Devani Kage, winner of the Batfan competition in the year 2164, is now in our time with one mission: Kill Harley Quinn! Harley’s got her own problems to deal with, though–her parents are coming to visit! Can she balance making sure her house is presentable enough for mom and dad while at the same time making sure she isn’t killed for crimes she hasn’t yet committed? Piece of cake, puddin’.
Writer: Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti
Artist: John Timms, Joseph Michael Linsner
Publisher: DC Comics
Devani picked a hell of a day to drop in on Harley and try to take her life. She may have possibly killed Batman in the future, leading to a grim, (even more) dystopian future for Gotham and New York, but she’s got a lot on her plate right now, okay? Thankfully, there’s a man who’s desperately in love with her ready, willing and able to make sure she’s safe–good thing Harley has so many lovesick would-be lovers. The fracas is eventually broken up by none other than Red Tool, who explains to Devani the error of her thinking, as part of an exceptionally long exposition dump. We learn a lot about both Devani and Red Tool in this scene which makes it an interesting read, but it’s just…really, really long. Most of the issue is taken up by this, so if you’re looking for Harley shenanigans, you aren’t going to find it here.
I’m still not sold on Red Tool as a character, though this issue teaches us more about his origin (or does it?), making him a little less one dimensional. Some surprises come out of this that could end up improving the character’s story, especially since it looks like he’ll be more involved with Devani than being the lovesick puppy who follows Harley around for a while. On that subject, I’m glad it seems like Devani Kage will be sticking around in the series for the time being–there’s a lot they can do with the character, and I’m sure Harley hasn’t seen the last of her yet.
The other Harley, Harley Sinn’s story also progresses, ever so slowly as usual. That’s okay, though–there are moving parts in this story that will clearly take center stage in Harley’s life soon enough, so it’s nice of writers Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner to keep her in the readers’ minds instead of dropping it in suddenly. In an issue all about realizations, Sinn makes one of her own that should change the course of her mission.
Artwork duties are again shared between John Timms and Joseph Linsner, though the latter is getting more and more page time as this series progresses. Timms only draws the opening and closing pages of the issue, which helps alleviate some of the tension caused from switching between two very different art styles. Timms handles the Harley Sinn scenes and the final pages of Quinn after she’s released, allowing Linsner’s more animated, three dimensional artwork to shine for the bulk of the issue. While both are great artists, Linsner’s depiction feels a bit more "Harley Quinn" to me, so I’m happy for the switch.
The retro backup story by writer Paul Dini and artist Bret Blevins continues here as well, and while it continues to be a nice change of pace, the concept is starting to drag a bit. While the first few were highly intriguing and a pleasure to read, I am starting to come away from them wondering when they’re gonna get to the good stuff already. This is a problem because the backups take up a third of the pages in the issue, cutting into the main story. If they aren’t enjoyable, that’s seven pages we could have used to flesh out the main story. Still, it’s fun enough and can easily kick it into high gear next time around.
Is It Good?
Harley Quinn #21 is heavy on story and light on action. It may be full of exposition, but it provides some much needed context for Devani Kage’s mission, and fleshes out Red Tool as well. It’s also light on Harley herself, but sets the stage for future stories to come.