Writer: Tim Seeley
Artist: Sami Basri, Otto Schmidt
The final Bat-Wedding prelude ends the run with more of a fizzle than a bang in the ‘Harley vs. the Joker’ special.
After looking back on the Bat-Wedding one-shots, the best ones use the match-up or the wedding as a way to reveal some interesting new characterization. The Joker-Harley pairing only sort of scratches the surface of new characterization.
Seeley is not solely to blame for the lack of innovation in this issue. Arguably, this is due to the more recent glut of Harley Quinn comics that sort of repeatedly say the same thing: “Harley does not need the Joker. The Joker probably needs her more than she needed him.” While it is a good idea, it is not fresh. It is repeated ad nauseam in other comics.
Despite this, Seeley gives it his best shot to put some flourish to the traditional dynamic. He adds some genuinely interesting ideas too. The thought that Harley gave Joker inspiration for theatrical, over-the-top crimes is fantastic. Equally intriguing is a revelation that the Joker admits he is reduced to a boring murderer without Harley. However, the idea does not stick to landing because of the issue’s last-minute narrative swerve. It throws into question if any of the thoughts are genuine or just another Joker lie.
The other downside from the revelation fake-out is that the Joker learns nothing from it. The readers know what the Joker does after this issue in Batman #48 and 49. He does not make an elaborate deathtrap, nor does he even ‘stay on message’. In fact, this actually shows the Joker being at his most un-inventive. He literally gets a gun -from the trash no less – and marches into Batman #48. Like, what is the point of all the previous events then? This issue really suffers from the fact that we know the Joker is completely unaffected by the events of this comic.
Seeley does make Harley a very likable character at least. She seems smart, fast, and clever. Unfortunately, the last-minute narrative swerve sort of messes with Harley. It is hard to say if she’s really that competent after everything is said and done.
On the plus side, Sami Basri’s clean art lines make the issue a visual pleasure. His Harley is particularly attractive. She is cute and spunky, while still being fierce and fluid. Basri’s Joker design is also fun and not overly grotesque. This is particularly important since the issue is supposed to show the Joker’s more human side.
I neglected to mention in past reviews, but Otto Schmidt had the thankless task of illustrating the two-three page epilogue scenes in all of the preludes. His art style is more scratchy and kinetic. This is appropriate for the more chaotic side of the Joker’s personality.
Overall, the Bat-Wedding preludes ranged in quality. Some are surprisingly good and some are mediocre. Unfortunately, the ‘Harley vs. Joker’ one-shot ultimately feels the most pointless. The character ideas are seeds to great plots, but it ended up being a shallow examination.
Images Courtesy Of DC Entertainment