Meet Harper Row, Gotham electricity worker, emancipated from her parents, living on her own with her gay brother Cullen. Weeks ago, Cullen dresses Harper up for the event we saw in issue #1. Harper has no interest in going, and was only invited because of the Wayne initiative that will tear down her building in order to build a new one. Cullen encourages her to go, as he believes it's the beginning of his elaborate plan to make Tim Drake fall in love with him. As he's fixing his sisters hair, Harper notices a bandage on his wrist. Cullen doesn't bother to mention it, but Harper sees how deep the wound is, as Cullen admits he got beat up again, but begs Harper not to worry about it, as she has enough on her plate and he just wants her to have a good time.
At the event, as Bruce finishes up his speech, Harper excuses herself to raid the brownie table, where she meets Alfred, who speaks to her about Bruce's plans. Harper does buy into it, thinking Bruce is just another rich guy who doesn't know what Gotham is really like, as she asks for the way out. Alfred walks her to the door and suggests that she doesn't underestimate Bruce, but she's not buying.
As Harper returns to her apartment in the Narrows, she brings good news and bad news, the good news is, she has amazing brownies, the bad news is, no such luck on the Tim Drake love quest for Cullen, but her mood turns from good to bad instantly when she sees Cullen had been attacked again. The thugs had broken into their apartment simply to beat the shit out of Cullen for being gay, and degrade him more by crudely cutting his hair, and shaving a certain word that starts with "FA" into the back of his head. Harper tries to help him up, asking him to get the hair clippers. Cullen says it's no use, as they'll just cut his hair again, but Harper isn't intending on fixing his hair.
The next day at school, Harper and Cullen show up, with nearly identical haircuts. Harper cut her own hair to help her brother feel better and not so self conscious, she even shaved that word into the back of her head, and it ends with a "G" so yeah, you know what it says by now. On their way back home, they're confronted by the same guys who beat Cullen up again. Harper zaps one of them with an over powered taser, but more show up, and whip out weapons. As they begin to attack Harper and her brother, gas fills the alley, and Batman shows up to save them, threatening them more punishment if they attack Harper or her brother again, then disappears into the night. Harper is instantly fascinated after seeing the Bat in person.
She becomes obsessed with Batman, looking up any footage of him she can find online. She points out to Cullen that all the footage is from phone cameras or something like that, then brings up a security camera she worked on once, and just now hacked into it. She shows Cullen the feed seconds before there was a near by Batman sighting, then when he shows up the feed goes black, and back on like nothing happens after he leaves. Harper deduces that he has to have something in the power grid that remotely turns off near by electrical signals, and sure enough, she eventually finds some devices in the grid. Not only that, but she finds out that Batman's "bat boxes" are actually siphoning power from Wayne industries, and providing more to Gotham's grid, in a "Robin Hood" sort of way as Harper puts it.
She even takes initiative to help extend the range of the boxes, upgrading them with better antennas, in the process, she can almost sort of track Batman any time he uses one of the boxes, and can also tell when one goes out… and conveniently enough, when she's showing this to Cullen, one does, and she goes off to fix it.
*Note: this is when Andy Clarke took over on art*
In the sewers, as Harper is attending to the box, a large boat comes rushing down the pipes with Batman and Tiger Shark (as seen in Detective Comics) on it, as Batman is interrogating him to find out where the owls are (like in Batman #3). With the boat passing her, Harper tries to figure out a way to help Batman even further, and ends up opening one of the run off valves, so the boat can't move any further in the water. As Batman exits the boat with Tiger Shark in his hands, he notices the valve, but no Harper.
Harper returns to Cullen excited that she actually literally helped Batman in his crime fighting. Cullen, having been just woken up by his smelly sister is sort of impressed, but more annoyed at the present circumstances.
Later in the sewers, while Harper attends to the other bat boxes, she's confront by Batman who tells her she's done. She just says she was trying to help and saw that the box went out, but soon realizes he probably put the box out himself, so the police could be informed, and set up a net at the end of the sewers. Nevertheless, Harper just tries to tell Batman that she wanted to pay him back for standing up for her and Cullen, but Bruce does his Batman thing and vanishes. Despite being told that she's "finished" Harper tells her self the seven words that changed her life, "Harper Row, you're not finished. No way."
I'm completely sold on Harper. Love her. What she did to help her brother, how can you not admire a character that awesome? I'm still really interested to see how she's going to factor into the Bat universe further, but this taste was really great.
Over all, this issue was such a pallet cleanser, it was nice to have a break from the big epic that was the Owls. After 11 long issues, this is just what the series needed, a nice one and done before the next big arc… well, two, counting the zero issue.
Becky Cloonan's art was great. Not what you'd expect from a Batman book, but then again, this wasn't really a Batman focused issue. Andy Clarke did the back up, which, like issue #8, was just a continuation of the main story, and well… I don't know. I like some things about his art, I don't like other things. Where Cloonan was perfectly suited drawing a character like Harper, Clarke wasn't exactly there. Regardless, it didn't take away from it in any big way.
Also, loved the call back to The Black Mirror with Tiger Shark.