This is it: the conclusion of “Joker Loves Harley,” and the culmination of the Joker’s grand return to Harley Quinn’s life. Or is it?
Harley Quinn #13 (DC Comics)
Warning: This issue is hard to talk about without spoiling a major twist, so there will be spoilers in this review. If you don’t want anything spoiled, rest assured this is a fantastic issue and you should buy it now. Read it and come back here; I’ll wait.
After apprehending The Joker last issue, Harley gets to the bottom of what’s really going on as she reveals a shocking twist–this joker’s not The Joker at all! Harley gets the man to finally confess that he’s an imposter through some pretty extreme techniques–the kind of sadism and violence we haven’t seen in Harley Quinn in a long, long time. This issue marks a sudden shift in tone, and serves as a stark reminder just how sick and twisted Harley can be if pushed to her limit, and that there’s a lot more to her than quirky one liners and booty shorts.
Unfortunately, as a relative newcomer to the Harley Quinn universe–I only started following regularly with the launch of the current ongoing–the reveal didn’t necessarily matter much to me. Thankfully, though, it was done so masterfully it could have been Ronald MacDonald under there and it still would have emotionally resonated hard. This book is all sorts of uncomfortable, in the best way possible. Harley in particular is brutally violent at points, in stark contrast to how she’s been handling her affairs as of late. Slicing up skin? Check. Biting off chunks of skin? Check. Pouring pure vodka on a freshly opened wound? Cringe…check.
This issue is by and large an explanation of the events we’ve seen in the rest of the “Joker Loves Harley” arc, with little in the way of action. Considering how decompressed this may have felt in the hands of lesser writers, though, it’s a testament to Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti’s storytelling that this exposition dump was as enthralling as it was. And while how the transformation into a faux Joker was pulled off is pretty wild, it’s explained in such detail that by the time the confession is done, you believe every word of it.
Jeez Harley…even for you, this is a little extreme.
All of this is of course drawn beautifully by the team of John Timms and Chad Hardin. Once again, Hardin handles the dream sequence (there do seem to be a lot of those in Quinn lately…) while Timms draws the main storyline. And while there’s nearly no action to speak of, they do an amazing job with what they are given to keep this one a page turner.
Is It Good?
It’s brutal, it’s deranged, it’s unsettling…it’s perfect. Harley Quinn #13 is a violent reminder of who Harley really is with a punch to the gut and a twist of the knife, rendered even more impactful thanks to its stark contrast to Harley’s happy-go-lucky adventures of late.