Wednesday, April 6, 2016
Harley Quinn and the Suicide Squad April Fool’s Special #1 Review and **SPOILERS**
The Doctor is Quinn
Written By: Rob Williams
Art By: Jim Lee, Sean “Cheeks” Galloway, Scott Williams, Sandra Hope, Richard Friend, Alex Sinclair
Letters By: Travis Lanham
Cover Price: $4.99
Release Date: April 6, 2016
**Non-Spoilers and Score At The Bottom**
I have a theory that DC Comics has no idea why Harley Quinn is so popular. I don’t blame them, frankly; I have no idea why Harley Quinn is such a popular character. I like her just fine, loved her in the original cartoon, but I’d never have thought she’d be supporting several titles running concurrently, with mini-series and Annuals for Harley Quinn popping out like Ariel Winter’s breasts in my disgusting, unspeakable dreams. With a much-anticipated Suicide Squad movie coming out this Summer, and Harley is on the Suicide Squad, and, uh, April is a month too, well that’s just good sense-making to have a Harley Quinn and the Suicide Squad Special comic book on the stands, y’hear me? So here it is, five days later and about a buck more than expected: my review of issue number one! Read on, and that’s no foolin’!
Why do I have to get the difficult comics to review around here? It’s never “hero fights space squid, loses, regroups, beats space squid.” It’s always some pensive, angst-driven narrative or some surreal traipse through some character’s LSD-induced vision that I have to somehow dissect and make sense of. Case in point: this whole issue can be summed up as an induced nightmare experienced by Harley Quinn at the hands of Amanda Waller, in order to prepare her for admission to the Suicide Squad. That would be the super condensed version. But as the condescending asshole probably told someone younger yet more successful than he, “the journey’s the thing, kid,” and it is within the panels of this journey that this comic book works. Which, strictly speaking, is a good thing because inside the panels is sort of where the pictures and words go, as well.
So Harley gets an invitation from a shadowy figure, that looks alarmingly like old school Amanda Waller, to join a villain support group called Evil Anonymous, and for some reason Harley decides this is a sign she should return to her initial life as Dr. Harleen Quinzell, psychotherapist with a penchant for dressing inappropriately for her job. This would be strange if the precise same thing hadn’t already happened in the pages of Harley Quinn by Conner and Palmiotti back when the series first started. I’m not sure if Harley’s decision here is meant to imply that she will be switching from doctor to destructor in the pages of future issues of Suicide Squad as well, but if that’s the case then I suppose I’m fine with it. It’s not like the heroes don’t do it all the flipping time. And a hero is what Harley thinks she is, someone who had to become a supervillain in order to understand the supervillain, and—ultimately—help the supervillain. And the first supervillain she wants to help, with her psychiatrist’s degree and newfound sense of purpose? Man-Bat!
I mean, can we even consider Man-Bat technically crazy? He’s more a guy that turns into a giant bat, right? You wouldn’t give a bat psychotherapy, certainly not to get it to deny its bat-hood, unless you were unnecessarily cruel and creative about it. But no, Harley is single-minded and actually pounces on Man-Bat mid-flight, who then plummets and careens through crowded streets like…well, like a giant bat with Harley Quinn on his back. At one point they carom off the front of a fire truck and knock heads—this becomes important later—and this renders Man-Bat unconscious, so Quinn uses him as a glider and surfs into a rubble-filled alleyway. Whole scene gave me nice Teen Wolf vibes. Harley attempts to run from the pursuing cops, but it seems that knock on the head was worse than she thought, because she blacks out.
Harley has another brief vision of a person who looks awfully familiar beckoning her into a car, then everything goes black again until the next page, where she’s dressed in her Dr. Quinzell get-up and sleeping on the couch of a psychiatrist’s office. This part of the book is drawn by Sean “Cheeks” Galloway, and it is absolutely awesome! It’s very cartoony and definitely in the style of manga, but I just wanted to see more and more of the DCU rendered this way, the more I read this section. Since she’s in a psychiatrist’s office anyway, Harley starts taking on some supervillains as clients, and meets with Killer Moth, Ratcatcher, the Enchantress, Toyman, and some guy with a Starro starfish on his face. Harley Quinn’s buddy Poison Ivy drops by and they go out for drinks after committing a little bank robbery, so Harley can remember how great she was before she sold out and tried to help the mentally handicapped.
Bored with pursuing her life’s calling, Harley manipulates Killer Moth to confront the Scarecrow, who is just sort of out in the streets menacing people, so she can steal one of his tanks of fear gas while he’s distracted. And yes, Sean “Cheeks” Galloway’s Scarecrow looks very cute. Back at the office, Harley Quinn has all of her clients jammed on her couch, and after pointing out that she knows all of their secrets and weaknesses, doses them with fear gas to become the Quinnpin of Crime? Is this the weirdest plan ever or what? Why does it matter what everyone’s weakness is if she’s just going to dose them with fear gas? The point is moot, I suppose, because the Justice League busts through the ceiling or the scene shifts, I’m not sure what happened there. But we can pretty much tell it’s a shuffling of artists, so we go with it.
The Justice League makes quick work of Harley Quinn, and we’re treated to some classic Jim Lee renderings of the New 52 team, perhaps as their swan song before June’s Rebirth. That’s when Harley realizes that superheroes…are the real bullies here! And the way some of them behave in their comics, she’s not entirely wrong. But her realization is simply the result of hypnotic control foisted by Amanda Waller, who is looking a little chunkier than normal and like she was inked in a dark room. Harley is restrained with her eyes clipped open, forced to watch several screens of superheroes that somehow trigger her hatred of them. Seems she’s been there for days, which is downright cruel, but it was all necessary, according to Waller, for her insertion into the new Suicide Squad team: Captain Boomerang, Deadshot, Killer Croc and Katana, whose comic will be debuting this June! I think!
So the general story was sort of like something chucked down a short flight of stairs, with weird breaks for Jim Lee and Sean “Cheeks” Galloway to do-si-do at two points in the book. It was okay overall, but had some clunky bits that screwed with the pacing. The art by Lee and Galloway was pretty great, though—particularly Sean “Cheeks” Galloway, whose stylings grew on me as his section went on. In fact, I wrote this poem to him:
Oh Sean “Cheeks” Galloway
Your drawr’n’s unique style-oway
Is something I want more of
I wouldn’t ever bore of
And I don’t mean on some weirdo book
Like Gotham Academy or whatever
But something like Green Lantern or even Teen Titans
DC, pay this man and make it happen
I don’t know that this issue will prove to be too enlightening in the specific about the upcoming Suicide Squad Rebirth comic, but I do know they have big plans to release it twice a month with Jim Lee and Phillip Tan rotating on art. If this is the opening salvo to that upcoming run, well it’s a pretty enticing bit of ammunition. Let’s see what’s what when something of consequence happens.
Bits and Pieces:
Here's a sneak peek at the new Suicide Squad (not to be confused with the New Suicide Squad) that will be coming with DC's Rebirth in June. Looks pretty good so far. The story is a little weird, even by Rob Williams' standards, and the art by Jim Lee and Sean "Cheeks" Galloway is superb. You just never want to say it any other way. Sean "Cheeks" Galloway. I'm sure his friends call him "Cheeks," but if I ever met him I would say "Hello Mr. Sean 'Cheeks' Galloway, I am a big fan of your art and an even bigger fan of your name." And then he would say "Would you be quiet? We're at a funeral." And I'd stand up all indignant and yell like, "Well! Look who's too fancy to talk to fans! Look who's so big and famous now!" And then I could collect the corpse from the coffin and storm off in a huff.