In this issue of Suicide Squad, Harley’s reign as field leader continues while, surprisingly, the most interesting aspects of the chapter stem from Waller’s plot!
If there’s one thing I really enjoy about Rob Williams (other than the fact that he embraces consequences in his narratives), it’s that he keeps you on your toes. Every time I think I have a plot figured out, he proves me wrong. And even when I mostly have it figured out, he still, somehow, manages to create a moment or subtext that completely catches me off guard. This sentiment rings true in Suicide Squad #22 as well, even if the issue, overall, isn’t up to the standard I’ve come to expect.
Those of you that caught the previous issue of Suicide Squad know we left off with a bit of a cliffhanger. No, I’m not referring to the bomb that was seconds away from blowing up the Squad, or Deadshot shooting (and apparently killing) Killer Croc – clearly those threads aren’t actually going to lead to anything worthwhile – but discovering Waller was kidnapped by Karla… That was an unexpected reveal.
“Kill Your Darlings – Part Two: I Escaped” kicks off with Waller, but we’ve jumped ahead in time and she’s managed to escape Karla! Every ounce of me wonders, “How?” but at the same time, I know you should never underestimate “The Wall.” Hell, for all I know, she planned on getting caught.
She eventually makes it to a road and encounters a family driving who stops to help her… And then she kills them all! Kidding! The family takes her in, and there are some brief yet touching scenes showing the levels of heroes we have in our world. You don’t necessarily need to clad a costume and fight crime, a simple act of kindness can go a long way.
After making arrangements on where to be taken, Waller begins to think back to what she endured at the hands of Karla and The People. This is where the story gets really interesting! Remember how I said Williams always finds a way to keep you on your toes? Well, whatever you were expecting to happen between Waller and Karla, I bet it’s not what actually takes place. I found the actual events to be more entertaining than a standard interrogation/ battle of the bosses that I expected.
Unfortunately, the other half of the book featuring the Squad’s mission left something to be desired. As I’ve bemoaned on a few occasions, I simply can’t buy into this idea of Harley operating as the field leader for the Suicide Squad. Her insanity alone should disqualify her, but beyond that, her current state following Flag’s sacrifice just makes it even more unbelievable. Then there’s strictly the idea of how it plays for readers… And in my opinion, it doesn’t play well at all. When Harley is taking charge, and pretending to be Captain Commando, we don’t get the Harley we know and love.
Beyond Harley’s new role, the missions itself is lackluster… mainly because there isn’t much of one. There’s an altercation between the Squad – which contains some interesting moments – but other than that, the scenes with the Squad doesn’t serve much purpose. The cover, however, does hint to a major plot in this issue that some of us have been waiting to read, and… Williams doesn’t quite stick that landing either.
When all is said and done, this chapter is ok. It’s not great, and nothing earth shattering happens, but in true Suicide Squad form, things happen here that will undoubtedly lead to consequences playing out in future issues.
The Art: Augustin Padilla is on art duties, and while his work is decent, I’m still comparing it to the artists that most recently preceded him. Most of his non-action panels are good and I like his interpretation of the characters (aside from Deadshot), but the action panels are… rough. There are so many effects during the fight scenes (magic pulses, too many bullets, blurred focus), that it actually takes away from the experience. And let’s face it, in a book like Suicide Squad, you need an artist to deliver on the action!
Breakdowns for this issue can be found in the spoiler tag.
Dismembered. Whoa! Enchantress freaking rips Deadshot in half and caps him off with magic to prevent him from bleeding to death! That’s insane! And painful! Very, very painful!
The real enemy. The biggest surprise in Suicide Squad #22, are the scenes between Waller and Karla. What I expected to be a drawn out battle of verbal dominance as the two compared their members (of their teams, get your head out of the gutter), it instead turned into a pitch. Karla understands that he and Waller are on the same side. And with that belief, he systemically begins persuading Waller that she and her Suicide Squad want the same thing as him and his People. The really enemy isn’t Karla’s factions, but instead the heroes who have won the favor of the world – a notion, mind you, that Waller has believed and acted on more than once.
Cold. Overall, I didn’t like how Williams handled the reveal that Digger killed Hack. I wanted more from that moment considering the narrative has been building to this moment for months. What I do enjoy, though, is that Harley doesn’t kill Boomerang. He isn’t worth her time, so she just leaves him out in the cold.
Contrived. To cap off the previous issue, Harley ordered Deadshot to murder Killer Croc. This brought Enchantress forward, where she promptly stopped time, thus preventing the team from getting blown up by the bomb. The concept that Harley would order Deadshot to kill Croc knowing that Enchantress would awaken and stop time is a bit of a stretch… Actually, it’s so much of a stretch that even Plastic Man is jealous.
Hard-Knock Life. I doubt any of us would argue that Digger deserves whatever punishment karma/fate bring him after he killed Hack. While he does get a good smackdown from Harley, the entire altercation feels underwhelming. I wish there would have been more to it than an actual beating. I wanted more of an emotional response, not “I know who killed Hack! Get him!”
- You’ve been waiting for Boomerang to get what he deserves.
- Waller comes face-to-face with The People.
- You like crazy, wacky, action.
Overall: Another issue of Suicide Squad and, unfortunately, another slight misstep. The further we fall into a narrative where we’re forced to believe Harley can actually function as a leader, the more this book will unravel. No, it’s not a terrible story, but it could definitely lead to one. Fortunately we have Waller and her confrontation with Karla to save the day! That alone – along with the consequences that will undoubtedly unfold from this chapter – are reason enough to pick it up.