Harley Quinn #29 review

Harley 29

Welcome to “Debates and Delusions” wherein Harley Quinn takes on the other mayoral candidates after huffing fear toxin compliments of Scarecrow himself.

If that sounds like the kind of deranged thing you’d love to read about, step right up for this carnival of confusion. Harley’s got a long way to go with her candidacy, but she’s gaining popularity for her Robin Hood-like meandering. She’s also got the full support of the Chief of Police and her own crazy do-or-die team.

So of course our crooked incumbent mayor is going to call in some big guns. And who better to handle Harley Quinn than a fellow madman in medicine: Doctor Jonathan Crane.

Crane is also only too eager to assist–for the right price, of course. And one of the highlights of this issue is watching him dismiss and destroy a rather piqued Madison Berkowitz, whose own efforts of oust Harley resulted in an abysmal and embarrassing defeat.

Does he really need a file on Harley to know anything about her?

I can’t even say I have mixed feelings about Harley and Mason reuniting in this issue: they’re not mixed at all! I never liked Mason before and I still don’t like him. I also don’t know what Harley sees in him at all. Even though she has made it clear to Red Tool that they are not an item nor will be any time soon, my heart is broken for him anyway. I feel betrayed. Worse yet if this turns out to be a casual fling.

Harley, you have no shame. Red Tool is frankly too good for you.

Mirka Andolfo, Michael Kaluta, and Tom Derenick form the triumvirate of artists it took to put out this week’s issue. It’s a lot of artists, but they manage to make it work for the most part. With the story divided up between Mayor DePerto, Madison Berkowitz, and Doctor Crane colluding against Harley, then Harley’s prep for the rally, and finally the insane hallucination Crane induces in her, there’s enough delineation that nothing feels too jarring. Not that any of these artists’ styles clash too much to begin with.  Some of the characters (most notably Mason) look rather off-model, but it’s also not too distracting. I actually like Andolfo’s haystack-hairstyling on Doctor Crane.

The nightmare sequence is the highlight of the book, artwise. Since this is Scarecrow, it’s Harley’s fears that haunt her once she’s under the noxious influence. Interestingly, her guilt and fear seem to be around the care and provision for her “babies”–that army of pets that lives on one of the floors of her building–and, once again, her relationship with Mistah J.

As a side note, I found it interesting that her fear involved Ivy and the Joker in their compromising scenario. Was she afraid of Ivy being seduced by her former lover, or afraid of being supplanted by another woman? It’s an intriguing bit of psychodrama within the narrative.

Joker wouldn’t dare hurt the hot dog!

But back to the art: I think my favorite detail work in this one is Kaluta’s rendering of the degeneration of Harley’s pets: they go from being playthings to monsters to the living dead over the course of her waking nightmare, and even though they just sort of become the landscape in which her other horrors play out, they make for an effectively disturbing background of “noise” inside of her head.

Finally, last issue, I talked about Amanda Conner’s gorgeous cover to no. 28., well no. 29 is every bit as lovely. Conner is really punting these right out of the field with ease, it seems. And Harley makes for excellent propaganda as well. There’s a reference in the book to her hat being sort of a throwback to Abraham Lincoln, but my first reaction on seeing her all done up was that she echoed Alice Cooper.

Recommended If…

  • You love that one Doctor Crane + one Harley Quinn is the perfect recipe for psychedelic hysteria.
  • Harley and Ivy: they’re not just at Riverdale High this week!
  • You enjoy a big public meltdown.

Overall

Mason Macabre aside, I am thoroughly enjoying this completely bonkers arc about Harley running for office in New York. We’re seeing a lot of different threads coming together that have been balling up like yarn for a long time now: the corrupt politician, the do-good police chief, the crazy assassin associate to the mayor are just the tip of the iceberg. This issue also manages to pack in relationship drama with just about everyone she’s ever come into contact with (including that aforementioned Mason). And appearance by the Scarecrow and the chaos he brings into Harley’s already chaotic life is really just the cherry on top!

SCORE: 8.5/10

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