Batman: White Knight Presents: Harley Quinn #5 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 which 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 are some new villains in town. Ethel and The Producer are murdering Gotham’s Golden Age actors, but fear not the GTO, along with Harley, and FBI agent, Hector Quimby are on the case. Only Hector has some secrets of his own. His mother, Sophia, fits the victim profile to a tee, and he harboured a childhood obsession with Batman, and later Harley Quinn. Ethel, his old nanny, has just revealed her plan for Hector to abandon Harley and join her and The Producer. Who will Hector choose? His childhood obsession, Harley Quinn, or the woman who was like a mother to him, Ethel?
We pick up from the cliff-hanger that we left on. Did you think Harley was going to die? We know from the White Knight universe so far that they are no afraid to kill off characters. However, they aren’t killed for shock value, and Harley’s death wouldn’t serve much purpose in terms of furthering the plot. And so, Hector turns on Ethel. I think this is interesting because it shows a backbone that I didn’t realise Hector had. So far, he has seemed like a bit of a doormat, so it is nice to see him prove some strength of character.
We are also reminded that Ethel is not in charge. Instead, it is The Producer. The only problem is we know nothing about this man nor his evil plan other than a murder spree and a criminal network. So far, the majority of the focus has been around Hector and the women connected to him, i.e., his mother and Ethel.
This series has made frequent and great use of flashbacks and this issue is no different, as we find ourselves within spitting distance of Mad Love. I have been enjoying the different twist on the story so far, and this issue solidifies that. What is exceptional about this is that it gives Harley as a character far more credit than she often gets. By having her fall for Jack initially, not Joker, it paints her as someone who is arguably more sympathetic. It also means that she is not excusing the actions of Joker instead, she sees them as symptoms of an illness. And who wouldn’t want to help someone that they love? I am very excited to see how this pans out in the final issue.
After the incident with Ethel, Harley is taken to the hospital, where she has a conversation with Poison Ivy. In this world Poison Ivy is with Neo-Joker, not our Harley. As a result, we’ve barely seen Ivy at all. However, this brief conversation stands out because of the advice that Ivy gives Harley. An ongoing theme through this series has been Harley doubting her mothering capabilities. She doesn’t know how to reconcile her personality with that of being a mother, and as a result, has been struggling quite a bit. However, Ivy rocks up and points out that Harley doesn’t have to choose one or the other; she must work on combining them. This is probably the best and most useful advice she’s had throughout the series.
After Harley is discharged we a treated to a lovely page of parallels between her and Ethel. On the left side of the page, we see Harley putting her kids to bed, while the right side shows Ethel applying her make-up. Not only does this parallel present-day Harley with Ethel, but it also calls back to the previous issue and Harley putting on her the first iteration of her Harley Quinn outfit. It is also notable that Harley is bathing her children, cleaning them, and removing the dirt, while Ethel is putting make-up on, hiding herself behind a mask.
Bruce watches Harley’s building explode on the news in the jail and loses it. For someone who has shown themselves to be cool calm and collected so far, this is a big departure. It is reminiscent of his reaction to Alfred’s illness and death in the original White Knight series. This shows the depth of his feelings for Harley and the extent of his emotional involvement. It reminds sup that Bruce is very much human and can’t keep all of his emotions in check all of the time. This is also when I began to lose my mind because he demands to see Jason.
Who is Jason? Well, the only Jason I know is Jason Todd, aka Robin #1 (in this universe) who was presumably killed by Joker. Only Joker couldn’t remember what he did to Jason, and as a result, no one knew what happened to him. I have been waiting since the original series for Jason to appear in the universe. Traditionally, in cannon, Jason Todd is resurrected by a Lazarus Pit and becomes anti-hero Red Hood. Under the Red Hood is a must-read if you want more of this story and is one of, if not my favourite DC story. In the White Knight universe, we learn that Jason is the jail captain. Why? I don’t know. How? I have no idea. And I’m not sure I like what this implies. Thus far in the universe the mystery of Jason has been this unseen would for Bruce, and it is implied that he never recovered from the loss of Jason. But if Bruce knows where he is, then it isn’t much of a loss. Jason Todd has been a big mystery in the series, but if Bruce knows where he is then it is not much of a mystery. Why did he insist on asking Joker/Jack what happened to Jason? It is all very confusing. I am hoping and praying that the final issue will answer all these questions. Kill Alfred. Murder the Joker. Imprison Bruce. Twist Harley. But do not mess Jason Todd.
Bruce escapes from jail and masquerades as Red Hood to rescue Harley. He doesn’t end up doing more than watching from an alley which is a little anti-climactic. It also implies that Jason Todd is used as a fun name drop. It isn’t fun for me so far.
Bud and Lou, Harley’s hyenas, end up saving her and her human children from the blazing inferno that is her flat. Faced with the worst thing that could happen to a mother, we see that Harley’s mothering instinct are spot on. She’s spent the previous four issues doubting herself, but she is a good mother to her babies. Unfortunately, while her human children are fine, we are left with a cliff-hanger as Lou doesn’t look too great. But they wouldn’t kill Lou… would they?
Coming Soon… Harley Quinn #6