A Valiant Attempt at Saving a Story Arc (and failing): Suicide Squad #25
Writer: Rob Williams
Art: Giuseppe Cafaro and Agustin Padilla
Lettering: Pat Brosseau
Editor: Andy Khouri
Cover: Juan Ferreyra
Variant Cover: Alex Sinclair
After the unmitigated disaster of a previous issue, I appreciated the attempt to salvage what could be saved of the character development and story arcs leading up to this finale. The book feels less forced than the previous episode and there’s several almost subversive moments where both myself and a handful of people I discuss comics with were left with an impression the writer was attempting to communicate to the reader that this wasn’t the resolution he wanted either. That could be wishful thinking on our part, but I’m going to hold on to it as it leaves me with a higher opinion of the writer than I’d have otherwise. As all but the last issue has been the first really enjoyable run of Suicide Squad since the beginning of DC’s Rebirth, I’d rather walk away feeling that his hands were tied by the editorial staff, as opposed to this being his own preference.
Among the better moments in this issue are several where Harley clearly lays the blame on Amanda for everything that has gone wrong. Instead of allowing the dues ex machina of mind control to absolve Waller of her poor behavior, Harley does not accept this and sees what has happened as the inevitable results of Waller’s behaviors and worldview. This is driven home by a scene where, instead of allowing Waller to lay claim to a massive number of new “recruits” now available with the collapse of The People, Harley detonates the bombs implanted in the heads of these enslaved criminals to keep them out of Waller’s grasp.
Another of the better sequences is the return of Captain Boomerang. When last seen, several issues ago, the Suicide Squad had abandoned him to a likely death as a result of his own shite behavior. Instead of returning with an ax to grind or slinking off to somewhere outside of what
is, in essence, an existence of forced slavery, he returns as an ally. The explanation as to why he makes this choice makes it one of several excellent segments and just this once I won’t spoil it for the reader. I will say it was one of those moments that made me remember why I fell in love with this title years ago. It also closed with a teaser that offers a hint at an upcoming story arc that would allow a Harley to return to something closer to her more traditional self (we all know it’s going to happen, c’mon) in a more organic and satisfying way than was beginning to seem likely. At least if it’s handled well. I know I’m one of the few who likes Harley when she is a little less cartoon character with a hammer and a bit more broken, or even when she is trying to evolve and become a different person than she has been. But if I must bid this Harley ado, I am hopeful it will be done in an appropriate way. Who knows, I could very well be wrong, and this new hard ass Harley might stick around for longer than I expect.
Writing: Between the excellent handling of Boomerangs return, which I admit was not at all what I expected, to the way the entire Squad holds Amanda responsible and makes it quite clear that they would rather be dead than live like this before issues end, it was a far better issue than I expected. I came in terrified that I’d be spoon fed another barely sensible set of rapid fire changes in the character’s personalities and states of mind and another dose of cop-out resolutions. Instead Rob Williams seemed to be doing the best he could with what he had to work with. So perhaps last issue was just a series of mistakes, deadlines, some other calamity. Perhaps the blame can be laid on the editorial staff and demands placed upon him. Either way, he did a decent job of patching together a somewhat fulfilling ending to a series of story arcs stretching back across twenty-four previous installments.
Artwork: The artwork is somewhat inconsistent, not only from page to page, but from panel to panel. It ranges from the high-end of passable to a handful of panels that are worthy of being wall prints. Some of the best work focused on Harley, Boomerang, or the Squad as a whole. These pieces tended to show up during moments of rejection of Waller and her methodology and excuses or in a handful of other more emotionally heightened sequences. Makes for a weird read, but it is also a major step up from the previous issue. As a small number of panels are outstandingly excellent, it helps make up for the more mediocre artwork the surrounds it.