After much teasing, The Joker finally re-appears in Harkey Quinn this week, after a throwdown between he and Red Tool was teased at the end of issue #11. What happens when the Clown Prince of Crime and the Merc with a Mouth Killer…with a facial orifice…collide, all over lil’ ole Harley?
Harley Quinn #12 (DC Comics)
Red Tool, clever bastard that he is, set Harley’s clock back, knowing full well she was exhausted and would sleep in, allowing him to meet up with The Joker instead. Joker, ostensibly a changed man, refuses to fight Red Tool and goes all Gandhi when Red Tool does throw down, just accepting the beating without so much as fighting back.
By the time Harley figures out what’s going on, Joker is a bloody mess. She rebukes Red Tool for his chicanery and vows to clean Joker up so she can “pummel the tar outta [him] [my] own way.” From there, Joker and Harley get the chance to talk face to face for the first time in quite a while, and we get to see just what Joker’s intentions are.
…Sort of. He’s still clearly keeping his true intentions close to the vest, instead offering platitudes like he’s a changed man. A dream sequence, drawn by Chad Hardin, gives us a look into The Joker’s true thoughts on Harley, and they’re unsurprisingly mainly of loss and regret. It’s unsurprising because we all know of Joker and Harley’s past and their complicated relationship, but at the same time it is somewhat unexpected to witness Joker wistfully longing for a “normal” future with Harley–kids, cleaning the pool, the whole suburban American dream. What his actual plan is remains to be seen, but Harley, to her credit, sees through his facade, at least for now.
It was nice to see Harley not accept his groveling, at least not right away. And her way of enacting revenge on him was cute. This issue also does a good job creating intrigue around just what The Joker’s planning here, because you know it’s far more than meets the eye.
Red Tool, for his part, simply has it bad for Harley and is trying to do what’s best for her. What’s best for a girl like Harley, though, is usually to just get the hell out of her way, because she’s going to do whatever she wants anyway. I am glad the Red Tool character is becoming more important, and he really sacked up this issue. Not much in the way of funnies this week from him, but some sorely needed character development.
Most of the artwork is handled by John Timms (outside of the aforementioned dream sequence, drawn by Chad Hardin), like the last few issues, and it’s another solid installment of the series from that perspective. Much of the issue is based around Red Tool and Joker’s fight, and Timms renders the boardwalk throwdown beautifully. Slower scenes, such as Harley and Joker hashing it out post-fight, do well to convey the tension between the two estranged lovers. Hardin’s dream sequence is also very nice–it’s always a pleasure to see Harley in her retro outfit–and serves its purpose well.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the lettering in this issue. I love The Joker’s specific lettering–it somehow manages to put The Joker’s voice in your head in a way plain text just can’t do. Sound effects, whether a FOOOOMF or a WHUPP, look great as well and help give the action scenes some energy.
Is It Good?
Harley Quinn #12 may largely be one big action scene, but it’s a good one. Throw in an emotional flashback and some questions raised about The Joker’s motivations, and this is a pivotal issue for the series. The Joker vs. Red Tool for the love and affection of Harley Quinn–who ya got?