Harley Quinn: Harley Loves Joker #2 – Paul Dini, Writer; Bret Blevins, Artist; Alex Sinclair, Colorist
Ray – 7/10
Corrina: Contains More Explosions, Less Butt Shots
WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW
Ray: The conclusion of Paul Dini’s retro take on Harley, Harley Loves Joker #2, winds up turning into a meta look at the character in her various eras, and although it has some fun moments, winds up being a bit too clever by half. When we last left off, Joker had welcomed skunk-like mutant criminal Grison into their gang, and as the issue begins he’s pretty clearly favoring her over Harley. Harley’s coping mechanism is to retreat into her mind, talking to a therapist version of herself (as well as her dysfunctional mother, who hangs out in her subconscious). Of course, she chooses the middle of a heist to daydream, which leads to her botching the heist and getting on Joker’s bad side. Grison saves the day, and Joker proceeds to marginalize Harley in their next caper, leading the spurned Harley to begin plotting her revenge. This Harley is surprisingly short-sighted, which fits with her original, love-struck incarnation.
There’s a bit of a parallel to Dini’s most famous Harley story, “Mad Love,” as she gets ahead of herself and begins putting an elaborate plot into effect – then, to win Joker’s love; this time, to teach him a lesson. Harley deciding to tip off Bruce Wayne about the heist that’s about to go down at his company leads to the hilarious scene of Alfred seeing right through Harley’s weak disguise, but the twist that Joker was just leading Grison on feels a bit out of nowhere. Maybe we’re supposed to be seeing this story through Harley’s eyes, but Joker’s characterization is pretty uneven throughout. The reveal of the identity of Harley’s “therapist” is clever, but it just sort of reminds us of how this version of Harley is very much a beta version of what she’s going to turn into. Thus, seeing the story end with her pushing past all the people trying to help her and running off happily with Joker falls a bit flat. It has a few funny moments, but no one should want Harley and Joker to live happily ever after.
Corrina: It has its moments but they don’t ever rise to the level of anything in Batman: The Animated Series, and it’s a bit creepy to see Harley with the Joker in the DC Universe now. (One of the reasons Suicide Squad the movie didn’t work for me.) I guess if you’re a huge fan of that version, you may want this to experience a taste of it again.
But these two issues left behind a lingering bad taste for me, especially since it seems like people were killed in the explosion that Harley blithely drives away from.
Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.
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