Suicide Squad #21 Review: Discipline and Punish – Part Two of Two

Harley goes out to play and Amanda Waller finds herself a little tied up; 17 days later, 11 months to go.

 

Positive

In Suicide Squad #20 Amanda Waller had set a dangerous game in motion that resulted in shocking reveals, a destroyed robot, brutal murder, and Harley Quinn in possession of a knife. With so many developments and surprises in the last issue I was wondering if Kot had anything else up his sleeve. He certainly did. Kot’s writing and Zircher’s art are a truly fantastic combination, giving us another issue which I couldn’t have been happier with.

Much of this story focuses on Harley Quinn, but everyone really gets a moment to shine (aside from The Unknown Soldier, whose main role in this issue was as a punch-and-stab bag, at which he did a terrific job). King Shark is also notably absent for the nearly the entire issue.

 

It's Waller Season.
It’s Waller Season.

Last month saw Waller send a goon dressed as Joker enter Harley’s cell, only to be killed a moment later by The Unknown Soldier. This maneuver was an attempt to ‘break her’ and imprint The Unknown Soldier as Harley’s hero. Waller’s game had zero impact on Harley, who was much smarter and stronger than Waller had given her credit for. She easily saw through the little game that Waller was playing, and stabs The Unknown Soldier before taking off after Waller herself. Meanwhile, Gordon leaves Waller’s side in what may be an attempt to intercept Harley before she can do any real damage, but ends up finding a wounded Unknown Soldier instead.

Who could it be? Leave your guesses down below!
Who could it be? Leave your guesses down below!

Waller tries to initiate a lockdown, but is stopped when an unknown program aborts the procedure, and with James Gordon Jr. gone this allows Harley to get to Waller and free Deadshot. There’s nothing in this issue to suggest who may be behind the hack, and although I have my ideas I’m certainly a bit stumped. It provides an interesting new mystery that I hope they take time to explore, and let build up to a big reveal.

Harley is at the forefront of this issue, and it does wonders for her character, which had been incredibly erratic before Ales Kot took over. Though her background as a psychiatrist has been forgotten or underutilized by some writers, Kot has Harley dissect Waller’s entire exercise from the last issue and even digs a bit into her head. It was a nice scene that both shows off Harley’s intellect and gives us a small insight into Amanda Waller’s mind.

It’s interesting to note that Harley isn’t looking to escape. She actually believes in the Suicide Squad, and that the team can work. Harley has been looking for a new home or new purpose, and despite the less than pleasant arrangement, she may have found it here, and tries to make a deal with Waller.

Deadshot
And I’m a Three-Headed Dinosaur.

Deadshot impresses in this issue as well, not only with his skill and accuracy, but also lends some dry humor that may get a chuckle out of you. Kot has me yearning to see Deadshot used in a larger set piece, something he teases at in the “17 days later” segment. Deadshot’s role in this issue culminates in a nice fight scene that left me grinning.

James Gordon Jr. accepts the position Amanda Waller offered him on the team as an intelligence analyst. His showing here isn’t remarkably impressive, but he does have an aura about him. Even though he didn’t do much, his confrontation at the end with Harley was fairly exciting. James Gordon Jr. is an interesting character, someone who lacks empathy and actually sees emotions as a weakness, though we see now that there’s been a big change in him. In the last issue, Gordon Jr. said that the big change was empathy over aggression; that he was in love with Amanda Waller. Now true he does go out of his way here to try and defuse the chaotic situation Harley caused, but I’m definitely not convinced yet that it’s actually empathy or love he’s feeling for Waller.

 

So...
Suicide Squad 21

This issue’s story is bookended by a look 17 days later in the Suicide Squad’s lives, revealing a glimmer of hope for the team that seemed all but lost for them only one issue earlier. I knew that Kot was going to set his run of Suicide Squad in Las Vegas, but this flash forward of the team fighting a giant monster made of dead people (which must smell rather awful) is the first look we get. We also get a look at the team’s newest member, [spoiler]Cheetah. Cheetah appeared for a few panels earlier in the issue, with Deadshot refusing to help her out of her cell. It’ll be fun to see how they interact with each other now that they’re working together. I’m guessing that she’s filling the vacancy left by Voltaic’s death at the hands of Unknown Soldier in the previous issue, but her addition to the book is welcomed none the less.[/spoiler]

Negative

I hate calling anything perfect. That being said, there really wasn’t anything I would have changed about this issue.

 

VerdictRating5 5/5

In a book that follows a team of murderers and psychopaths, you not only feel for them but also look at them as the good guys. Amanda Waller appears to the reader as the Villain. It’s a book about bad people doing good things because they have no other choice. It’s about a good woman doing bad things because she feels it will serve the greater good.

  • Tracy Boarder

    My guess for the mystery hacker… Ostrander’s Suicide Squad was Barbara Gordon’s first appearance as Oracle, so this could be a new character nodding towards or replacing Oracle in the reboot.

    Or, it could be Oracle’s opposite, as Barbara helped the Squad when she appeared. That would point to The Calculator, which would also make sense with the Secret Society of Super Villains coming into play in the DCU now.