Don’t blink! Suicide Squad #14’s “main story” flies by at light-speed, and when you realize you’ve reached the end, you’ll be upset because you’ll want more! Thankfully, the back-up is less of an actual back-up these days, and more of a character-focused aside pertaining to the events of the main story. The question is whether you’ll be satisfied with some of the explanations given pertaining to previous events…
The first half of this issue is all Harley, and it’s one of the best things I’ve read in a while that puts her front and center. She’s essentially used as a plot device to help drive the narrative, but Williams does it in a masterclass way. Does that surprise anyone? No.
There’s so much rich story that is pulled from and referenced here, and nearly all of it is presented from Harley’s perspective as she comes to terms with the chaos around her: Rustam is causing havoc around the world. Waller has been murdered. Flag and Katana are missing. Deadshot has turned on the team. There’s a spy within the ranks of the Squad. Hack has been murdered… It’s a lot to take in, and a lot to deal with, which is exactly what Williams does. He let’s us absorb everything for a chunk of the issue.
I’ve praised Williams for taking the time and initiative to deal with consequences, and it honestly is one of the great qualities he has as a writer. His approach here is similar in that the consequences of characters’ actions are front and center, but his delivery is different in this chapter. There’s not a whirlwind of bad ideas coming to haunt the team, just nightmares of their current reality.
Since Rebirth, Harley has been rediscovering herself to a degree. She’s been toying with the idea of redemption while also acknowledging who she is, who she can be, and what the reality of her future is. After discovering Hack’s body, all of those emotions and thoughts bubble up. She knows she can never fully redeem herself, but Hack, Harley believed she was a tried and true hero. It’s captivating to watch Harley have such emotional clarity, and as I stated above, one of the best moments she’s had in a while. It’s also exactly what she needs to motivate her to embark on a suicide mission. So guess what happens… She goes on a suicide mission!
Rustam also receives respectable attention by book-ending this issue. Williams provides more details into how he’s crusading across the world and freeing prisoners without being stopped by other heroes. Again, this is another area where Williams succeeds with his narratives: he considers the finer details. How many times do we read comics and think, “Where is Superman, Batman, the Justice League, etc?” Well here, you get an indirect answer to that, but it makes a world of difference and allows the actions to become more believable.
As for the other Squad members, the narrative unfortunately fumbles a bit. Killer Croc and Enchantress are thrown in, and it feels quite shoehorned. If I’m being honest, I would have been ok with them not appearing in the issue.
Digger obviously gets a solid spotlight, and he better after killing Hack earlier this month. I was super excited to understand his reasoning for what he’s doing, as well has his ties to Harcourt if there are any. While there are some answers here, they aren’t satisfying at all, and hopefully it isn’t the full explanation. The entire coverage of Boomerang is a bit confusing because it jumps back and forth between various times. I kept having to stop, look back, and determine when each scene was taking place – something that ultimately pulled me from the story more than I would like. I’m not overly disappointed because I believe that Williams will expand on this in the next issue (or perhaps issues), but if he doesn’t it will be a severe miss!
In the end though, despite it’s fumbles, this was another solid turnout for Suicide Squad. While there are moments that are great, overall it is one of the weaker issues Williams has penned. By all means though, go get this issue because the larger story – and even these shining moments – are well worth your money.
The Art: Romita and Barrows continue to tag-team the art. They’re both, respectfully, good, but they don’t mesh well as a team. And to no one’s surprise, I prefer Barrows’ art over Romita’s.
As you all know, I’m not a fan of Romita’s work, but this issue wasn’t as painful for me. He appears to be slowly abandoning his stylization, and is just delivering his art. That’s my perception anyway, because his characters look less blocky (that’s a technical term… not really), and a little more natural. Or, perhaps, I’m just getting used to seeing his work every other week.
Breakdowns for this issue
Harley. Harley’s characterization was the main focus above, but it’s worth mentioning again. There’s just something about her reaction to Hack – while also knowing her mental state – that is powerful and moving!
Freedom. I love what Williams is doing with Rustam. He’s not overselling Rustam, and that alone makes the threat feel larger. Acknowledging that they’re keeping tabs on metahumans, and fleeing place prior to the arrival of heroes also adds a nice element explanation for how Rustam and team are so successful in their mission.
Man Down. Damn. I didn’t see that coming. Clearly Harley will be fine, and I’m still certain Deadshot is working an angle with Waller, but I wasn’t expecting this. Good play, Williams. Now make sure you finish strong.
Waller. Hey! It’s the biggest surprise that isn’t really a surprise! I don’t think any of us really thought Waller was dead. That being said, I didn’t expect to see her at the end of this issue.
Boomerang. Look, I have no problem that Boomerang is the spy, and that he killed Hack. I can believe that, but I need a valid reason. Simply stating, “I’m a bad guy” is not a valid reason. There better be more to this. I assumed Boomer and Harcourt were in cahoots together, but now I don’t believe that’s the case. I’m beginning to wonder if Harcourt might have meta abilities that allow her to control/ influence people… Maybe I’m just hoping. Who knows.
Team. In connection to Boomerang’s reasoning, I can’t see the team coming together to help Harley. I could see Deadshot working an angle, and I get Waller’s resurgence, but Digger, Croc, and Enchantress lose me. Digger has no reason to help the team after killing Hack, unless it’s to cover his own ass… But I can’t see that after his other scenes earlier in the book. His arc is essentially one big mess. As for Croc and Enchantress, I could somewhat understand Croc’s desire to help, but I feel as though he would put June ahead of Harley, and there’s no way I could see Enchantress being a team player.
- You enjoy high action, suspenseful stories.
- You’re a fan of Harley.
- You want to know the aftermath of the previous issue.
Overall: Williams continues his warpath with Suicide Squad, and if you’ve been reading since the beginning, you have to feel as though you’re receiving quite the pay-off. This specific issue – while containing many incredible moments – ends a little sub-par compared to what we’re used to. I think the true test will be to see what happens in this title following this arc.