I wish I was the kind of decent human being who could just let sleeping piles of weevil-infested rat crap lie, but I am not that person. I am an asshole, and that is why I am writing about Suicide Squad #1, written by Adam Glass and, like, fifteen artists. (Actually, I guess just three: Federico Dallocchio, Ransom Getty, Scott Hanna.)
This comic was extremely terrible, and it was so terrible that it’s made me unaccountably furious. Just eyeball-popping finger-quivering furious.
I am so mad at this comic that I want to stab a hobo. I am so mad at it that I wish I was a millionaire so that I could spend the last of my fortune buying up every god-damn issue of Suicide Squad #1 and putting them in a big pile so that I can pee on them BUT I ALSO WISH that my pee was fire like in Ghost Rider 2: Revenge of the Ghosts, so that I could burn the pile to ash, so it was just a big pile of sludgy, ashy urine, a condition that would actually make it manifestly superior to a pile of intact copies of Suicide Squad #1.
Before I get into it, let me make one thing perfectly clear: I never read Suicide Squad, and I don’t care about it. I only know about Harley Quinn from what I saw on the cartoons, and I mostly found her pretty annoying. I guess it was nice that the Joker had someone to talk to, but I don’t care. I don’t care what you do with Harley Quinn, if you want to make her a sledgehammer swinging sex pervert that’s fine by me. Sex perverts are my favorite people.
This comic is still just unutterably stupid. Every single thing that happens or that someone says is completely stupid. COMPLETELY STUPID.
Suicide Squad begins with a guy named Deadshot who is being tortured, while some dude with a burlap sack over his face talks some guff about how Deadshot (A SNIPER — this is important, don’t forget this) doesn’t know what it’s like to hurt someone with his hands. Immediately — IMMEDIATELY — the scene pulls back and we see that Deadshot is in the same room as what we presume to be his team, and that Dr. Burlap has carved a huge hole in Deadshot’s chest.
This is page god-damn two here, and we are already deep in the depths of moronic bullshit. Adam Glass, where the FUCK did you go to torture school? Because I dropped out of torture school after my first semester, and even I know that the burlap sack goes on the OTHER GUY’S HEAD. I also know that you don’t torture an entire group of people all in the same room, because that’s COMPLETELY STUPID. The main point of torture is that you simultaneously hurt someone really badly, but you ALSO make them think that they have nothing to lose by telling you all of their secrets.
The easiest way to do this is to split them up, and tell them that their friends have already turned states. That is why EVERY INTERROGATION, EVER, is like that. When you put them all in the same room together, not only do they already KNOW that their friends haven’t given them up, but you’ve also given them something to lose: face in front of their colleagues. Instead of making them feel alone and betrayed and completely demoralized, you’ve given them all a chance to support each other, and show how badass they are.
THIS IS TORTURE 101, GUYS. This is the SECOND PAGE of your comic, and have you given even ten seconds of thought to it?
You know what Torture 102 is? Torture 102 is, “the point of torture is to hurt someone without damaging them.” Torture 102 is, “Don’t hook the jumper cables up to Harley Quinn’s face, because if you ELECTROCUTE HER BRAIN then there’s a pretty even chance that she isn’t going to be able to tell you what you want to know.” Torture 103 is, “Don’t carve a hole in Deadshot’s chest, because what if you accidentally put a hole in his lung and it fills with blood? HE CANNOT TELL YOU HIS SECRETS WITH A LUNG FULL OF BLOOD.” Torture 104 is, “Maybe keep an eye on King Shark under those heatlamps (because duh, yeah, of course sharks are particularly vulnerable to heat), because if you KILL HIM, he can’t tell you any of his secrets.”
So there’s a twist at the end, which I’m going to spoil for you — because this comic is already spoiled rotten, it is as spoiled as a dog turd that has been left in the sun after being shat out by a dog who only ever ate dog turds — and that is that this whole torture scenario is an elaborate loyalty test orchestrated by Amanda Waller. This is the dumbest thing ever, for reasons that I will get into in a minute, but for right now let me just point out that not only does this not explain any of the boneheaded torture failures that we’re seeing here, but it actually makes them worse: right after determining that Deadshot WON’T crack under pressure, they send him off on a mission. Gosh, you know, I hope that HUGE FUCKING HOLE they carved in his chest isn’t going to slow him down any. I hope that the electric brain damage they gave to Harley Quinn isn’t going to make her a liability on their secret billion-dollar black ops mission.
During these idiot torture proceedings — which haven’t revealed the premise of Suicide Squad yet, by the way — we get little flashbacks in which we find out where some of these guys came from. Deadshot tried to shoot a senator, but Batman punched him. (THAT IS THE ENTIRE STORY OF DEADSHOT.) Harley Quinn wanted the Joker to notice her, so she murdered a bunch of people. Diablo (el Diablo? El Diablo Rojo?) is some kind of fire guy who was also a ganglord and he burned down this house that some rival dealers were living in, but then it turned out that the dealers lived there with their babies and their shorties (? I think this is street talk for “doxies”) and so then Diablo Rojo cried because he didn’t know that people live in houses.
Finally, some guy does break and he explains the premise of the comic that I’ve only made it this far into out of spite. I don’t remember his name because of course they just kick him down a big hole after he tells them the premise of the comic, that’s no surprise, but what kind of IS a surprise is Deadshot saying to him, “You idiot. They were going to kill us anyway.” Well, DUH, Deadshot, but he was also BEING TORTURED. You say, “They’re going to kill us anyway” when someone threatens to KILL YOU if you don’t give them the information. If they are torturing you and you tell them the information it isn’t because you want to live, it’s because YOU WANT TO STOP BEING TORTURED.
AUGH WHY IS EVERYONE IN THIS COMIC A MORON.
So, the premise of the comic is that the government loots Belle Reve prison’s Death Row for supervillains, puts a remote-activated bomb in their brains, and then sends them effectively on suicide missions (hence: Suicide Squad). This raises a whole god-damn host of problems, each one making this book seemingly stupider than the previous problem.*
In the first place, what the hell was Harley Quinn doing on Death Row? Isn’t she crazy? Don’t crazy people end up in Arkham? And even if she is on Death Row, what the hell idiot government official thought that she would make a useful asset to their black ops team? Deadshot, sure — he is an assassin who kills people for money and is basically amoral. That other electro guy — Voltaic, I think his name is — was a mercenary who killed people for money. Harley Quinn murdered a bunch of people to impress ANOTHER MASS MURDERING PSYCHO. And not just any psycho! The psychoest! The most mass-murderingest psycho in the entire world! What, exactly, is she going to provide for a team like this? Even with a bomb in her brain so she doesn’t run away, why in the hell would you think a crazy mass murdering psychopath would be anything other than a huge liability to a secret special operations team?
WHILE WE’RE ON THE SUBJECT. Sure, Harley Quinn wears a corset that barely contains her gigantic boobs, and DUH, of course she wears panties with bullets on them EVEN THOUGH SHE DOESN’T HAVE A GUN, and yes, obviously the knives in her corset are backwards because she’s craaaaaaazy, and crazy people don’t understand anything about how knives work. But these were the same clothes that she was wearing when she was arrested — are we seriously meant to believe that the government not only broke HER out of prison, but then went the extra mile for a bandoleer-panties jailbreak, too? Why would they bother doing that? Why wouldn’t they just buy her some god-damn pants?
Look, Deadshot needs his costume. It’s got those guns on the wrists! Also, probably some kind of thing with the eye, I don’t know. But Harley Quinn is just wearing some kind of kinky bondage corset with backwards knives that she probably made, and that barely holds her tits in because she’s probably just not good at making corsets. WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE.
Actually, now that I look closely, it’s even worse than that! Not only are these the clothes they were arrested in, but apparently those are also the clothes that they wear WHILE STILL IN PRISON. Harley Quinn was arrested, arraigned, tried, convicted, and imprisoned, and no one ever took away her stupid fucking cape.
They also didn’t take away robot face’s mask or…what is that, is that body armor?
They put him in prison and forgot to take away his BODY ARMOR?
This is before they even get to the mission, and man, is this not a mission that you need six hardened criminals rescued from Death Row for. They have to go and get a former Suicide Squad agent who is wanted “Dead or Alive.” And so they all trudge through the snow wearing jackets, but obviously Harley Quinn still isn’t wearing any fucking pants, and somehow she got bubble gum. And a sledgehammer.**
[ACTUALLY EDIT: I just realized I didn't explain this clearly, but the mission they are going on is being told in flashback by the guy they are going to kick down that hole. It's when this mission goes south that they wake up in the torture room.]
Okay. Let’s start at the beginning of why this is absolutely, brain-fuckingly stupid. In the first place, “Dead or Alive” is what you say when you put a BOUNTY on someone’s head. That’s what you do when you don’t want to get a guy yourself, you want a bunch of independent agents to get him, and you don’t care how they do it. The GOVERNMENT either wants you dead, or they want you alive, but they definitely care which one. Because if they want you alive, they probably are going to need to do a bunch of other things to make sure their elite cadre of psycho murderers brings you back that way — like, maybe get a helicopter or something so they can bring you back. At least a van, you know? Why did the government just send these guys to WALK to this former agent’s house? Through the snow?
Now, let’s go back and look at Harley Quinn for a minute. She has no pants, and is carrying a sledgehammer. Let’s just…let’s just think about this shit. In the first place, WHY does she have a sledgehammer? That’s not a magic sledgehammer that she calls out of the sky or something. It’s not a folding sledgehammer that she keeps up her butt. That is a sledgehammer that some poor government sap went out and BOUGHT for her. Why? She doesn’t have sledgehammer powers. She’s not superstrong. IT’S NOT A MAGIC SLEDGEHAMMER.
So, why didn’t they just give her a gun? Or, like, twenty guns? Maybe those are guns in those little pouches at her side, I don’t know, but those are awfully small (and closed up) for gun holsters, and she definitely isn’t using them. Oh, but she’s CRAZY, well, fine, she’s crazy, so if you want her to use the guns though, WHY DID YOU GIVE HER THAT FUCKING HAMMER?
The fact that she’s crazy is the worst part of all of this because there is nothing, nothing I hate more than people who are crazy in no apprehensible way. Harley Quinn is crazy, sure, but HOW is she crazy? When they break into the agent’s house she yells “Pizza party!”
What the hell is that? There’s no fucking pizza! What is she talking about? She’s not making a joke about how they are like delivery men, only DELIVERING DEATH, because then she would have been like, “Pizza DELIVERY!” or “Candygram!” or “Avon calling! We’ve got that sledgehammer-in-the-face foundation you were so interested in! Only $19.95 a jar!”
Does she not KNOW that there isn’t any pizza? Is that because she’s crazy? Look: the Joker, for all the ways he’s weird and all of his costumes and for all the wide variety of his portrayals in the comics, is still basically crazy in ONE WAY: he thinks it’s funny to hurt people. That’s pretty much it. He’s not crazy like he can’t tell if it’s cold out, and he’s not crazy like he doesn’t know if there’s any pizza. He’s crazy like he thinks it’s funny to hurt people.
So what the hell is Harley Quinn’s deal? Does she not ACTUALLY KNOW THAT IT’S COLD? Does she not know that there isn’t any pizza? Is she having a psychotic episode right now? Because let me tell you something, Miss Amanda Waller who runs the Suicide Squad: I may not have done very well in my assassination ops classes at Secret Government Task Force College, but one thing I do know is that if the rogue sociopathic murderer that you’ve hired suddenly doesn’t know where she is or what she’s doing, that is probably a pretty good time to set off that brain-bomb that you put in place for just such an eventuality.***
Now, they get to this special-agent’s log cabin in the woods, and for some reason three of them go in. I don’t know what the other four guys are doing, having a party or something maybe. Here’s the thing, though: Deadshot is one of the guys who goes in. Now, again: everyone who’s ever been to Assassination School, or watched Lethal Weapon, or played World of Wacraft, or knows what the word “sniper” means, knows that you don’t put DEADSHOT on your entry team. He is a sniper. He is a sniper who has only ever missed ONE KILL, and that was because he was simultaneously fighting BATMAN. The thing to do, obviously, is to put your three tough guys together and send THEM in, and then you have your sniper shoot the target through the window from two hundred yards away.
“But wait!” you’re probably thinking. ”Why would you bother sending in a team at all if you could just have Deadshoot shoot the guy in the head from two hundred yards away?”
WELL GOOD FUCKING POINT.
So, three team members — the el Diablo Fuego, Harley Quinn, and Deadshot — literally LEAP into this guy’s cabin. Deadshot flies in through the window like Superman — except he obviously is nothing like Superman, in that he can’t fly AND ISN’T SUPERMAN — knowing full well that he just plans to shoot this guy in the head, which is something he could have easily done WITHOUT leaping through the window.
Deadshot shoots the guy and then el Diablo says to him, “You are the true devil.” This is because Diablo was going to just bring the guy in peacefully, and I think it shows a lot of character development from two pages ago when we saw him ready to burn some guys alive in their house because they weren’t paying him a big enough cut of their smack money.
Yeah, sure, he felt remorseful after he discovered all the “shorties” and babies that he killed, but he was still ready to roast those other dudes in the first place. Has Diablo had a complete change of heart? Is he no longer DOWN WITH KILLING as kids say these days? DOES THAT MAYBE MAKE HIM A TERRIBLE CHOICE FOR A SECRET TEAM OF BLACK OPS KILLER ASSASSINS? Tune in next month if you give a shit, which you don’t, because why would you?
Anyway, good news everyone! The guy they were going to kill is just a robot, and he’s strapped to a bomb, and that leads to what I think is maybe the funniest part of the whole book, and that’s this part right here:
“The bomb couldn’t have been meant to kill us.”
Which bomb? You mean THIS BOMB?
The one made from EIGHTEEN sticks of dynamite? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Hey, I don’t know, maybe it’s actually anti-dynamite, invented by Professor Boom, the Reverse Alfred Nobel of the 25th Century! You know what? Whoever built that bomb? THAT GUY should be on this team. That is a guy who can build a bomb out of eighteen sticks of dynamite and explicitly design it to only knock seven people unconscious, regardless of whether or not they are inside a log cabin. Put that guy in charge of all of the missions, Amanda Waller!
So, somehow the bomb magically knocks them all out and I apologize, they don’t knock that guy into a hole (his name is Savant, I guess), they just drag him off into the dark and do something horrible to him so he screams. That is pretty edgy, but I think a hole filled with crocodiles would have been better.
Now, the twist! The twist is revealed! You knew already because I spoiled it, but the truth is that this was actually an elaborate test of loyalty to see if these guys would CRACK under the PRESSURE, and are you god-damn KIDDING ME?
An elaborate loyalty test. For the six hardened criminals (excuse me, four hardened criminals, one shark, and one girl who is cuh-raaaaazy!) that you found on Death Row and then had to implant BOMBS into their BRAINS to make sure they followed orders. Hey, it actually IS pretty surprising that those guys passed the test, now that you mention it! What’s even more surprising is the hundreds of people that you killed testing their loyalty when they already had BOMBS implanted in their BRAINS.
What kind of dimwitted numbskullery is this? What, are you afraid Deadshot is going to be captured and reveal all your secrets? First of all, DON’T TELL DEADSHOT ANY OF YOUR SECRETS YOU FUCKING IDIOT. Second of all, if he does get captured, you can just BLOW UP HIS BRAIN. That’s why you picked DEADSHOT for this mission and not someone you fucking care about! That is what Suicide Squad is! A bunch of expendable assholes that you send on missions so that you don’t have to worry if they die, or if you need to blow up their brains!
So, then Amanda Waller is revealed, and she’s got one of the burlap sacks that the torturers were wearing, except she obviously wasn’t the head torturer because that dude had blue eyes, and she obviously wasn’t one of the secondary torturers because you can see their skin through the eyeholes of the mask and they were all clearly white. Also, even if she wanted to watch the torturing, she couldn’t say anything because those guys would recognize her voice and ALSO, can’t she watch it on camera or something? A closed-circuit TV feed? Why does she have to be in disguise in the torture room? Incidentally, this is another good reason for why the BURLAP SACK goes on the VICTIM, you god-damn idiots.****
The next mission: kill 60,000 people in the Mississippi Megadome, and I swear to God it had better be because they are all infected by Starro the Conqueror or the zombie virus, or something, but actually: 1) I don’t care, and 2) if they want to kill all the people in the stadium, why don’t they just have the genius that built their super-knockout-bomb build a big bomb and throw it out of the helicopter?
The dude who did the CBR review seems to know which artists did which part of this book, and I guess he’s probably right. It’s definitely true that it looks very different from page to page, and there are some weird inconsistencies, like: Harley Quinn’s eye makeup is kind of ragged and messed-up when she’s being tortured, but somehow clean again when they throw her out of the helicopter at the end. Did a Suicide Squad makeup artist touch it up when they gave her back her little cape?
Also, notice this panel, in which Black Canary appears to break through a window pelvis-first, and also her torso looks insane.
Anyway, look. Let’s take a minute and talk about why the comic book industry isn’t doing so well. Between the writer, artists, letterer, colorist, editor AND assistant editor, EIGHT FUCKING PEOPLE worked on this piece of shit, and not a one of them stood up and said, “Oh, uh, guys, I just noticed that this comic is completely terrible and doesn’t make any god-damned sense at all, in any way. Maybe we should do something about that?”
When I went to the comic book store to buy this issue, to make sure I didn’t misreport its terribleness, the guy behind the counter said to me, “Suicide Squad is pretty good.” Why would he do that? WHY WOULD HE SAY THAT TO ME? I never did anything to him! I am a LOYAL CUSTOMER! Why would he recommend this fucking bum-stabbingly bad piece of bullshit?
DC says that they want to attract new, younger readers with this brainless sludge, and I don’t know which scenario I think is worse: that DC is going to go out of business because they believe that teenagers are subliterate troglodytes that just want to snort and fart and masturbate all over Harley Quinn’s tits, or that DC is going to STAY IN BUSINESS because that’s what modern teenagers actually ARE. Heaven help us if DC is right, and we’ve a generation of teenagers with the same sense of story structure that god gave a fucking turnip.
I think they’re wrong, though. Let me tell you something, the reason that DC is hurting is this: I can go to a store and buy a product that has been approved and endorsed by at least NINE DIFFERENT PEOPLE, and there is still a statistically relevant possibility that product might be Suicide Squad #1.
*UPDATE: A closer reading of the comic suggests
that they are actually “lifers” that this is confusing: Deadshot was on Death Row, but Savant was apparently just serving a life sentence (which is what “lifer” means). I am not changing anything, because it’s better if they were on Death Row.
**Notice, by the way, that King Shark does NOT have a jacket. Sharks: extremely vulnerable to heat, basically immune to cold. Incidentally, I actually kind of like King Shark in this, but I think it’s weird that he’s a hammerhead shark, because I never thought of hammerhead sharks as being king sharks. I always thought of them as being inbred hillbilly cousin sharks. Probably because of the googly eyes.
***UPDATE: This was such a stupid thing to say that, while writing this piece, I became convinced that I must have misremembered it, and so I went back out to the comic store and actually BOUGHT A COPY of this idiotic tripe. While I was out, I stabbed a hobo.
****Much has already been made of the thinning of Amanda Waller, and I don’t have much more to add to it except for this:
You see this page? The panel with Amanda Waller contributes absolutely nothing to it, nor does it contribute to the story in any reasonable way. We already know the voice they’re hearing is Amanda Waller’s, and the fact that the torture thing was a test has already been explained, so the reveal that she’s holding a torture-sack (even though, as I mentioned, there’s no reason to think she was one of the torturers) is meaningless. Not only that, but the picture of them falling out of the helicopter to the Megadome probably would have looked better on the whole page.
Conclusion: the only reason that panel exists is to show everyone that Amanda Waller looks like young Angela Bassett instead of CCH Pounder. What this means in terms of anything, I am ill-equipped to say, but it is absolutely no accident that they wanted everyone to know right away that Amanda Waller was now hot to death.