Comic Corner- Batman: White Knight Presents: Harley Quinn #2

Previously- Harley Quinn #1 |Coming soon- Harley Quinn #3

Batman: White Knight Presents: Harley Quinn #2 was written by Katana Collins, with pencils and inks by Matteo Scalera, and colours by Dave Stewart. 

What do you need to have read?

This series is part of DC’s Black Label series. This means that it takes place apart from continuity. However, it is a continuation of Sean Murphy’s White Knight universe, which started with Batman: White Knight, followed by Batman: Curse of the White Knight. As a result, those titles are must-reads before this series. 

What do you need to know?

There’s a new killer in town. Someone is going around Gotham killing old Hollywood stars while mimicking some of the Joker’s crimes. The only problem is that the Joker is dead. Harley is dragged in to consult and thinks it could be the work of Neo-Joker and is off to find out the truth. 

Cover of issue #3 shows Harley in her classic suit (minus the mask) with a GTO badge. On the left, on a much smaller scare are Neo-Joker and Poison Ivy intertwined with vines.

The issue begins with Harley at an abandoned funfair, something Gotham is strangely flush with, and a typical Joker-Esque hideaway. She finds Neo-Joker and, a fight ensues between the two of them. This is quickly dispelled by the realisation that they have a lot in common, and they bond over some herbal tea. I like the idea that the two Harley’s could come together, and I would love to see this developed further. Maybe they’ll even end up working together? A girl can dream. 

Neo-Joker gives Harley a lead to who might be responsible but denies any responsibility herself. That would have been too easy since it is only the second issue. She tells Harley about a person called ‘The Producer’ who tried to recruit Neo-Joker. I have to admit that the old Hollywood aesthetic of these murders is very appealing to me. Gotham is often depicted as being very noir, if not in art, then in feel and, this works well with the old Hollywood theme of the murders. Also, it reminds me of the Batman: The Animated Series episode called Beware the Grey Ghost (1.18). In this episode, we meet a character called the Grey Ghost, a costumed vigilante played by an actor called Simon Trent, who young Bruce Wayne idolised. We will return to the Grey Ghost soon. 

We meet Harley’s ‘roommate’ Poison Ivy for the first time in this universe. I want more of this relationship, whether platonic or romantic because I love their dynamic. There is not much to say, as it was a cameo more than anything else, but I have to point it out. 

Neo-Joker, on the left. Harley on the right. They share a speech bubble, which says "... It makes me crazy"
Harley vs. Harley

As with the previous issue, we also get another flashback from the early days of Harley and Jack’s relationship. As someone who is fascinated by the Joker x Harley relationship, I’m excited that this series seems to want to delve into that. The colour palette changed from being cold in the present-day images, to be warm in the flashbacks. This suggests that Harley looks back at those memories with warmth, and also perhaps the intensity of emotion, given that the Jason Todd images were also coloured like this (see, WK: HQ #1).

What I appreciate the most about the flashbacks is that they work to fill in some of the gaps in the relationship. They have a purpose other than being a fun glimpse into the past. For instance, in this one, we see an exchange about pudding, which becomes Harley’s nickname for Jack. We also see her attachment to the hyenas which, she eventually owns. These are details that are closely associated with Harley’s character within the wider DC cannon, not just in the White Knight universe. It shows a love for the character that is being incorporated so carefully into this story. 

Full page showing Harley and Jack on their date. We see them ridding the carousel, the tunnel of love, Jack winning a stuffed elephant at the shooting range and eating pudding. The text reads as follows: 
Jack: All the food here and you choose to eat pudding?
Harley: Pudding is classic! Just like you, puddin'.
J: Please tell me that's not my new nickname
At the bottom we see present day Harley walking through the abandoned funfair with her hyenas.
Oh, puddin’

Later on, we get a second flashback with Jack and Harley further into their relationship. It is very domestic, which is strange for the Joker, but maybe less so for Jack, if you consider them to be very separate as Harley does. But more importantly is shows hints to the Joker, more than we have seen before. Interestingly, Harley has not forgotten the bad parts of the relationship in favour of cute fairground dates. By showing the darkness alongside the light it gives their relationship more weight. Likely, it is also trying to show the reader: ‘look, this is why Harley became what she did, and why she did bad things for love’. I hope that we get to see her as his doctor in Arkham and her breaking him out. What can I say? I am a sucker for Mad Love.

Harley reunites with Hector Quimby, the FBI agent from the previous issue, who gives her a GTO badge so that she is officially a member of the team. As she spends a little more time with him it becomes apparent that he is very familiar with her history with Joker. Perhaps a little too familiar. He comes across as a nice guy giving her children balloon models, though the clown was a poor choice. I am undecided whether the clown was an attempt to provoke something in the children, or if it was a genuine mistake. I did previously express some mistrust in Hector Quimby, the man who just so happens to have the same initials as Harley Quinn. I would love it if he is a secret third Harley. Yes, it is a crazy theory, but it would be one hell of a ride. 

The two of them bond, and Harley admits how alone she is. It could be paving the way for a new friendship or relationship. However, I can’t help but wonder if he is preying on her vulnerability. In general, I am very distrustful of Hector Quimby. 

The issue ends with another murder. The victim of the latest crime is none other than Simon Trent, an actor known for his portrayal of the Grey Ghost. We see a female in 1920s dress standing over him, presumably The Produces, or maybe even a sub-contractor only time will tell. 

Batman: White Knight Presents: Harley Quinn #2 is available from Comixology, or your local comic book store. Alternatively, you can pre-order the complete hardcover from Forbidden Planet.

Coming Soon… Harley Quinn #3

In the meantime, why not check out… White Knight #1, Curse of the White Knight #1, Criminal Sanity #1

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