New 52 Harley Evolving?
I don't know whether to applaud or weep for the way Harley Quinn is characterized in New Suicide Squad # 3. After the team's mission went south last issue, Black Manta, Harley, and the Joker's Daughter are on the run. Joker's Daughter provokes a fight with Harley, with some predictable "you were never good enough for the Joker rhetoric." However, through the battle, Harley seems quite lucid, and not at all the shticky "Lady Deadpool" character that she's been depicted as in recent, um, years. She genuinely seems to be trying to spare JD the disillusionment that the Joker caused in her; at one point, HQ says, "He was the biggest mistake of my life... Do not let him be yours." At the climax of the fight, HQ tells JD, "You can be someone else. Be anyone else." Who wins that particular confrontation? Isn't winning in a violent contest always subjective? I mean, there are barroom rules, "Any fight you walk away from is a win," but perhaps more abstractly, that one has to resort to violence in the first place might be considered a loss. Ahem! Anyway, for all the criticism of the New 52 Harley, this isn't the first Suicide Squad story in which we see HQ as more than comic relief-turned-sexpot. Check these panels from Suicide Squad # 21...
While her costume may not appeal to the aesthetics of sophisticated fans, writers are exploring facets of Harley's personality that have pretty much been buried beneath tired one-liners and half-hearted attempts at pushing a lesbian relationship with Poison Ivy. Ironically, in a team book, Harley Quinn seems to be coming into her own.
Black Manta is also a bit of a pleasant surprise here. Without Aquaman to act as the focal point of his rage, Manta is pragmatic and smart. He fights for the team to recover Deadshot before aborting their botched mission to the point that Vic Sage considers detonating his explosives. Halle Berrysticks up for him, though, and so Deadshot's liberation seems to be at hand... and then the bottom appears to fall out of everything. Everything but the story, that is. Sean Ryan is doing a good job. Heh! "Drawing the line at $2.99," the third issue of New Suicide Squad is worth every penny. I'll leave you with these couple of panels: