Matt Kindt seems to be taking DC by storm. The man who is taking over Suicide Squad next month tackles some of the characters today. Last week he gave us a great issue with Deadshot and this week he sets his sights on Harley Quinn. What can go wrong? Apparently everything.
A few characters have undergone some radical changes in the New 52, chief among them Tim Drake, though not too far from him would be Harley Quinn. Once she was a comedic, light, and lovable character whose zany schemes made it impossible to not fall in love with her. The New 52 has taken her down a darker path, and seems to have become much more a reflection of The Joker than ever before.
Artist Neil Googe, who will be doing issue #26 of Flash with temp writer Christos Gage, does a fantastic job here. His art is exactly what I’d expected from this issue, giving a wacky and fun look that was very fitting of a Harley Quinn issue.
I’d really been looking forward to this issue but found myself extremely disappointed by it. It just failed to do anything new or interesting and a large chunk of it was spent rehashing Harley’s Origin from an earlier issue of Suicide Squad with the addition of how she got her current (and awful) outfit.
While the second half of the issue almost reaches a point that is enjoyable, that’s all taken away a moment later when Harley murders hundreds of people for no other reason than she had nothing better to do with her time.
This entire issue felt very underdeveloped, having concepts and ideas that just never seemed to click or fully form when talking about Harley’s past and those that did just simply did not jive with the character.
Harley’s transformation from a brilliant young psychiatrist to a criminal psychopath in the span of a kiss is just bad writing. I’d always imagined that Joker had legitimately won Harley over, that despite the rudeness and aggression and the general psychotic behavior that he’d genuinely charmed her and she fell in love with him. Her new origin has her giving up control and playing dumb for a man who, as far as we’re led to believe, only hurts her physically and mentally. There’s such a departure from the character who first made her debut in Batman the Animated Series that at times it feel as if it’s another character completely.
There was always violence and abuse in their relationship, but there it was always a dark and intelligent portrayal of a co-dependent relationship. This re-imagining of a classic trope is appalling.
If this story was written for a different or new character I might have looked upon it more favorably. What was written simply doesn’t connect with Harley Quinn, or rather, who Harley Quinn should be. I am okay with and understand character changes and growth, but this latest addition to the DC canon strips Harley of her identity and demeans and degrades her integrity. I love Harley Quinn and she deserves better treatment than she’s been getting.