This is a question I get asked a lot. I am vocal about my dislike of Adam Glass’ take on the Suicide Squad and on Harley Quinn in particular. My reason is, largely, one of continuity. You see, the Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad is unrecognisable as the Harley Quinn of DC’s history. There’s been a relaunch with the new 52, yes and that’s a valid argument. My counter-argument is that Harley’s changes seem far more substantive to the nature of the character than most other characters’ have been. Whilst there have been fundamental changes to the character we can sum it all up with costume changes.
Superman’s red trunks are gone, there’s more definition to his suit but over all, he’s Superman. No question about it.
Batman is Batman.
Wonder Woman’s a tricky one, having gone through a last-minute costume revision just before the relaunch but she’s still Wonder Woman. A little silver in place of bronze, back to trunks instead of pants… she’s Wonder Woman. If anything, more iconic after the relaunch as her ‘new 52’ look is closer to the classic than her Odyssey style.
Though not pictured, Green Lantern, Aquaman, Catwoman, Poison Ivy, Black Canary and many others are still recognisably true to themselves with tweaks rather than changes made to their looks.
Harley is… gone. The argument used by DC is she’s been brought more in line with the book’s tone and Rocksteady’s look for Harley in the Arkham Noun games. I have the Arkham City figure stood infront of me as I write this and I see a blonde haired, flesh-tone skinned girl in a black and red diamond-patterned outfit. It’s not her classic look but it’s closer than the abomination we see monthly in Suicide Squad. That said, if it’s to bring it in line with the book’s tone… I’ll buy it. You see, the tone of Suicide Squad is ‘confused mess without any sense of continuity’.
Can I back that up? Read on…
Last Time On Suicide Squad
Suicide Squad #3 featured Harley Quinn on the cover in her new outfit as you can see. However, inside the book she was wearing a rather different outfit. We saw her get it, stolen from a laundrette and we also saw her turn back into her normal self at the end of the book. Which is where the problems begin.
In this sequence the conversation continues uninterrupted from the top-left panel to the top-right and then to the lower panel. In the first, Harley isn’t seen. In the second, she is, in her purloined hot-pants and flannel outfit from this book. In the third panel she’s back into her new design and seeming to pull up her glove. Quite how she managed this quick-change in between panels, when the conversation continued seamlessly implying there was no time passing from frame to frame, is unclear. Which at least explains why her costume is back to normal in book 4. Which brings us to…
Book 4 – The Train Wreck
Here we see Harley Quinn at the end of page 4 of book 4. Notice, please, her eye makeup. Now you see it…
Now you don’t. On the very next page, with every reason to believe events continued immediately and without pause, it’s gone.
Not to worry, though, because the very next time we get a good look at her face it’s back! So everything’s alright.
It’s not just Harley getting the glitch in the matrix treatment, either. For one guest character, just being dead isn’t bad enough. Confused? Let me explain:
“Wong Fon Shay.”
Sorry, Deathstroke, I didn’t catch that. Who did you say?
“Wong Fon Yay.”
Sorry, was that… I’m pretty sure you said it different the first time. Perhaps you have some sort of record of her name you could clear this up with?
Oh! Won Fon Yay! (edit: that’s what’s written down, anyway. The woman in the frame is actually saying ‘Wong Fon…’ which means our victim has been given two names in one panel here. Good job, proof readers.) Her. She’s dead? Unfortunate, but sort of inevitable. I mean there’s not a lot of longevity in having the superpower ‘Deathstroke is pathologically incapable of remembering your name’.
Seriously. This woman had three different names across two consecutive pages.
As I said to Zoe earlier today ‘unless this book has a weird meta-narrative where it’s set in a parallel or simulated universe that is falling apart then it’s a horror-show.’