When Harley Quinn Had Her Killing Joke Moment in Birds Of Prey

The new much-delayed and much-reformatted Birds Of Prey comic by Brian Azzarello and Emma Lupacchino, Ray McCarthy, Trish Mulvihill, John Kalisz and Steve Wands was published last week as a done-in-one one-shot. It put the traditional team alongside Harley Quinn in the fashion of the movie – though it was rather out of synch for the promotional window, even with the shutdown. But it has arrived in a flurry of Batman and Joker attention which may serve the book better. Because the story takes place, like the movie, in the shadow of The Joker. But by the end we get a little more of him, as Harley Quinn finds herself at his feet.

When Harley Quinn Had Her Killing Joke Moment in Birds Of Prey.
When Harley Quinn Had Her Killing Joke Moment in Birds Of Prey.

Oh yes, and it's a Black Label book. So you know what that means.

When Harley Quinn Had Her Killing Joke Moment in Birds Of Prey

Of course, this is a Joker who doesn't have to prove himself by the size of his weapons. But also works as an insult to indicate that he feels Harley is much more of a lesser threat. Maybe an underestimation. Wonder Woman thinks she's better at this than Batman, remember. Harley Quinn remembers when the Joker said he loved her, and how that was always a lie.

When Harley Quinn Had Her Killing Joke Moment in Birds Of Prey

The true love between the Batman and the Joker has been played up a lot of late, never more so than in the LEGO Batman Movie. Even the Joker's new lady knows the truth, in the upcoming Batman #93, Punchline tells Harley Quinn that 'you got closer to him than anyone but the Bat'. My no matter how serious the moment, the Joker treats it all like a game.

When Harley Quinn Had Her Killing Joke Moment in Birds Of Prey

Especially when Harley challenges his relationship with her. What route has he, but to laugh his way out. It reminded me of a moment towards the end of The Killing Joke, which Azzarello recently adapted as an animated film. An ending which Batman disarming the Joker with a joke that reflected their own mutual madness, before taking him down. Or, as a number of people now interpret it, killing him.


Well, at the end of Birds Of Prey #1 we get a more on the nose ending…

When Harley Quinn Had Her Killing Joke Moment in Birds Of Prey

There is plenty to precede it, the death masks, the guillotine of the reapers, and flowers for a funeral. We don't see the body, we don't see the bullet leave the gun, there is no BANG of a sound-effect. We don't even know if there's a flag that comes out of the barrel with BANG written on it. The book is left with an open ending just as The Killing Joke did. That was intended to be ou of continuity as well, just as this is. The audience gets to decide the details, the creators just provide the framework for you bring in your own interpretation.

For me, Harley Quinn definitely shot Batman's boyfriend in the back. Took his henchmen as her own. And went out on the road, leaving Gotham to burn, looking for Ivy. We all have our stories, Birds Of Prey weaponises our own headcanon.

(W) Brian Azzarello (A/CA) Emanuela Lupacchino, Ray McCarthy
Black Canary's life has spiraled out of control: her personal life is going through the ringer and her band is in crisis when an old flame resurfaces only to flicker out and set her on an all-new mission against an all-new opponent. The only thing she has to be grateful for is the fact that she's not alone, as Huntress finds herself on a collision course with Black Canary's quarry at Detective Montoya's urging. Meanwhile, Harley Quinn has resurfaced outside of Gotham City and out of the Suicide Squad, with a new lease on life that is sure to make everyone else's life more complicated.
And that's only the first five pages of this high-octane, graphic novel-length one-shot that pushes the Birds of Prey far beyond their limits and puts them up against the most brutal crime syndicate to ever sweep into Gotham City! Hardboiled superstar writer Brian Azzarello and the bombshell art team of Emanuela Lupacchino and Ray McCarthy take the Birds into the no-holds-barred world of Black Label, and none of them will ever be the same! PRESTIGE FORMAT One ShotIn Shops: Jun 03, 2020 SRP: $9.99

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About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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