By Cat Wyatt
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of this issue (I swear I’m not avoiding thinking/talking about Mason’s death or anything), let’s talk about the cover for a minute. Considering the heavier tone that’s been occurring in Harley’s comics, this cover is a little bit jarring. Though also somewhat welcome – perhaps this is a way of showing that everything will be ok, in the end? I know it’s more likely that it’s just a Christmas-themed Harley cover, but hey, a girl can hope!
And the first page pretty much proves that the latte theory is correct; we see our group of characters all crying over Mason’s (presumably) gravestone. My heart. As is the tradition for these scenes, it is raining out (pretty badly, actually). Despite the rain, Harley and Madame Macabre linger at Mason’s grave. The rest of the group (minus Ivy) head out to start prepping for the storm. Life moves on, even when we’re not ready to deal with it (though I suspect that many are grateful for the distraction).
Ivy once again shows how amazing of a friend she is; as she pulls Harley aside and tries to convince her to leave for a while. Not forever, just long enough to recuperate. I for one would like to believe that we all have a friend like this, the type that’ll always have your back when times get rough. And in case it wasn’t obvious, Harley declines Ivy’s offer. I feel like the writers keep dancing around this Harley and Ivy plot, never really letting it progress, but also not writing it off either. I guess we’ll have to wait and see where it goes (if anywhere).
I’ll confess I’m exceptionally curious about a small revelation on Ivy’s part (totally not obsessed with her or anything); she declares she’s going to stay behind in the graveyard, as an old friend is buried here. I’m wracking my brain trying to figure out who it could be, and I’m coming up blank. I seriously hope they come back to this at some point.
It wasn’t at all surprising to me (or anyone else, I imagine) that Madame Macabre pulled Harley aside, informing her that she’ll be leaving for a while. If she’s ever going to have a chance to find peace with what has happened, she needs some space, to get away from all the memories of her son (but that’s not to say she’ll forget him, of course). I can’t blame her here, to be honest. Madame Macabre seems to be holding herself together pretty well, but I honestly think the shock of it all hasn’t worn off yet. Likely once she’s finally alone she’ll allow herself to break down for a while.
One thing Madame Macabre said in her goodbye struck me, and not in the “that poor woman” sense. She says something along the lines of “I’ll be back when everything is different.” Now, I may be reading into this a bit, but does that sound borderline sinister? Or something? I’m not sure what this is setting up for, but I can’t help but feel like it’s going to be something big (or I could just be completely off, and it was nothing more than a statement from a grieving mother).
So, now that the grieving scenes are over…things get pretty…freaky. Well, to be fair, I don’t mean freaky for Harley (because that would be overwhelming I imagine) but just jarring. The crew is prepping for the impending hurricane, and apparently, that involves moving all the animals up to a higher level (which isn’t a bad idea, in all fairness). But that somehow meant that Harley needed to dress up in a meat bikini (a la’ Lady Gaga) while holding catnip and bird seeds. At least this explains the cover! I finally have my answer! But seriously, this whole scene was a little jarring. I feel like Harley went from depressed to manic; which I guess I shouldn’t be too shocked about.
From here there are several other short scenes (which I promise to briefly touch upon). These felt off as well, but mostly I think because they tried to cram so many little things into a single issue. I would have preferred an entire issue to the grief, and then maybe everything else in another? But that’s just my feeling on the matter. I think the purpose of these scenes was to establish Harley trying to settle back into her life but rushing it kind of obfuscated the intent.
First, we have Harley walking on the beach immediately following the hurricane (still heavy wind and rain). Naturally, this sort of weather does make for fantastic (but dangerous) surfing. Here Harley comes across a surfer she knows (whom for the life of me I can’t recall, so maybe they made her up for this purpose? That or my memory is shit, which it probably is).
Another sudden jump and we’re at the Roller Derby, with Harley and the gang chatting before their next race (is that the correct term here? I have no idea). Apparently, there’s a new girl on the team they’re up against, and she’s got a mesmerizing ass. Literally. Harley ends up having to blindfold herself before beating the snot out of her. Which admittedly was pretty satisfying to see.
Another jump (I told you) and Harley and her Roller Derby team are out at a diner celebrating their win. They’re all obviously upset for Harley, and take some time reminiscing the first time Harley and Mason met (remember, she met him after her first roller derby match). I’ll admit that I liked this whole scene more than the other (sudden) ones; as not only do they take some time to talk about Mason, but also the process and stages of grief (Harley was a psychologist, remember). This felt so much more grounded than a good chunk of the rest of the issue.
On her walk home (lugging a ton of food, naturally) Harley stops to feed a homeless person. A sad reminder about how there used to be more before Madison came to the city (remember that whole cannibal plot?). I’m not sure if this scene was just to show Harley being kind, or if there was more to it than that. It did feel slightly creepy (the homeless person reminded me of the witch in Sleeping Beauty, so maybe that’s why I’m interpreting it as something bad is going to happen?).
After a whirlwind day (two days? I’m not sure how much time has passed here, but at least a full 24 hours I’d guess) Harley comes home to find Tony and Queenie prepping for a road trip to Gibsonton. Which is a bit odd, right? Has Harley been so busy that Tony hasn’t been able to give her a heads up, or was this a rather sudden plan of his? (Or does that mean little to no time has passed since the funeral?). Despite the reminder in this very issue, I had forgotten that Tony and Mason were actually really good friends (perhaps I keep forgetting since I never really saw them interacting that much?), so it stands to reason that Tony has a better idea than anyone what should be done with Mason’s stuff. Which is both sweet and heartbreaking.
Obviously, Harley can’t resist a road trip, so off head Tony, Queenie, Harley, and Ivy (because of course). I’m not sure what the next issue is going to entail, other than possibly seeing Harley’s parents and some of Mason’s old friends. I’m sure they’ll get themselves into some sort of trouble along the way (like they’ve done with literally every other road trip they’ve taken) but only time will tell.
I’ll admit I found the art style change a little off-putting at first, but if I'm honest I don’t usually like it when they change artists, it takes me an issue or two to settle into things usually (which is probably why I can’t stand it when they bounce all over the place). Some of the scenes didn’t read the way they wanted to, I believe. The scene where everyone (minus Harley and Madame Macabre) leave the grave looked wrong; they all looked angry instead of sad (faces pulled tight, arms swinging, etc.). Harley’s outfit for this scene is also odd – a black full body suit of some sort? I’m not sure what’s going on with that. On the bright side, Harley’s manic expressions were on point, though sometimes bordered on overdone (see the scene where Harley is dressed in meat). The mesmerizing ass effects were pretty cool and also really funny to say (seriously, try it).
Harley Quinn #33
Publisher: DC Comics