Click on either of the above to see these issues on Comixology.
Let me first prepend my review of these two issues by stating that I am an on again, off again comic reader. I have not ever religiously read any particular series; I read them when I think to get them, and although I do tend to consistently gravitate towards Batman and his allies/enemies, I will also read anything else that catches my eye regardless of series, publisher, origin country, and so on. These two issues of Suicide Squad are the first I’ve read from that particular series.
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD
The premise of this story arc is that someone killed (and skinned) the Joker while Harley was in Belle Reve Penitentiary and acting as part of the Suicide Squad, which is a team of supervillain death row inmates who are allegedly working off their sentence via performing high-risk black ops missions for the government. Harley finds out about the Joker’s death and goes on a killing spree in an issue prior to the two I’m reviewing (but of course this information is recapped in the issues in question). As issue #6: The Hunt for Harley Quinn begins, the remainder of the Squad is attempting to track her down.
A sizeable chunk (but of course not the entire issue as this is Suicide Squad, not Harley Quinn) recounts the tale of Harley’s life prior to meeting the Joker: she was a psychiatrist at Arkham Asylum who was assigned to work with the Joker. She’d been a “good girl” all her life up to that point, but her way of approaching the Joker – challenging him fearlessly, and quite aware of what he might try to pull – intrigued him enough that he decided to lure her in instead of killing her. The rest of the issue focuses on some of the other members of the Squad, particularly the two squabbling male leads, Deadshot (the leader) and Savant (the challenger) as they seek out Harley.
Issue #7: The Origin of Harley Quinn continues the story, with Harley-of-the-present breaking into the police department to retrieve the remains of the Joker – his face, which was skinned off – and the rest of the Squad creating a distraction and sneaking into the building to catch her. The rest of her origin story is related, with Harleen (Harley-of-the-past) meeting with her superior, whom she finds out has been stealing her research on the Joker for a book she is writing to make herself famous, and due to the Joker’s persuasive influence she just snaps and nearly kills the woman. Directly thereafter she breaks the Joker out of the Asylum, and he takes her to the place he was “born” and tosses her into a vat. When she emerges, she’s lost all compunctions and has special half-and-half hair and decides she needs to make out with the Joker.
Back in present day, Harley traps Savant in a cell with his foot on a pressure-sensitive mine (if he moves, he blows up) and while he’s dealing with that, she also captures Deadshot and ties him to a chair. In perhaps the more interesting segment, she takes the Joker’s face and places it over Deadshot’s, talking to him as if he is the Joker. While she’s in her weird delusional monologue about how the Joker is still alive she decides to kiss him, at which point he shoots her, thus finding her recaptured. (Although I am not covering issue #8 as it isn’t really related to Harley, you find out that she is still alive despite the stomach wound and returned to the team again.)
I must say that although I bought these two issues because I wanted to read about what happened between her and the Joker, I was more entertained with the testosterone-fueled exchanges between Deadshot and Savant. The problem I had with the Harley/Joker exchanges was that although it was a good idea, the events were so briefly touched upon that it wasn’t nearly as effective as it could have been. Neither character really shined in all their crowning glory, and the changes in Harleen which made her into Harley were barely shown. I’d have liked it better if it were a stand-alone series of a few issues, but as this was written in the midst of Suicide Squad it involved too many goings-on and too many characters in too few pages. It would have worked even within the larger context of the present events, had the mini story arc been a couple of issues longer. As it stands, it is mildly amusing and fun but nothing spectacular. It almost tempts me to take the ideas presented and run with them, drawing up my own spin on the events between the two in a fan comic. Almost, but not quite.