harley quinn 20

 

A new chapter begins in the twisted tale of Harley Quinn. In this issue, we see the matter of the homeless people and the cannibals get more or less resolved, but not really. We also see Big Tony and Harley having a debate about how she is nuts for letting her parents stay over because she  is unable to have one day of stability. Finally, we see Harley meet Devi.

The issue begins with Harley and Chief Spoonsdale having a moment of silence for the city’s forgotten. Conner and Palmiotti kind of resolve the issue about the city’s homeless population getting eaten by cannibals. When I say ‘kind of’, I am not saying they could have gone further. In real life, mysteries and justice are evasive suckers and it’s rare that we get a resolution that is compacted and complete within a short time. The first pages solidify the alliance Harley has with the Chief of Police and in a series that utilizes a lot of spectacle and violence, it’s little moments with heart like this that showcase why the Harley comic is popular. It’s a like a work out. You have cardio and then you have those slow intervals to catch up and really absorb all of the craziness.

When Chief Spoonie tells Harley that he knows that Madison Berkowitz was behind it and that ‘someone or something will snap’ (her neck?), it gives us assurance that we, especially Harley will see this get solved. He is like that solid pad of stability that I think is a great addition to the Harley series. I really enjoy their interactions. He acknowledges and appreciates her ability to get around the law to get her hands dirty for the right reasons. He is her Jim Gordon.

If the scenes with Spoonsdale were the ‘heart’ of the issue, the ones with Big Tony were the laughs. Harley casually mentions that her parents are staying for a couple of days. Tony, the other rock in Harley’s life, tells her ‘What? What!? WHAT?!’ Try to explain the talking egg, the anthropomorphic goat and the wax museum dedicated to serial killers in the basement. Who knows. Maybe Harley’s parents are the ones who are actually cool with this as long as she pays her bills. In pre-Rebirth continuity, Harley’s dad was in jail and her mom was this long suffering woman who adopted two other kids. In the New 52, she had a more ‘stable’ upbringing and excelled her studies. There was no reference to her father’s criminal history so who knows how they will react.

We get a nice Easter Egg surprise with Harley in her nurse Harley outfit. Due to timing, I think it is a vague reference to the ‘Arkham’ and ‘Injustice’ games which is fitting because Injustice 2 was released just yesterday. The context for Harley wearing the nurse outfit was because she was ‘nursing’ Red Tool after that encounter with the criminal cannibals. She tells her beaten backer to step aside as she needs to take a personal call. It turns out that it is our girl, Harley Sinn. Harley Sinn is one of those characters that Palmiotti and Connor created who went from weird to sad to scary. She is a deranged groupie. She is like Mason Verger from ‘Hannibal’. She was an admirer who was scorned and now she wants to even it out with Harley by taking out Madame Macabre and her son, Mason.

I really dig that Harley is making this freelance lifestyle a thing, even if it’s in fiction. Having multiple sources of income is the norm for people of a certain generation. She has a day job and then she has her ‘Uber’ job.

We finally get to see the winner of a ‘Hunger Games’/’Gladiator’ style takedown set in Gotham’s future Devi finally meet Harley. I have a feeling that Devi will turn over a new leaf on Harley and when she goes back, it will have effects and it will lead to the dystopia we see. She’s fundamentally convinced that Harley is this thing that must be destroyed but I can’t see that lasting too long. Harley is a smooth talker. I just can’t wait to see ‘How’ she will do it.

John Timms nails it. His Harley looks is getting up there with Bruce Timm and Amanda Conner in terms of creating an iconic Harley. His ‘thing’ is Harley’s beautiful curls and neat lines. I want to see him draw Harley with a 60s bouffant. She would rock it. Joseph Michael Linsner’s more pulpy look is very fitting for the gritty fight scenes.

The Harley loves Joker arc is a fun little read. I can take it or leave it. I regard it as a lost eppie of BTAS. The light hearted tone between the two is perfect in animated form and when Joker isn’t his usual deadly self. I like the nod to the Golden Age with Joker’s car. What seems absurd and silly at one point makes sense. Joker is only nice to Harley when he needs something from her. I don’t expect any of the abusive elements to play out as it is clear that the back ups focus on the early part of their relationship. And you know what, as much as I dislike this pairing,  I like it here.

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