The Suicide Squad’s latest comic book mission might be only two words, but they mean mayhem: Get Joker.
The Suicide Squad exploded into movie theaters this weekend in a frenzy of furious, fast-paced action. It features over a dozen deep-cut characters like Bloodsport, Peacemaker, King Shark, Ratcatcher II, Polka-Dot Man, the Thinker and a rather rabid-looking Weasel. What, that’s not enough wiseass anti-heroes for you? Then DC Black Label has a just-launched new miniseries that you’re going to want to snatch up.
We all know the Suicide Squad’s deal by now: complete (and survive) a doomed-to-fail mission and get a few years off the jail sentence. No matter the mission, the Suicide Squad’s members are all expendable–even if one just happens to be Batman’s former partner.
In Suicide Squad: Get Joker! #1 from Brian Azzarello, Alex Maleev and Matt Hollingsworth, erstwhile Boy Wonder Jason Todd has finally been caught by the police and convicted for vigilantism. He soon finds himself in the sights of Amanda Waller as she arrives at his jail cell to recruit him for a Task Force X mission that might be of particular interest to him—to take out the Joker once and for all. Maybe, just maybe, Red Hood and the Suicide Squad can finally do what the Bat can’t. Jason accepts, ready to seek justice. Or is it revenge? It’s hard to tell the difference when the Suicide Squad is involved.
I went into Get Joker! expecting the unexpected and that’s exactly what I got. First of all, Jason Todd just about broke my heart while recapping the events of his life. Jason is horribly, horribly aware that “a lot of other people” not liking him is what led to his murder at the hands of the Joker.* The self-awareness of that statement alone is enough to blow your mind the more you think about it. Seriously, though, stop and ponder it now because all hell breaks loose from here.
To get the job done, Red Hood is joined by some dour faces that are both familiar and new. Firefly, Silver Banshee, Plastique and Wild Dog join the squad alongside new villains Pebbles, Meow Meow and Yonder Man. And what’s a Suicide Squad without Harley Quinn?
One of my favorite things about this first issue how it presents Harley. We already know that she’s more than just “Joker’s ex,” but the creative team does a phenomenal job of reminding us just how good the former psychiatrist is at reading people. Harley Quinn is volatile, impetuous and brilliant, and don’t you ever forget it.
The Suicide Squad isn’t thrilled to have Jason as their leader, but there’s not much time to complain. Waller drops them immediately into Gotham City. The squad gears up and sets out to a bar where Joker was sighted, and that’s where things start to go south. Gunfire fills the air along with Silver Banshee’s ear-piercing shrieks and the last gargling breaths of Meow Meow’s unlucky target. And then things start to explode.
I need to know everything about Meow Meow. A mysterious character introduced in this book as a rare surviving member of a previous Suicide Squad, she seems to be a quiet, unassuming teenager with a necrotic metahuman ability. Then Meow Meow takes off her face mask to reveal the abject horror underneath. Give me her backstory ASAP.
Believe it or not, the book gets even messier from there, and it shows no signs up of letting up on the pandemonium. Joker gets his hands on the device that controls the explosive embedded inside the team members’ necks. The Suicide Squad’s lives are literally in the hands of the Clown Prince of Crime? Yeah. They’re screwed.
It’s appropriate that Get Joker! falls under DC’s Black Label, because no other DC book has made me curse at almost every turn of the page. (“Oh, s**t? Oh, s**t!”) Azzarello, Maleev and Hollingsworth have crafted a story so outrageously unpredictable there’s no way of knowing where it’s going next. Also, it’s perfect for new readers. Like all DC Black Label comics, Get Joker! is a standalone story set outside the confines of regular continuity. It’s also, much like James Gunn’s film, about as R-rated as R-ratings can get.
Sure, some sort of closure for both Jason Todd and Harley Quinn would be nice to have by the end of the series. But it doesn’t seem like a single thing in this story will be described as “nice” when it’s all said and done. All we can do is buckle up for a fantastically wild ride and enjoy where this creative team takes us.
*Don’t know the real-life drama behind the story of Jason Todd? Let Ben LeClear fill you in on this iconic moment in DC Comics history.
Suicide Squad: Get Joker! #1 by Brian Azzarello, Alex Maleev and Matt Hollingsworth is now available in print and as a digital download.
Kelly Knox writes about all-ages comics and animation for DCComics.com and her writing can also be seen on IGN, Nerdist and more. Follow her on Twitter at @kelly_knox to talk superheroes, comics and pop culture.