When we last left White Knight Presents: Harley Quinn, Simon Trent (The Gray Ghost) had been captured by the killer, now dubbed The Starlet. Finally, the series has some stakes to go with those nostalgia potatoes (I’m sorry). Will he escape? Does The Starlet know The Gray Ghost might be more than she can handle? Stay tuned to find out.
They reveal the two ne’er-do-wells behind the killings… in the third issue. Completely reveal. Why would you do that, comic? Ugh. The most rousing bit of issue #3 had to be seeing if the Gray Ghost would escape his knotted plight. That said, the Starlet… just isn’t threatening. I bet you at least a penny this will lead to issues with stakes/tension later. She could get away with the lack of menace if she was compelling — hell, even campy or at least funny. This mini-series is halfway through, and our main antagonist is fizzling out.
After a few fun pages of Gray Ghost v. Starlet, we’re treated to 17 full pages of characters spouting exposition at each other. Harley and Quimby talk about the case at a diner. Then the Producer and Starlet talk about their nefarious plans, aka the case. Then Harley and Quimby and Duke talk about the case with the Gray Ghost. Then Harley tells Duke about the past, treating us to an unnecessary flashback, before circling back to talking about the case. Then Harley, Quimby, and Duke visit a local pawn shop and talk about… you get the picture. Maybe I’m being unfair, after all, you could describe almost any story as a series of “and then”s and it would sound boring and tedious. Problem is, these pages don’t read as much more interesting than my synopsis. People talk and change locations and the story moves on.
It all reads as filler. Or like a dumping ground for all the plot and exposition that didn’t fit in the previous issues. That’d be fine if they lead to anything meaningful or necessary to the overarching mystery and/or development of any of the characters, but most things introduced in this issue are either unnecessary expansions to things that’ve already been established or pop up only to wrap up a few pages later.
Also, issue #3 does set-up a series of (pretty obvious) red herrings, too bad it resolves them in the same issue. Spoilers below.
However, unless they’re pulling a Norman Bates on us (ew), Quimby probably isn’t the Starlet. And unless his mother is secretly Clayface or has special age-reversing powers, she also seems unlikely. Good thing those really obvious red herrings are utterly neutered in the same issue by a few lines of dialogue, and one clue in particular pretty much broadcasts the true identity of our killer.
That is, the, uh, Producer — shoo-in for the “best villain, probably, because all the other villains have died” award — let’s slip that he “plucked [the Starlet] out of a sea of inconsequential plain janes … assisting the real stars. This bit of dialogue paired with the revelation that Quimby’s nanny literally filmed one of the clues, a horrible student project/interview to Starlet is the nanny. It’s obviously the nanny. And I don’t care.
Most of the art this issue is fine. We don’t get any vivid flashback art to gander at. Don’t get me wrong, Scelera’s art continues to be good stuff. Good use of establishing panels. Kinetic action. Cohesive page flow. Character’s mood and emotion dripping from panel after panel. But nothing nearly as interesting as art in the first couple of issues. I blame the locations more than anything else — mostly a series of fairly blasé rooms — that and the fact that this issue doesn’t use the warm/cool-bleak/festal juxtaposition that gave the previous flashbacks a weighty gut-punch quality. That said, Stewart does get up to come clever uses of color in the first few pages. The panels begin in muted tones/black and white with white gutters.
And then, as a fire begins to break out, colors shift to muted shades of orange.
Before finally, as the blaze spirals out of control, colors erupt into vivid oranges as the gutters blacken. This makes both the gray-hued combatants and action pop and gives the fight a visceral, desperate feel.
- You’re thirsting for more Gray Ghost.
- You know what a bolo knife is.
- Also, you actually care what a bolo knife is.
- Your idea of a good time is watching a mother brag about her son having an Oedipal complex.
Seeing the Gray Ghost engage a villain in fisticuffs was a joy, and it’s becoming a staple of the series to have at least one or two pages of really good art — but mostly White Knight Presents: Harley Quinn #3 left me with a lot of questions. Mostly: why? Why all these unnecessary flashbacks? Why reveal the antagonists so soon? Why introduce multiple red herrings and snuff them out in the same issue? Why should I care about Starlet’s identity? Why should I care about this series at all?