A Classic DC Character Returned To Their Superior Pre-New 52 Design In ‘Harley Quinn & The Suicide Squad April Fools’ Special’ #1
This week’s Harley Quinn & The Suicide Squad April Fools' Special #1 by Rob Williams, Jim Lee and Sean “Cheeks” Galloway was a fun, cameo-laden romp that saw Harley return to her roots as a psychiatrist for the criminally insane and try to cure the likes of Man-Bat, Killer Moth and Scarecrow. However, the one-shot also served as a jumping off point for one of the biggest books of DC Rebirth with a surprise cliffhanger that saw a classic DC character looking a lot more like their Pre-Flashpoint self.
The issue is drawn mostly by Jim Lee, but during the psychiatry segments the art duties are handed over to Sean Galloway whose trademark cartoon style is a stark-contrast to the cross-hatching and gritted teeth of Lee, but it works surprisingly well. Over the course of the issue, Harley ends up in a fight with the Justice League, in a sequence drawn by Lee, and comes to the conclusion that the superheroes are the real bad guys, and that’s when the reveal kicks in.
The majority of the issue, including the entire Galloway segment, was part of Amanda Waller’s attempt to brainwash Harley into being more vengeful and hateful of the superhero community, before drafting her onto the new Suicide Squad. The big surprise, however, is Waller’s appearance, because she’s looking a lot more like the classic interpretation of the character from before The New 52.
Amanda Waller was created in 1986 by John Ostrander, Len Wein and John Byrne, first debuting in the event series Legends, and in stark contrast to the god-like heroes and villains of the DC Universe, “The Wall” was a short, stocky woman of color who was the best at her job and didn’t take any guff from anyone. That was damn-near revolutionary in the mid-eighties.
However, when The New 52 first started in 2011, Amanda Waller made her debut at the end of Suicide Squad #1 by Adam Glass, Federico Dallocciho and Ransom Getty, and there was controversy over how svelte and conventionally attractive Waller had become. It was argued that a tall, skinny and buxom Amanda Waller defeated the purpose of the character, a normal person in a superheroes world, and it removed one of the few examples of representation larger readers may have had in a fictional world where everyone looks like they’re carved out of stone.
Waller's new-old look also looks a lot like Viola Davis' take on the character in the upcoming Suicide Squad movie, and was likely a visual inspiration for Jim Lee's design of the character. The new Suicide Squad in the comics is a slimmed down version of the cinematic and there has been talk for months that DC Rebirth would seek to bring the comics closer in line with DC's film and TV adaptations.
Amanda Waller’s appearance in Harley Quinn & The Suicide Squad April Fools' Special is a good sign for DC Rebirth, and continues the trend of reverting characters to their most iconic designs, but in a much more important way than Nightwing returning to black and blue, or Green Arrow growing a goatee. There aren’t any characters that look like Amanda Waller, which makes it all the more important that there are characters that look like her, and the DC Universe is better off with her as she once again is.
Hopefully we can get classic Etta Candy back next.