Suicide Squad 14

Today, Mikyzptlk and Shelby are discussing Suicide Squad 14 originally released November 14th, 2012. This issue is part of the Death of the Family crossover event. Click here for complete DotF coverage.

Mikyzptlk: Suicide Squad is FAR from one of my favorite books. While I don’t think it’s the worst on DC’s shelves these days, it definitely falls in the “needs improvement” category. I consider this a real shame too considering that two of DC’s more popular female characters, Harley Quinn and Amanda Waller, are the main protagonists (along with Deadshot, who is both dead and shot at this point). There is no doubt that series writer Adam Glass has a good grasp on action as his Suicide Squad is full of high octane adventure and while I find this title to be entertaining in that light, I can’t help but feel that it falls short pretty much everywhere else. The first few story arcs we’ve gotten so far haven’t been terrible really, but the problem lies in the fact that one essential element is missing in this book starring a team of villains and psychopaths: charm.

To understand what I mean, take a look at a scene from Gail Simone’s brilliant (and painfully missed) Secret Six.

This is just ONE scene featuring ONE character featuring ONE of the MANY hilarious lines of dialogue that were found in Secret Six.  Characters like King Shark, Bane, Ragdoll, Black Alice and more were given both hilarious and deep moments. In other words, they were charming. We liked and cared about them and we wanted them to succeed in whatever they were doing, even if what they were doing wasn’t particularly good. In contrast, Suicide Squad is filled with similarly unsavory types but without any of the charm.

That is my problem with this series as a whole and this issue is no different though it is saved somewhat by the fact that the Joker guest-stars. The issue opens with the funeral of Floyd Lawton AKA Deadshot. A quick flashback shows us that Deadshot pulled a Die Hard 4 in the previous issue and shot his own gun through himself in order to take Regulus (the previous arc’s villain) out. All of a sudden, a strange green rain begins to fall revealing none other than the Joker. The Squad is taken out, except for Harley Quinn that is. Joker and Harley…catch up and then Joker walks around threatening to kill the Squad as they lie unconscious. Joker then threatens to desecrate the body of Deadshot but says that he wont if Harley does “Mr. J” a favor. If you’ve been reading Batman then you know what that favor is. The Squad awakens to find that Harley has escaped but Waller doesn’t seem to be too concerned for whatever reason. She then goes about her day checking on various projects throughout the HQ (one involving the hand of Resurrection Man) and having one-on-one’s with various Squad members. The issue ends by catching up with Harley Quinn right after the events of Batman 13 as the Joker confronts Harley with the ol’ chain around the neck routine.

So, as a tie-in to Death of the Family, this issue doesn’t fair too poorly. I mean, it features the Joker prominently (at least in the beginning and end) and it shows us how Harley gets from Suicide Squad to Batman. It also advances the plot of Amanda Waller’s efforts with her Squad. The problem here is that the DotF stuff and the Suicide Squad stuff are treated almost as if they are completely separate entities. Waller isn’t even bothered by Quinn’s SECOND escape from the group. The first time she sent the entire Squad after her but I guess Adam Glass didn’t feel like writing that story again so instead Waller is totally cool with it.

Then there is this scene where Harley pulls a gun on the Joker.

Is Harley really that in love with Deadshot that she’d shoot the Joker for messing with his dead body? Or is it that she really is over the Joker? Granted, we really don’t have much info on their relationship in The New 52.  The last thing I really remember in terms of their relationship was that Harley Quinn completely broke things off after the Joker tried to kill her during Grant Morrison’s run on Batman.  Since a lot of Morrison’s run is still cannon (except for Stephanie Brown of course), I’ve got to think that is too. As for Harley and Deadshot, the only time I can recall them being “intimate” is a few flirtations and that time when Harley put the Jokers face on top of Deadshot’s and then made out with him. It’s like Glass wants to have these characters react emotionally but doesn’t understand how to actually get his characters to that place so instead he just says they feel this or that way now just because.

Fernando Dagnino does a decent job with the art for the most part but MY GOD does he go overboard with Harley Quinn here. Granted, part of this due to the redesign of the character but is this really necessary? Additionally, unless she’s wearing pasties, she seems to be missing her nipples.

Shelby, there is more going on with this issue in regards to the other Squad members but I really didn’t care to go into it. It all goes back to what I was saying before about the lack of charm these characters have. Add to that the character inconsistencies I’ve found throughout the series and I’m just not that into it. Do you feel the same way or was there something in this issue that makes you feel otherwise?

Shelby: Blech. I did not have a great time reading this issue. You are one hundred percent correct about there being nothing to like about these characters. A team of villains forced to play nice has a lot of potential for really interesting character development, especially when you add a genuinely evil villain to the mix. Honestly, “villain” doesn’t even seem like a strong enough word for the Joker; there’s got to be something worse we can call him.

There’s something not totally right with Harley Quinn in this issue. Part of it is the costume: redesign or no, Dagnino’s take on Harley is one very small step above soft-core pornography. Of the three images you included, we’ve got a crotch shot and the biting the lower lip. The aerial shot of Harley at the cemetery is absolutely the worst; her boobs defy every law of physics.

That’s just bad to the point of being silly, almost to the point of being offensive. I’m also not totally convinced by Glass’ depiction of Harley. She’s a tricky character to approach, no question: a tragic victim, far from helpless, but completely unable to help herself. She’s tough as nails, but vulnerable: absolutely mad, but it’s a madness which can be reasoned with. Here, it seems Glass painted those traits on with a very broad stroke; there’s no subtlety about it. Maybe I’m expecting too much from what is supposed to be a jump-around action story.

Except there wasn’t really any action. I actually found this issue to be pretty boring. Maybe if I were a regular reader of this title, I would have been intrigued by all those guys languishing in their cells. I suppose it wouldn’t be fair for Glass to totally put off his arc for Death of the Family, but come on! This is Harley Quinn’s story with the Joker back in town! This should be the most twisted and scary story I’ve read all week! Instead, we just get an over-sexualized Harley being threatened by the Joker in a way that just made me kind of uncomfortable, and a boring story with Amanda Waller walking around being bitchy. I guess the issue did a good job describing how Harley got to Ace, but mostly I just thought it was a snooze.

For a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page.  Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore.  If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to DC’s website and download issues there.  There’s no need to pirate, right?

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31 comments on “Suicide Squad 14

  1. I have to agree with most of what’s been said here, I was happy that there was a logical explanation to Harley’s being back with Joker in Batman 13 as that puzzled me somewhat last month (although logical is relative, in view of Waller’s reaction to the situation) but the issue overall isn’t very good.

    I don’t like the way this series is writing Harley at all, not just over-sexualizing her but her personality seems off. In last month’s Batman, she seemed quite willing to help Joker (remember the back-up where she strips unquestionningly, seeks Joker’s approval and all) and now she seems more loyal to Deadshot than to her puddin’. I could deal with the fact that she slept with him in a previous issue, Mr. J being out of the picture and all, a girl has needs and it’s logical for Harley not to be a saint, but Harley’s thing is to prioritize Joker over everything, beyond reason or explanation, and this just stank to me.

    I also agree that we don’t really sympathize with these characters much; I’ve read every issue of this series so far and the only character I like in it is Harley, and not because of this series but because I liked her going in. None of the other characters really stand out or get me interested, and one could argue that I’m biased because I only knew Harley and Deadshot going in, but I’ve expanded my reading to several series I was completely unfamiliar with prior to the new 52 and was drawn to several new characters anyway, so overall, I think it’s just poor writing. Honestly, I hope Harley doesn’t go back to SS after DotF so I don’t feel obliged to keep reading this book after the cross-over; I think she’d be best served making occasional but meaningful appearances in other bat-family books.

    • Yeah, I would love to see Harley visit, say, Batgirl; after the great Catwoman cameo last month, I trust Simone could write a Harley I would like.

    • If I were you Gino, I’d say to just skip this book until DC has the good sense to put Gail Simone on it. And i cannot say this enough, if you want to read a good version of this book, then pick up Simone’s Secret Six. You cannot ask for a better book than that!

  2. I actually liked this WAY more than I thought I would (another win for low expectations!) based solely on the quality of the zero issue. All of the Suicide Squad stuff bored the hell out of me, but I thought the Joker writing was appropriately Joker-y.

    • Yeah, the Joker stuff elevated this issue for sure. Unfortunately it elevated it from “Blech” to “Meh.” Seriously, if you want a good Suicide Squad book then skip Suicide Squad and read Secret Six instead. Simone has MASTERED writing flawed characters with depth and charm. She should be put on this book ASAP.

  3. Let’s clear this up right away and be honest about it, I’m not paying for my Suicide Squad; I was reading it at first to see if it would be any good, and I’m reading it now because of DotF, and would like to read it after that if Harley stops being written terribly, otherwise I’ll drop it for sure, but either way I’m saving my money for the comics that are actually good like Batman, Batgirl, Swamp Thing, etc.

    And you’re right Drew, the Joker bits were pretty in-line with his character but I’m just so put off by Harley in this issue that it really can’t save it for me. +1 to Gail writing Harley into Batgirl (or anything else new), that would do her much more justice than this does.

  4. I literally got nothing of value from this issue outside of the continuity fix for having Harley at Ace in Batman 13… So glad I dropped this book half-a-year ago. I’ll pick up SS 15 just to complete its DoTF contribution (and ONLY because Harley is fundamenal to modern Joker mythology), but that will be the last issue I pick up until we have a totally new creative team.

  5. Hey Mik, I don’t know that Harley drawing down on Joker is that big a deal. He did greet her by punching her in the face – it’s not like they have a healthy relationship in the first place. Like I imagine that they draw pistols on eachother all the time just for funsies!

    • I’m sure that they do but Harley drew down on Joker because he was threatening Deadshot’s body. I just don’t buy that. If Harley was miffed at Joker for the punch to the face then she didn’t show it until Deadshot’s non-life was threatened. (which also makes no sense motivationally speaking.) I HATE THIS BOOK. lol

      • Yeah, I was balking at that, too. I haven’t even been reading the book but it seemed to me like Glass was more interested in making the Deadshot death/burial meaningful by forcing some emotional reaction with Harley. Lady’s a psychopath in love with a reasonless murderer, I REALLY don’t think she would hold sacred the body of this hick assassin she fucked one time. It’s not like it was love… her only real love is/was Joker. I also don’t like how she is supposedly mortified enough by this threat to pull a gun on Joker but in the Batman 13 backup (which happens AFTERWARD) she seems like she’s down with getting freaky if that’s the order of the day.

        • Exactly, there is also the fact that you KNOW that this really isn’t the end of Deadshot. He’s too familiar a villain to really die and can be written really well in capable hands. The scene in this issue featuring Resurrection Man’s hand was a total set up for the eventual return of Deadshot. I even theorize that Deadshot’s body isn’t even in the coffin. That’s why Joker never got the chance to open the coffin. Waller totally has his body floating in one of those preservative tubes. Count on it.

            • Was that a stated rule? I know that was supposed to be the fall-out of Blackest Night (defeated, Nekron can grant no more temporary returns), but I assumed that would be the first thing to get erased with the relaunch. There’s an explanation for it in-story, but Animal Man has already been killed and resurrected (plus whatever’s happening to Hal and Sinestro right now). “Dead is dead” is a noble goal to aim for, but the Big Two would never be able to make that stick.

              • Yeah, I think you’re right Patrick. As much as it is overused, comic book deaths and resurrections can make for some pretty compelling story telling when used right. Besides, DC’s already hurt themselves with the 5 year rule, a no resurrection rule would be like rubbing salt in the wound.

  6. I can understand some instances of cheating death are necessary, but I think at least a few characters should actually stay dead when they die once in a while, so that we’re actually worried when they die, rather than wonder what gimmick will br used to bring them back.

    • I agree with you Gino. Barry Allen and Bucky Barnes USED to prove that sometimes these characters really do stay dead. For the 20 years that Barry was dead he attained a level of sainthood in the DCU and turned a sidekick into an extraordinarily compelling character who constantly strived to be as good as his mentor AND proved another rule that sometimes sidekicks do graduate and take over for their mentors.

      That said, I don’t think it was a bad thing that either characters came back. Both have been very successful in their own rights. Bucky becoming Winter Soldier is one of the best things to ever happen to Captain America and the new Flash book is definitely a favorite around Retcon-Punch and in general.

      While I think The Flash is a good book, I personally feel that Barry served a more important purpose in his death and served to bring extra weight to these characters deaths. It’s like this, Batman once told Superman (in the pages of Infinite Crisis) “The last time you really inspired anyone was when you were dead.” No matter how good Barry’s Flash book gets, I can’t shake the feeling that I’ll always think that way about the character.

  7. I have heard you guys rave about secret six done by Gail Simone. Is there any volume in particular I should pick up or do they all stand out?

    • Well, it’s really one big series and it’s been awhile since I’ve read it so if there is a standout, I can’t recall at this point. BUT, I would highly recommend it. It was an absolute joy to read and there really aren’t THAT many volumes. Technically, the miniseries titled Villains United is the first volume. BUT, you could probably just start with Vol. 1 of Secret Six if you want. Villains United will give you the origin of the team, but it’s also a part of lead in to Infinite Crisis. That said, you don’t have to read any Infinite Crisis stuff in order to go from the Villains United mini to Vol. 1 of Secret Six.

      Altogether, I think you’d be looking at 7 volumes to read the entire series. Worth every dime my friend.

  8. Pingback: Suicide Squad 20 | Retcon Punch

  9. I love most of the new comic books…such as Harley Quinn #1. The Joker is my favorite male character…and Harley Quinn is my favorite female character….that’s why they’re perfect for each other. But it pisses me off that joker has become such a jerk….not to mention the fact that stupid @$$ DC comics made it seem like the joker is either gay or bisexual by having him call bat man “darling” towards the end of the comic book. That’s why I’m so disappointed in Death of the family. DC should leave the joker the hell alone….leave him as a straight man……then bring the joker and harley quinn back together.

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