Harley Quinn #13 is the start of a new arc for the series, and honestly, there’s not a whole lot to this issue other than set up. Basically a new villain, obviously disguised as Harley, murders a Gotham gangster related to Carmine Falcone. The real Harley goes about her current life in Gotham City where we re-establish what her role is and where her relationships are at. We conclude our issue with the usual cliffhanger teasing the next issue.
That’s it. This issue is so bare boned I completely forgot everything that happened in it except the beginning and the end as soon as I’d finished it– and it’s very rare that that ever happens to me with a comic.
I’ll say with this overall story arc of Harley being framed for a murder she didn’t commit, I’m glad Stephanie Phillips figured out some new angle to explore this “Harley reformed in Gotham” plot. The new villain “Verdict” is supposed to have some connection to Harley’s past, and I am curious as to what that will be. Hey, if it gives us a chance to revisit Harley’s days as a villain, I’m all for that. I just have a bad feeling that, no matter what gets revealed in this “who’s the real culprit” mystery, the conclusion is still going to be the same: Harley is now a hero no matter what. Which is the same conclusion Harley’s already come to multiple times in this run and even before that. It’s redundant storytelling that continues to prove to me that “Harley as a hero” is a narratively bankrupt direction, and I’m afraid I’m strapped in for a very predictable book unless something drastically changes.
In the meantime, this issue introduces Harley acting as a sort of Robin Hood figure in Gotham. She attacks and steals from a food truck, yes, but only to give food to a shelter. This Robin Hood persona, I suppose, is meant to be an answer as to who Harley would be as a hero. No reader is going to stop identifying Harley as a crazy, destructive person, so we have to find some way to mix that with heroism, right? I’d argue this still doesn’t work, though. Selina Kyle already follows the Robin Hood motif in a lot of appearances, and it works for her character because, while she’s not evil, she grew up poor and independent, so it’s a lifestyle that suits her and that she feels justified in. Harley as a Robin Hood type makes her turn as a hero feel like a square peg in a round hole to me. It’s not really coming from a character place– other than Stephanie Phillips trying to mold the iconic destruction and insanity of the character with the new mandated heroic direction. I think a truly reformed Harley would start showing some real maturity and sanity once again… but we will never get that in mainstream comics, because that would mean the end of the high-pitched voice and wacky hijinks that DC thinks alone sell the character.
Meanwhile, we also get a little introspective of where Harley is at with her relationships. She and Kevin share a tender moment together, and I do kind of like the friendship that Stephanie had drawn between her and Kevin. At least she’s kept Harley’s cast fairly simple in this book so it isn’t cluttered by a lot of forgettable characters in an attempt to build up a giant cast for Harley.
Kevin has his own girlfriend now and it brings up the fact that Harley is still heartsick over Poison Ivy, referring to he as her “Maid Marion.” It may sound shocking, but I’ve never been into the idea of Harley and Ivy as a romance. As of now, in fact, I’m just incredibly annoyed by it since one minute DC will pander HARD to fans of the relationship with a dozen declarations of love between the two… and the next minute they’ll find some ridiculous reason to break them up again, proving they don’t actually want to commit to the romance. Make up your mind, guys. Anyway, the definition and history to Harley and Ivy’s relationship has been just as wild and fractured as the rest of her character, so Harley pining after Ivy just rings hollow to me. I have no idea if this moment is going to be used to lead into another storyline between the two, or if DC might try to drop the relationship entirely, yet again.
If you think I’m musing too much about other subjects rather than the content of the issue itself, like I said, there’s just not a lot to talk about in regards to this story. It’s really just a filler issue that serves to introduce a new mystery villain who frames Harley, and then…
Harley is just tossed into Blackgate, no trial or questions asked.
I had a more memorable experience with the character this week when, for the first time in history, I won a Harley plush out of a crane machine… it was thrilling. I got it on my first try… that’s beside the point, I suppose.
Artwork: I don’t really have a whole lot to say about the artwork that I haven’t already said. Riley Rossmo’s art doesn’t work for me and the fact that Harley’s face looks like one enormous swollen cheek the entire issue makes it even harder for me to relate to the character, especially at the more tender moments.
I did notice some added style in this issue, like Harley’s pastel pigtails swirling all across the page as she chases a car, emphasizing the speed and color of the character. The one page in the book I really, truly liked is a spread in the beginning, when the panels are arranged in the shape of a gun as Verdict attacks the restaurant. It’s a really cool touch, but it doesn’t change the fact that everything in the book still looks so jagged, bloated, and ugly.
There’s also a really odd page where some places are white and blank where panels are supposed to be. Is this supposed to show how lonely Harley feels? I don’t know. It’s just odd.
- This arc winds up amounting to something good and you need to read every issue.
- You really, really like that there’s a page where the panels are arranged in the shape of a gun.
There’s not a whole lot to say about this issue. It’s just a little set up and filler for a new storyline with an already predictable ending. If Stephanie Phillips subverts my expectations and brings this arc to a different conclusion, I’ll be happy.
DC provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.