no_name_'s Gotham City Sirens #20 - Hell Hath No Fury, Part One review

Harley Goes Haywire!

Issue 20 of Gotham City Sirens is written by Peter Calloway, and the focus of the story is on Harley Quinn, and her sort of crazy self discovery.  SPOILERS BELOW. 

The Good  

Sometimes you get a cover that completely encompasses everything that happens in the issue. This is, in my opinion, an example of such cases. The cover to this issue of Gotham City Sirens showcases Harley Quinn suspended over the Joker's open mouth as if he is about to devour her. In his hand, he cups both Catwoman and Poison Ivy who are struggling to pull her down and away from him. Even though Selina and Ivy don't appear in the issue, the physical act of pulling them away from the Joker on this cover speaks to Harley's internal (and external struggle).  
The focus of this issue is Harley Quinn, so if you are a fan of Ms. Quinn then you definitely will want to pick up this issue. Ever since the start of Gotham City Sirens it seems that Harley has been a character that has acted as a cheerleader for both Poison Ivy and Catwoman, but that she herself has been left somewhat torn and confused about her own identity. This issue deals with that. Over the course of her character evolution, Harley has gone from being a character that is completely enamored by the Joker, to a girl that struggles desperately to run away from him and create her own impact. She strives to prove that her existence should be validated, and that she does not need him to prove her self worth- it is a culmination of all of these things that is the focus of this issue.  

The Bad  

We are first introduced to Mr. Adam Hendricks at the very start of the issue, and the reader is given a glimpse into his childhood as narrated by Harley herself, based on the information she acquired from her residency at Arkham Asylum. In fact, she does this with several characters. She introduces the characters to the reader, then she breaks down the things that make them tick, and the she  
kills them. The problem with this is that the reader becomes emotionally attached to the character, only to witness their demise. Why delve into a character's psyche only to have their only purpose be a casualty to advance Harley's character? I realize that it is a way the writer showcases Harley's intellect (in this case, trying to prove to the reader that she was a very good psychiatrist), but it feels like a cheap shot. Additionally, there was a page long dialogue between the head of Arkham security and the director of Arkham Asylum that felt both forced and out of place.  

The Verdict  

There were some really great concepts here. It was great to see a story about Harley Quinn that delved into the psychological aspects of her character. She does a lot of trying to prove herself (to herself) and to validate her self worth in the eyes of the man she used to love; but all at the expense of killing off a lot of characters after making the reader care about them first. 
9 Comments Refresh
Posted by FoxxFireArt

Harley's relationship with the Joker is a prime comic book example of the "Battered Wife Syndrome". That no matter the abuse he gives her, she keeps going back.  He's violent and has tossed her aside for his own escape. He apologizes and she forgives him.
Harley seems to be at the character evolution of the standard woman trying to escape that relationship. Her ego is telling her she shouldn't put up with it any longer, but her Id is telling her to go back. Selina and Ivy are the friends who are trying to get their friend out of what they see as a seriously bad relationship.
I always felt it was weird that Harley is a trained psychologist, but still fell for the Joker's charms. I did love those character interviews in Arkham Asylum where they play out how the two met, like a psycho version of When Harry Met Sally.

Posted by The Mighty Monarch

I'm pretty sure she only killed that one guard. I don't think Alyce Sinner would die so randomly, and she didn't kill Clayface either.

Posted by No_Name_
@The Mighty Monarch said:
" I'm pretty sure she only killed that one guard. I don't think Alyce Sinner would die so randomly, and she didn't kill Clayface either. "
Even so, the guard's death wasn't necessary (in my opinion) and that's the example I used anyway.
Posted by Feliciano2040
@Babs said:
" @The Mighty Monarch said:
" I'm pretty sure she only killed that one guard. I don't think Alyce Sinner would die so randomly, and she didn't kill Clayface either. "
Even so, the guard's death wasn't necessary (in my opinion) and that's the example I used anyway. "
Ever watched this fun little movie called Inglorious Basterds ?
Revenge is not pretty.
Posted by Recyling

 I agree with Babs;
The death of the guard was unnecessary.

Posted by AlexDM

Making you care about someone before killing them is what makes characters' deaths significant. I'd call it a success on the part of the writer if you feel anything due to a character's death. Especially if the character had only just been introduced.

Posted by Liberty

I loved this review.  I would like to add to your thoughts on the guards death.  It really bothered me as well.  Not so much because the writer made you feel for the character just to have him die, but at who did the killing.  Harley is in my top five characters and I don't like this portrayal of her character.  
I want to think she like Catwoman and Poison Ivy and I don't like the idea of her turning on them in a crazy whim.  Harley is Harley the Joker is the Joker.  I am not a fan of making Harley a female Joker.  After reading this I cannot connect with her relationships with Selina and Ivy.  
I also don't buy Harley's betrayal of there people she manipulates.  She became a concealer for a reason and it wasn't to be the Joker's girlfriend/sidekick. Even if that was the result.  Lastly, I am sick of the keystone-cops mentality writers use to make the Batman villains smarter than the police/guards.  These characters were not only sympathetic but acted foolishly as well.  They act as if no one ever broke out/in from Arkham before.  The place should have a swinging door with a dead guard pile for all the people that get killed in these attempts.  That said you Adam looking at a marble that popped up in his guard tower.  As if that was not something to be immediately concerned about.  Then we have the head guard making the exploding guard crack.  Lastly we have Alysin Sinner whining about getting her remote even after the head of security tells her the GUARD TOWER BLEW UP!  I hated this book and gave it a half star.   
We also see into Clayface's frustration at the changing of the character he knew and loved being destroyed by a writer directer who seeming didn't care about the character at all. Having a naked heroine and killing off the guy with a SHOE.  I could not help but feel that was happening to Harley in this issue.
@AlexDM: Please see my point above.

Edited by AlexDM

@Liberty: Harley's returning to her natural state as a villain and Joker's manipulated sidekick. And she's differentiated from Joker by her MO -- being incredibly good at understanding people, then using that knowledge against them instead of for the psychiatric therapy she's trained for. The writer's being true to her character by recognising that she can't stay good and happy forever.

As for Adam and the marble -- the whole point of that sequence was that a marble would be the one thing significant and personal enough to make him pause. No matter how good a guard he is, something that reminds him of being beaten by his father is gonna stop him for a couple of seconds. I read Sinner's confrontational dialogue as her not appreciating Cash ordering her about, rather than actually underestimating the situation. And ultimately (next issue), Harley only succeeds because she manipulates Cash into letting her in -- because she knew the Joker killed his son, not because he's bad at his job.

The whole break-in relied on her past as a psychiatric therapist and her pathological obsession with Joker. It's sad when you're rooting for a character (like I was) and they fail, but it made sense for this to happen to her eventually.

Edited by Liberty
@AlexDM: I guess we just disagree because I just don't buy it.  It is just too ridiculous IMO, and hurts the character.  Also Harley is hardly returning to her roots.  She is nothing like the character that started out in Batman: the Animated Series.

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