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.
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