I’ll be reading and reviewing, in some sense of the word, the contents of each upcoming first issue (the Rebirth one-shot if the series has one or the traditional #1 if the series does not have one) to gauge exactly what the line ends up looking like.
Mild spoilers follow for Harley Quinn and Suicide Squad: Rebirth #1.
Harley Quinn #1
Written by Amanda Conner & Jimmy Palmiotti
Art by Chad Hardin
Colors by Alex Sinclair
Letters by David Sharpe
This is the same creative team doing the same book they were doing before Rebirth was launched. There’s no reason it shouldn’t be. Harley Quinn has been a pretty big hit for DC Comics so changing it at all just wouldn’t make sense. I haven’t read much of the previous series but it received a certain amount of acclaim from customers who pulled it when I was working in a comic shop. I don’t see much of what they described here in this comic.
The jokes in this book are lazy. There’s a gag with a beaver and a rooster that you can bet is just there so that Harley Quinn can say something about genitalia. If that doesn’t work for you, there are a lot more words and jokes packed on the page that makes this book feel dense (in the sense that there’s a lot to get through, not a lot to parse). There’s jokes about Harley’s stalker turned bodyguard(?), an alien being slaughtered as cattle (I got a laugh out of that one) and turned into hot dogs, and the aforementioned pets. It’s a shotgun blast, a barrage of quantity.
After reading this, I’m still not sure what the deal with Harley Quinn is, though. There’s an extended montage of her origin that is a lot more complicated than the classic one from the animated series she debuted in. It’s all rather complicated and doesn’t actually inform the reader about the current situation Harley is in. She apparently owns two building and a local business? I was totally confused about that whole set-up even as the book developed what felt like a one-off joke into what seems to be the plot of the first arc.
Suicide Squad: Rebirth #1
Written by Rob Williams
Art by Philip Tan
Inked by Jonathan Glapion, Scott Hanna, and Sandu Florea
Colored by Alex Sinclair
Letters by Travis Lanham
This book is visually inconsistent thanks to the three inkers assigned to work on Philip Tan’s pencils. Faces are covered in an excess of lines meant to add shade and grit but only look scratchy. The violence inherent in the concept is neutered when the art presents the most sanitized version of a double amputation and a gunshot to the head. Blood is red when it gets on the environment but around wounds it’s dark, almost black, to keep this book appropriate for “teens plus.” It’s a lot of barking that isn’t permitted to have a bite.
I’m not sure if I get the premise as presented here. The Suicide Squad are villains forcibly sent on dangerous missions by the American government so they can plausibly deny involvement. But the Suicide Squad is a gang of colorful characters who I’m pretty sure murder a city in this issues which seems so conspicuous that there’s no way it wouldn’t be treated as an international incident even without knowledge of the U.S.’s direct involvement. And it gets especially conspicuous once a former Navy SEAL starts leading the team.
And I gotta say, I find the opening scene where Amanda Waller strong-arms a fictionalized President Obama into permitting her to continue using the Suicide Squad to border on offensive. She talks about America needing the Suicide Squad to protect the country from threats in ways they should never find out about. It’s a load of horseshit.The Suicide Squad feels like it’s being compared to both the American government’s history of torturing people in blacksites and the use of drones overseas, and this honestly strikes me as being pretty offensive. The American government has done horrible things and the current President has certainly permitted some of those things to happen during his terms, but this comic doesn’t do much to criticize the existence of the titular organization while mostly trivializing gross American policy. They’re presented as being shitty murderers but any word about them in this issue is a criticism of them as people rather than their actions or the policy in place.