Comic Vine Review

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Detective Comics #23.2 - Harley Lives Review

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Find out why Harley Quinn went off the rails and what she's up to as the Crime Syndicate takes over Earth.

The Good

I have a lot of respect for writer Matt Kindt. He truly impressed me with Deadshot's villains month issue and his zero issue over at Valiant's BLOODSHOT was pretty incredible. He can clearly thrive when it comes to dark material, but when dealing with Harley Quinn, there's a degree of levity and/or fun expected to be thrown in there, too. While Kindt does provide a good laugh in one of the earlier segments, he opts to steer away from the expected route and focuses on a seriously grim analysis of the character. We know Quinn is at least thinking of suicide in her upcoming run and this shockingly bleak course of events can illustrate why. Her search to understand madness has left her totally numb. So numb, in fact, that she has no gripe randomly blowing up a police station filled with people or slaughtering dozens of innocents -- including children. It's quite unsettling and clearly that's the intention.

Neil Googe and Wil Quintana's pages are filled with energy and the book looks great overall. There's some superb use of motion in the intro and everything else feels lively and animated. There's a huge array of engrossing expressions and their take on the Joker is appropriately disturbing. I wouldn't say this style's the best fit for some of the grim material, but it's still fantastic illustrating and coloring nonetheless.

The Bad

This is a very dark direction for Harley. She's killing with absolutely no rhyme or reason and it doesn't matter who it is. I totally understand it's to show she's lost -- physically and mentally -- but the tone sinking so abruptly really hit me the wrong way. At first, she was only beating people up to get the desired pieces for her costume (yes, that's how she formed her costume), but then to show how numb she's become, the measures she takes go completely over the top. It was a drastic and shocking tonal shift which felt like it was purposely trying to go above and beyond to reach its desired objective. I don't consider myself an overly sensitive man by any measure when it comes to violent content, but the increase in violence and who it impacted rubbed me the wrong way. Maybe it'll resonate with some of you and help set the character on a new path, but for me, it stripped away the character's charm.

The issue has a wonderful splash page where Harley is surrounded by memories of her earlier life and what has lead her to this point, but then we dive into those exact memories. It feels like an unnecessary retread, especially since her origin story was already told in Adam Glass' SUICIDE SQUAD. Yes, there's a change here and there, but for the most part, it feels like a redundant experience.

Minor gripe: The solicitation claims to reveal how Quinn joins the Suicide Squad but that isn't seen.

The Verdict

This issue is every bit as twisted as Harley Quinn's New 52 mentality. It's commendable Kindt went against the expected (aka an issue full of laughs and wackiness), but unfortunately, he went too far in the opposite direction and has -- to me, at least -- transformed Harley Quinn into an irredeemable and unlikable character. The tone took a majorly drastic shift and left me feeling like the chaos was simply trying to go too far over the top. It will, however, be interesting to see how Quinn is handled in the future since Kindt will be writing her in SUICIDE SQUAD and she'll apparently have a more comedic vibe in her upcoming solo.

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Edited by theTimeStreamer

another one bites the dust.

Posted by akbogert

Glad I didn't pick this up today.

Honestly, I put the upcoming solo on my pull out of principle (I'd like to see more HQ, and hopefully that's what is indicated to DC), but based on everything I've seen of her handling in New 52 I have serious doubts about whether she'll last on that list past the first issue.

Edited by BR_Havoc

After reading this review boy does it get me excited for Kindt's Suicide Squad -_-

Looks like we have a more grim dark Harley to look forward to its only been 2 years of mediocrity for the character in that direction. Here is hoping her solo book and add the much needed fun and excitement back into the character as well as DC comics as a whole.

Posted by TheAcidSkull

i actually liked this one.

wasn't perfect but i'd give it a 3 to 3.5. Maybe even a 4.

but never really looked at this from this perspective, it was i guess kinda dark

Posted by k4tzm4n

i actually liked this one.

wasn't perfect but i'd give it a 3 to 3.5. Maybe even a 4.

but never really looked at this from this perspective, it was i guess kinda dark

You guess?! lol

Staff
Posted by TheAcidSkull

@k4tzm4n said:

@theacidskull said:

i actually liked this one.

wasn't perfect but i'd give it a 3 to 3.5. Maybe even a 4.

but never really looked at this from this perspective, it was i guess kinda dark

You guess?! lol

yeah, i'm F*cked up XD.

But on a serious note this at least tried to be an origin story, and i did chuckle at the boxception thing, but i read this after the walking dead and after going over some invincible comics so yeah, i forgot that this was an extremely high level of violence for DC, and for harley of all people, which is sad because it started out well.

Posted by Mulder15

Yeah I really didn't like this one either. Really disappointed. Probably my least favorite villain issue so far.

Edited by cobra88king8

I felt sick after reading this, what happens to all those children at the end made me want to write off Harley as a character completely. How can she be getting her own ongoing after they just did this story? This just felt unnecessarily grim and dark

Posted by IanPrime

HOLY SHIT. COMICVINE GAVE A 2??!!! WHAT THE SHIT.

Posted by RedhoodFlashLantern

I thought this was great id give it a 4/5 just my opinion tho, I liked how dark it was.Its always good to see something different

Edited by TommytheHitman

I never really thought of Harley Quinn killing people.

Posted by TommytheHitman
Edited by manwithoutshame

I'm so sick of Harley Quinn.

Posted by dagmar_merrill

2 stars? Makes me happy I skipped Harley and got Court of the owls instead.

Online
Edited by lifeboy

My body is ready for this.....

Posted by InkInk

This was one of the worst comics I have ever read. Kindt has shown such incompetence in this story alone to make me skip any title he is on, I mean we lost Kot for this clown? Suicide Squad is dropped and I pray that Conner's and Palmiotti can save this train wreck that was a once great character.

Posted by THEOCITYLEGEND

WAAAA!!?!?!?!? I mean I do agree that they did push it with all the killing, but 2/5? That's a pretty big kick to the groin! I would've given it a 3.5, even with all the murder it was still a good story!

Online
Posted by soumya

"Mad Love" was a great book where we get to know Harley's origin story.I see that DC avoided that concept of "Mad Love" in new52.Sadly this is totally lame....and If this is Harley's origin story then I wonder what would be Jimmy Palmiotti's take on Harley with his Harley Quinn #0 issue on November...

Posted by jwalser3

DAYUM IS THAT A HORRIBLE COVER!

Posted by Mercy_

Yeah, I wasn't really into this issue at all. Dark and grim isn't what I'm looking for when I read a Harley Quinn story and although it had its moments of levity, it just wasn't enough.

It was well written, just not the tone that I was looking for at all.

At least they gave a reason as to why she's wearing her current costume (which I hate, but that's beside the point).

Moderator
Posted by Herokiller12344

Oh my God. It truly is the 90s all over again. You got Harley ripping people in half left, right, and center and they still have her in this skimpy outfit for no other reason than: "Hehehe, boobies"

What are you doing DC?

Posted by Mucklefluga

@cobra88king8: Well the new ongoing is going to be more of a comedy (thankfully).

Posted by CaptainHoopla

I decided to skip this one since they are starting her solo series with a zero issue. Based on this review and the comments here, I'm glad I did.

What's with this talk of her becoming suicidal though? Is that what her upcoming series is going to be about? If that's the case I won't even bother with it either.

Posted by comicbookfan93

I actually sorta liked this issue

Posted by Deranged Midget
Moderator
Posted by WWAJfan

well deserved, Dc really made a gamble with this month, i'd be surprise if Dc beat Marvel this month

Posted by GrandHarrier

Couldn't disagree more. This was a really good issue.

Edited by Wilbertus

Sad to read this. For those who use ComiXology, they are having a pretty great sale right now where you can get The Batman Adventures: Mad Love # 1 for only a dollar! This is a comic book version of the famous episode Mad Love from The Animated Series which reveals Harley's origin and her uneasy relationship with Mr. J. It was even written and drawn by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm, so it really feels just like BTAS. If you like Harley Quinn and you don't mind digitals, I would definitely recommend picking this up. The sale ends the 17th. You have been warned!

http://www.comixology.com/The-Batman-Adventures-Mad-Love-1/digital-comic/23190

Edited by GenesisX

I dunno, I expect violence in DC. Not intense, but still largely impacting. To me, that's the difference between DC and Marvel. Marvel's comics are supposed to represent comedic, thrilling, and fun characters and scenarios, along with great, action stories to accompany it, but then I also want that "grim and dark" stories, that make me feel unnerved, because it's so shocking and interesting. That's what I get from DC comics, mainly the Batman series. Violence shouldn't be that much of an issue in DC, but more so in Marvel. I guarantee that if this was Joker, Bane, Riddler, or any other Batman villain, nobody would give a second thought about the villain's actions.

Edited by MadeinBangladesh

good thing I haven't wasted any money on any of the villains month books.

Posted by lifeboy

I'm glad dc had the balls to do this....

Posted by BR_Havoc

@lifeboy: Why it was terrible. Once again DC is throwing more dark and gritty garbage to a character that does not need it.

Posted by k4tzm4n

@dctv3363 said:

Hey you left out the "best" part, remember how a lot of people have been saying Harley Quinn's new costume looks like something a prostitute would wear? That's because she stole it from a prostitute, as revealed in this issue.

To be fair, she only got the top from one :P

Staff
Edited by Marionettegeist

Ops deleted that by accident let me repost.

Hey you left out the "best" part, remember how a lot of people have been saying Harley Quinn's new costume looks like something a prostitute would wear? That's because she stole it from a prostitute, as revealed in this issue.

Posted by lifeboy

@br_havoc: I have it reserved until I pick up my 3d cover at months end, then I can see for my self. I just like psychotic, murderous, villainous characters and it sounds like this is it! But I respect your taste since I know you like her a lot. But I got to say, the interview mr palmotti did just made harley sound silly. Like she is trying to be an anti hero. Hell No! She needs to be full evil!

I'm going to do the opposite of you and get kindts Suicide Squad and skip Harley's solo series.

Posted by longbowhunter

I read a preview for this earlier in the week. Looked like another broken home/bad childhood origin story. So many of these books seem to be leaning in that direction. I was surprised to see this was sold out at the shop and there were still about a half dozen Riddler books on the shelves.

Edited by lifeboy

Good job on the review k4tzm4n! I rarely read them because I worry that the reviewer might post some spoilers but i couldnt resist this one. Luck for me, you kept it clean. And you did a good job on describing the comic enough to us, where we can decide if this might be something we might or might not like, regaurdless of your own personal taste...

Posted by Eivion

Really surprised that Kindt went in such a dark direction. Its amazing how bad DC's understanding of the character has been in the New 52. I just can't understand why they would go out of their way to alienate her fanbase with a more grim/dark/evil variation of the character to please a smaller section of fandom who want her more evil. It makes no sense. Was going to give Kindt's Suicide Squad a chance, but if this is how he writing Harley there is no way in hell I'm picking up his run.

Posted by BR_Havoc

@lifeboy: Once again that misses the point of Harley she was never fully evil. She is a victim of a madman and she is pretty much the ultimate oxymoron her life has been nothing but pain and abuse yet she is still a fun and playful person which adds to her craziness. Now that is all gone and we are left with nothing but a crappy Joker rip off and its terrible writing that misses the point of Harley.

Palmiotti said it best when he said in her head Harley thinks she is doing the right thing. The problem is she like to take things too far. Harley is like a living loony tunes character she not a serious sad depressed serial killer and seeing her as one loses the charm and personality of the character.

Posted by k4tzm4n
Staff
Posted by tigerkaya

................... BWAHAHAHAHA!!! Oh DC you truly are bringing self destruction upon yourself and your characters. Its like you forgotten what makes them unique. Thank you DC for reminding us all the New 52 still sucks.

Posted by Dakotashowoff

Sort let down but i had high hopes and hope the future squad and solo books pick up. wouldnt mind a Deadshot/harley book

Posted by TheCowman

I.... I just wanna read a comic about Harley Quinn?

Why won't DC put out any comics about Harley Quinn?

I keep seeing her name used, but it always ends up being some strange character obviously left over from the '90s.

Posted by CrazyScarecrow

What!?!! Noooooo! This is one of the Villains Month books I am getting. Disappointed. Hope Scarecrow, Riddler, Captain Cold, and Lex Luthor doesn't fail me.

Online
Posted by Ashr

Demand for the 3D version of this Harley Quinn issue was high here in town. Just goes to show that some people do indeed judge the book by it's cover alone.

Posted by Bogey

I really think this issue was appropriate for a character who was molded by the Joker to be as evil as he can be.

Edited by AdmiralPetty
@genesisx said:

I dunno, I expect violence in DC. Not intense, but still largely impacting. To me, that's the difference between DC and Marvel. Marvel's comics are supposed to represent comedic, thrilling, and fun characters and scenarios, along with great, action stories to accompany it, but then I also want that "grim and dark" stories, that make me feel unnerved, because it's so shocking and interesting. That's what I get from DC comics, mainly the Batman series. Violence shouldn't be that much of an issue in DC, but more so in Marvel. I guarantee that if this was Joker, Bane, Riddler, or any other Batman villain, nobody would give a second thought about the villain's actions.

Um, Marvel and DC have always gone back and forth between having comedic and grim stories, just depends on the writer, look at Bendis' and Miller's runs on Daredevil for instance, dark and gritty, Miller's Daredevil run landed him his famous Batman runs.

As for people not being shocked by the actions of a different bat villain, actually child murder is not something most of them are known for, other than Joker of course. But that's besides the point, we are supposed to identify with Harley, but her actions in this issue made her completely unsympathetic. Harley killing people, cops in particular, not shocking. Harley purposely murdering a ton of kids is crossing the line. Wouldn't be an issue if we weren't supposed to identify with her character, but we are, and frankly it is a betrayal of the core of what the original character stood for, a far cry from what Bruce Timm and Paul Dini created and envisioned.

Also, this has been said many times, but I HATE her new outfit, seriously terrible.

Posted by The_Titan_Lord

I'll read this later.

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