By Cat Wyatt
When I first saw the cover for issue 35, I thought it would be one of two things; a short story where Batwoman cameos, or a quick, light-hearted one-shot. I was wrong on both counts. Let’s just say that while Harley is back at home safe and sound, she still isn’t acting like her normal, devil-may-care self, and it’s actually pretty heartbreaking to see (especially for her friends).
This issue starts off on a different note; with Tony being the main perspective. At first, it appears that he’s in a fight for his life, but it becomes quickly apparent he’s just in a drunken head-butting contest (you read that right). In case you were wondering, he won. But still, it’s odd, to say the least. Exactly the sort of thing I would expect from Tony (or anybody that Harley becomes fond of). While walking his drunk (and possibly concussed?) self-home, something happens to him (and no, it isn’t the guy begging for money so he can buy himself more nice shoes, though that did happen), and it keeps him from making it back home that night.
Meanwhile, our Harley has been meandering through the city, utterly depressed. None of the things she once loved have been able to make her crack a smile, not roller coasters, hotdogs, violence, nothing. Which naturally has all of her friends concerned, and who can blame them? Those are why they’re ignoring Harley’s request (erm, demands) to be left alone, and instead, are attempting to follow her at a discreet distance. Granted, I don’t think the Gang of Harleys can do anything discreet, which is probably why they got all sorts of busted.
If the Gang of Harleys and their antics only manage to incite Harley’s rage, then I’m not sure what could knock her out of this funk. Except for maybe something to distract her, but it would have to be good. Like friend-gone-missing good. Thankfully Tony’s got that much covered, as indicated up above. Between Tony going missing, and the rumor of a bat-person (and by that I mean a person who’s also a bat, not a vigilante dressed up as a bat) being on the loose, it’s enough to get Harley interested.
And thus Harley does her thing, even if in this case it’s a blatant attempt to mimic the Scooby-Doo gang and solve a mystery or two (I hope she yells jinkies at some point during this whole thing that would make my day). With Red Tool following Harley around (in the worst disguise I have ever seen) Harley tracks down Tony’s last known whereabouts. Here comes the good news/bad news situation; good news is she found what took Tony. Bad news is it found her too.
Meanwhile the Gang of Harley’s take it upon themselves to visit Arkham (yep, that doesn’t sound at all dangerous or stupid or anything), while still being in full Harley gang gear. I’m honestly shocked that something further didn’t come from this, but then again we haven’t exactly seen them leave Arkham yet, have we?
All that being said, I’m not sure who ended up in a worse situation. Red Tool getting dropped into the ocean (it’s worth noting that he can’t swim), or Harley getting herself abducted alongside Tony. On the bright side, she found him!
I’m not really sure how to feel about this issue, if I’m being honest. The whole bat-person thing seems like it should fall under one of Harley’s lighter and more cheerful issues, instead of having it blended with Harley still very much grieving the loss of Mason. I’m glad that they’re not dropping his death so quickly, that would have been pretty disappointing, but it’s odd seeing this blend. Maybe that’ll become the new norm for Harley? At least for a few issues. That or this whole mess will be the kick in the pants she needs.
I have to admit, considering how silly the bat-person concept is; they handled the transitioning pretty well. It only slightly looked like the cover of an Animorph book. The art style has changed, aiming for a slightly more detailed and realistic look. I think combining this art style with Harley’s grief was actually a pretty good decision – it allows us to see the details that show just how much she’s hurting (and they were able to go beyond the smudged makeup bit, since that doesn’t always equal crying with Harley). As far as my favorite panel from this issue goes, it has to be Arkahm’s gates in page 14. They’re so intricate and stylized, plus the (dead) ivy growing up both pillars really adds to the foreboding nature of the place. It’s perfect.
Harley Quinn #35