Synopsis: The issue opens with Harley retelling a story about a lunch lady at Belle Reve caught between Deadshot and Captain Boomerang. Despite numerous interruptions from fellow team members, Harley completes her story just as the man responsible for their escape appears. It turns out to be Adam Reed, who we saw in a flashback from last month’s issue, and he wants to take them to his hideout so they can lay low and have their “neck bombs” removed.
Upon Reed’s entrance, Harley begins to tell the team about Reed’s history and why he wanted to help them escape Task Force X. Reed was the son of the owner of a large coffee shop chain and he ran a large human rights organization. It was this organization that led him to seek out the team so that he could try to rehabilitate them. It turns out that the lunch lady at Belle Reve was actually Reed’s inside “man” that gave Harley the means to communicate with Reed.
Harley explains that all her positive self talk was actually coded messages to Reed. She was the perfect one for the job given that Waller would never suspect Harley if she was talking to herself. During their mission in China on protective detail, Reed and his organization Horus used another team of superhumans to play the villains and enable the team to fake their deaths.
Before heading to the hideout, the team decides that they will expose Waller and Task Force X once the bombs are removed. During this time, Waller faces the consequences of losing her entire team and deals with criticisms from Mr. Ashemore rather violently.
Arriving at Reed’s hideout, an old WWII POW camp, the team meets the “supervillains” who helped them fool Waller into thinking they were dead. They quickly find that this other team is, in fact, extreme fans of the Suicide Squad. They begin to get acquainted when an alarm goes off and the cell doors open inside the castle. Reed, after killing his girlfriend and carving “Cain” into his fingers, announces to his followers that they must try to kill as many of the Suicide Squad members in order to win his tournament to find the Fist of Cain’s next “shepherd”.
The issue ends with Waller receiving a message from an unknown source telling her that the Suicide Squad is alive and that this person can take Waller to them. The last panel shows a mob of Cain followers rushing to the team as Reed announces ‘let the game begin”.
Thoughts: After a strong start with the previous issue, Seeley and Ferreyra continue that momentum here with issue eighteen. This title hits all the right beats to make it an enjoyable read. With regard to the overall story, it was not too surprising that the team was actually alive but I was looking forward to Waller picking out a new crop of villains for Task Force X. There still is time for that if she decides to assemble a team to bring the Suicide Squad back to Belle Reve.
The art is such a strong aspect to this title now. The brush strokes create an almost dream like sequence on every panel. The art is not style without substance as the detail in each character is delivered. Harley’s facial expressions were brought to life by Ferreyra and enhanced all of her wacky moments among the team.
Seeing the Fist of Cain was an interesting twist, especially with Mr. Reed seemingly in charge. The next issue seems like it could be full of some great action and lots of death so it should be fun.