I’d really like to not make a point/counter-point review between this issue of Injustice and Harley Quinn No. 12, but it’s hard to avoid the elephant in the room.
Why does Injustice Harley work for me? I think the primary reason is that Injustice Harley has never tried to be anything but the Harley Quinn most of us knew from the beginning. She knows the Joker is bad news, but he’s her drug and she can’t disentangle herself from that relationship, no matter how destructive it is.
Her conflict is real. The tug-of-war in her heart is real. And yes, her stupidity for falling for the Joker time and again is real. This is a Harley who, in her own way, has sworn off, declared herself done–all that and more. But the moment she’s faced with even a reasonable duplicate from another dimension, her mind goes to mush and we have ring-side seats to watch her battle it out.
It’s that exact dynamic that made me fall in love with Harley–the team of Brian Buccellato and Christopher Sebela make it work. She’s stupid. She’s infuriating. She’s so very Harley. And all the violence that follows unravels organically from that. Here, she lies to her gang, she beats Killer Croc’s face in, and you know she’s got plans on the side to be reunited with Mistah J, hell or high water. She’s crazy, but her internal logic makes total sense even as she is tormented by her own decisions.
And then she’s just as happy to go bust some faces!
Most of this issue is concerned with the big dust-up between Harley and Killer Croc. Yeah, Bane is there too, but he’s mostly being dogpiled by Joker-wanna-bes while Harley knocks Croc’s teeth out and gives him a dressing down for putting his tail between his legs in service to the Superman Regime.
Some of you may have quibbles about the outcome of this fight, especially since Harley makes it a point to tell us that no little green pills were sacrificed in pursuit of this crazy scheme. But I think it works: Croc isn’t exactly a mental giant, and Harley also has agility on her side.
And Bane? Well, again, I was fine with it: you be the judge.
I’d hate to be Croc’s dentist!
The flashback stuff with the Joker is great: it’s the typical stuff we’d expect from them, but it also once agains serves as a nice juxtaposition of that giant canyon between what Harley thinks and what she does, which is the strongest part of Buccellato and Sebela’s angle.
While I’m enjoying this book, the world feels very small at the moment, which is unusual for Injustice, and that’s a shift that I’m still acclimating to. I know I said I wanted to see the little war in the streets and that’s what we’re getting, but after so many sweeping arcs in the previous Injustice books, being confined to Harley’s point of view begins to feel slightly claustrophobic by comparison.
Once again I like both artists working on Ground Zero, but I do wish they were both working a little closer to the same model for the characters. For example, Daniel Sampere (with inks by Juan Albarran) is drawing Harley with sleek Twi’lek-looking tails on her head, while Pop Mhan’s got her in full bouffant pigtails (for the record, the bouffant pigtails is perhaps more in keeping with the video game design, but really it seems like her hair should be somewhere in the middle).
It’s not that big of a deal, but it can be distracting. In the case of the Joker masks, one looks more sinister and the other looks goofy: it just sets a much different tone. Do we take Harley’s gang seriously or are they just a bunch of clowns?
And then there’s this: possibly the first great comics meta-moment of the year: SHOW SPOILER ▼
- You enjoy big combo melee between a variety of Bat-villains!
- You’re into a complicated Harley who likes to kill for her man.
- Harley leading a team of Joker-masked rebels is the gang war for you!
Narratively this feels rather heavy, but the story continues to be interesting and somehow watching these characters beat up on each and quip while they’re doing it never gets old. There are a lot of moving pieces right now and I’m not sure if they are all being handled smoothly in the storytelling, but the art continues to be top notch. Four issues in it’s not entirely clear what Harley’s plan is, but I’m hoping we see stuff start to impact the larger Injustice world soon.