This review contains spoilers.
“Burning Down The House” is proving to be one of the most enjoyable Suicide Squad stories I’ve read in a long, long time. Rob Williams has gone to great effort to deconstruct Task Force X, to tear them apart from the inside. First Amanda Waller died, and then the brain bombs were turned off; with the Squad free, they’ve spread to the four corners of the… well… of the swamp, anyway.
But Suicide Squad #14 is a fascinating issue, one that explores the inspirational heroism of Hack. The last issue ended with her dead, killed at the hands of Boomerang, who was revealed to be the traitor. #14 switches that up a bit, though, hinting that Boomerang is working for Harcourt rather than for Rustam. Whoever Boomerang may be working for, though, the depth of his self-hatred is fascinating; in one scene he deliberately taunts Killer Croc, hoping that the behemoth will put him down.
That said, no character’s star shines brighter than Harley Quinn’s. Her relationship with Hack had become one of the sweetest, most touching parts of the book; as a result, her fury and grief is explosive to say the least. I’ve often criticized John Romita Jr.’s art in Suicide Squad, but this time round it actually fits perfectly with the tone and style of the plot. There’s a hardness to Harley Quinn’s grief, a brutality that just seems perfectly fitting. This isn’t sexy or sensual, it’s heart-wrenching and brutal. These scenes pack a real emotional punch; as shocking as Waller’s death was, this is the death that means something. This is the death of innocence.
For all that’s the case, though, artistically speaking, the second section is easily the best. Eddy Barrows’s work is beautifully fluid, and right from the first panel you can tell he’s firing on all cylinders. He opens with a panel in which Boomerang stares at his empty drink, roaring drunk and lost in self-pity. It’s a brilliant moment, and from there Barrows takes us on a quick whistle-stop tour of the Squad. The scene where Boomerang confronts Killer Croc? It’s simply gorgeous. When the Suicide Squad arrives to rescue Harley Quinn? Tone perfect.
Naturally, there’s a twist at the end of the issue. I’m not going to spoil it for you, but it’s clear that we’re about to head into the endgame; that Rob Williams may have done a great job tearing the Suicide Squad down, but he’s about to rebuild them. The final splash-page drops a tantalizing hint, revealing that there’s a master manipulator out there who’s outsmarted all of her foes. Rustam may have thought he was winning, but in reality all the pieces were being moved into place, and we’re clearly about to see him checkmated.
But where will the Suicide Squad go from this? “Burning Down The House” has done a great job of destroying the team, and the issue ends with key members dead or dying. Boomerang’s treachery has yet to be revealed, and that’s sure to tear Task Force X apart; if Harley Quinn was mad at Harcourt, how angry will she be at the man who killed her friend? For all that we’re about to see Rustam defeated, the truth is that I have no idea where Suicide Squad will go from here. And that means I’m in for a fun ride.
We're preparing for the endgame now, in a tremendous issue of Suicide Squad full of twists and turns. Expect an emotional journey.