Sunday, November 2, 2014

Detective Comics [Harley Quinn] by Matt Kindt issue #23.2

Matt Kindt wrote the comic book series Mind MGMT which was very lovely, and was one of my lingering regrets earlier this year because I couldn't find any time to read more of it, seeing as I'm sticking to a strict Batman comics diet until the end of the December. I had high hopes for this issue with that alone, and never have my hopes for a comic book been squashed so violently and repulsively before. This has to be the second greatest offender committed in Detective Comics for me. I look at the general consensus rating of Goodreads for this issue and it's flabbergasting! If I had my way, IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN LOWER THAN THAT. Personally, as someone who loved Harley Quinn deeply than of all the Bat-villains, this re-telling of her origin story offends me.

I gotta ask: WHAT THE FUCK HAS NEW 52 BEEN DOING TO HER LATELY? I'm happy she became a part of the comics canon, but aside from Paul Dini's Mad Love comic, I seriously have never read a magnificent and resonant Harley issue after it, even when she got her own title. Those stories were okay, a few may even be great. I read bits of her appearances in Suicide Squad for New 52 and never truly enjoyed them. I have copies of her title re-launch and I dread getting around to them. I don't understand why they're doing things to Harley that contradict the characteristics that Paul Dini and Bruce Timm originally defined and instilled her with. Look, I can go on and on about the costume she started to wear since New 52 began WHICH I LOATHED because it was NEEDLESSLY SKANKY and very un-Harley in the MOST DEGRADING SENSE. It's even worse than putting Wonder Woman IN PANTS before. I can even complain about the gratuitous violence she displays that even for someone like her is grossly over-the-top.

But I won't. I'll simply say that this issue, written by someone whose other work I was slowly falling in love with, is a sorry miss. It was joyless. It was pretentious. It was everything Harley never was. Harley is a barrel of laughs in spite of the grimness of her actions. She always does everything with a genuine smile in her face because she found her life's purpose and calling by being the Joker's muse. She's charming in her exploits and uninhibited in exploring her dark inclinations. But she's never cruel or chaotic for the sake of her own sadism that needs to be filled. She enjoys and takes pleasure when it's the Joker who inflicts cruelty on people. as long as she has a part to play in it. She relishes on his psychosis and gives herself to him as his personal instrument of destruction which only he could play the right tunes from, if not a terrifying and playful symphony. That's comics' most functional dysfunctional relationship between two sick minds that complete each other and it's a love story that is one of a kind. But New 52 can't seem to grasp how to capture what Dini and Timm offered on screen in the animated series. It confounds and irritates me.

(I just remembered reading a Harley story in Batman Black and White issue #1 two months ago entitled Justice is Served and I loved that one. I can recommend it.)

There were just so many things that this issue got wrong about their relationship, let alone what motivated her to join him in the first place. I don't want to discuss it any more in detail. I feel like I might alienate those who only read Harley Quinn in comics and never got to enjoy her in all her fabulous, hilarious self in Dini's work or in the cartoons. And I really don't want to rant on. What you need to know is that this issue left me numb. The amusing costume change (which I can tolerate better than the one she had on in Suicide Squad but it's still a far-cry from the original which was just perfection) did not distract me from the awful way this story ended. Harley committed an atrocity that I will never in a million years believe she will ever be capable of. It was just too much! Look, the Joker is chaos in its rawest form but Harley is more of the distilled version. She can be unpredictable but she's also got a big heart that magnanimous enough to love someone like the Joker and stand by him. She IS NOT HEARTLESS ENOUGH TO DO WHAT SHE DID IN THIS STORY. So fuck this. I don't know who this person is but she is an impostor. SHE IS NOT HARLEY QUINN. I might never read any New 52 comic book with her in it ever again. It just hurts too much. It also pains me to know that novice readers will firstly acquaint themselves with this version of her and even enjoy it for the joyless, skanky and inconsistent mess that she has become. I'll also re-read my some of my copies of Mind MGMT to remind me that Kindt is still a spectacular writer. Also, so I can forgive him for this disgusting issue.


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