Holy Harley Saturation, Batman!
Our gals getting so much exposure it is hard to keep track of her sometimes. Not only is she getting a new biweekly series in August, we still have the Gang of Harleys, Her Little Black Book, Suicide Squad and whatever surprise one shots DC throws at us. I am calling it now but I think we will have a new Harley related GN by the end of the year. I am thinking something a long the lines of Azzarello’s Joker.
This is just a hunch.
Anywho, here is my analyses of Harley’s last three issues compacted into one post.
In the opening pages we see Harley is having some sort of dream where she is Little Red Riding Hood and the wolf in her story is someone she just gave a smackdown to in the previous issues. While #25 established that Harley and Joker were through, at least until the current team leaves the book, I thought the Red Riding Hood bit was put there as a counter argument for those who have views that they have a twisted relationship. It’s clear that they see Joker as this animal who has no capability of having a nuanced/twisted ‘relationship’ with Harley despite what a lot of people want to believe.
What also stood out to me was when they visited what was supposed to be ‘Grandma’s house’ looked eerily like Arkham Asylum. Although it said ‘grandma’s house’, it had steel gates and the Victorian architecture gave it a spooky feel. I thought this was the authors way of establishing that ‘this’ Harley is not the same person as she was say in the 1992 cartoon, these were her roots. She will never live a life of anonymity and have a 9-5 job . This will always be a part of her background but she is no longer grounded in it. I thought it was a nice reference to the Harley of old while acknowledging that she is going in a new direction. That will always be a part of her history.
The issue also has a couple of scenes before we get to the actual story. In one bit, Harley confronts a group of three rowdy beach goers who get a little too territorial. I thought this was interesting because it reminds me of fan culture and how some people can get a little too possessive over fictional characters. I wonder if the writers used this as an opportunity to comment on that. The ‘beach’ is the internet. Some people like white sand, others like wet sand. Some like the waves, others like shallow water. In another, we see Harley correct a man for making a much too personal comment about her posterior. As someone who was formerly friends with someone who had a bad habit of making gross comments about my body while disguising them as ‘compliments’, this hit close to home. Not sure if it had a purpose but I took it as a ‘What would Harley do?’ scenario.
The issue finishes with a new character added to the mix. There is this new character named ‘Red Tool’ who has a grudge on Harley. He was clearly created because of all he Harley/Deadpool fan art on tumblr.
Issue #26 starts out with their confrontation at a Roller Derby match Harley was supposed to be a part of. Turns out that Red Tool, in addition to having a grudge is actually quite flirty with her. What I liked about him was that he didn’t feel like a copy of the Merc with a Mouth. He had his own distinctive personality. He trades barbs with Harley before he takes her on a ‘date’ and not exactly with her consent.
Red Tool expresses his admiration for the Mistress of Mayhem in his own way: by tattooing his number on her rear. He also does her a favor by capturing some of Gotham’s most wanted. In doing this, she gets the police department off her back after the fiasco with the mayor.
Puns that are dirty but don’t cross over into crass.
Wacky visuals with tight lines in the art.
Lots of violence.
This isn’t a book that requires heavy duty thinking. The visuals are stunning and don’t cross over into gratuitous territory. The puns are tastefully smutty.
#28 ends with Deadpool and Harley having a truce and perhaps giving those who have fantasies of the Merc with a Mouth and the Princess of Crime as a couple some ideas for their fanfiction. My favorite quote is from Deadpool in which he describes Harley and why she is so fascinating:
“You like to side with the underdog. You view authority as something that should be earned. You have a fascination with superheroes and your actions are emotionally driven and…you are a romantic at heart. When you fall in love, you fall big time. Man, woman, real, or imagined. You fall hard no matter what they may or may not have done. You look deeply at people. Because of this, you make sure to keep your surface personality quirky and always moving. You see yourself as a savior to those who are powerless mainly because you understand what it’s like to be in that position. You have empathy that directs your actions. You also have a switch that shuts it off when you wanna get what you want. You keep a simple exterior so your enemy underestimates you, giving you room to get the upper hand.”
This whole bit just gives me the feels in all the right places. Red Tool perfectly states what makes Harley appealing to so many. As someone who once had self esteem problems and then worked on establishing boundaries, this tugged me in the right (and very sensitive) places. Not that I am complaining about that.
Harley Quinn series is a book that incorporates a lot of fast paced action, laughter and blood. It’s little moments like this where it has heart that just makes it perfect. Not that it wasn’t before.