At long last we reach the trial of Harley Quinn and the team up with Batman. As usual, when we say trial of Harley, it is more than we were led to believe with implications far larger that we could have guessed.
Staring with the covers, this is a nice set of covers. Cover A is a good representation of what happens in this issue. Batman and Harley are gonna square off, but we will come back to that later. Cover B is just cute and sassy Harley at her best.
The thing I’ve loved about this title run is that it is adding so much more to Harley’s personality. The opening page is a perfect example of this. Humphries and Timms in one page do an awesome job of letting us into the mind of Harley and what she is going through. Alone on a roof top, Harley is feeling the weight of the world and feeling very much alone in all of it. She talks to the stars because there is no one else around. The look that Timms gives Harley, especially in the eyes is almost heart breaking.
An Offer Made
Then we get the big surprise of this issue. I believe last issue I stated Starfire appeared. Well, I was half right. A Tamaran does suddenly appear to Harley, but it’s not Starfire. It’s Mirand’r – a very 80’s Mirand’r with a vocabulary and skates to match.
Mirand’r shows Harley an image of what she could become if she chooses to undergo the trials. Phenomenal cosmic powers without the itty bitty living space. The Angel of Retribution Mirand’r is promising must be able to serve both order and chaos. That does sound like out Harley alright.
Of course, Harley’s response is you had me at flaming sword. The problem is that while rule #1 might be if someone asks you if you are a god you say yes, rule #2 is if someone offers insanely cool demigod powers if you can pass a test you say NO! The tests are never easy as we will see in a few pages.
It Has Begun!
Of course the minute she says yes we learn that Commissioner Gordon, back in Gotham, is overseeing the murder of an underworld doctor that deals in exotic chemicals. Cause of death? Smylex of course. Gordon immediately thinks Joker, but Batman’s arrival shows us where this is going. Golden hair with blue tips, fiber from a large mallet, and preserved beaver hair – Harley!
Of course the hits have to come first. The first hit to Harley’s mentality is the head of the hospital kicking her out of her cancer-stricken mother’s room for being a bad guy. All Harley wanted was to pamper her sick mom, but now she is being evicted from her mother’s side.
This triggers a very weird page that threw me off until they told what the page was. The sudden switch to very old style comic art style and the nonsensical vision threw me for a loop. It was only the next page when we find out it is Harley dreaming did the switch in styles make sense.
In her dream Harley is being evicted from heaven, down to hell, because her good list is a couple of items while her bad list is yards long. Simple yet very effective. I love how this really shows us again what is happening with Harley’s personal beliefs. She is trying so hard to not be what she was. She may not want to be a super hero, but she is trying to be “gooder,” as she might say it. It is not enough.
Who Turned On the Batsignal?!
She goes for a walk to release tension, but when you are a bad guy (or even former bad guy), walking around at night is never a good idea with Batman around. Sure enough who shows up to continue Harley’s troubling night?
In the mood she is in Harley goes with her usual swing first, ask questions later. Batsy may not want to fight at first, but that doesn’t stop Harley from landing some hellacious impacts.
Now this next few pages/panels are brilliant and play into so much of Harley. Batman begins to blame Harley for the murder. Harley swears she wasn’t there. She is trying to be good now, wants nothing to do with the Joker, and hasn’t even gone back to Gotham.
When Batman brings up the jilted lover line, you can tell how bad it hurts Harley. Instead of witty, her responses tries to hurt Batman just as badly by bringing up his failed wedding. When Batman finally knocks Harley down, Harley swears up and down how she is trying to be good and help people.
It’s this next part that I thought was so well done. Batman says he’s seen the darkness within her. When Harley asks if he truly thinks her irredeemable, Batman answers: “I know you are.” Batman cannot see past her history and previous transgressions to be able to put any hope in her changing. She has been and always be evil.
Timms does a magnificent job with this next page. 2/3 of the page is tiny, little Harley just standing there with the tiny little dialogue bubble saying – oh. The bottom third is Harley on her knees, broken and crushed. She can’t do anything right. No one will believe in her.
This goes great with a scene from Heroes In Crisis. If you aren’t reading it, you should be. Harley is accused over murder in this series too. We get a very similar scene with a very different outcome. Batgirl tracks Harley down. They fight, but Batgirl expresses her support and belief in Harley. Where Batman beats Harley down emotionally. Batgirl shows support and they end up embracing as sisters. Even Batgirl knows Batman would prejudge Harley. This really is a great parallel scene.
Thankfully we see on the next page, Harley will not be broken like that. She lashes out in pain and anger despite being cuffed. Missing every kick she breaks down saying she just wants to visit her mamma and be good.
Poor Harley. Tremendous powers always come with a tremendous price.
The very last page sets up one hell of a gauntlet to come. Let’s just say Dr Regelmann is not as dead as we thought he was – sorta.