Harley Quinn Gets Down and Dirty With Gotham's Most Haunting Villain
Sam Stone
Harley Quinn Baseball bat feature
Harley Quinn Baseball bat feature
WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Harley Quinn #3, by Stephanie Phillips, Riley Rossmo, Ivan Plascencia and AndWorld Design, on sale now.
Last year's crossover event "Joker War" solidified Harley Quinn's ambitions to atone for her villainous past and become a superhero in her own right. She stood with Batman against the Joker, proving herself as a valuable ally in the fight to save Gotham City, and has verbalized a desire to atone for her earlier mistakes. As Gotham has been experiencing enormous upheaval in the wake of the Clown Prince of Crime's attack, Harley has acquired several powerful enemies all by herself, including a supernatural antagonist lurking within the city's sewers, last seen threatening the entire DC Universe: Solomon Grundy.
Frustrated and horrified by the extent of the Joker's plot during "Joker War," Gotham City Mayor Nakano vows to retake his city by any means necessary from the costumed figures that have long prowled its streets without effective municipal response. Nakano's edict extends to heroes and villains alike in Gotham, including the Bat Family. As part of his citywide initiative, the new mayor replaced Arkham Asylum with a new municipal program meant to rehabilitate Gotham's clown inspired goons. Headed by Doctor Hugo Strange, the sinister psychologist developed a keen interest in tracking down Harley Quinn as the next subject in his brutal rehabilitation methods.
Strange's burly orderlies stage an elaborate ambush for Harley after she foiled a previous attempt to take her into custody, driving her into Gotham's sewers where she encounters Grundy. The undead supervillain's introduction to the "Infinite Frontier" era mirrors his prominent appearance in the 1996 maxiseries Batman: The Long Halloween by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale. Lurking in the sewers, Grundy could only repeat the nursery rhyme where he got his name, attacking anyone that intruded on his subterranean domain, with Grundy taking on a similar role in the 1999 maxiseries Batman: Dark Victory.
At the end of the DC Rebirth era, Grundy was last seen become dangerously combustible due to the swamp materials infused throughout his body. Each time Grundy dies, he is revived with a new personality and physical properties as he rises from the waters of Slaughter Swamp on the outskirts of Gotham, trapped in an endless cycle of death and unnatural rebirth. An assessment of Grundy's altered biochemistry confirmed that he was growing increasingly volatile and could level half of the United States should he explode. The day was ultimately saved by the timely appearance of the Swamp Thing who used his own connection to the swamp to absorb Grundy back into its waters and deactivate the combustible elements of his biochemistry to set the stage for a much less explosive return for the supervillain in the future.
Given Grundy's usually child-like nature, Harley could potentially convince him that she's a friend and not an ill-meaning intruder leading to a surprise partnership between the two. Hugo Strange already has Harley outmatched in regards to both numerical superiority and raw physical strength, but having Solomon Grundy could even the odds for Harley as she continues her quest for redemption.
Unfortunately, Grundy does not seem particularly interested in, nor capable of, meaning conversation with this woman who has invaded his sanctuary in the sewers. It might be to Harley's advantage to scrap any idea of a partnership and instead focus on escaping the grip of one of Gotham City's most powerful monsters intact.