Wednesday, July 20, 2016

New Suicide Squad #22 Review and **SPOILERS**

I Dream of Harley

Written By: Sean Ryan
Art By: Ronan Cliquet, Blond
Lettered By: Dave Sharpe
Cover Price: $2.99
On Sale Date: July 20, 2016


January 2016
Mr. DC: Seems there’s a Suicide Squad movie coming out this summer, ladies and gentlemen.
Mr. DC’s Lackeys: [in unison] YES SIR!
Mr. DC: We’ve got to do more with this New Suicide Squad title, it’s stagnating.
Mr. DC’s Lackeys: [in unison] YES SIR!
Mr. DC: Unchain Jim Lee from the toy sculpting division and chain him to the illustration division. We need a talent like his to put our best foot forward.
Mr. DC’s Lackeys: [in unison] YES SIR!

March 2016
Mr. DC: So, ladies and gentlemen, how goes things at the office?
Mr. DC’s Lackeys: [in unison] GREAT SIR!
Mr. DC: And what about this New New Suicide Squad book? Has Jim Lee begun working on it?
Mr. DC’s Lackeys: [in unison] YES SIR!
Mr. DC: Great! What is his progress?
Mr. DC’s Most Obsequious Lackey: He has been thinking about it, sir!
Mr. DC: Thinking about it?
Mr. DC’s Most Obseqious Lackey: Yes sir!
Mr. DC: [sighs] Tell him to stop thinking about it and start putting pencil to paper, or he will get no water rations for a week!
Mr. DC’s Lackeys: [in unison] YES SIR!

May 2016
Mr. DC: Everything seems to be going swimmingly with Rebirth, ladies and gentlemen, but the board is most concerned with the New Suicide Squad Rebirth title. The film is going to be tremendously popular by all accounts.
Mr. DC’s Lackeys: [in unison] YES SIR!
Mr. DC: [pauses] Well…how goes it?
Mr. DC’s Most Obsequious Lackey: Swimmingly, sir!
Mr. DC: Do you have anything I can see?
Mr. DC’s Most Obsequious Lackey: [produces a large sheet of paper with one pencil mark in the center and hands it to Mr. DC]
Mr. DC: [squinting at the page in scrutiny] What am I looking at here?
Mr. DC’s Most Obsequious Lackey: The incredible work of superstar artist and DC co-publisher Jim Lee, sir!
Mr. DC: What…what is this?
Mr. DC’s Most Obsequious Lackey: Harley Quinn’s eyelash, sir!
Mr. DC: [sighs] Just pull a story out of inventory. Maybe we’ll get a Jim Lee Suicide Squad comic book in time for the sequel.
Mr. DC’s Lackeys: [in unison] YES SIR!
Mr. DC: Jeeves, bring my rickshaw around. I’m going to Friendly’s for a sundae.

Explain It!

Though this comic book is titled New Suicide Squad, this issue should have been named Harley Quinn Featuring the New Suicide Squad, because this is another Quinn-centric one-off issue that contains guest appearances by members of Task Force X, aka the Suicide Squad…and it’s not even really them. Let me explain: Harley is lying on the couch of her therapist’s office, most likely at Belle Reve Prison, and begins to regress into the inner-workings of her mind—and the reader gets to go along with her! So we see Harley the way she sees herself, which is initially alone in inky blackness with one spotlight beaming down on her. She looks oppressed by the darkness somehow, but Harley spies a backlit doorway that seems to be obscuring a party, so she makes off for it when she is admonished by the Batman! And not just any Batman, but a freaky, dreamland Batman that looks sort of like Kelley Jones’ Batman crossed with a tank. He tells her to stay in the lame, poorly-lit place, but Harley Quinn says girls, they wanna have fun and steps through the beckoning doorway to find a decidedly red-hued Amusement Park where everyone is bound and gagged!

Harley, and therefore we, see an impossible roller coaster known as the Death Trap, and Harley Quinn endeavors to take a ride without putting on her safety harness. These supervillains will flaunt any rule! As she does the loop-de-loop on these tracks, they take on a decidedly purple and green color scheme, then end without ceremony and the cars are launched, with Harley in them, into a pile of human teeth. Gross. They start embedding themselves in Harley, so she makes a break for the exit where an unassuming house sits on a knoll. Harley Quinn makes a dash for the house as a tsunami of white teeth threatns to subsume her, and she reaches the door handle just in time for us to experience a flashback to Harleen “Harley Quinn” Quinzell’s youth! Teenage Harley looks like adult Harley, except smaller and in pigtails, and we seem to be in the kitchen of her childhood home where she sits with her disapproving mother. Harley asks about her dad, then the scene switches to a scene early in Dr. Quinzell’s career at Arkham Asylum. She is telling the Director that she’s bored, then the scene cuts back and forth between the kitchen and the Director’s office, with Harley’s mom playing the role of the disapproving conscience and the Director, well, implicates an offer to take over the case for the asylum’s most dangerous inmate!

Now we go further back in Harley’s life, she’s a little girl thrilled to see her father come home. Harley’s mom, however, is less than thrilled and gives him shit right away. As they argue, Harley retreats into her toys, which, for no reason in particular, take on the semblance of the Suicide Squad—specifically, the iteration of the team during Sean Ryan’s time on the title. This scene is wiped away by a convenience and replaced by Harley’s mom flatly saying that her dad is dead—I’m not sure if it’s implied that she killed him or what, but it distresses Quinn a lot because she lacks the constitution of Jim and Eric. Harley goes through a montage of the people in her life who gave her a lot of shit: mom, Batman…a dead cat? Eventually, this settles on the distorted face of the Joker who says that Harley belongs with him! This snaps Harley out of her tripped-out reverie and brings us back to the therapist’s office from the beginning of the story, where we learn Harley is being analyzed by herself, Dr. Harleen Quinzell! Dr. Quinzell says she just wants to learn why Harley feels trapped, then the scene cuts to her cell, dark and lit by one shaft of light, where Harley is all alone. She hallucinated the entire session!

So even though this was not really a story about the Suicide Squad at all, I still enjoyed it enough. This ongoing campaign by DC Comics to flesh out Harley’s personality is yielding some good dividends by now, we’ve already learned to empathize with Harley Quinn, and learning about her tortured youth colors in more of that picture. Still, it’s a bit of a bait-and-switch to promise one thing on the cover and deliver an entirely different story inside. If we’d gotten other one-offs about Deadshot, or Black Manta, or Captain Boomerang, I might feel otherwise, but as it stands this is more of the ceaseless deluge of Harley Quinn material we’ve been getting every month for a few years now, and with the movie on the horizon I don’t see it abating any time soon. The art in this book okay, except for the big splash page that looked unfinished for some reason. Unless you’re a completest, you can just keep waiting for New Suicide Squad Rebirth next month, since this issue doesn’t even really contain the team, nor will most of these personal revelations be relevant going forward.

Bits and Pieces:

Another one-off issue of Harley Quinn Featuring the New Suicide Squad delivers some intriguing backstory for the leading lady of sociopathy, but not much else in the way of the rest of the team. Big fans of the character will want to see this issue, those waiting for the New Suicide Squad to get going can keep waiting. The art is mostly good, but uneven, and looks particularly sparse where it counts. This issue actually plays better as a horror comic than your typical action-packed Suicide Squad fare.

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