Sometimes, having a firm end date to a story can draw out the best in a creative team. Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti have set just that on their resurgent Harley Quinn run, and they have only three more issues to wrap up their take on the Crown Princess of Crime. Boy, have they taken a firm step towards the end of their story and the future of everyone’s favorite psychopathic psychiatrist in Harley Quinn #31.
With the recent arc surrounding Harley’s mayoral candidacy and her conflicts with Mayor DePerto, Conner and Palmiotti began their wrap-up in earnest, driving Harley and her gang towards an inevitable end that, considering the early slapstick humor of the series, was unthinkable several issues ago. To stall Harley and force her to drop out of the race she was winning, DePerto had Mason Macabre, the object of Harley’s affection, kidnapped. In any other story, things might have ended with a fight and a return to some sort of status quo with Harley and the gang returning to Coney Island mostly intact after having gained some semblance of revenge on the mayor and his goons. This time, however, the status quo is shaken to its core.
Honestly, all the lead up to the final page of this issue should bring us back around to the jokester Harley somehow winning the day. She, with the help of Red Tool, Harley Sinn, and Harley’s unrequited love interest, Poison Ivy, finds where Mason is most certainly being held hostage. The mayor’s interest in Mason goes beyond Harley’s interference in his own life, however, as Mason is indirectly responsible for the death of DePerto’s son-in-law. Not that the bellicose politician gives a damn about the man; he’s just tired of hearing his daughter grieve and paying for her therapist.
Speaking of therapy, we occasionally forget that Harley is good at what once was her job. On the ride to Fire Island to save Mason, she and her frenemy Harley Sinn have a good conversation about healthy relationships that outlines what could be positive growth for both of them. While describing the love-based relationships that Sinn should cultivate, Harley describes her own growth from the Joker’s punching bag to one of trust and love with the family she has chosen. It’s an impressive wrap of Harley’s progression in Conner and Palmiotti’s hands.
Back to the tale at hand, Harley has committed a grave mistake by doing the very thing that people have done to her throughout her life: she underestimated the strength and determination of her opponent. All along, the mayor’s assistant Madison seemed like the weak link, destined to be flipped or strong-armed into helping Harley. Instead, she is as dark and manipulative as DePerto himself. She and the mayor are holding Mason personally at another site. With no fanfare, Sinn is straight-up shot in the kneecap and then again to incapacitate her under Madison’s orders. Harley and Sinn are forced to watch as, with little monologuing and no hesitation, Mason is presumably executed. The final look in Harley’s eyes, dripping with tears run through her thick mascara, is one that I will remember for some time. Those are the eyes of a killer who has been asleep, dreaming of a life she was never meant to have. I can’t wait to see what’s next.