By DIOMJK 19 Comments
Now, I'm gonna give credit where credit is due here, and say that I don't necessarily believe that Suicide Squad is a bad book. In fact, I think it has some good writing and some great points to it, one highlight being how manipulative the Joker is as opposed to the first origin given in the old DCU. Just so people get where I stand because they're too lazy too read this whole post and whine about how they like the series, this isn't about whether it's good or not. That said, this is going to be a negative critique of the book, specifically on a few things that they have changed that I feel damages several notable characters, with extra focus on one of my favorite villains, Harley Quinn.
First of all, let me just state that I admittedly did not like her new design. Like at all. I was one of the many outraged over this, simply because I didn't feel her original costume needed much change in the first place. Honestly it felt like they were trying to make it more sexual and provocative (for obvious reasons), but I don`t think Harley needed that. Her original skin tight jester outfight was sexy in it's own right, and it was made all the better because it didn't focus on shoving boobs into our face all the time, instead using more subtlety. Changing the design made it much more generic, since someone like the Joker wouldn't care how much cleavage she has on display, he would probably go for the chaotic/clowny motif he has for himself.
But I was able to over look that, since if I got mad every time DC turned one of their characters into a sex doll, I wouldn't be reading much of them anymore. and so I gave the first issue it's fair look and... it was okay at best. A bit torture porn-y at times, but nothing offensive. While reading reviews I saw a bunch of comments about how it was taking the place of Simone's Secret Six (which I have read since then, and the two shouldn't be mentioned in the same breath) but honestly it just wasn't the story for me, so I moved past it.
Then a few months later I read a cracked article which mentioned Amanda Waller, who had appeared in Suicide Squad, and points out how sexist her appearance was. Looking her up, I learned she was the tough, cruel head of the Squad, one who had enough balls to curse Batman out TO HIS FACE, and did all that while being the rarest sight in comics : An overweight colored woman who wasn't used for laughs or pity. Which is like seeing Bigfoot troll across your front lawn in this industry. And reading back on Suicide Squad number 1, I saw that when they introduced her in the reboot, she had dropped a good 100 pounds and the panel she was in put great focus on her tits. A lot of comic readers like to say things defending sexism in comics, from claiming it's fantasy, insert characters or "what sells", or at least insinuate males who dislike seeing these things to be "gay faggots" (I for one take offense to the idea that I will buy anything with tits stamped on it, or that being gay is the only reason a man wouldn't wan't to see naked women constantly), but there's no defense for this. At all.
But again, I was not an Amanda Waller fan, so while I was annoyed by this, I could hardly waste my energy being outraged by a character I never was invested in, so I let it go.
The series went on, and with Issue #6 I read a review on IGN praising the series for how it handled Harley's new origins, and so I decided to read through the back catalog to get caught up and then read the issue. And I can't deny the story thus far was not that bad, and the new origin for Harley Quinn was handled spectacularly. Instead of seeming like a naive girl who got sweet talked into loving the Joker, the attraction and interest was done much more psychologically, and really showed how great a manipulator the Joker is, and I cannot praise that origin enough.
That said, I'm only talking about the story right now, which has been good, if not really my cup of tea. The main problem I have with the story is how they are writing Harley Quinn character wise, which... sucks. plain and simple. How so, you may ask?
Well, Harley is meant to be a fun and silly character while doing evil things, and while she does keep that, I find she's being written as if she were a bubbly 9 year old than a jester. Not only that, she's way too overtly sexual (which is really creepy when she sounds like shes an elementary schoolgirl, to me). She full on tries to seduce Deadshot, and while some may argue that she's done this in other incarnations before and she's just being flirtatious, but I don't buy it. At the very least, she's just not subtle with he sexuality, which drags the book down. Sure she's tried seducing people before, but to my memory she wasn't full on climbing on people to do so.
And that brings us to the biggest reason I dislike this new series, which I fully realized after reading Suicide Squad #7. And spoilers, just in case you didn't realize it. What really hurts this series is thato they don't write Harley Quinn as she was intended to be.
She's supposed to represent a victim of abuse.
And before you say anything, I know that one could interpret Joker trying to dump her body into the chemicals as an attempt to kill her, and she just happened to survive. I get that, and it's one of the reasons I feel the origin was so strong (Though I do dislike the fact that it implies that this was the origin of the Joker, whereas Alan Moore has claimed that it's only a possibility in the Joker's mind, and that no one really knows how he started. But that's a nitpick).
I would highly recommend that you all go out and read the One shot Batman Adventures: Mad Love. In it, it explores the original take of Harley Quinn, as written by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm. What makes this issue the ultimate Harley Quinn story is how tragic it happens to be. Harley Quinn is not simply insane, she just truly loves the Joker, and he manipulates these feelings to get what he wants, plays with her emotions so that no matter what horrible thing he does, she'll come back to him. Even if she fights back and gets away herself (which she had done), ultimately she's still drawn to him, because she feels that's her only option. And that's the driving force behind her character. She's entertaining, but there's such strong sadness to her story that we become attached and sympathetic to her.
Adam Glass just made her crazy. Sure she's in love, and that's made clear, but you never got the idea in this story that she has been trying to escape it and just can't, we're only told that she loves him to the point that she'll put his skinned face on Deadshot and attempt to have sex with him while he wears it. I get they're trying to make it seem like she's breaking down without the support Joker gave her, but really all your left with is a "strong", talented, brilliant woman go insane because of a man, but we never get to see any part of her that looks strong, talented or brilliant (other than the fact she can kill many people easily). We're supposed to be sympathetic to because she's sad that her man died, but besides the fact WE know that the Jokers evil, the feeling that she might be better off without him is missing. You think it, but there is no weight to it.
She lacks depth, I guess is what I'm saying.
Now, I'm not gonna get outraged over this. My complaints about the designs and her current personality can all be fixed later on, but from my perspective it doesn't seem like they're going to so, which saddens me as a Harley Quinn fan. She's supposed to be the giddy henchman, a contrast to the Joker's sadistic insanity, and I don't get that from it. I do have to emphasize that Adam Glass is still a good writer, and if he were to go on to say write stories about the Joker solo, I'd check that out.
I'm really hoping the main issues I have are editorial decisions, since I believe Jim Lee redesigned the costumes, and great though he is he;s not a creator, he's an artist, and that things pick up. But what do you all feel about the new Harley Quinn? Because at this point, I'm just hoping that sooner rather than later, we get back our good ol' Doctor Harlene Quinzell back.