Harley Quinn by Paul Dini & Dan Kramer
Review: DETECTIVE COMICS #831
Harley Quinn: "You won't believe this, but I'm here completely under duress." (Page 16)
In Paul Dini's story for Detective Comics #831, Bruce Wayne keeps voting against Harleen Quinzel's parole at hearings to decide if she is fit to rejoin society. She is rooming at the Arkham Asylum, which is the Wal-Mart where Batman writers seem to shop exclusively for villains. Though failing to get release, Quinzel is soon kidnapped by a stooge working for ventriloquist dummy Mr. Scarface and is forced to escape under protest. As she is shoved out the doors, she says "This is not going to look good on my next review!"
Quinzel is knocked out and delivered to the wooden-headed crimelord, where we discover he is working with a new "dummy" who is a well-dressed woman called "Sugar." Now a foursome, this little gang is preparing for a heist to intercept cash being transferred by a local mob to a money laundering location. They also happen to have the Harley Quinn jokeresque outfit handy, too, and Quinzel is quickly back into her tight red and black outfit.
REFORMING HARLEY QUINN
Dini's story seems to show that Quinzel has reformed while at Arkham, having decided that the Joker misused her affections and that she may (or may not?) have had a bad case of 'Stockholm Syndrome,' a condition in which an innocent victim is psychologically drawn into sympathy with a criminal and their goals (the Patty Hearst story from the 1970s being a prime example - - wikipedia link here).
Using phone calls to tip off the Gotham police, Harley Quinn tries to play both sides, keeping up a pretense as a member of the gang while Mr. Scarface's heist goes through its steps, but also trying to maneuver the whole caper to end in a climatic showdown with Batman and the cops. Which of course it does.
Dini's story is a well-done super story, he seems to consistently deliver a logical and thought-out tale when working on the Bat comics I have seen. The emotions seem general and even cliché, but at least they're human, or something like it, which I cannot say for all DC Comics product.
BRUCE WAYNE'S GRIN
The downside to Detective Comics #831 is the miscommunications that are delivered through the often stiff artwork from Don Kramer/Wayne Faucher.
For example, on the last page of this tale, a smiling Bruce Wayne is commenting on Quinzel's reaction to realizing the Parole Board has reversed its position and she is going to go free. Wayne is smiling, and though I realize from the tone of the tale he is supposed to be looking pleased at the happy outcome of Quinzel's situation, but Kramer's artwork shows a fearsomely sinister look on Wayne's face, almost Jokeresque. I had to ponder what was going on, as I was trying to find out what the teeth-clenching grin was about. (Maybe it's supposed to be Joker masquerading as Bruce Wayne in order to change that deciding vote that sets Quinzel free?)
The stiffness in the artwork aside, Kramer's story-telling skills are excellent, and he communicates the story and the events happening at a excellent pace and with good backgrounds that fill in the tale with visual information. I wish all of the DC Comics' comic artists had at least this level of ability to just tell a story, visually.
And at the end of this tale, Wayne changed his vote and Harley is let go free. But Wayne/Batman does not realize that at the beginning of the tale poor ol'Quinzel is plagued by a tiny hallucinatory Harley Quinn figure that taunts her and advises her. Is she another split-personality? Is there room in Gotham for another one?
The Missing sequence from Detecive Comics #831
[Below] Poking fun at Detective Comics #831.
DETECTIVE COMICS #831
Story by Paul Dini
Artwork by Don Kramer (pencils) and Wayne Faucher (inks)
Colors by Paul Kalisz
22 pages; $2.99 USD
June 2007 cover date (purchased March 2007)
Story collected in Batman: Death and the City - Amazon Book
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Original page Friday, April 20, 2007 | Updated Nov 22, 2023