Suicide Squad: Get Joker. The Black Label book that placed Red Hood as the field leader of the Suicide Squad, and sends the team of criminals on a mission to kill the Joker… Only for Joker to kill Waller and take control of the “boom box,” essentially giving him control of the Suicide Squad instead.
Considering this title is only three issues long, I expected a lot from this issue following last month’s set-up and character introductions in the debut. Also, with Joker gaining control of the Suicide Squad, I was certain this chapter would go balls-to-the-wall with chaotic action. Well, color me surprised when neither of these things happen – especially early on.
The issue kicks off with Jason Todd contacting an associate of Amanda Waller’s to confirm that she’s been killed and that the Squad is now at the whims of a madman, the Joker. The question is what comes next… And the answer to that is nothing. At least for a while anyway.
There’s a whole subplot where the Squad is waiting to hear from the Joker to know what he wants from them, but the radio silence creates tension with the team. Harley provides a solid explanation as to why Joker operates this way, and while I think it’s an accurate depiction of him and how thinks, that doesn’t mean that it makes for an entertaining read. Instead, it’s quite the opposite.
Because of the downtime the Squad has, we’re allowed to learn more about them and get a better glimpse of some of their personalities and abilities. Overall, this exploration is a bit of a mixed bag. While I enjoyed the exploration of teammates such as Yonder, Pebbles, and Meow Meow, it’s Wild Dog that is the standout for me.
If you’re scratching you’re head and wondering why I view Wild Dog as the standout character because he’s such a douchebag… It’s because he is such a douchebag that makes him stand out. I have a rather dark and vulgar sense of humor, so seeing him call thugs “dickweeds” and “pussies” genuinely tickled my funny bone. The latter is made even better with Silver Banshee commenting that Wild Dog “would have a small one” – serving as a double entendre directly referring to the tiny gun he has hidden on him, as well as his… umm… ego. *Ahem* (This is a penis metaphor.)
There’s also a rather funny scene between Pebble and Yonder where the two are smoking weed on the beach. It’s not the act itself that’s funny – granted, I never thought I’d see smoking weed happen this casually in modern comics – but the exchange that comes when Jason finds the two smoking weed. And Yonder’s “you’re definitely a stoner” comment that gave me a solid chuckle.
In all, while these scenes are enjoyable – they’re also odd. We’re literally at the halfway point of this title and things should be happening, but they’re not. And with only one issue left, there’s a lot of ground to cover. I’m a character-driven writer/ reader, so I enjoy this exploration, but there also needs to be a plot or subplot to drive the book.
Finally, in the back half of the book, we actually get some action and progression. The Joker finally makes contact with Squad and requires a meetup at a strip club. Once there, the Harley is called on stage to strip. Now, if you find this off-putting, that’s kind of the point. Joker wants her to feel like an object. He wants to manipulate her, so I don’t really mind. This is also a callback to Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo’s Joker.
I initially thought Azzarello wrote this scene for his typical shock value – and while that may be part of his reasoning, he also wraps the scene up rather cleverly by having Wild Dog verbally cat call Harley and express his interest, only to slip her a razor blade when he tips her. From here, Harley takes advantage of her striptease to get close to Joker and slit his throat.
Alex Maleev’s art makes it look as though the slice would’ve been a killing blow to Joker, but Jason has a thought bubble that claims that Harley pulled her punch, so I don’t know if it actually kills him. From this moment, chaos ensues. Yonder steals the “boom box” from Joker, taking away the threat that he’ll set off their brain bombs, and Harley’s attack creates an all-out war. One of the Squad members turns on the team, leading to a death, while backup arrives to help save the day… Or, it would appear that backup arrives, until the “backup” kills another Squad member.
I genuinely have no idea where this story is going. There were subplots of Russians in the debut issue, and that’s not even mentioned here. Also, with Joker seemingly out of the way – if not actually dead – then is there even a point for the final issue. I can’t help but feel that one more issue is either too long of a page count to wrap things up, or not even remotely enough. We’ll just have to wait to see.
Alex Maleev delivers the art for this issue, and most of it is quite good. As always, I love the grounded and gritty nature of his work. Maleev’s style works well with a story like this, and I feel his strengths shine through during the character moments. The action is a bit stiff here though. Some of the panels could’ve flowed better during the action, and I wish Maleev would’ve taken advantage of this prestige format a little more.
Also, the final page reveals of the other Squad team looked weird. Proportions were definitely off, and it caused the characters to look short and squat. It reminded me of Phil Noto when he’s not at his best.
- If you like edgier books then this is for you.
- You are a fan of Azzarello and Maleev.
- You love Azzarello and Bermejo’s Joker.
Overall: Tonally, if you picked up the debut of The Suicide Squad: Get Joker then you should know whether or not this book, generally, is your cup of tea or not. Structurally, I wasn’t overly impressed with this issue. Azzarello spends quite a bit of time focusing on character development, but there honestly isn’t much time for that. Maleev’s art is also hit and miss here – especially during the action sequences. With one issue left, I don’t have much confidence that we’ll get a strong finish to the title.