The Joker’s Girl
Review of “Batman: Harley Quinn”
Published by DC Comics in 1999
Let me say this. Harley Quinn is probably one of my favorite female villains of all time. When Batman the Animated series came out in the nineties, she came to life. Doctor Harleen Quinzell was not even a comic book character at that point as she was created for the series. Now, if someone says her name, most people can identify with who she is. That is because she has become a part of the DC universe, and it is this comic that introduces her to the world of print comics. The artwork on the cover is something you could frame on your wall, and the inside inks are done in an excellent manner as well. Be warned, this review contains spoilers!
The story begins with Poison Ivy finding Harley near death in a pile of rubble. As the injured woman is being nursed back to health, she recaps her story to Ivy. This goes all the way back to when she was an intern working in Arkham Asylum. To me, this was a relief. I had been so tired of hearing that the Joker had escaped from Arkham Asylum, in almost every story done. As a reader, how could we continue to believe that this Asylum is anything more than a big joke in and of itself. Harley’s explanation of her helping the Joker escape kind of makes it work a little better.
Harley is eventually caught for her actions and imprisoned, but soon escapes as the Joker gasses the guards of the facility and kills the power. She finds the dead guards and knows from the smiling grins on their faces that it was the Joker who helped her. Then she goes on to explain how she chose her costume. It is amusing to see the different incarnations that she designed before selecting the one we all know and love.
A brief cameo by the Penguin is shown as the Joker is attempting to get supplies from him. The best part about this scene is the interaction. Penguin is a business man, and the Joker is insane. Neither of them really like each other’s presence in the situation. Key note of interest is when Penguin mentions that this story takes place after the great earthquake in Gotham. When Penguin doesn’t give in, Harley shows up and says, “You can’t just start a first class gang war with your jacket all dirty like that.” As he looks down to where she is indicating, she socks him in his protruding nose, causing it to gush blood all over. She showed up just in time as guns between the two men’s thugs were about to blaze.
Her actions and mockery cause the Penguin t give in, and this scene shows that she is definitely a comparable female version of the Joker. After talking to the Joker, she shows him the hideout that she chose. It isn’t long however before Batman shows up. I love the outfit used in this issue. It is a cross between Michael Keaton’s Batman outfit and Christian Bale’s. The best of both worlds, plus very dark and intimidating. If only they’d have gotten rid of the Val Kilmer like smile in the one frame, it would have been better.
Harley also manages to help herself and the Joker escape from the Dark Knight. A few frames indicate that she sleeps with the Joker here, but soon wakes to find a note leading her to a rocket in an amusement park. Once inside, the doors close and it begins to launch with a video of Joker’s confession. He explains that he has feelings for her and that he doesn’t like having those feelings because he claims it is confusing. He is so used to being demented and alone, that the thought of love frightens him more than Batman does. I love this scene with the Joker, as it really shows how his mind works.
Now we end up back at the beginning of the comic where it is explained the rocket was steered into the park where Ivy found Harley. I always found tha Harley’s acrobatics and agility seemed a little too much for a girl who was just supposed to be an intern at Arkham. Here is where that is corrected. Poison Ivy has to immunize Harley if they are to hang out together and get revenge on not just the Joker, but Batman as well. A side effect of the immunization is that Harley develops enhanced strength and agility.
Because Poison Ivy has a truce with Batman that she will not break at the moment, Harley decides to go after both men alone. Harley spends days trying to find Batman using a spotlight and make shift bat signal. Once he shows up, he is obviously disgusted and she offers him a deal and explains why she will lead him to the Joker. He is still smart however and gives her a tracking device so that he can show up as he pleases.
Change scenes to the Joker and his henchmen here. Joker is going on about how women are an enigma and is prodding one of his henchman about his own personal love life. After a little nagging, the guy opens up and begins explaining his story to Joker, but a few frames later the clown prince of crime blows the guys brains all over the wall with a revolver. All he says is, “You talk too much.” Then he continues talking to the dead body, (sort of like Jack Nicholson does in the 1989 Batman movie).
When Batman shows up, Harley beats him with a large mallet, and chases the Joker. He sees that she is different physically and realizes he can’t compete with her athletics. He is even shocked more when trying to utilize the Joker gas on her. It does nothing to her now immune system. The pursuit continues and she finally has the Joker where she wants him. As she is about to deal the killing strike, he looks up at her, smiles and says, “Would it help if I said I was sorry?” Her immediate forgiveness of him displays just how insane she really is, and how in love she is.
As they ride off into the moonlight, Batman barely escapes from an explosion that they left for him with a note from Harley. The book ends with Alfred patching up his many wounds and laceraions. The perfect ending comes with Bruce pulling the cape and cowl back over his face and heading off once again into the night. He has not given himself time to heal and yet still goes out to stop the criminals of Gotham. Alfred’s look is priceless. It is almost as if he is saying, “Master Bruce, you are just as insane as those you hunt.”
Honestly, this is one of my favorite graphic novels. On a scale of one to ten, I give it a full 10 stars. It is insane, thrilling, and mind boggling for any fan of Harley, the Joker or Batman.