Harley Quinn brings the fun; Dark, Murderous, Fun, but the unexplained actions are a little jarring.
Suicide Squad 21 is an interesting episode due to Harley Quinn tearing through Belle Rive Prison in her crazy, violent, and witty style as she leads a takeover of the place. But the plot itself feels like it has been dropped in our lapse without any explanation. I am sure that the answers will come later, but for now, the story feels a little jarring. Helpfully, Waller, Quinn and Gordon make it a worthwhile experience.
The story begins with Harley stabbing Soldier with a large combat knife. At the time this happens, Waller is talking to Soldier on a hidden radio. Waller is up to something because she is in some way directing Soldier. But Harley knows this and even speaks to Waller through Soldiers microphone. So in that short span of time, we see a lot is going on. How and why this all happens, we never really find out. What was Waller doing? How did Harley get a Knife? How Did Harley know that Soldier was working with Waller? Unknown. But Harley has some more tricks up her sleeve. She is able to get through the locked cell doors that have been jammed open through the computer controlled security system. How did this come about? Harley doesn’t even know who is behind that, apparently.
Harley is aided by in the immediate violence by Deadshot. Once she gains access to Waller’s control room, she releases him from a very disturbing psychodynamic torture device right out of Clockwork Orange so he can join her in her efforts. However, Soldier rallies to get in his way. That would have been fatal if not for James Jr. inserting himself into the events. We are not sure why James does this but we get the feeling that he has been sizing everyone up and has decided that he does not want things to go too far with him locked up inside.
We get a standoff with James, Waller and Harley and where Harley and as Waller tied up but learns that James is not necessarily on her side. James keeps his status as a free agent and Suicide team, and we later see Suicide Team off on a mission, with some new unexplained rules.
The action is violent and unpredictable, Waller is herself as the cold blooded, calculating poker player even when a hostage, and Harley is a disturbingly fun character, if needless violence is not too revolting. But by the end, we know little more than what we did at the beginning. The obvious questions out there are left alone, probably for future issues: who gave Harley the hack that opened the doors in the prison, how did Harley get the knife, and what is Waller doing with Soldier? We get no clues. It is sort of just left hanging in the same position as before. While the issue’s action is well done, the reader expects some clues in the course of an issue. Here, we get nothing. If feels strangely hollow.
Looking at the plot, many people probably will think Waller is behind this as an intricate manipulation. Maybe, but she got some guards hurt and killed. Is someone else like James behind this? Maybe, but Harley Quinn was surprised when he showed up. Is someone else at work? What would they have to gain by getting the Suicide Squad a new deal? It is all up in the air.
The issue is giving us a big set up for the next action, some of which is oddly shown in the book. A mission labeled as being in the future is shown with Suicide Squad in Las Vegas. This is cool of course. These crazies loose in full contact hostility in the city of sin is a good idea. We also see Cheetah is on the team, with some bad blood about to be spilled with dead shot. All of that is good news for the next issue. But this issue could have done a little more information giving us a sense of where things came from and where they are going.
The art is fine and the artist captures Harley and Waller well. The other are more anonymously portrayed. The artist can only do so much with Deadshot and Soldier being fitted in headgear or wrapped like a mummy. But Harley Quinn jumps off the page with her crazy gleeful energy. Waller of course is the stone cold sphinx and her cold looks are properly foreboding even when she bound up.
So read the previous issue then go through this a couple of times. It will become clear, or at least as much as it can with the gaping holes. The journey is fun if unsatisfying in part. But I find that I am looking forward to the next one.