It All Comes Crashing Down in Suicide Squad #24
Writer: Rob Williams
Art: Agustin Padilla & Juan Ferreyra
Color: Adriano Lucas
Lettering: Pat Brosseau
Cover: Eddy Barrows & Eber Ferriera & Adriano Lucas
Editor: Andy Khouri
It really all does come crashing down. The character arcs, the plot, the shockingly good run of issues, and yes, the narrative. It also brings us to the crescendo of destruction before what I fear will be a sad, pat, overly simply resolution to not only the current story but the ongoing conflict with The People and Direktor Karla.
In my review of the previous issue I had mentioned several elements of the recent issues I had been impressed by. I knew some wouldn’t last, Harley’s new approach and attitude being one of them. She has become a “property” instead of a character and was straying too far from her base state, meaning she will likely be forced back through some plot mechanism in the near future. The two big boys in comics seem unable to allow “properties” to change or grow, to be new or interesting. Fans are at fault to a degree, with the outrage and outcry against any change to their dearest comic book friends. Still, the industry is far more to blame, stuck in the mode of seeing characters as franchises that need to be protected at all costs. Unfortunately they don’t seem to understand that the cost can be a slowly but constant deterioration of the fan base and the loss of respect and investment in the their company as a whole. DC, in particular, has been crippled by this for years now, made more upsetting by a very long period where this had not been the case in the past. Marvel, which has always struggled with this issue, has been slowly allowing many of their core characters to experience change or die and seems to be moving glacially in the right direction.
The exact concern I had last month was the following from my review of the previous issue:
The more likely alternative, which can work off of many of the same elements, is that this is a deception. That she is still either under the thumb of Director Karla, either by threat, most likely of her family, or some form of mental control. While the former has potential for some truly spectacular story telling, the later would be an upsetting cop-out as it would release Waller of responsibility for her most recent actions. As her development has been a long slide into being the only actual member of Task Force X who is actually beyond redemption, I sincerely hope this is not the case. If it does head in the direction of it being a ploy, then her attack on Killer Frost is most likely an attempt to intentionally bring Batman and his allies down on her head and will lead to some interesting upcoming issues, as it makes her decisions to use El Diablo in such a ruthless way and her method of taking down Frost just a touch more repugnant.
Unfortunately my worst case progression is exactly what I found while working my way through this chore of an issue. Instead of giving this book a review it doesn’t deserve, let’s just take a peak at the highlight reel of disappointments on display in the current issue.
• Amanda Waller has had a long running arc as she slowly slips into a more cutthroat and brutal person with an increasingly extremist world view. She takes the final few steps to push herself over into villainy, and nah, didn’t happen, she was possessed by a villain.
• On that note, semi-truck sized plot holes include Amanda looking at photos of her dead relatives as she makes these decisions as Waller would for Waller’s reasons. And it’s not Waller in the driver seat apparently? I am left hoping that Gulag, a character who we have barely seen in the past, has a power that doesn’t leave him fully in command, as it would at least take a bit of the sting out of this issue.
• Harley’s recent and organic changes were undone, again. And unlike in some past cases where those changes made sense and were explained, instead it’s just a flip of a light switch. She turns on Waller and is back to zany barely a villain Harley Quinn with no price to pay for her recent actions and behaviors.
• Katana turns on Waller as that will somehow make all her decisions lately better. The least awful of the instant and horrendous resolutions.
• Batman arrives to rescue Killer Frost without his Justice League. Already a bit difficult to swallow, with Frost being their team-mate, but he is badly injured to an extent where he has no hope of success. I have some issues with Batman going into a situation where luck is the only hope he has. Then he succeeds due to the deux ex machina with Harley and Katana rescuing Frost for him and putting the Batman and Frost onto one of their jets to fly off. The jet is hit by a missile launched by Waller/Gulag, but with Batman being a whole different level of franchise, it’s not like we don’t know how that will turn out.
• Deadshot was mostly absent last issue, may as well have been left out of this one entirely. As one of the core characters that made this book great at its heights, just disappointing. If the other characters and overall plot had made up for it all would be well. As they did not, it is instead very noticeable.
• The artwork ranges from mediocre to far into the sub par range, with multiple panels that made very little sense in terms of the choices of the creative team. Harley and Katana are drawn in one as shadows, despite the reader have no doubt who they are and the two of them making little effort to actually be hidden. Far more egregious is a later panel of now once again wacky Harley. She suddenly looks as if she has been ripped from Batman The Animated Series, left out to age for 20 years, and then fed some Bugs Bunny serum to fly around with little speed lines following her “zanyness”. Scratch that, imagine the same, but as passable fan art, and that’s a little closer to the actual piece.
• Seriously, I could go on, but I’d rather spare us all the pain. Let’s just say this book was an underwhelming disappointment.
Writing: I am at a loss for words with how upsetting this issue was. Suicide Squad has suffered since the announcement of the movie and increasingly so since it’s release. The characters are nearly frozen, reverting to a base state after each arc. I expected better with the powerful lead up issues, but got handed a bag full of worst-case resolutions.
Art: Sub-Par and with several pointless or poorly thought out choices.