Variant cover by Frank Cho.
This week’s issue felt like one of those two for one specials. This new arc ‘Family Circles’ is where we meet Harley’s progenitors. We also learn about another twist involving Harley Sinn who has Mason and Macabre hostage.
Whenever I go to the comic book store, especially if it is a Harley week, I get that little kick. No matter what is going on in my life, I have that little bit of optimism ‘At least there is a Harley book out’. This week, I felt that rush with the main AND back up story. I can attribute this to a couple of things.
- Story consistency. After the Faux Joker arc, I felt like I was spinning plates. This issue was a refresher because we were following two narratives that were carried over and explored here: Harley’s parents and Harley Sinn. I like spice in my food but too much and I forget what I am eating. Looking back at it now, I can see that Palmiotti and Connor were probably introducing the new characters and future storylines but seeing it all at the same time was like trying to eat too many sweets at the same time. Let me finish my lemon sugar bar before I try the chocolate walnut brownie.
- Back to reality. I am a firm believer that Harley works best as a character in a realistic setting. She is so off the wall that she doesn’t need aliens and 3D dinosaurs to be interesting. Her whole life is a story book. She has had horror, tragedy, drama, and comedy in her time. This back to basics was a refresher.
- John Timms’s consistent art. His work is getting up there. I think what Greg Capullo did with the Bat books and how it redefined the character designs is what Timms is doing to Harley. His lines are impeccable and I hope to see his artwork on a t-shirt next time I go to a convention. That being said, I am really glad that we had a whole issue dedicated to his pencils. I have described Timms’s Harley as ‘manic pixie’ or ‘devil pixie’. I like that his look isn’t too fantastical or exaggerated. His fight and action scenes are some of my favorites.
In this issue, we meet the parents. This isn’t the first time we have been treated to seeing Harley’s family. We got a first taste way back in Gotham City Sirens under Paul Dini’s pen. In that series, we learn that Harley has a dad who was slick and went to prison. He was very laissez faire about his crimes. We also learn that her mother was very neurotic. We also learned that she had siblings, adopted and natural. We also find out that she had a lay about brother. This meant that Harl was the ambitious one.
Some of these elements were borrowed and supplanted here. Here we see Harley’s parents as Generation Xers who respect their children and their lifestyles so long as they pay their bills. So far, it is established that they know that their daughter works at the clinic but they do not know about her being the owner of a building where the tenants include a man with a goat’s head. This begs the question: Is it possible that they know that their daughter was once the hench girl of a criminal mastermind? Are they aware and are they using this visit as an opportunity to get the record straight from the horse’s mouth now? Have they chosen to visit her after so long because they wanted to wait until she was ‘stable’?
We do know that they are very open minded parents who are very encouraging and proud of their children no matter their endeavors. I am calling it now: I foresee Harley’s brother who is in a rock band inviting Big Tony and the others to a show at the end of the arc.
As an aside, I do love that Harley’s parents have this casual jabbing way of communicating with another. You can’t help but to fall in love with someone who makes even Harley blush. We are so used to seeing Harley use colorful language but to see her say ‘Maaa’, it reminds me of Dorothy and Sophia from the Golden Girls.
Harley Sinn plays a big role here but in true C and P fashion, we get a delightful twist. All I will say is that we see Harley Sinn evolve from jilted groupie and deranged fan to bounty hunter to someone who is willing to work with Harley. This is due to a conversation she had with Mason and Madame Macabre in the previous issue. I really like seeing this natural progression with Sinn. Personally, I think complicated characters with tragic origins are a hard sell. You have to make them believable. Sinn is one of those characters who I can see turning the other lead (maybe) because you can sort of see where she is coming from: She is a fangirl who got rejected.
I was very pleased with this issue. More streamlined, realistic setting, and we finally get to something that was teased for awhile now.
The back up story with March Harriett and Jenna ‘The Carpenter’ Duffy was a great back up. Harley hires Jenna to spruce up the old joke shop. I suddenly remembered that Harley had an issue with some trust fund hipsters who wanted to turn it into an organic coffee shop. I guess our girl made it clear that she was not going to give up Joker’s favorite spot, not even for orange cranberry scones.
I am very pleased with this issue. Go out and buy it!