Harley Quinn & the Suicide Squad: Special Edition (#1) – Rob Williams

3 out of 5

Having been out of the main DC / Marvel loop for a long while, I guess I was unaware that Harley Quinn had become DC’s Deadpool, with talk-to-the-reader self awareness as part of her shtick. I know the Suicide Squad movie and HBO cartoon leaned in to her R-rated nature (though note: I haven’t currently seen either), but the 4th wall breaking was new to me. …And, first being exposed to it in this comic, feels a little unoriginal. The style is also hard to actually be funny with, by my opinion, and writer Rob Williams’ humor – for me – treads a very obvious line in his application of it, so tack that on to my general “I am not amused” sentiment throughout this book. I’ve also never been much of a Jim Lee fan, making me an all-around spoilsport on this.

This free issue was DC’s lead-in to revitalizing the Squad to match their David Ayer movie counterparts, so it got all ‘tuded up and silly. I think the setup here works, in which Harley receives a mysterious invite to lead “Evil Anonymous – Super-villain Therapy Group,” and then goes about in her Harleen Quinzel identity, inviting also-rans like Mothman to sit on her couch and be “cured” of their villainy, in various tweaked Harley Quinn ways.

The artstyle changeup when we go into Quinn’s mind (after a knock on the noggin) is conceptually cute, though Sean Galloway’s chibi style is such a shift from Lee’s meaty, sketchy look that it’s almost too jarring, and requires a page or so to get in to the flow.

Williams’ dialogue and narration navigating us through this can be pretty forced; this prequel to the ongoing series is meant to show how Quinn, specifically, is lured into then new Suicide Squad, but it’s also likely this was commissioned after the ongoing just to capitalize on the character’s surging popularity in the run-up to the movie. That is – I can understand if there were some mental gymnastics required in “justifying” the book after the fact, resulting in the clunky moments in the text, trying to get us over the humps of point A to B to C in the story.

Anyhow, for those who have been drawn to HQ’s recent iterations, I would suppose this book provides enough outlandishness to match, and while the art mash-up didn’t work for me, it is notable. And it ultimately does do the job of setting up the new Squad iteration via Quinn, without including anything that would make me feel like I’m missing out if I started on the series without reading this issue first.