So here we are, Joker comes to visit Harley. Not a trick, not an imposter, this is the Joker. (Although if I recall correctly there are apparently three Jokers running around the DCU, so who knows, right!) Anyway Joker has arrived in Harley’s apartment, making derisive comments to her stuffed beaver and overall generally being a pest. Harley is straight up with the Joker, telling him there’s no “us” in either of their futures. I think there’s an obvious temptation on the part of DC to try and dial down the creepiness factor of the Joker, make him more of a clown and less of a deranged serial killer, but in a one-on-one scene with Harley, even though he is toned down, he remains a true creep.
As the Joker is escorted out of the apartment building, Red Tool bumps into him, and issues a stern warning for Joker not to come back – a warning which looks decidedly unlikely to be heeded. Joker is a force of nature that appears unlikely to be redirected by Red Tool. Joker seems too lethal, too menacing, to be dissuaded by a side-character, himself a none-too-subtle pastiche of Marvel’s Deadpool. Harley herself can probably do that, but she is the heart and soul of the comic, the driv-ing force who must not only escape the Joker, she must expel her “ex-Puddin” from both her apartment and her mind.
Anyway, it’s not all doom and gloom, and Red Tool lightens Harley mood and gives her the distraction she needs, namely to don a bag of hand grenades and go down the tunnel below Coney Island to a place of doors, as seen in a previous issue. One of those doors is chained which is exactly the one Harley wants blow up and enter. There’s a reckless bravery to Harley which is probably self-destructive at certain moments but always loveable. Of course she wants to blow up the chained door, when her personal life is dancing with the living ghosts of lovers past.
Red Tool and Harley blow up the door with far too many grenades and then scamper inside, in search of something…anything. They find more tunnel, Harley and Red Tool bonding as they journey deeper, suddenly coming across a gigantic blob-like monster complete with sharp teeth!
The art is right on point, able to go from the clean lines of Harley to the weird nature of the blob which Red Tool and her barely defeat, throwing a buck of grenades in his great gullet!
Harley meanwhile had agreed with Joker at the start of the comic to meet him on the boardwalk at noon the next day – her adventure with Red Tool took all night and by the time she gets back to bed that only allows for a brief sleep! Red Tool, in a move which may backfire, changes her clock and goes down to meet a petulant and rose-bearing Joker himself!
When we look at this issue in full, it appears quite clear that Harley isn’t really harboring major feelings for Mistah-J anymore. That ship has sailed, her momentum is forward not backward. But like many an awkward ex, Joker carries a riptide of emotion for the character and we can be sure that come the next issue Joker won’t simply take his roses and walk away into the sunset. Or will he? That’s the kind of delicious ambiguity the situation holds. As a reader and lover of Harley I believe she will conquer her own demons, and in this case, she may have to physically expel him from the boardwalk and her life. Another very good issue of Harley Quinn.
Editor’s Note: David Finn is the author of The Asanti Series. Both Demorn: Blade of Exile and Demorn: City of Innocents are currently available on Amazon here.