A solid final issue to a story arc that went just a little too long. There was an artist change here, but Juan Ferreyra stuck around to do some plotting and finishes that helped make the transition more seamless. I like this team, and especially like the patter between Harley Quinn and Deadshot, but I feel like it began so long ago I don't even remember all the details anymore. This is a good creative team that I wouldn't have minded seeing more from, unfortunately Suicide Squad Rebirth debuts next month and Tim Seeley will be plying his words with new artists! Let's see how that goes.
Wednesday, June 15, 2016
New Suicide Squad #21 Review and **SPOILERS**
The Truth Behind the Rose
Art By: Gus Vazquez, Juan Ferreyra
Letters By: Nate Piekos of Blambot®
Cover Price: $2.99
On Sale Date: June 15, 2016
**NON SPOILERS AND SCORE AT BOTTOM**
Do you think there are a lot of jobs in this world that can only be performed under threat of being murdered? And I don’t mean dangerous jobs, where a misstep or accident could be fatal. I mean a job where, if you don’t do what’s expected of you, then you are killed. I suppose working under an evil dictator or for some kind of crime syndicate might operate at this level, but you don’t hear about it so much in ordinary society. I work in an office myself, and frankly I don’t think it would be a great motivator. If the option were to work late compiling long reams of data for some tabulated report that will never be read by anyone, or to be executed by firing squad, I might take the execution. Especially if it’s been a shitty day, like maybe if Gladys stops by my cubicle and wants to chat me up about her goddamned cats. Look, I like cats, okay? I told her I like cats. But that doesn’t mean I want to hear about their every idiosyncrasy for an hour every other day. The woman’s got nineteen of the flipping things, man! I don’t know if I should placate her or report her. So yeah, I might take the murder, and that’s why I’m not on the Suicide Squad. Those crazy bastards actually want to live. Read on to find out why.
Legend has it that in the Long Long Ago, there was a primitive DC Unvierse where the Suicide Squad weren’t in Fleischaus Castle on the border of the Czech Republic. Any records of this period that might have existed, however, have been lost to time, and so modern humankind can only recognize the Suicide Squad as a team of DC characters that have been in Fleischaus for fucking ever. Seriously, I feel like they were all born in this crazy Satan castle, they grew to maturity within its walls, and will ultimately die there, having sired a new generation of people with cheetah skin and marksmen. So…god, this story has gotten so crazy…Harley Quinn and El Diablo are watching a girl fight between Cheetah and Rose Tattoo, the spirit of murder who was attracted to the scene by all the, well, murder. As flames flicker around the room and Rose Tattoo methodically kicks Cheetah’s ass, El Diablo reminisces on the first time he used his powers of immolation, which he thinks put Rose Tattoo on his tail and cause her to show up here. Uh, get over yourself dude—there’s like a hundred and fifty corpses littered around the place, she’s not caught up on your little gimmick. Over in the chapel portion of Fleischaus, Deathtrap presents the body of Floyd “Deadshot” Lawton, who he killed at the end of the last issue. Heir to the Buddy Reed coffee fortune Adam Reed is impressed enough to stick a knife in Deathtrap’s neck and leave him gurgling on the ground, gasping for life. Now, all the pieces for Reed’s dumb evil ritual to assume control of murderous cult Fist of Cain are in place: the prostrate form of Amanda Waller is placed in the arms of their saint, who is a skeleton because of course he is, and some of Adam Reed’s attendants wearing lamb masks drape a brown blanket around his shoulders. Reed stands at a podium and delivers a speech that is broadcast to all Fist of Cain members, explaining that he should be the boss because he’s about to kill Waller. The breakdown of this page is great, all panels inset into a silhouette of Castle Fleischaus showing the reactions of different cultists and members of the Suicide Squad, came across as very cinematic.
Back to El Diablo and Harley, he tells his sob story while Rose Tattoo…I mean, she’s really fucking Cheetah up. Just annihilating her. If Cheetah had any sense at all, she would play dead at this point. El Diablo enters the fray and it becomes a test of…wills, I guess? Basically El Diablo blasts the crap out of Rose Tattoo with fire and she seems to be likewise blasting him, and they seem to blast each other out of existence, giving Harley and Cheetah a chance to escape. Back at the chapel, Adam Reed is going through with this stupid rites when one lamb-masked follower notices a rose petal on Deadshot’s mask. Just as Adam Reed is about to stab Amanda Waller, Deadshot comes to and kicks the lamb-masked guy in the butt while shooting Reed directly in his knife-holding hand, making it very difficult for him to continue holding the knife. I can’t remember if the “rose bullet” trick was mentioned last issue or what, but it seems like Deathtrap fired some fake bullet made of rose petals or something? I dunno, but after this Deathtrap, still bleeding profusely from his neck, makes Deadshot a newly-reloaded gun from his old one, then Cheetah and Harley bust in and all hell breaks loose. Cheetah sees the opportunity to kill Waller herself, and is all set to do it when Adam Reed threatens to blow the brain bombs inserted into the base of all the Suicide Squad members’ skulls, which Reed took control of forty or fifty issues ago. Before he can press the trigger, a boomerang smashes through the window and slices Reed’s device-holding hand clean off his arm!
Yep, I didn’t even mention that the first page of this comic book had Captain Boomerang taking control of the security station for Castle Fleischaus, which honestly was just one dude in a ewe mask sitting at a bunch of screens. This gave him the opportunity to come in and save the day, which is to say he rescued a bunch of convicted killers and criminals from being sacrificed to an evil god of a cult based around killing for sport. Sort of tough to call any of this a “win.” The good Captain has also arranged an extraction, and Deadshot offers to take Deathtrap back to Belle Reve Prison where he can be treated like an asshole by Waller as well, but Deathtrap decides to stay behind and take out the entire castle with his telekinetic powers, destroying himself and the Fist of Cain in the process. Deadshot considers sticking around with his new BFF, but Captain Boomerang slings a rope around him with—you guessed it—a boomerang and yoinks Deadshot out of trouble with the rest of the team. Back at Belle Reve, it looks like things are back to normal, including Harley sneaking into the men’s room to flirt with Deadshot and come up with escape plans—but this time, Floyd is glad to have her around while he takes a poop. Must be something in the tone of her voice.
I enjoyed this issue, and despite the change in series artist, having Ferreyra do breakdowns and colors helped to keep the general look intact. And Gus Vazquez is no piker, either. My only problem with this story arc is that it was too damned long, plain and simple—this should have been three issues at most, and most of the character development could have happened in one of them. Having to return to this damned castle month after month really tempered my interest in the story, and though there were some memorable interactions (mainly involving Deadshot), it made me less invested in the individual characters. I mean, half of the team was basically standing around in each issue because there wasn’t anything interesting for them to do. This is why El Diablo’s sacrifice fell a little flat for me. But this conclusion was pretty satisfying overall, and makes me interested in the Ongoing Adventures of Harley Quinn and Deadshot going forward, when the comic will be bi-weekly and one of those, sources say, will be drawn by Jim Lee.
Bits and Pieces: