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Harley Quinn #37

Posted: Sunday, October 5, 2003
By: Jason Cornwell



Writer: A.J. Lieberman
Artists: Mike Huddleston (p), Troy Nixey (i)

Publisher: D.C. Comics

Plot:
As Harley Quinn races to locate the missing girl before her competitors, we see once she has managed to reunite with her elusive quarry, Harley is able to secure her co-operation with a promise to keep her from going blind after the code on her eyes has been scanned. However, when Harley is forced to choose between the cash reward, and keeping the girl from going blind, Harley's villainous nature wins the day.

Comments:
On one hand I have to applaud A.J. Lieberman for the surprise ending that he offers up, as far too often when a villain gets their own series the natural urge is to soften the character, so that the readers can more readily identify the character as the hero of the series. However, this issue makes it clear that Harley is still driven by some less than heroic impulses, as when faced with a choice between a mountain of cash and the potential to sacrifice this reward to remain true to a promise she made, we see Harley walks away with the money. On the other hand I honestly don't see why Harley couldn't have gotten both, as she had the drop on the man who was making the deal, and by the looks of it could've easily have brought an end to the little standoff by simply shooting the man and walking away with both the doctor and the disk. Now perhaps the man making the deal had a sniper hidden away that would take out the doctor if Harley made such a move, but given Harley opens their meeting by gunning down the man's underling this theory seems a bit shaky at best. Instead we have Harley wait until the man actually has his gun out and pointed at the doctor's head before she makes her decision. It just seems to me that she could've taken action far sooner than she did, and while having her make the choice she made gave the final page it's dramatic punch, the book fails to address why Harley felt the need to wait.

As for the art, I'll give it full marks for its storytelling ability, as the action is very easy to follow, and even the more confusing sections of the issue, such as the scene where the little girl starts glowing like a Christmas tree, are clearly detailed. The art also manages to capture the action quite nicely as there's a pretty decent little fist fight on the train, and the standoff where Harley nails her competitor with one of her blade weapons is visually exciting. However, there are also moments when the art takes on a rather rough looking, almost unfinished quality, as the backgrounds suddenly drop out and Harley's moving through an empty void. The pointy feet and hands panels are also quickly losing the appeal they had early on, as now it's starting to look like an artistic cheat rather than a visual style. This issue does have itself a pretty solid cover image though, as it almost looks like a movie poster.

Final Word:
While next issue looks like it'll be dealing with the lingering threads left over from this arc, this issue for better or worse looks to be the end of this latest story. Now I will give A.J. Lieberman credit for taking the unexpected path, as he allows Harley to make a choice that reveals she is still very much a villain, who will put her own self interests above others, even if the person in question is a child that Harley promised to protect from harm. However, this arc went on far too long for me to be overly excited by the rather abrupt ending that is offered up, and I suspect many readers might even be a little annoyed, as we've spent the past four issues watching Harley jump through all sorts of hoops to protect this little girl, but when the big moment comes we see Harley is just as bad as the people that she spent all this time protecting this child from. In the end what the readers are rewarded with is the revelation that Harley Quinn like money, something which has already been established long before A.J. Lieberman came along to devote a five issue arc to remind us of this fact.



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