With Ales Kot’s time on “Suicide Squad” already coming to a close next month, it’s a bit of a shame that “Suicide Squad” #22’s pacing feels a little bit off. I’ve enjoyed his short tenure on the book, but as this issue spends time showing scenes that already viewed last month, it’s hard to keep from feeling like there’s more interesting material that’s happening off-panel.
The idea of the Suicide Squad rampaging through Las Vegas is a fun one, for instance. Deadshot and Harley Quinn as the businessman gambler and the Vegas showgirl is a perfect pairing of them with new cover identities, so why is it that readers get so little off it in the long run? Then again, getting little of what you hope to see feels like a bit of a common element throughout “Suicide Squad” #22. After the teases last month with Cheetah as a member of the Squad, her appearance is limited to a whopping five panels here, and barely in the thick of things. Meanwhile, the scenes with King Shark trying to chew off the foot of the massive corpse giant from last month are shown again, long after it proves to be entertaining.
Things are often told rather than shown in “Suicide Squad” #22, too. The mysterious billboards that are supposed to create so much havoc are never fully explained, just brushed off. What sounds like one of the potentially more entertaining moments of the comic — the corpse giant hurling King Shark at the Squad’s helicopter — is never actually shown, only told in dialogue. While she may still have a part to play next month, it’s also hard to keep from feeling that the new villain Mother may also be vanishing before she’s fully realized.
Zircher’s art looks pretty good here. The continual red-light scenes with Amanda Waller and James Gordon Jr. have an attractive look to them; they definitely harken back to Francesco Francavilla’s depiction of the character when he was reintroduced a few years ago in “Detective Comics.” With the glare off of his glasses and the carefully drawn strands of hair, it’s almost impossible not to think of Francavilla. Zircher also nails the opening scene with the in-disguise Deadshot and Harley Quinn. They’re both simultaneously themselves and someone else at the same time that it’s a little frustrating we barely see them undercover here. On the other hand, the corpse giant’s being composed of tons of corpses is never entirely clear here; it looks much more like a big humanoid with lots of little nubs and wires coming out of it rather than an amalgamation of bodies. It’s a neat idea, but it never quite comes to life in the art (so to speak).
It’s ultimately a slightly frustrating issue. Kot’s run had only just begun a couple of months ago and it’s now coming to an end, and I feel now as I did before — that the rough patches were ones that over time would go away. Some of his addition to the series felt like they had real potential, and he certainly has a strong scripting voice. If that would have panned out in the long run, though, we’ll almost certainly never know now.