February 4, 2017
Harley Quinn #13
Written by: Amanda Connor and Jimmy Palmiotti
Art by: Chad Hardin, pgs. 1-2
Yes, yes, I know, you love Harley. She’s sexy and smart. Independent and impetuous. Flirty and fun. Yes, this Harley that you know and love is not quite the same as you may remember. She’s no longer the obsessive paramour and flunky of the Joker. No, in this Rebirth incarnation, she’s living in an apartment building on Coney Island, joined the local roller derby team and trying to make ends meet. She’s also hanging with an oddball assortment of other tenants who live in the same building, such as Red Tool (A send up of a certain other better known violent mutant assassin that dresses in red and black!), Big Tony (Who may or may not be based on diminutive heavy metal-er, Glenn Danzig.) and Jim Salabim (An actual genie but with no actual genie powers). Since escaping from Arkham and inheriting her news digs, she’s battled aliens, zombies and even gotten inside Santa Claus’ head to save Christmas.
Now, in his DC Rebirth debut, the Joker makes his first appearance in the pages of Harley Quinn, as seen in issue 9. Their relationship has been dysfunctional at best. Abusive and chaotic, it would always seem to be corrosive for Harley, that is until the Arkham breakout when she finally had had enough. She broke up with the Joker and proceeded to beat the crap out of him, swearing that if she even saw him again, she would kill him. Now that he’s back, he claims he is a changed man and to prove it, he allows Red Tool to give him a beat down without fighting back. Harley arrives after Joker’s bloody beating and reminds him of her last words to him, but something is just not right about her Mistah J. He just doesn’t seem like himself but that doesn’t save him. Thus, he receives yet another bloody beating and then thrown into busy traffic for yet more bloody pummeling as Harley and Tool gleefully watch. Is a theme getting clear here?
Issue 13 starts out where the last one left off. Let me give you a spoiler alert now which I don’t normally do. Spoilers, I mean. At first, an interesting and touching dream sequence plays out but then turns to nightmare as a bloody, helpless Joker finds himself on the receiving end of some brutal torture at the hands of Harley. What happened to that madcap zaniness this title has come to imbue? Granted Harley has been and is insane and has come to be known as an anti-hero, but is torture part of the deal? It seems that it’s the little things about this Joker that’s raised her suspicions that this isn’t her one-time, one and only and she’s going to get to the bottom of it…one way or another. In DC’s Rebirth #1, it was revealed that there are 3 versions of the Joker in their new universe. Which is this one and which versions will be presented? Needless to say, Harley gets the answers she was looking for and then some. Is this truly the end of Harley’s and the Joker’s relationship?
The Verdict: I have come to know this title as a quirky, zany one with Harley as the crazy, shoe-obsessive, eccentric anti-hero who channeled her aggression appropriately. So, issue 13 seems its taken a new direction…darker and disturbing. Don’t get me wrong, I love violence in my comic books, but the torture sequences were not for me and seemed out of bounds for what this title has come to be known for. Here, Harley is vicious and cruel, no better than the Joker himself. I’m not sure if this marks a new writing direction by Connor and Palmiotti or if it was meant as a one time deal for Harley to get revenge. If you’re a Harley Quinn fan, you’ll enjoy this regardless, especially if you’ve been following this story arc. Maybe the real theme here is that you can take the girl out of the asylum but you can’t take the asylum out of the girl.