Suicide Squad #14: Mr. J Ain’t Jolly

You'd think Harley Quinn would be safe from the Joker's latest rampage. You'd think wrong.

Andy Hunsakerby Andy Hunsaker

Suicide Squad #14

Here we go again. I'm trying Suicide Squad one more time.

When it debuted, I spat upon it. When I tried it again, I softened, but still disliked it. Will the third time be the charm? Well, it's got a good chance, since it's tying into the Death of the Family storyline wherein the Joker returns with full, savage force to take out all the friends associated with Batman. In Suicide Squad #14, it looks as though he's also out to shed his own hangers-on – namely, Harley Quinn.

In Batman #13, we saw Harley seemingly freaked out about how the Joker ain't what he used to be. In SS #6, we learned there was a 'downtime' version of the Joker who's the real man she fell for, and now that his face has been torn off and stapled back on, it seems that 'behind closed doors' clown is nowhere to be found, and Harley's just as scared of him as everybody else is this time around. So in this issue, we see the circumstances around her reluctant recruitment into his master plan.

We start off by learning that, apparently, Blonde Stacheless Not-Deadshot-In-Any-Universe-I-Want-To-Be-A-Part-Of pulled a Live Free or Die Hard and killed himself to kill the asshole who was holding him hostage, and now he's having a military funeral despite being a dirtbag. And Harley is wearing a purple cleavage-shelf corset to it. So, yeah, the first page reminds me of the reasons i haven't been reading this book, although my annoyance with the whole slutty clown look has faded a bit with time and Arkham City. It's not going anywhere, I suppose, since on the rare occasions where a character gets to de-slut instead of slut-up, like the Carol Danvers Captain Marvel, the creators get shit for it. Not that I've got anything against sluts, of course – I think they get a bad rap, since there's nothing wrong with promiscuity. It's just a bit silly. I guess I'll just chalk up that look of hers to burlesque gothiness and get over it. Even if artist Fernando Dagnino has an oddly misshapen overhead boob shot on page 4 that just makes it seem sad.

However, the Joker's arrival kicks things up a bit. Harley's initial joy to see him again starts to fade as soon as he clocks her in the face and reveals that he's apparently a little upset that Harley got her clown car stuffed by Not-Deadshot (yeah, this thing's a bit harder to get over for me, since he was my favorite character pre-New 52), and uses the threat of defiling his corpse to get her to go along with his plan, as we saw in Batman #13.

Then we get some business where Amanda Waller (I'm still trying to get over the No Longer The Wall But Rather Halle Berry Or I Guess Angela Bassett Because They Probably Expected The Green Lantern Movie To Do Better thing, since she's about to be everywhere in the New 52 with the Justice League) puting her group's secrecy over informing the authorities about the Joker, and then giving us some foreshadowing that Not-Deadshot might also become Not-Resurrection Man… which I reluctantly admit is something I might find interesting, or at least I would if it was really the good old Deadshot and not this generic chump. Then there's a little bit with a guy named Iceberg getting an ice arm, King Hammerhead (I miss you, Secret Six) being tortured in a cell and getting called out by a portal-neck guy named Yo-Yo, El Diablo rambling about Regulus, Black Spider being tortured as well – apparently Regulus and this Basilisk group had brainwashed some Squad members or something. Sure, okay.

Finally, we get to pick up Harley after her part in Scott Snyder's books are done, and the Joker has some more cruelty planned for her as well. It seems writers across the board are stepping up their game when they get to play with the Clown Prince of Crime, and Adam Glass is doing that here, as Harley's game face is cracking quite a bit in the face of this new whirlwind of mania from the man who made her. The intensity between them is strong, and all bets are off when Mister J's in play. You just don't know what's going to happen, and in a book like Suicide Squad, anybody could die at any time. Well, Harley probably won't, but you know what I mean.

So I'm in for at least the next issue, to see how this all plays out. And if Floyd Lawton can be resurrected with his proper look and then get weird powers every time he dies and comes back, that could be very entertaining. But seriously, ditch the everyday boring loser look. GIVE HIM BACK THE STACHE AND THAT BLACK GREASY HAIR. It's amazing how much of a difference a look can make sometimes in keeping characters from feeling generic.