There’s a lot of promise in the latest twists and turns of Harley Quinn’s story under the helm of Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner. The first page of this issue, focused on Harley’s tear-stained face, grimacing in pure anger at the sudden death of Mason Macabre, paints the utter powerlessness she must feel mixed with the psychotic rage that has — until now — been used in a humorously violent way. There is no humor here. No sign of the Clown Princess. This is a woman who has crossed the Rubicon. It’s just too bad it all wraps up so neatly.
With multiple full-page shots and blood-soaked panels, Harleys Quinn and Sinn escape in a way so ludicrously comic-booky and yet true to form and actual character history that I truly enjoyed it. With the promise of torture for the only goon left alive, Harley heads after Mayor DiPerto, calling the squad to let them know of Mason’s death and her plans for revenge. Throughout these pages, we see Harley roll through her grief and anger in some truly well-drawn panels focused on her face and showing why Palmiotti and Conner have complete understanding of their character. They have transformed Harley into one of the most beloved and tragic characters in comics today. Seeing her mascara running as she weeps and stopping to throw up from grief, all while heading for either a massacre or her own death. She doesn’t go the traditional hero route of sucking up her feelings to deal with the issue at hand. She allows herself to feel and react without losing control. Her moment on the phone with Poison Ivy reminds us again of the complicated relationship she has with her friends and lovers both.
There is at least one truly unexpected moment in the end, but my only quibble with this issue is that it is just that: the end. Not quite the end of Palmiotti and Conner’s run — which I will mourn greatly — but the end of this portion of the story, nicely wrapped up like a blood-splattered sitcom, problems resolved by the roll of the end credits. This story seems too big and too consequential to be so neatly tied up. Now, I am not Madame Macabre, and do not need a long torturous road to drag out the ending, but having things sewn up so neatly just reminds me that we are nearly at an end. I hope that, moving forward, this moment in Harley’s story changes her in ways not so easily forgotten, as most comics seem to do. The final page shows a woman determined, bent but not broken. Harley has grown stronger issue by issue, setting aside the anchor around her neck, finding love and friendship, and losing that which she truly cared about. It should affect her moving forward. Let’s hope that this isn’t the end of this new, better Harley Quinn.