Suicide Squad Kill Arkham Asylum 4 Featured Reviews 

“Suicide Squad: Kill Arkham Asylum” #4

By | May 9th, 2024
Posted in Reviews | % Comments

Come around back to Captain Boomerang as we look in on him before the closing chapter of this video game tie-in comic.

Cover by Dan Panosian
Written by John Layman
Illustrated by Jesús Hervás
Colored by David Baron
Lettered by Andworld Design

It takes more than a boomerang to survive a riot at Arkham Asylum, and all its super-powered rioters. This in particular sucks if a boomerang is your weapon of choice, and your name is Captain Boomerang. So, to survive you join up with some allies. But be careful who you join with, because nobody is to be trusted, and your allies just might be worse than your enemies. Presenting the most brain-bending, backstabbing, boomeranging-est episode yet of Rocksteady’s Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League!

With Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League already released, to whatever response it received (not to be discussed here), reading the prequel comic about it can be rather odd. Whether or not a given reader elects to care about the various characters at least partly dependent on how much they care for the game itself, or at least the history of the universe in which it purports to take place. In that backdrop, roughly three months after its subsequent story was shown, how does the penultimate issue of “Suicide Squad: Kill Arkham Asylum” perform?

John Layman’s approach to the story of “Suicide Squad: Kill Arkham Asylum” #4 is… okay, but strange. The characters are nothing to write home about, though the returning ones from prior installments do feel out of character when compared to earlier takes on them within the selfsame universe, to the point of making it seem almost as though they had no connection after all.

In particular, as was indicated by the prior issues, Director Amanda Waller actively causing the Arkham riot by intentionally treating the inmates as badly as possible, then deliberately letting them loose as a secret “tryout” for the Suicide Squad makes little to no sense, as the entire idea of the Squad was as an alternative to prison to keep them out of civilians’ way and to make use of their already preexisting actions, not making as bad a case and worse. At worst, her actions in prior Arkham media (which seems to be ignored) had her hiring people serving prison sentences or having them broken out as part of an existing riot, not being the cause of it from the bottom up and being completely ambivalent to the deaths of everyone involved, be their villain, civilian, or guard. In effect, it makes Waller as bad as any of the Batman rogues or worse, with her frustratingly known to never be brought to justice as per usual in her stories. When every single character in the story is as bad as her, it’s difficult to find a reason to actually care about any of them.

Layman’s use of a prologue taking place decades down the line, rather than just using the existing story, provides a rather pointless framing device that erases any real tension, not that there was much to be had when George “Digger” Harkness, a.k.a. Captain Boomerang, is already known to be on the eponymous team of the series. The reality of the device does not help, as it merely makes the notation of temporal and spatial setting into nothing but lies, frustrating rather than compelling in the process. Yes, the perpetrator is quite mad, but the means of the unreliable narrator feel out of character and functionally useless even for him, not to mention simply delaying the inevitable rather than adding anything interesting.

Bizarrely for a tie-in, especially one with links to a wider universe stretching back over a decade, Layman’s “Suicide Squad: Kill Arkham Asylum” #4 feels a bit better if one ignores any of those links in the first place. They were seen as hampering the game this one ties to, and as if it were better as a standalone, and the comic prequel seems much the same with regards to Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League and the Batman: Arkham games themselves. With that connection done away with, the story (barring the aforementioned framing device) is decent, but not much to write home about. It essentially is just “Captain Boomerang kills a bunch of people who don’t show up in the subsequent game,” but otherwise is sadly largely forgettable at best.

Continued below

While the story is not great, Jesús Hervás definitely picks up the slack when it comes to the artwork. Though the gore is very inconsistent (including dismemberment in some cases, and not even a drop of blood in others from the very same boomerangs), but otherwise the dark, gritty artwork perfectly shows the tone of the series, both as a prison riot scenario and of a situation with nothing but villains. close ups are at times gruesome, but the wider angles help to better illustrate the madness and mayhem at work. In particular, the use of multiple hypnotists provides a great way to explore psychedelic imagery, and Hervás draws the topsy-turvy hallucinations in such a way that they are not just exciting, but also very unnerving, twisted not just visually and literally, but also metaphorically.

David Baron’s colors truly bring the piece together. His hues and tones are dark and dour, fitting the hopelessness of the Arkham riot. The palette is briefly brighter during hallucinations, but overall it shows a world that, at best, is deep in the shadows for protection (and far more often just dark and hostile). The result is, though perhaps not perfect, potentially the best part of this penultimate issue.

Final Verdict: 5.0– Decent artwork and colors cannot cover up an at-best-mediocre story in this lackluster tie-in.

Gregory Ellner

Greg Ellner hails from New York City. He can be found on Twitter as @GregoryEllner or over on his Tumblr.