Today, Drew and Mikyzptlk are discussing Suicide Squad 22, originally released July 10th, 2013.
Drew: Superhero team-ups are weird. Notions like marketability and synergy are taken into account over tactical utility, forcing writers to tie themselves in knots over why the Avengers would want the Hulk anywhere near them, or what value Aquaman adds to a team that already has actual superheroes on it. More importantly, a team-up often involves characters taking on specific roles within the team — which may not always “fit” their characters. Without any huge names on the title, Suicide Squad has a bit more flexibility in making the pieces fit together (and with the entire population of Belle Reve prison up for grabs, plenty of pieces to work with), but writer Ales Kot seems much more interested in how they don’t fit.
The issue finds the team hoping to foil some kind of anarchist plot…only, they have no idea what the plot might be. Deadshot and Harley Quinn head undercover in a Las Vegas casino to dig up some details, and while Deadshot looks the part in a suit and tie, Harley is just Harley. A famous supervillain wearing her trademark makeup and flamboyant costume is likely going to draw attention. Deadshot seems frustrated by this, but the bouncer that leads them away just happens to be a suspect in the plot, so I guess their plan worked? Meanwhile, the Unknown Soldier susses out the plot, and finds the location of the terrorists’ base of operations, which King Shark ably tears apart. Unfortunately, the terrorists have some kind of Godzilla-sized monster made out of suicide victims (who we’ll all remember from the end of last month’s issue). The team brings the monster down with some good old fashioned shooting (utilizing Cheetah’s skills with a gatling gun), but they may have a bigger problem — it turns out the samsara serum might end up killing anyone who uses it.
It was a little strange to me that this issue goes back to explain the confusing moments from last month’s flash forward, but doesn’t actually explain anything. Cheetah’s presence is not addressed, and the monster is equally unexplained. We understand that these “anarchoterrorists” somehow have a monster made of suicide victims, but is that magic? Frankenstein reanimation? I guess it doesn’t really matter, but it seems like an odd move to backtrack only to offer no explanation for the head-scratchers from last month.
We’re also strangely unfocused on the damage the terrorists’ plot actually does. Aside from Deadshot getting distracted by a billboard (which happens off-screen), we don’t ever get a sense of what harm their plan causes besides hypnotizing bystanders to “indulging in their most basic instincts.” Are they killing each other? Masturbating in the streets? Purchasing Mountain Dew? Waller tells the team not to worry about the collateral damage, but without a solid sense of what’s at stake, it’s hard to get particularly invested. It seems like a giant monster should always have been the primary threat.
Of course, the issue isn’t without its charms. I love the antagonistic relationship Waller and James Gordon Jr. have going (even if James does basically nothing this issue). It shows Waller being much less cruel, but I’m sure it will bite her in the ass just as hard as all of the shit she’s put the rest of the Squad through. Even the Unknown Soldier gets some good moments in this issue. His “interrogation” scene is pitch-perfect.
Not only do I believe that this is how he would handle this situation, it’s infinitely more effective than the interrogation Deadshot gives to his own suspect. Actually, my patience for the Deadshot/Harley dynamic is wearing a little thin. A lot of Harley’s laugh lines here left me groaning, and I’m still not sure why they needed to bust up that orgy. I spent the last two issues loving Kot’s treatment of Harley, so hopefully this is just a minor blip.
Mik, I know you’ve been loving this title ever since Kot took over, but this felt like the weakest of his issues. The obvious difference is that this issue featured a case of the week, which meant Kot’s character work had to give up space to a rushed plot line. Hopefully, he can find more of a groove with 2- or 3-part arcs. What did you think, Mik? Did you like how self-contained this one-off was, or would this have played any better with more space?
Mikyzptlk: Well, since this is, most unfortunately, Kot’s penultimate issue on the series, any groove he finds won’t be with the Squad. Mr. Kot has recently revealed he will no longer be working on the title as of the next issue. This news is disappointing and even a little heartbreaking. I don’t want to jump to any conclusions, especially since no details of Mr. Kot’s departure have been revealed as of this writing, but I can’t help but see this as further evidence that something is rotten in the publishing house of DC Comics. The bottom line is that I’m pissed and sad to see Mr. Kot’s extremely promising start end so soon. That aside, I’m here to talk about Suicide Squad 22, so let’s get on with it.
Drew, I completely understand the criticism you expressed about this issue, and I think you are correct in your assumption that the overall plot of this issue may not have been that important. I mean, since we didn’t really learn too much about Mother’s motivations, I can only assume that it wasn’t meant to be important to this issue. Of course, since she wasn’t specifically dealt with either, I also assume that we’ll be seeing more of her (or at least would have). Instead, I think what was important about this issue is the same thing that has been important since the beginning of Kot’s foreshortened run: the characters.
That being said, I’d agree with Drew that this is the weakest of the run so far since we didn’t get as much of that as we did in issues 20 and 21. We did get to see Kot’s Squad on a real mission for the first time, so that was nice. However, I’m not really sure if all that much was really said about the characters during that mission, or at least, how much of what was said was new or progressive of the overall plot.
Fortunately, this issue was still full of the fun, charm, and references that I’ve come to expect from the series. Seriously, this issue was chock-full of references to The Watchmen, Fight Club, and, if I’m not mistaken, My Little Pony, but my favorite of all the references had to be the following:
You’ve just got to love a good The Shining reference. I think that all of these references showcase how much fun that Ales Kot was having with this series, and it’s just a shame that that he won’t be able to keep having it.
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?