By Cat Wyatt
Issue #39 of Harley Quinn left most of Coney Island in varying levels of chaos. The Penguin’s goons and other enlisted villains have been wreaking merry havoc on the place (especially Killer Croc), Eggy got himself egg-napped (sorry, couldn’t resist), Coach also got kidnapped (what is with this group getting kidnapped all the time), and Harley is taking on more fights than she can handle. In short, it’s a recipe for disaster.
Issue #40 starts off by telling us where Coach has been taken too, and fun fact, Frank is there as well (though I’m betting he wishes he wasn’t). So that’s some news at least. Apparently, Penguin had been working on this plan longer than we had realized. He intentionally had Frank kidnapped and replaced, all so he could make Harley more susceptible to suggestions (like the one telling her to leave). In retrospect that totally sounds like something Penguin would do.
That’s not the only thing that’s been going on since we left off. Mr. Freeze decided to lock down the beach (by freezing it, of course), something that Killer Croc took offense to. Admittedly I’m pretty sure Croc is taking offense to any of the supervillains being in ‘his territory,’ and this was just an easy fight to pick, but that’s not the point. So if you’ve ever wanted to see Croc and Mr. Freeze have a throw down, now’s your chance.
Meanwhile Harley’s in the hospital, courtesy of her last fight (the one where Red Tool had to save her). She’s okay, for the most part; she just lost a lot of blood (which the hospital fixed up, naturally). Unfortunately, it appears that one of Penguin’s goons, Angry Bird, rooted himself here (perhaps in hopes of getting his hands on Harley?)
They’ve been changing a lot about Harley’s backstory and what is and isn’t canon about her, but there’s one thing they haven’t changed. She’s still immune or resistant to a hell of a lot of drugs, such as the one she was given to keep her under. It probably goes without saying that the following panels don’t go in Angry Bird’s favor (though they are funny to read!).
Here’s where the pace really picks up in this story (like it hasn’t been at a breakneck speed already). Both Red Tool and Scarface arrive more or less at the same time. Red Tool to play the hero (again), and Scarface…well…we already know he’s working against Penguin, so it stands to reason that he’s hoping Quinn will take his side on things.
Which is more or less exactly what happens. Harley (along with Scarface and Red Tool) goes back to Coney Island, only to be received with cheers and a full on crowd surfing session (not a daydream on Harley’s part – this actually happened). I’ll confess that this scene made me roll my eyes just a tiny bit, but hey, Harley is a fun character so it makes sense that the people she protects would love her.
Let’s take a quick moment to talk about Scarface being on the same side as Harley. Maybe it’s just me, but I find Scarface significantly more terrifying than the Penguin. There’s a multitude of reasons, obviously. That being said, I wouldn’t want to be one of the cronies on the wrong side in the ensuing fight (because of course there’s going to be one).
Remember Eggy? He’s been kidnapped for what, two issues now? Well the Gang of Harleys finally got around to rescuing him it would appear. While they were delayed in their rescue, they sure didn’t go about it half assed. I’d say that taking a bazooka to a fight with egg people may have been overkill (and perhaps endangered Eggy’s life more than necessary?). So now we’re just missing Coach, once she’s saved the gang will be back together again. But based on the turnaround time on rescues, we’re going to have to wait another issue or two before they get to save her.
Unfortunately the bound-to-be-epic fight between Freeze and Croc is interrupted by none other than our lovely Harley. I was surprised when Croc had originally taken a stance against her, so I’m not really surprised that they forced this issue to a head finally. While Croc’s loyalties may be somewhat vague, I do think Harley legitimately likes Croc, and would rather not hurt him (though I also believe she would take him down if needed).
This issue definitely had a ‘gangs all back together’ vibe to it (which is ironic, since they’re still missing somebody). It was a little cheesy at times (like the tossing Harley in the air thing), but it did have its moments too. I’m hoping we’ll see more of Scarface and his plans in the next issue; if he’s not directly resolved in the conflict resolution for this plot I’m going to be deeply disappointed.
So I’m reading three different series right now that have Harley Quinn appearances, and I have to say I’m a little confused about the continuity for her. Obviously one of the series is this one (duh), the other is Suicide Squad (again, duh), and the last is Batman. I’ve always assumed that the Harley Quinn and Suicide Series sort of work around each other – she gets arrested, goes off on a Suicide Squad mission, escapes or gets free, and then comes back home. Or vice versa. Throwing Batman into the mix makes it a bit more confusing. None of the three timelines seem to match up, so I have to assume they’re all happening at very different times. The question is, when does each one occur? I’d love for somebody to write out a precise timeline for Harley (and if that already exists, can somebody point me in the right direction?). I’m not upset with the Harley series about this though, if anybody should be getting dibs on her character it’d be her own series.
As for the artwork…I’m still not thrilled with how Harley is looking lately. Though I think she’s a bit toned down from the last issue, which is good. Though her face seemed oddly flat on the last page – the one where she’s talking to Croc. I’d normally blame it on the angle, but we’re given two different angles and in both panels it legit looks like she doesn’t have a nose. So that’s a bit odd, but not frustrating like her character design changes.
Harley Quinn #40