I guess it feels like it might be a little bit in poor taste to celebrate the outcome of this comic even though I have been begging for it for what feels like years now. But I honestly don’t feel much more than just a sense of relief with a tinge of foreboding. Relief because the dreaded Mason Macabre will grace these pages no more (theoretically), but the foreboding comes from wondering whether this cataclysmic action will fundamentally change Harley’s relationships. Are the powers that be taking her in a new direction? Is this the fulcrum by which Suicide Squad Harley and Harley Quinn Harley will finally diverge?
Is Harley going to emerge from this experience damaged and pessimistic and chaotic? I think it’s a fair concern, particularly since it appears Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti will be exiting stage left soon (nooooo! Don’t gooooo!).
Issue No. 31 is a pretty dark comic overall. Harley doesn’t outright reject all her friends, but she chooses Harley Sinn to accompany her on her quest to save Mason–not Ivy, not Red Tool, not Tony. It’s an interesting choice because it provides an opportunity for Quinn and Sinn to sort of reconcile their differences (and perhaps that’s the best part of this comic for me: seeing these two really damaged women road-tripping together and talking through the trauma that originally brought them to blows). The writers do a great job of making it feel like a naturalistic conversation and not a lot of psychobabble. And Sinn comes out looking like a human being that may actually be able to turn a new leaf and recover from all of this–believably.
It’s a thin excuse, but I’ll take it, frankly: it works
Harley’s political career, meanwhile, is definitely over as this issue also wraps up the “Vote Harley” arc in a way that definitely puts a nail in the coffin of any chance of her taking a public office. Not only did she withdraw from the race last issue, but in this one she commits political suicide by publicly assaulting the standing mayor during the public debate. Spoonsdale has to rescue her from an arrest, but I like that there’s no bones made about Harley’s unsuitability for the political arena and that there was never really a chance of her pulling this off. Not even in a fantasy world where she somehow gets to walk around in broad daylight despite chopping people up in her spare time.
Quinn and Sinn track DePerto’s thugs to the hideout where Mason awaits his fate. A good deal of violence follows before Harley too is captured and forced to watch the evil mayor’s revenge unfold. Part of me certainly feels for Harley, but the inevitability of what happens makes the progression of her pleas and bargaining feel a little dragged out. Too much build up for what we already know if coming. In this case it feels like the more dramatic option might have been to go with just a shocking quick end. We likely wouldn’t have expected that as opposed to a lengthy pseudo-negotiation.
Ratchet the tension here up to ten
John Timms is stellar here as usual. There are some particularly nice splash moments throughout and his treatment of certain paired up scenes is handled very nicely. Like Tony and Red Tool infiltrating Madison Berkowitz’s apartment to get crucial information (replete with needless, but highly entertaining explosions), and also the aforementioned conversation between Harley Quinn and Harley Sinn: they’re in a jeep and there’s something lovely about the way Timms handles Harley’s hair being tossed about and just the angles of them sitting side by side in traffic, which could have been otherwise very flat.
I feel like the final “shocking” moment could have actually been more shocking as well. Choosing to make events happen off-screen and focus on Harley’s reaction is certainly effective, but it’s expected–and almost cliché. Again, I think this is a minor thing. I probably would have preferred it to be handled less delicately, but we all know already that I’m kind of a ghoul.
- Tony and Red Tool: boy do they make a fun team–especially here in a comic that’s otherwise pretty darn grim.
- Quinn and Sinn on the road and doing that bonding thing. It will be interesting to see where they go from here!
- Whether you love Mason or hate him, this is one you don’t want to miss!
There’s still plenty of Harley’s signature snide comedy here, but this book is no laugh riot as Quinn’s bid for office turns rather dark after the kidnapping of Mason Macabre. We may see big changes in the tone and direction of this book following the events of this issue, so it feels like a critical time to be paying attention to what’s coming down the pike in the aftermath of the events here. Don’t let the delightful but innocuous Amanda Conner cover fool you: this is a sobering ride to the end of Harley’s political train.