Overview: Harley and Red Tool fight off the Bane Twins in Bludhaven, before an encounter with Barbara Gordon in her ORACLE system sends them towards Vegas and the Joker!
Synopsis (spoilers ahead): Harley is reflecting on her days with the Joker, revealing why she left him – Joker was using a slow-acting Joker toxin on people in the commission of his crimes, killing them. Joker makes the calls to the JLA, which she believed resulted in his death at the hands of Lobo, as previously revealed.
Meanwhile, back in Bludhaven, an assortment of villains are attacking Harley and Red Tool, including Four-Face, Prometheus, Queen Snake and That Kid from That One Show. The team put up a valiant fight, but Harley and Red Tool are overwhelmed and imprisoned, while Killer Croc and Catwoman (on her scooter) live to fight another day.
The Joker Boyz are watching from afar, and see Harley and Red Tool brought to “Brud Bowl”, a kind of thunder dome for deathmatch fights. Four Face is the MC and he introduces the Bane Twins, two Venom laced Bane stooges with a mad-on for Harley! Harley takes a beating from the twins, who pull the famous “Bat Breaker” move across the knee, while Red Tool has flipped and essentially become a Bane Twins groupie, representing some of their merch!
Catwoman and Killer Croc meanwhile invade the cage match, which is then interrupted and stopped…by Bane himself! Bane is emaciated, a shadow of his former self, the side-effect of a lifetime of consuming too much Venom! Nevertheless, he commands the respect of the crowd – and smashes the heads of his recalcitrant kids together!
Suddenly a stack of black-suited figures turn up, calming to be agnates of ORACLE – they ping Harley with a needle and she winds up inside a matrix-like system, inhabited by none other than Barbara Gordon! Babs describes the room and bubble bath Harley is seeing a “less insane” version of what Batman did, where she is essentially part of the ORACLE system! Barbara was a member of the JLA when they went after Joker, who tried to escape in the chaos of the escalating situation. Lobo went after him, although he has never told his side of the story.
Babs then teleports them out of the ORACLE system into Vegas, where Lobo is. Meanwhile, the Joker is aware that Harley has slipped the net.
Analysis: Old Lady Harley continues to be a strong title as it rolls into its third issue. The future flashes at the beginning of each issue point to a dark, dystopian world that is filtered through Harley’s comedic eyes throughout the rest of the book. With his visions of a Legion of Doom controlled Lexico, and the Cat Grant clones all across the TV network, Tieri paints an interesting canvas which could be explored more fully even without Harley.
Visually with Inaki Miranda on art duties, the mixture of bleak weirdness which has pervaded this title remains on point – the flashback scenes using primarily black and white (with a dash of Harley red) give clarity and power to the scenes. Compare this with the frenzied cartoon chaos of the Blud Bowl and it’s obvious some significant talents are working on this book which lifts it to be greater than the sum of its parts. The addition of the Bane Twins (which the cover hopes might increases sales) are a fun little joke but the appearance of the shriveled “real Bane” is not only a stark reminder that drugs are bad for you, but that there is a dark comedic mind behind this title.
Not much feels off limits – and given some room to move this creative team delivers. As enjoyable as the scene with ORACLE is, it could be argued that going to the teleportation well to move the characters across the game-board is a bit of a crutch, but it doesn’t harm the storytelling and does give us a glimpse into one of Bab’s potential futures which is interesting for fans (like myself) of her. Unlike any miniseries which run down on their initial energy, Old Lady Harley is heating up for a potentially explosive conclusion and remains one of the best books DC is putting out currently.
Final Thoughts: A darkly entertaining read, this is a must-buy for Harley fans! Run don’t walk to your local comic book store for this one!
Editor’s Note: David Finn is the author of The Asanti Series. Demorn: Blade of Exile, Demorn: City of Innocents and the latest book, Demorn: Soul Fighter, are currently available on Amazon here.