Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Future State: Harley Quinn #2 Review


It's All About The Masks

Written By: Stephanie Phillips
Art By: Simone DiMeo, Toni Infante
Colors By: Tamra Bonvillain
Letters By: ALW's Troy Peteri
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: February 2. 2021

Future State: Harley Quinn #2 picks up with the dynamic duo of Quinn and Crane hot on the trail of Black Mask as he kills anyone in his way. Harley uses her criminal psychology powers to sus out a plan to track down Black Mask, but Roman is two steps ahead. Ultimately, Harley convinces Dr. Crane that the only one scary enough to stop Black Mask is the Scarecrow, but things go from bad to worse when the fear toxin gets loose.

It's the battle of the scary masks. It's more weird art. It's Future State.

Was It Good?

It wasn't as good as the first issue, but it's still one of the better Future State books. The story takes some interesting twists and turns that become increasingly convoluted as the issue progresses. In the end, the big twist is more twisty than an Auntie Anne's pretzel.

The first issue received most of its criticism for the art, and that hasn't changed much here. If you didn't like the art in issue #1, you're really not going to like the art in issue #2. Hyper-extreme closeups at bizarre angles make some of the visuals nearly unintelligible. This reviewer didn't mind the art, but it's certainly an acquired taste and hindered rather than helped the story.

Short Story Long


We start with a fatcat dinner with several influential people in attendance, including a Senator. Mid-bite the Senator begins choking and becomes paralyzed. We learn Black Mask has the Senator in his back pocket, but the Senator has been using Black Mask's money to help fund the Magistrate. Roman uses a knife on the paralyzed Senator to show how unhappy he is with the Senator's life choices.

Later, Harley and Dr. Crane are examining the Senator's corpse and talking over the strategy to capture Black Mask. Harley uses her criminal profiling abilities displayed so prominently in issue #1 to come up with a plan that involves Dr. Crane putting the Scarecrow mask on again. Dr. Crane refuses like a recovering addict pushing away an offer of his favorite drug.

DC Comics Future State Week 5 Roundup (Non-Spoiler) Review - All the Future State Books Reviewed!

Phillips does a great job here bringing out Dr. Crane's internal struggle against becoming the Scarecrow again. He knows the Scarecrow breaks him, and it takes everything he has to resist Harley's suggestion.

As a Plan B, Harley recommends the Magistrate forces raid the only place that could be mass producing the Black Mask masks for his gang. When the raid commences, it's an ambush and the Magistrate forces are wiped out. Black Mask sends a holographic message gloating over how much he anticipated the Magistrate's moves and how he's going to kill everyone to become the top dog.

Back at Magistrate HQ, Dr. Crane is out of options for catching Black Mask, and he gives into Harley's suggestion to become Scarecrow again. In a tense scene straight out of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, Crane becomes the Scarecrow once more to scare Black Mask into surrendering(?).

Here's where things get a little messy.

Harley shows up at the Gotham docks alone. It's never really explained how she was released or why letting her go was part of the plan. Black Mask boldly confronts her and explains he knows she's bait. Scarecrow emerges from the shadows and begins gassing Black Mask and his gang with Fear Toxin.

Black Mask's henchmen succumb to the toxin, but Black Mask declares the gas won't work on him and he fights Scarecrow. Mid-way through the fight, Harley knocks out Scarecrow with her bat to "save" Black Mask. Before Black Mask can fully thank her, Harley hits him with her bat and cracks his mask enough to let fear toxin in. 

Harley yanks the Scarecrow mask off Crane, puts it on, and fully doses Black Mask with Fear Toxin while his mask is cracked and exposed. Fully overcome by fear, Black Mask collapses in terror while Harley escapes.

In the end, Crane is arrested as having returned to his Scarecrow-y ways, Black Mask is carted away in terrified delirium, and Harley has escaped the Magistrate. Crane realizes that Harley destroyed him because she decided Crane's collusion with the Magistrate meant he deserved to have his mind broken and career ruined.

If the intent was to paint Harley Quinn as a calculating, heartless, sociopath, mission accomplished.

Bits and Pieces:

Future State: Harley Quinn #2 is an uneven ending to a better-than-average Future State title. The art is consistently bizarre, and the story wraps up on an ugly note. If you like a comic where everyone is terrible and they all do terrible things to each other, this one is for you.


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