.
The art is solid throughout the entire volume. There’s a few artists on the series, but overall there’s a style maintained on the series. Frankly the art switch is very smooth and shouldn’t catch you off guard much. The entire team did a great job of giving the series and world a consistency that most comics never manage to keep.
The action is plentiful and illustrated quite well. The second and third issue in particular had some great action scenes, but really the same can be said for every chapter. Those two just stood out to me. Aside from the action the character designs are pretty great. They’re all visually funny for the most part and just looking at them you think “B-Squad” which I’m sure was the intention.
The print version comes in a very nice slip case. The book itself is magazine sized and the paperstock is glossy and nice. Personally I think it’s bonus points when a books is fun to hold and has packaging so kudos to Burgoon on that.
Overall this is an entertaining comic series. I would definitely check out future issues/volumes and enjoyed the cliffhanger at the end. Is it perfect? No, but at the end of the day entertaining me is much more important than being a perfect comic. I would like to see the formula grow and develop in the future issues. What works here doesn’t guarantee success in the future so that’s definitely something I would want to see change going forward. Otherwise if you like team books with characters full of quirks and guaranteed deaths then check out B-Squad.
B-Squad: Soldiers of Misfortune Writer: Eben Burgoon Artists: Lauren Gamphrey, Jon Williams, Claudia Palescandolo, Sean K. Sutter, Michael Finn Price: $24.99 (P), $4.99 (D) Release Date: 9/2/15 Format: TPB; Print/Digital