Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Batman: White Knight Presents: Harley Quinn #5 Review


Guest Starring Red Hood, Poison Ivy, and (not) Two-Face

Written By: Katana Collins
Art By: Matteo Scalera
Colors By: Dave Stewart
Cover Art By: Sean Gordon Murphy
Cover Price: $4.99
Release Date: February 23rd, 2021

In Batman: White Knight Presents: Harley Quinn #5, Harley and Quincy are trapped in the dastardly clutches of Starlet and the Producer. They barely manage to escape, but not before learning the big finale is rapidly approaching.

Harley recovers from the ordeal in a hospital and receives a visit from one Poison Ivy to check on her progress. The visit triggers another Joker origin flashback where we learn Joker has as much in comment with Two-Face than his traditional persona, and in keeping with this issue's theme of combining characters, Red Hood makes a cameo to save Harley from a nasty bomb. But is it Jason Todd under the hood?

Was It Good?

It was convoluted. Not confusing. Just convoluted.

The art is consistently good and the pacing keeps readers engaged, but the tight detective drama we got from the first few issues of this series is completely gone. We're tipping towards almost stereotypical, modern Batman stories with weird style and bombast but little that's smart or intriguing.

What's It About?

When last we saw Harley, Quincy had her at gunpoint and was being urged to shoot by Starlet and the Producer. Quincy snaps out of it and turns the gun on Starlet, but that crafty villain pulls out a powder case that blows knockout gas to make her escape.

While Harley is passed out, she dreams back to the time Jack first turned into Joker. The entire scene is a bit offputting because Jack looks like Joker but acts and talks like Two-Face, saying things like "Jack isn't here right now" and referring to himself as"us." I'm not sure if this was a way to insert Two-Face into the story in a unique way or if it's a misunderstanding of the Joker character.

Harley wakes up in the hospital with a visit from Poison Ivy. Ivy is checking in because she heard Harley was injured and some of her plant-based knockout gas that she makes and sells may be to blame, The two are not on good terms, and Ivy soon leaves,

When she's discharged, Harley and Duke go over what the villains said during their last encounter. Something about a third act. Harley concludes something big is going to happen at Quincy's mom's awarded ceremony. Suddenly, a bomb planted by Starlet goes off in Harley's apartment with her and her family inside.

Meanwhile, Bruce Wayne sees the news reports and asks the guards to see... Jason Todd, who works at the prison. Jason refuses to let Bruce out to help Harley, so Bruce locks Jason in a cell and steals his Red Hood costume to sneak out of the prison. Apparently, all the guards know Jason Todd is Red Hood and it's completely normal for him to walk in and out of the prison wearing his costume.

Bruce/Red Hood arrives at the apartment but is prevented from helping by Bullock because Bullock knows Bruce will get more prison time if he's spotted. Thankfully, Harley and her kids make it out okay with the help of her hyenas, Bud and Lou, but not before Lou collapses and presumably dies.

Where does all that leave us? Harley is now motivated to hunt down Starlet and the Producer, knowing their big finale is a trap. Bruce may or may not return to prison. And nobody knows where Quincy has gone even though he's the prime bait for Starlet.

It seems like a lot happened, but not much that was meaningful.

Bits and Pieces:

Batman: White Knight Presents: Harley Quinn #5 tosses in a bunch of cameos and makes a lot of nice, but ultimately doesn't make much progress on the story. The art is good, and honestly, everything about the book is skillfully done, but cameos and Easter Eggs are a poor substitute for story.


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