The people of Belle Reve have lost their mind… except for Harley Quinn. She’s sane, and she’s encountering a world of insanity. Go figure. Typically, I would find this concept interesting. Having a psychopath turn normal isn’t exactly a new concept – they’ve done it with the Joker – but changing the character that experiences this reform helps keep the content fresh, while the concept itself is familiar. Unfortunately, this dip into the sanity pool didn’t excite me as much as similar stories in the past.
Most of the stories that stem from this concept tend to focus on the character and how they’ve changed. I knew that wouldn’t happen here given everything that is taking place in this title, and assumed they were just going to highlight how Harley deals with certain situations. I was right. A sane Harley Quinn rummaging through a prison of dangerous villains and metahumans, all of whom are being controlled by a mystical energy to kill and maim everyone around them… That should be a wild, fun story. And don’t get me wrong, it is to a degree, but it’s also incredibly inconsistent.
Harley changes her personality at the tip of a hat, much like a crazy person would do. She may not be babbling nonsense, but I always felt that her ramblings were an effect of her psychological state, not the definition of it. We’ve seen this in moments when “psycho” Harley decides to be heroic. And that’s what this feels like to me. This interpretation feels like psycho-Harley making heroic decisions to save her and her team, more so than a sane Harleen Quinzelle trying to deal with the situation at hand. It’s a minor issue overall, but this thought did linger in my mind as I read through the issue.
But as I stated earlier, there are quite a few entertaining aspects. All of Harley’s encounters with other characters feel as though they were created through the conception of “wouldn’t it be (funny/cool/neat/awesome) if she _____.” And on most occasions, it actually is (funny/cool/ neat/ awesome) in execution. I definitely got a some good chuckles in while reading this issue. Killer Croc and June Moon served as the biggest surprise. The progression of where their arc left off in the previous issue, to where they are in this issue is interesting.
The other character that carries some significance in this story, is Hack. We get to witness more of her abilities, and are reminded of how powerful she actually could be. More importantly though, Hack is the catalyst for plot progression. There’s not much progression overall because of the Harley circus, but there is a little, and one of them results in a cliff hanger.
The Art: Lee’s art felt a little rushed in this issue, but it’s understandable. There are panels that have A LOT going on in them. In fact, there are many panels that are packed to the brim with security guards and prisoners killing each other, so Lee had his fair share of work for this issue. Other than this note, he delivered as we would expect him to.
Breakdowns for “Going Sane: Beat on the Brat” can be found below.
Hack. I mentioned Hack’s abilities earlier, and I was referring to her ability to recognize the mystical energy effecting her, convert it to data to become a virus, then rid herself of it… That’s pretty freaking powerful! If she can do that with mystical energy, what else will she be able to do with other people’s abilities?
Love shack. Considering the last time we saw Killer Croc and June Moon, he was taking a bite out of her throat, the LAST thing I expected to see was the two of them post sex. It was odd, but I did laugh. Granted, there’s more to this than just sex, or even a budding relationship between these two characters. Instead, this a realization that the Black Vault’s energy doesn’t necessarily create rage… That has to say something about the people here at Belle Reve.
Like a Boomerang. This is worth it just for the line alone… It’s totally something Boomer would say.
The Bad: Aside from what I mentioned above concerning Harley’s characterization in this issue, the only moment I didn’t care for was when she used a taser to electrocute and incapacitate the entire prisoner population in the cafeteria… I know this is a comic book, but that’s a bit of a stretch, even in this universe.
“Going Sane: Beat on the Brat” Score: 6/10
The short story for this issue spotlights June Moon, the Enchantress. Surprisingly, this isn’t an evaluation by Waller, which left me wondering… Who would Waller have interviewed? June, or the witch? Interestingly, this short story presents the question of who really is controlling who in June Moon’s case? June Moon may feel as though she’s cursed by having the Enchantress inhabit her, but there may be more to it than meets the eye.
These notions are explored well enough to create quite a bit of intrigue for her as a character, but also makes me wonder when they’re going to do anything with her along these lines in the main story. Let’s forget the fact that we receive more character development of June/Enchantress in this short than we have in the previous seven main stories combined… I feel like we should really ask why the character of June is so different in interpretation under the same writer. I want this June in the main narrative! Not the bumbling, scared, unconfident girl we’ve been getting. Because this interpretation, this girl, she’s freaking awesome!
“Trapped” Score: 8/10
- You want to see a “sane” Harley Quinn.
- Complete insanity sounds like a fun, relaxing read.
- You’re ready for June Moon/ the Enchantress to receive some attention.
Overall: While fun, the main narrative didn’t necessarily hit all of the right notes in this issue. It was a great chapter to temporarily pull us from the action and direness of what’s taking place, but I’ll be ready for things to “return to normal” next week. Granted, when dealing with Suicide Squad, I’m not completely sure what normal is… and I wouldn’t have it any other way. The real win for this issue though, is June Moon’s spotlight, “Trapped.” This narrative reveals enough about her character that it will leave you expecting more from her in future chapters.