Harley Quinn #43 – Christopher Sebela, Writer; Mirka Andolfo, Artist; Gabe Eltaeb, Colorist
Ray – 7/10
Corrina: Anti-Hero or Villain?
WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW
Ray: Harley Quinn has been missing in action for over a month, as it was replaced by the alternate-universe Harley Loves Joker miniseries in May. Now it’s back with Harley Quinn #43, the beginning of a two-issue arc by Chris Sebela before Sam Humphries takes over for the long haul in July.
Sebela’s always been a writer who tends towards darker stories, and this is no exception as Harley’s mental state seems to be taking a turn for the worse. When the issue picks up, she’s breaking her way out of a Justice League escape room in explosive fashion, seemingly having the time of her life, but as she gets out on the streets, it becomes clear she’s not well. She starts seeing odd, ghostly green figures stalking her, and becomes convinced that she’s being stalked or haunted. This gets worse when she gets to her favorite bodega and finds that they’ve been robbed. They insist it’s just a standard theft. but she’s convinced it’s part of the conspiracy targeting her.
Harley’s insanity is usually played for laughs, so seeing her unravel like this is definitely unsettling. She even gets into a fight with her talking dead beaver Bernie, who stops talking with her. However, her investigations actually start bearing fruit, as she works her way through one low-level skel after another until she finds a figure following her.
It’s not the ghosts, though – it’s an ordinary guy who’s been transformed into a Doll-O-Tron courtesy of Professor Pyg. Pyg seems to be becoming one of the go-to villains for short fill-in runs since he’s creepy and easy to explain. I’m not a fan, though – he’s one of those edgy villains right out of a horror movie that doesn’t really seem to add anything to the story and is mostly a blank slate. Sebela’s take on Harley is strong, and I was intrigued by the addition of another villain to the story in the cliffhanger. The issue raises some interesting questions for next issue, but on its own, it didn’t really grab me yet.
Corrina: Harley’s portrayal always rides that line between anti-hero and villain. For most of this series, despite her killings, Harley’s been on the anti-hero side (or, at least, she thinks she is.) Harley Quinn #43 gives us a Harley who seems disconnected with reality and oblivious to the carnage she’s causing around her. For all her faults, Harley does seem to have a big heart. The accidental smashing of the deli shows just how far gone she seems to be and the choice of the beaver as her conscience works well, especially when it stops talking.
This is one of the few issues that doesn’t play Harley’s off-kilter view of the world for laughs. Harley herself seems to have lost her sense of humor. It’s effective for this tale.
Note: I also dislike Professor Pyg because…it seems like he’d be someone easily caught, especially as he keeps showing up in various superhero places.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.