1st Appearance – Batman 1
Bruce Wayne is giving a speech to the social elite of Gotham. While talking about the future of the city, his dead parents, etc. we see close-up panels of some characters. The first one is Harper Row in a red dress sans nose ring. At this point it’s not explained who she is, so I’m thinking she’s just a spectator.
2nd Appearance – Batman 7
After issue 6, Batman was in rough shape. He escaped the clutches of the Court of Owls but just barely. This issue opens with Harper Row literally “jumping” Batman’s heart with cables and a battery. O-kay, not quite as good as a plausible explanation but I’ll roll with it. Batman, and I tend to agree with him, says, “…Leave me alone.” Harper quips to herself, “Nice one Harper. Epic bat-fail.” with a smirk on her face. This is where I begin to hate Harper Row.
3rd Appearance – Batman 12
Just to get us up to speed, Batman has pretty much vanquished the threat of the Court of Owls and we get something like closure in issue 11. Issue 12…where do I begin? Okay, if you were wondering how Harper came to wear a red dress in the first issue you’re in luck! While talking to Alfred she hints that she’s some sort of master electrician, I don’t know, just roll with it, I guess.
Soon after the party, Harper returns home to find her brother Cullen in tears after being beaten up by what is now revealed to be homophobic bullies. The bullies butcher Cullen’s hair and write the word “fag” on the back of his head with the clippers. Harper, in a show of solidarity decides to mimic the haircut before school the next day.
It’s around this point in the issue I realize this isn’t going to be the beginning of the next Bat-epic by Snyder and Capullo. The artist Greg Capullo actually didn’t show up to even draw this issue, he took a month off! Like he read the script and decided it was time to cash in a vacation until the Joker returned a month later.
The gay-bashing bullies return at night, saying generic gay-bashing things to Harper and Cullen. The fight does not go well, at least until Batman makes an entrance And as much as I enjoy Batman jumping out of the shadows and kicking some ass, I’d rather he was doing it against the likes of Two-Face or the Penguin; not teenagers.
We shift gears back to Harper Row, NOOOOOOO, and she’s developed the habit of stalking Batman. She lends him an assist while facing lower-tier villain Tiger Shark. Batman catches up to her later and informs her she’s “finished.” Sadly, she is not.
So Let’s Recap:
We’ve established that Harper Row is some sort of electronics expert with a gay brother named Cullen who gets beaten up. Harper develops the habit of following Batman, despite repeated warnings not to. She has a nose ring, and a stupid haircut, for which to…fight crime?
4th Appearence – Batman 18
Okay, some heavy shit has gone down since Harper’s last appearance. The Joker returned, killed a bunch of cops, kidnapped every crime fighter in Gotham, and generally wreaked havoc. On an additional note, Robin, has just died. Damien Wayne was Bruce’s only son, and he just died in the line of duty the month previous, so I’m dying to know what happens in Batman 18.
We begin with Harper and Cullen Row driving to Blackgate Penitentiary to visit their dad…who is an incredible, GAY-BASHING, JERKFACE DAD!! Holy fucking shit, in two pages this man refers to Cullen as a “daughter,” alludes to their mom being a whore, and makes light of their accomplishments and ongoing struggle in life due to his absence. Holy fuck, why would anyone EVER go to visit this guy?
Just look at the panels of their dad smiling maniacally as he does his best to ruin their lives and shatter all self-esteem within arm’s reach. It’s over the top. It’s TOO over the top. I’m beginning to think their father is a Gotham supervillain himself! We’ll call him The Deadbeat! Characteristics include: The Deadbeat pays NO Bills! The Deadbeat Raises NO Children! The Deadbeat is bad at crime, yet is better than YOU! The Deadbeat never votes, and parks in handicap spaces!
If you were looking for an issue detailing the loss of Damien Wayne, and Bruce, a man who doesn’t deal with loss well, coming to terms with that you are sadly mistaken. Harper Row has hijacked another issue of Batman after another major story-arc. Incidentally, series artist Greg Capullo has taken another month off…I don’t blame him, there’s nothing worth drawing here.
Harper continues her quest to help Batman and has begun training in a gym. She gives him another assist while fighting crime and this leads to one of the most embarrassing, melodramatic Batman scenes in recent memory. It’s SOOOO bad. Here, I’ll sum it up for you:
Harper Row – Look at me! I’m fighting crime!
Batman – NOOOOOO!! You don’t have the training!
Harper Row – (Crying) But I’m smart…and a master electrician…
Batman – LEAVE ME ALONE, THIS CONVERSATION IS OVERRRRRR. ARRRRGHHHHH!!!!
So, Final Thoughts…
You know what my problem with Harper is? Her Baggage. TWICE she has brought a red-hot Batman series to a screeching halt so we can deal with her problems. Her problems however, are not the reason I buy this comic, Batman’s problems are. What is the endgame here? That Harper become the new Oracle and provide Batman with information while he’s out in the field? Eh, I’d rather not.
The more terrifying conclusion is that she may “Tim Drake” her way to becoming the new Robin. Dear fucking God do not let that happen, I say this knowing there is a vacant Robin slot and Harper is so obviously one tragic brother’s death away from having the required survivor’s guilt to be a crusader in Gotham.
She’s annoying, everything in her life is awful, and Batman doesn’t need her.