[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Tom Taylor
Penciller: Daniel Sampere
Inker: Juan Albarran
Colors: Rex Lokus
Harley is not playing well with others. She’s confronted by Deadshot for her actions in the field. The “bad” Batman is ready to go ahead and kill her, but instead defers to his boss, the real big bad – Ra’s al Ghul. This leads to a showdown of a bit as Ra’s tries to convince Harley that she should willingly join in. This includes threatening Lucy who Harley learns now knows the truth about her. Harley listens to Poison Ivy who is present and gets a softer approach from Ra’s as he pleads with her, using Lucy’s future as his leverage.
In the Batcave, the “real” Batman gets a visit from Connor Queen as Batman is trying to find his son, Damian. This leads to Batman telling a story about Damian. He tells Connor the story of the Trial. Damian is left in Gotham at the furthest point from the Batcave and it is implied that he is on the clock to complete his return to the Cave. Along the way he is delayed by a myriad of opportunities to help others in need. It takes him 10 plus hours. Batman is very proud of Damian’s decision making along the way.
The story leads Batman to talking to Connor about parents and children and he makes Connor an offer. A secret offer….
The character work with Batman, Damian and Alfred is top notch. It gets at the heart of these characters and makes each of them likable and familiar. This part of the issue is absolutely phenomenal. As Damian makes the decision to help others, it builds the reader’s understanding of the true nature of his character. Batman comes off like an actual parent, a real father who would be proud of his son. There is a true humanity in it. This is sort of echoed in the half of the book that features Harley Quinn. She too is dealing with her own child issues, but from a different perspective.
Sometimes the very existence of a character can drag a book or story down. Often characters can just not click with some readers. Harley is like this for me. The first half of this issue just seems like wasted paper. We don’t really need to know anything more about Ra’s al Ghul’s plan, it’s the same one he’s always had, and seeing Harley be convinced to join willingly just takes away from the great character work with Batman. Harley is not a grounded character and that can make it difficult to relate to her. Turning her from nemesis to ally of Batman is a difficult reconciliation. For me the character works better as a chaos agent as opposed to a hero who just doesn’t quite seem to understand how the world works.
If you love Harley Quinn and Batman then this is an issue you will cherish. There is some great character work with Batman that would be at home in any incarnation of the Dark Knight. The Harley Quinn part makes the issue uneven, despite moving the story forward. Too much Harley can be too much to take.