Oh, Suicide Squad, I used to love you, but now I’m feeling a little indifferent. This issue does hold promise for the future though, so maybe I’ll give you a few more chances.
I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’ve been disappointed with the current arc of Suicide Squad. “Kill Your Darlings” doesn’t feel focused, and appears to be struggling with the story it wants to tell. At the moment, Williams is telling three separate stories: the aftermath of Flag’s sacrifice, Waller’s encounter with/ influence from The People, and an assault on super heroes (which, yes, is connected heavily to The People, but still, somehow, manages to feel completely separate). Unfortunately, none of these plots feel fully realized. Each of them has merit, but the moment we begin to explore one idea, we toss it to the side to explore another. I don’t even know which direction the book is heading anymore, it’s just spinning.
In the last issue, Waller ordered the Squad to go after Killer Frost and Batman. Clearly, there’s vendetta here that are lingering from Justice League vs Suicide Squad. I personally could go without being reminded of that “event,” but I’m sure some people loved it. The Squad ultimately went after Frost with the intention of making her lose control. From what I can guess, Waller wanted to try and prove that people can’t change. Before her plan could be executed fully though, Batman arrived! Everything about the issue was quite lackluster, Batman wasn’t written that well, and in the end, Waller had the team take Frost but leave Batman… Which doesn’t line up with the original mission, so it was odd.
This chapter picks up where we left off. The Squad is back at Belle Reve, and Waller has Frost attached to some machine. There’s no explanation as to what the machine is or does, or why Frost is connected to it, but I’m going to assume (hope) it’s explained at some point because there are hints there’s more to it. Really, I think I’m just praying for there to be a point to all of this…
Elsewhere, Katana is reflecting on her actions from the last issue where she attacked Batman. She’s been facing a moral dilemma with the realization that she’s slipping further and further into the role of a villain – something she wholeheartedly isn’t. As much as I love Katana, I feel like she’s beginning to flounder as a character due to a lack of direction. There are interesting elements to her story, but I’m beginning to think that her story could be better utilized in another book that doesn’t mix her with the likes of Harley and team. Speaking of Harley, they’re continuing to tone down her role as field leader, so you know I’m happy!
The big takeaway from this issue comes when Williams explores Waller’s mission further. Let’s not ring bells or shoot confetti yet though, because this element, while good, is far from great. The entire story could use some finesse, and Williams needs to clarify what Waller really is trying to do: stop and control metahumans, or stop and control heroes. There’s a big difference between the two, and everything feels muddled because of Batman’s inclusion (who isn’t a metahuman), as well as the repeated maps of the two Justice League teams. If Williams/DC wanted to utilize heroes in a mission to stop metas, they should have just shown that Waller isn’t letting heroics stand in the of her judgment of metas. This would have also served well thematically as a clear nod to social and racial relationships in the U.S. at the moment.
Despite the shortcomings of the plot, there are some nice reveals and twists that present themselves. As expected, there’s more going on here than we initially assumed (or didn’t), and although it improves the arc, it doesn’t save it. Batman also pops back up again, but his representation was better in the previous issue, so his moments are more anticlimactic and explosive… And yes, that is a play on words. Oh, and there’s an army “suicide suits” (robots), so you have that to look forward to as well. You know, if you like robots. I’ve had my fill of them, unfortunately.
The Art: I struggled with the art in this issue. The work was split between Agustin Padilla and Juan Ferreyra. I typically love Ferreyra’s art, but this turnout looked rushed and sloppy compared to what we usually see from him. Granted, he is working on his own title (Green Arrow) in addition to a number of covers, so I don’t want to rip his work too much. We also were treated to an entire arc from him with these characters, so we know what he really is capable of when time allows for it. I do want to take the panel below and create a Tinder profile with it though… Just to see how people respond. Strictly scientific.
As for Padilla, I found his work to be incredibly inconsistent. There were some pages that I loved. He has a gritty approach with his pencils and played heavily into shadows. I love this style and find it especially fitting for a book like Suicide Squad. I also noticed that a number of his panels also appeared to look slightly stretched or slanted. If Padilla can get to a point where he can deliver consistently good work, then I’d consider him a welcomed artist for any book, but he’s not there yet.
Breakdowns for this issue can be found in the spoiler tag.
Mass Suicide. If Karla’s plan lives up to my expectation, then this could be epic. Living up to that expectation would require a large, detailed assault that can’t possibly be played out in a single issue, or two for that matter, but in an entire arc. There are multiple Suicide Squads with numerous villains/ members – all of whom will be descending on the hero/ meta community (we’re still waiting for an official target). Anything less than an arc will feel anemic compared to its potential.
Katana’s Apology. I really enjoyed this moment, but especially because it is now cannon that Batman and Katana officially have a history as Outsiders. Tatsu’s comment about losing yourself at Belle Reve feels like foreshadowing… What I’m not certain of, is whether it is foreshadowing her eventual downfall, or hinting that she will leave the Squad in the near future. I hope it’s the latter.
That’s not Waller. I suspected Waller was being influenced in some form, but I wasn’t certain. I will admit that the reveal that Gulag has been acting as Waller, makes me more forgiving of the previous issues. Whether not my opinion will alter completely will depend on how the story comes to a close.
Capes or metahumans? What’s the goal here? Do Karla and Waller want to rid the world of one or the other? Or both? I honestly just want to know so I can better understand their approach and reason. As of now, the entire idea feels overly broad. Start with one, and move to the other.
Suicide Suits. Why? Why do these have to be a thing? I’m so tired of seeing random robots pop up in stories without any explanation or reason.
Explosive. Missiles? Really? This is becoming as cliché as the robots. The good guys are getting away! Fire missiles!… I love what Karla’s doing overall, but I wish they would’ve foregone the missiles and just set-up an earth-shattering attack from the multiple Squads.
- You want to learn more about Waller and Karla’s plan.
- You’re intrigued to explore Katana’s moral dilemma further.
- There are no scenes of “Supreme Squadron Harley” (aka: Harley in the role of field leader)
Overall: There are many solid moments in this issue, but where there are highs, there are also lows. Williams turns “Kill Your Darlings” on its head with this issue, and I genuinely hope that it is the first step in returning to the quality we’ve come to expect. He’s set up a number of arcs though, and I have a sinking suspicion that what’s left of them will be rushed through. Only time will tell.