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The Suicide Squad’s strength lies in our lead anti-heroes Deadshot, Harley Quinn, El Diablo, Black Spider and King Shark. This issue gives us more great interactions between all of them, but introduces several new characters that have not made very interesting first impressions. The story manages to be somewhat interesting, but the order in which it takes place is unnecessarily confusing and the artwork is nothing special with only one or two moments that stand out, and not in a very good way.
The Squad are about to be evacuated, but Deadshot runs into an old acquaintance – the mercenary Mad Dog, whose priority is to steal the Squad’s package and who is Deadshot’s only chance to be cured of a zombie disease he may have contracted last issue.
Writer Adam Glass plays the characters in his series off of each other well. El Diablo is a hero at heart and his insistence that Black Spider is a superhero makes for some interesting dialogue between the two. His sympathetic nature also plays off Deadshot’s ruthless behavior well and creates some great conflict within the group.
King Shark is, again, not a huge part of this issue, but every moment with him is still memorable. His fleeting appearances in each issue are actually a great thing, because readers get to look forward to seeing him every time.
Deadshot and Harley Quinn are the controversial “item” of this series. After pining over Joker for decades in comic book history, many Harley Quinn fans may be upset that she shares a very steamy scene with Deadshot. I’m happy to see her finally get over Joker, and her getting together with Deadshot does further demonstrate her attraction to psychos – this time just a psycho without the clown make-up. The chemistry between them was there in the second issue, so this was no surprise, and her calling him “puddin'” was an endearing nod to the fans, but their relationship has moved too fast. While developing Harley’s character a bit more, the portrayal of her in this issue is both entertaining and infuriating.
The most entertaining dialogue in this issue comes from Harley. While the jokes are still hit-or-miss, she provides great comic relief, which none of the other characters could match, a feat accomplished in the last issue which is obviously lacking here. The big problem with Harley is the sex appeal being shoved onto her. There have been many complaints with DC’s treatment of its more… outgoing characters (I’m looking at you, Starfire). Every image of Harley is meant to be seductive. She wears short-shorts throughout the entire issue and comes close to taking off her top. The very first shot we see of her in this comic she, is eating ice cream with her tongue protruding slightly from her mouth. This is an overwhelming flurry of sex appeal that adds nothing to the issue. It also mostly fails to be sexy, since artist Cliff Richards’s drawings of Harley usually involve too much eye make-up and a quickly drawn mop of badly colored haired with a glaring sheen to it.
Now that I’m done with that little rant over Harley’s overly sexualized behavior, the story can be addressed. The pacing is not as smooth as the last issue, with no entertaining zombie imagery to hold us over. Instead, we see an average mercenary, Mad Dog, who is a very disappointing antagonist to the Suicide Squad. There is some tension in the fight between the two groups until Harley pulls out an ultimatum that, while feeling slightly like a cop-out of a possibly good fight, was clever on her part and an entertaining solution.
The major problem with the story is how it progresses, following the clichéd format of starting towards the end, going back to the beginning and then resuming from where the comic started and proceeding to an interesting (if not epic) climax. Confused? This weird time jumping jostles the reader around carelessly and unnecessarily. The story could have progressed normally with much better results.
One thing this issue has thankfully avoided is the death of another Suicide Squad member. The build-up for the series is that any member could go, and now that readers have become so attached to the characters, thanks to Glass’s great character developing skills, losing a member will make the book suffer. Instead, a member is critically wounded. The ending does make this a worse moment than it could have been, however.
The ending was not terrible, but did not create much anticipation for the next issue. Because a member was injured, new members arrive to take their place. This makes it feel like the injury was only a shallow excuse to introduce more characters who readers do not have an emotional connection with. At this point, unless they serve as great killing scene fodder for the next issue, new readers will not care about them. For old time readers, one of the new members is extremely promising, but still felt forced into the story at the last second to try and create a suspenseful ending.
The art proved much better than the climax. Richards has no stunning artwork in this issue, but the characters are drawn well outside of their costumed suits, and it was obvious that the artist paid attention to every detail on the panel. Harley was drawn terribly most of the time, but one close-up on her face was surprisingly beautiful, because it contrasted well with the colors from a nearby explosion.
This issue has many flaws that make it pale in comparison to the previous two issues. The story is jumbled up into confusing, unnecessary time jumps and Harley’s character is juggling on a very thin tight rope between funny and blasphemous. But for both of those major flaws, the issue is still enjoyable. All the characters’ interactions with each other are interesting and the story is solid despite the boring enemies and the disappointing climax. There are still high hopes for this series, and for anyone who enjoys dark stories and villainous characters, this is a great series to pick up.