The ‘Joker Loves Harley’ arc concludes in unlucky #13. I admit, I did like seeing a more ‘serious’ Joker and I was open to the idea of at least one version of the three running around the DCU was him. When he is serious, he is at his most deadliest. At the same time, I was sort of relieved that it wasn’t really him. The Joker having dreams of domestic bliss with someone he treated like dirt under his shoe for so many years? That is incompatible to his entire being. It turns out that the hunch I had was not far off.
SPOILER alert: It wasn’t the real Mr. J. It was the Harley Quinn groupie Edwin who we first met way back in #9 of Harley’s previous 2013 run. I just love how the creative team create something or someone and make it look so innocuous only for them to reuse the character or concept and surprise the reader. Connor and Palmiotti do not have throw away ideas. They know how to create something that looks silly and reinvent it. That, in my opinion is the backbone of the Harley Quinn comic. It relies on you to be ‘distracted’ with the colorful atmosphere and Harley’s potty mouth that you forget the details.
Going back to Edwin, he is now the personification of ‘old’ Harley. He is in love with the ‘object’ of his desires, not really realizing that she is a sentient being with her own drive and autonomy. On one hand, Edwin is a creep. He has these fantasies of domestic bliss with a woman who was only being nice (because she wanted to) only for him to mess it up. On the other hand, you almost feel sorry for him because is a reminder of how Harley once was which makes her reaction towards him at the end all the more bittersweet:
She kills Edwin not out of cold blood, but because she knew how damaged he was. I admit, even I flinched when I saw this. At the same time, I didn’t see Harley Quinn: Cold-blooded killer. I saw someone who put a sick person out of his ‘misery’. He was not going to get ‘better’ and Harley decided to take care of the ‘problem’ by making sure he was not going to do the same to someone else. Her reaction after the fact was telling. She calmly tells her friends to dispose of all the evidence and ‘to never speak’ of this again. This is the reaction of someone who has complicated morals. This is someone who was not proud of what she had done but did what she had to do.
Harley’s declaration of ‘Tony, do me a favor and dispose of this bozo someplace where no one’ll ever find him. Eggy, scrub this stage clean. Queenie, burn that backdrop with all the blood on it’ reminded me of Joker at the beginning of ‘Return of the Joker’ when he tells his henchmen to ‘Take out the trash.’ The difference is that when Joker did it, it was perfectly in character. He is despicable and offensive. In Harley’s comic, I saw someone who did what she had to do. She wasn’t proud of it but it was a ‘necessity’ and she wanted to forget about it.
The comic is not without its genuine laughs. Right after she tells Queenie to take care of the blood splattered evidence, she asks Harlem Harley to help her out with the bills. This made me laugh out loud. She just killed someone (because she felt that she needed to) and is then casually asking one of her friends to look over their accounts. If Harley feels remorse, she won’t mope about it (anymore). Some people exercise, others engage in retail therapy. She takes her angst out by scarfing down pizzas or hanging with her pets.
The other parts that stood out to me that made me crack up were when she is going all Hostel on Fauxker (Fucker?). She casually spreads bird seed all over him as a way to get her feather babies to peck at him. After Fake Joker/Edwin admits that he is not the Real Deal. Harley tells him to stay where he is so that her friends wont think she is going crazy and this all before we get a scene where Harley is gulping a vodka as if she is saying ‘This crap cannot be real’.
John Timms really shines in his art here. Chad Hardin also makes an appearance for four pages but I would like some more consistency. Both artists have their strengths. I am growing fond of Timm’s ‘Devil Pixie’ Harley. I am really fond of the way he draws her hair. It looks as if it has weight and fluff. Hair is a thing I don’t really notice but Timm’s pencils give it that touch that make me think ‘I wanna do that’.
Great run. You guys sure fooled me.