Overview: Harley, Duke, and Quimby investigate further into Gotham’s history as the Starlet strikes again.
Synopsis (spoilers ahead): Simon Trent, the actor who played the Grey Ghost many years ago, wakes up having been captured by the Starlet. However, his years doing his own stunts gave him the skills to escape, and they fight brutally before Starlet flees the police.
Harley, her twins, and Dr. Quimby from the FBI sit down at a diner to trade notes, with Quimby trying to confess something to Harley, but they are called to Trent’s house to investigate the latest attack by the serial killer.
In her own lair, Starlet confers with her manager, who is attempting to create a new series of supervillains, and calls her “Ethel.”
At Trent’s home, the GTO, Harley, and Quimby confer, discovering that Quimby’s mother was Sofia Valentine, one of the Golden Age actresses who belongs to the group of people being targeted, and whom the Starlet resembles, Trent says, even down to her use of bolo knives as a weapon. Harley defends Quimby to Duke, explaining her own hiding conflict of interest when she worked at Arkham.
The next day, they watch the film found at Trent’s home, discovering a scene from Quimby’s childhood, at the hiring of one of his nannies. They head to Sofia Valentine’s house, Harley once again vouching for Quimby, and discover that Valentine is ice cold, selfish, and cruel to her son, claiming she had him to boost her chance to win an Oscar. Duke heads upstairs to investigate, leaving Harley alone with Valentine, who reveals that Quimby has an unnatural obsession with her – his childhood room covered in Harley Quinn memorabilia – as Starlet lurks in the shadows!
Analysis: Katana Collins provides some cutting commentary on the film industry while weaving a compelling tale around Harley Quinn. The plot picks up quite a bit, with a violent attack opening, and the creepy machinations of Starlet and her manager throughout. The discoveries about Quimby provide yet another questionable motive, while Harley’s defense of the man provides glimpses of Batman and the Joker to connect the current status quo with a more classic period. All in all, Collins avoids some of her writing tics that marred the first two issues for a solid piece of plot and character.
Matteo Scalera continues to lift the entire book up several notches. His linework is full of vigor and appeal, especially important when dealing with so many compromised characters like Sofia Valentine – despite the nasty edge she provides, the piece remains light enough not to get bogged down by the grime of the film industry. The effects colorist Dave Stewart achieves, showing Starlet and the Grey Ghost as almost black and white characters in a world of vibrant color, gives the piece a unique visual flair – rather like Sin City in reverse – instead of a color pop, there’s a greyscale pop. The paneling also maintains a high degree of narrative interest, providing a large variety of pacing and relationship information and keeping the whole book very interesting to read.
Murphy’s main cover highlights Harley’s appeal, wearing her classic costume, with her twins riding her hyenas gleefully. Matt Hollingsworth continues to provide a primarily desaturated red and black palette, in strong contrast to Matteo Scalera’s blue-green cover with yellow highlights. A battle-damaged Harley and her hyenas stare across the foreground with the GTO behind, the large face of the Starlet looming with a maniacal thin smile – foregrounding the sense of danger the issue provides inside.
Editor’s Note: DC Comics provided TBU with a copy of this comic for review purposes. You can find this comic digitally and help support TBU in the process by purchasing this issue through Comixology.
Batman: White Knight Presents Harley Quinn #3
Collins, Scalera, and Stewart provide their best chapter to date of this film noir series.