Just in time for The Suicide Squad to drop in theaters, comes a new three issue prestige series from DC — Suicide Squad: Get Joker! This series puts the clown prince of crime in Task Force X’s crosshairs to end his reign of terror. Helmed by two masters of crime noir, Brian Azzarello and Alex Maleev seek to bring two of DC’s most profitable properties together in a marketing wet dream. Despite the blatant promotional purpose behind this project, Suicide Squad: Get Joker! rises above its commercial status and makes for an enjoyable debut.
The issue opens on Waller enlisting former Robin, Jason Todd to head up the newest iteration of the Suicide Squad. As per usual, the team consists of C-list characters such as Wild Dog, Firefly, Banshee also accompanied by mainstays like Harley Quinn.
The first half of the issue goes through the typical motions of a Suicide Squad comic of character intros, explaining the objective, and the ever looming threat of an explosive chip in the neck. However, once the team hits the ground, the book starts coming into its own. The action starts to pick up as the stakes rise, all resulting in a final page that will leave readers wanting the next issue.
The book is at its best once it escapes the by-the-numbers set up. The placement of Red Hood at the center of the team makes for a unique take on the team dynamic and his history with Joker gives the mission more weight. However, the other characters aren’t as engaging. Most fall into standard setups while others espouse unnecessary and distracting political commentary. Compared to Red Hood they fall short, but at the end of the day it’s a Suicide Squad book so disposable characters aren’t unusual cannon fodder.
Another distracting element comes from the language usage in dialogue. It’s important to note this series is under DC’s “mature” Black Label imprint, which allows creators to work with fewer restrictions that apply to monthly series’ content and language. Here, for the first 20 pages or so the dialogue is littered with grawlixes, but after that the censorship abruptly stops all together and just leaves the expletives as they are. This decision is very strange considering the book’s Black Label status and makes the reading experience somewhat jarring.
In spite of this, the issue excels on a visual level. Maleev’s gritty style perfectly suits the narrative. The pairing of his artwork with Matt Hollingsworth’s colors only enhances the visuals even more. Both seem to be working to each other’s strengths throughout the issue. Some of the coolest moments are where the art actually combines with the letters. By turning the onomatopoeia of gunshots into the actual art for the action scene, it paints a shootout like none other.
A gritty, action comic to its core, Get Joker! makes for a decent debut. Red Hood’s role and relation to the mission make for the most engaging portions of the book, while Maleev and Hollingsworth’s art brings it to life. However, the issue’s conventional first 20 pages of set up paired with uneven dialogue do hold the it back. At the end of the day, the issue thankfully does not read like an overt cash grab and has potential moving forward.
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