In this chapter of Suicide Squad, Amanda Waller goes on trial, and Harley Quinn takes over as the field leader of the Squad! I wish I could say I enjoyed this issue as much as I typically do, but this whole Harley thing is really throwing me off!
Writing comics is no easy feat. You have the standard problem solving complications that come with creating any plot, but on top of that you have up to 75-plus years worth of history in these characters that fans will undoubtedly hold on to. As if that weren’t enough of a challenge, there are a number of other books being published within the same universe that you need to be aware/respectful of, and then there’s always editorial and their wishes (requirements). Williams has managed to navigate these challenges brilliantly to date, but this arc might be the turning point for him, and I can’t help but feel it is because of what I assume to be an editorial call: Harley Quinn becoming the field leader!
Nothing about this call feels like natural character progression to me – something Williams has done beautifully up to this point. A month ago, I would have whole heartedly agreed with this choice, and actually applauded it as a great more for Harley’s growth as a character. Unfortunately, Flag sacrificed himself, and now Harley is regressing – something the Squad has taken note of. So why on earth would they (Waller and Deadshot) decide to give her more responsibility? She’s not driven to be better anymore, she’s slipping back into a drive for chaos – much like her life was when she was with Joker. No matter how you look at it, this feels like a bad decision for the Squad.
Now, I stated above that I considered Harley’s mental improvement and drive to be as a great direction for the growth of her character. I don’t want you to assume that I also believe that her slipping back into a deeper insanity would be bad for the development of her character – I actually feel quite the opposite. I’m fascinated by her regression because of Flag’s death. It says a lot about the humanity that many of us felt she’d lost while with the Joker, and it honestly makes her character even more tragic. Beyond that, we’re bound to see the negative effects of this reality over time – something I’m also interested in. I just wish we could experience this without her being team leader. For me, having Harley as the field leader doesn’t just feel unnatural, but it also feels like a distraction from what’s really going on with her… but I’ll admit, that could also result in some interesting stories.
Speaking of Harley taking over as the new field leader, “The Entrance Fee” explores her first mission in this role. If I were to describe the mission in one word, it would be “intense.” Because of Harley’s mental state, she’s all business, no emotion, and quite ruthless. The team is sent to take out The People. There are some nice moments, but nothing that really stands out. If there are two scenes that are noteworthy, one involves Enchantress, and the other involves Cosmonut.
As expected, humor can be found throughout the entire issue, but Williams doesn’t seem to land these punches as eloquently as he has in the past. I would never considering Suicide Squad’s humor to be appropriate (whether that be due to the content or the timing of the joke), but these jokes especially felt out of place. Beyond that, some of them felt a little juvenile and out of character. Boomerang continues to be the butt of the jokes, and that’s something I will always enjoy.
The end of the mission takes a turn for the worse. Harley makes some questionable calls involving the team, and that could result in some handicaps for the team moving forward. In addition to that, The People are a force to be reckoned with, and we, nor the Squad, should forget that. We’re left with a cliffhanger at the end of this issue, but the results could be explosive in two weeks!
On a completely separate front, Waller steps away from Belle Reve to deal with some realistic fallout of Rustam’s actions as she makes an appearance in court. When confronted about the prospect of Task Force X, Waller naturally results to her “deny till you die” mentality, but the legal system may not accept that in the end. We also get to explore Waller’s personal life a little further. If you can find ways to make Amanda Waller more complex and interesting, then I’m always open!
The Art: Gus Vasquez takes over art duties with this issue, and his work is… ok. His art isn’t bad, but it’s not great either. I found a number of his panels to be inconsistent in quality, but I never felt like the work was outright bad. If anything, my disappointment stems from a comparison of the art that came before him. The previous issue contained art by Sejic, and honestly, it was the best work that’s graced Suicide Squad to date. And before Sejic, Daniels delivered an equally stellar looking book. The step down from these artists only makes me long for more of that work. In time, I’m sure my expectations will adjust to Vasquez who is more than capable of delivering a solid book.
Breakdowns for this issue can be found in the spoiler tag.
Dragon Lady. No, I’m not referring to Waller… I’m talking about Enchantress. After the Squad’s plane is bombed, Enchantress uses her powers to morph the plane into a fire breathing dragon. It’s a completely absurd moment, but is so freaking awesome at the same time. Ultimately, it made for a great moment for not only the issue, but Enchantress as well.
Harley’s fractured mental state. I may take issue with certain aspects of Harley (more on that in a bit), but I’m extremely intrigued by her downward spiral. Her judgement and emotions are clouded by Flag’s sacrifice, and it has put her on a mission of violence. She’s more concerned with her mission of vengeance than the actual mission at hand, and nobody is safe from her wrath. The People aren’t safe. Cosmonut isn’t safe. And her own team isn’t safe… including Killer Croc.
Bang. Yep, Harley orders Deadshot to kill Croc after he tries to help June. I’m certain that Croc is fine, but the idea that Harley would make this call so quickly without thought foreshadows the potential of more questionable decisions in the future. Deadshot responds without hesitation as well, but I suspect that will change in the coming issues… You know… If they survive the bomb that was planted by The People.
The People. We still don’t know much about The People, but we do know one thing… They’re one step ahead of Waller and her Squad. Not only did they manage to set the Squad up to kill them, but Karla also manages to kidnap Waller! Don’t underestimate these people!
Harley as field leader. I mentioned this earlier, but I just don’t buy this. I can’t believe Waller would ever let Harley take this responsibility in her current mental state. It’s a liability for Waller. Looking to Harley herself, I can’t help but feel that she’s a girl playing pretend. Don’t get me wrong, she’s dangerous and violent, but her role as leader feels like a psychotic impersonation of Flag. The situation just doesn’t play well.
Execution. The execution of this issue isn’t on the level of what we’ve come to expect from Williams, and that should be noted. I won’t go so far to say that the issue is bad (because it isn’t), but it’s not great either… And I’ve come to associate Rob Williams with greatness (no pressure, Rob).
- You’re ready to go after The People!
- You like the concept of Harley becoming field leader of the Squad.
- You like dragons.
Overall: Williams fumbles a little with this issue. There are certain concepts that are great, and others that feel a little forced. Overall, “The Entrance Fee” doesn’t meet the quality we’ve come to expect from Suicide Squad, but in comparison, it is still better than a number of books currently being released by DC at the moment. My excitement my be a little deflated at the moment, but that doesn’t mean I’m not optimistic about what’s to come!
SCORE: 6.5/ 10