Comic Picks By The Glick

Batman: White Knight Presents — Harley Quinn

October 20, 2021

This isn’t the actual sequel to “Curse of the White Knight.”  No, we’re going to have to wait a bit longer for the concluding chapter of Sean Murphy’s “White Knight” saga.  Not only does he shift the focus onto one Harleen Quinzel for this volume, but he also steps back from writing and illustrating the story.  Katana Collins and Matteo Scalera take up those duties, respectively, to show us what the doctor is up to in the wake of the previous volume’s events.  

That would be being a good mother to her four babies, two human toddlers, two actual hyenas, as she struggles to pay the bills.  Then along comes Duke Thomas with the offer of a consulting job with the G.T.O.  There’s a new serial killer in Gotham who’s been offing old starlets and while the members of Batman’s old rogues gallery are either lying low (or, you know, dead) there’s a concern that this could spark a supervillain renaissance in the city.  Which means it’s time for Harley to put on her fancy long underwear again and get to the bottom of this.

 

The above-mentioned plot isn’t the only thing driving this miniseries.  “Harley Quinn” also has its title character reminiscing about the past and the time she spent with Jack, fleshing it out in much-needed detail.  I say this because while the Harley/Joker romance is familiar ground to longtime Bat-readers, Murphy and Collins take the time to make their version different and believable in its own right.  This actually works because not only are we able to understand how these two came together, we can see why Harley stuck around as long as she did, even after things went bad.

 

This is good, even though the present day stuff involving the murders isn’t quite as interesting. The writers attempt to make it into something of a whodunit at first, but it’s ultimately more of a whytheydidit.  That’s fine, even if these villains come off as strictly small time in the end.  More disappointing is the attempt to follow-up on the final scene from “Curse,” which is something that I wish Murphy had saved for the next volume to explore in depth.

 

More successful at what they’re doing is Scalera, whose sketchy, high-energy art compares well to Murphy’s.  He may lack the latter’s eye for detail, but he’s a natural at crafting exciting action scenes and drawing out the emotions of the cast.  What bothered me about the art, however, was the coloring which looks dreary and washed-out.  This is surprising since it comes from Dave Stewart, one of the best colorists in the business.  While it’s clear that the story was shooting for a “noir” vibe, the coloring here doesn’t match that at all.  It just dulls the story’s overall visual impact.

 

As something meant to tide fans of “White Knight” over until the next volume arrives, “Harley Quinn” still manages to get the job done.  It may not advance the overall story in a wholly successful manner, yet it does right by its main character as she gets an arc that further shows that she’s her own woman in this series.  That’s good for the series as a whole even as it leaves me craving the real thing.

 

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