Writer: Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti
Artist: Chad Hardin, Stephane Roux
Colorist: Alex Sinclair
Solicitation: Harley and guest star Poison Ivy set out to rescue a bunch of cute puppies and kitties! What could possibly go wrong?
Harley Quinn is proving to be a very strange book from DC. Sometimes it feels like it is an attempt to nurture a response to Marvel’s line of Deadpool comics, and other times it feels like some weird attempt to appeal to a generation of readers who all but think in memes. Neither of these concepts is necessarily a bad thing.
While there may not be much of an identity to this book beyond “Harley does random things and people die,” it does seem to be a concept that works for now. Will it work in the long run? Tough to say, but for now the sheer randomness of the book is working in its favor. This month Harley has taken to being something of an animal activist once she learns that a local animal shelter is going to have to euthanize a large amount of dogs and cats who could not find owners. Harley being Harley, she does not really put much thought into her plans, but things have a tendency to work out. That being said, there is also a tendency for things around to be absolutely insane, and the way the dogs repay her generosity is rather amusing, if horribly disturbed.
It is the book’s nonchalance about its own absurdity that, oddly, makes it work. No one seems to notice or care that Harley is wandering around in her supervillain costume except for the woman who owns and curates a wax museum dedicated to mass murderers, and who gleefully informs Harley about the plans for her own wax statue. Hitmen are after Harley for thus-far unknown reasons, but they are so inept that they get killed off-panel and are barely even referenced except as a running joke, and none one seems to care that the body count is rising. Even Poison Ivy shows up for a little while (back in villain mode now that her time in Birds of Prey is done) and barely registers as a blip on the radar. They also seem to be playing up the connection between the two characters now, too, which is a bit awkward since it feels like more of an attempt to say “hey look, soft-core lesbianism!” rather than move either character in an interesting direction. It does make for some moments, though, and it is not like I really expect much in the way of debate-worthy content from this book. You need look no further than the absurd caricatures of the animal rights protesters to see that.
The art is really what drives the book, though. Comedy in comics can be difficult to pull off at the best of times since timing is left as much up to the reader as it is to the artist, but Harley Quinn pulls it off without coming across as overly cartoony. The book knows when to go for some over-the-top absurdity, and when to dial it back for more character driven laughs. We have seen some truly terrible Deadpool books in the past where the art destroyed otherwise decent jokes, so it is good to see that DC has put some thought into having the right talent on the book.
Harley Quinn is a good, solid slapstick title with a dark edge. It will not be to all tastes, hell maybe not even most, but it works. It reminds of early Deadpool comics back before he became the overexposed money machine he is today, and that is a good thing. Turn your brain off for a bit and enjoy some Harley Quinn… or she will beat you over the head with a giant mallet and feed you to her stuffed beaver (not a euphemism).