The third volume in the adventures of a secret black ops group full of B- and C-list villains features even more Harley Quinn than before, gives Yo-Yo an origin story, and ties itself not only to the Death of the Family event, but books like Team 7, Birds of Prey, and Teen Titans as well.
Suicide Squad, Vol. 3: Death is for Suckers collects issues #14-19 and is presented in traditional softcover format. The first two of these issues deal primarily with Harley Quinn though as the Death of the Family event crosses over into the world of Amanda Waller and her Suicide Squad. These tie-ins were very unnecessary for those only interested in the Joker story, but actually make a real impact on the character development of Harley Quinn, who grows increasingly more independent in this volume. Character progression is a good thing, but the actual story in which it occurs is not. Much like all other Death of the Family tie-ins, we have Joker torturing our hero while monologuing, then he takes a few blows and vanishes. Weirdly, writer Adam Glass ends the 2-parter with a horribly injured Harley Quinn walking back to Belle Reve… from Gotham City. That’s a long hike from New Jersey to Louisiana. The artwork by Fernando Dagino starts out fair but grows increasingly inconsistent what with Harley’s cape vanishing and reappearing between panels, the collar changing in size, legs looking way too long, and Joker himself not looking all that creepy (he just has some horizontal lines on his face, that’s it).
Once the Death of the Family business is taken care of we dive right back into the mystery of Deadshot’s revival and whatever happened with Basilisk, major plot points from the previous volume. We even get a flashback showing how the Basilisk arc truly came to a close, which was nice but not all too thrilling. The way that the team is able to “save the day” proved all too convenient and made Harley look far too powerful. Harley’s bad-ass qualities are emphasized even more following the Death of the Family tie-ins. With her newfound independence we see a character that’s less like Harley Quinn and more like Sarah Connor. I can’t say I’m a fan of this direction. Seeing Harley Quinn best people who were trained by the League of Assassins doesn’t feel right at all. As for the rest of the Suicide Squad, there’s a subplot involving a potential immortality among them that’s touched upon briefly and forgotten about, never to be spoken of again. Not only was this odd to bring up and then immediately drop, but reviving Deadshot, Yo-Yo (see the last volume), and hinting that the other members can’t actually die hurts this series in a big way. I mean, one of the most fun things about this book was knowing that we were seeing C-list characters who didn’t really matter and could die at any time. Nobody was truly safe! But now calling them the SUICIDE Squad definitely doesn’t feel appropriate. Where’s the risk?
While Joker is sure to get the most attention, the real plot of Death is for Suckers lies with Yo-Yo’s sister Red Orchid, however her villainous plan is never fully explained and therefore it never feels as though much is at stake. Yo-Yo’s origin story is touched upon briefly but, again, is dropped and never referenced again after a couple of pages. Establishing a stronger bond between him and his sister might have made for a more emotional and compelling confrontation, but ultimately his backstory and the new villain were completely forgettable. What is interesting is the package that the Suicide Squad is sent to retrieve from Red Orchid. Apparently this package is of great importance to books like Team 7 (which was canceled VERY quickly), Birds of Prey, and Teen Titans but if you never read those titles then it’s going to be pretty meaningless to you. Also meaningless is the time and place of events that occur because for the bulk of this story all we know is that the action is occurring in Chinatown– there are a lot of cities all over the world that host a Chinatown– and it’s not until part 3 that we see a batsignal and know we’re in Gotham. And much like the Death of the Family arc we have Amanda Waller making the trip from Belle Reve to Gotham in no-time at all. Somebody needs to tell Adam Glass that Gotham is not in Louisiana.
Besides the plot being unable to really draw me, the dialogue was also very off-putting. When it isn’t trying too hard to be funny with failed quips and forced banter, the characters of Suicide Squad are spouting lengthy speech bubbles of exposition again and again.
The artwork by Henrik Jonsson is less stiff than that of Dagino and works well for the occasional action sequences in Chinatown, but I found the character poses and overall composition of many of the panels to not properly convey what was going on in the scene and some of the faces appeared a bit too angular. Inker Sandu Florea also went too heavy on the thickness of the lines in much of the background imagery.
The 2nd print cover for issue #14, the gatefold cover for issue #19, 3 pages of sketches and inks by Fernando Dagino, and 2 pages of pencils by Henrik Jonsson. It’s not much, but at least the rough sketches and pencils are interesting.
Value: Dirt Cheap
It’s definitely cheaper than what you would’ve spent for each issue individually, but I see nothing here worth re-reading. If you can find it on ebay for a couple of bucks then have at it.
Death is for Suckers tries and fails to be a funny action adventure. It’s kind of sad to see Adam Glass exit the series he started back in 2011 on such a low note.