Have I ever told you how much I love Lobo? No, I haven’t. And you know why? Because I don’t. I not only don’t love him, but feel personally affronted when I have to deal with him as a guest star a comic book I would otherwise be perfectly thrilled to read. But here we are, and you know what? His appearance in the first-ever Injustice Annual (also heavily featuring Harley Quinn) caused very little suffering, so under the capable pen of Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti, this should be a real firecracker.
Well it is and it isn’t.
Prepare for a wild ride!
For the first time in Harley’s Little Black Book, “Bare-Assed and Belligerent” feels a little out of the elements (and yet somehow the title is perfectly apropos for how I felt after reading this, even though I did keep my pants on). It’s probably because Harley is in Lobo’s world rather than Lobo being in Harley’s, and so the sands are pretty sifty beneath our feet. Now, it’s not as if Harley hasn’t traveled to other worlds and dimensions before, but this one feels particularly foreign. She feels a bit swept up in the events and therefore robbed of some agency. And when Harley takes a back seat to whatever else crazy thing is going on in her own comic, that always feels a bit “off” to me.
You’re guaranteed a lot of things in this book, though, and if they are things you like, you might just be delighted. Unfortunately for me, most of these are things I do not like.
Lobo! Lots and lots of Lobo in all his glory doing all those Lobo-esque things you would expect. He’s crude, he’s rude, he gets his skin flayed right off and grows it back again. A part of me did enjoy the sheer carnage of this story, but I’m still not a fan of that hulking hairy disaster who has been the bane of comic books for me since 1983.
Speaking of crude and rude, there’s lots of that here too. Harley’s comics typically skirt the edges of decency and with the added bonus of Lobo’s obnoxious personality we get a double-helping of trash-talk, filthy innuendos (and overt references as well). Some of it made my eyes roll, but I did appreciate later on in the book when the clothes came off and the little anthropomorphic flags started dashing around the page trying to cover up everyone’s naughty bits. Within the pages of the regular Harley Quinn series, comedic nudity had typically been dealt with using strategically placed furniture, bric-a-brac, and hand gestures from other characters. Here Bisley (or the editor!) dispensed with all that and had these funny censor flags racing all over the pages. I was amused enough that I have to give them credit on this one. Only in this upside-down wonderland would this make sense and not completely distract from the narrative.
Ah, the narrative. Is there one? There is a story here and it’s not entirely just about things blowing up and people getting naked, though the make-out session was something not only unnecessary to the plot, but just unnecessary in life. I found it hard to really “get into” the story since it’s mostly about extremes and ultimately just a chase adventure. But what it lacks in compelling plot, it makes up for in visuals and general mayhem.
Because there’s pirates.
Weird, freaky, half-crab monster pirates.
And that kind of balances everything else out for me.
Wet, (mostly) naked, and irritable: but does that make for a great read?
I have been a fan of Simon Bisley for many years and no doubt he is perfect for the likes of Lobo: everything looks appropriately jagged and electrified like someone plugged Conan the Barbarian’s cat’s tail into an electric socket: yes, the love child of Frank Frazetta and Ralph Steadman. Paul Mounts’ colors are well worth a mention here too. Because the landscape is so dark the bright spots are all the brighter and Mounts really knows how to make brains and sinew look practically edible!
The book is gloriously shaggy and the characters have hair with a life of its own (Harley’s pigtails are really more like rabbit ears here throughout). And i mentioned the carnage before, but you really have to see it to appreciate it: literally chunks of flesh, eyeballs, dismembered limbs. In every sense of it, this is Heavy Metal does Harley. So if that’s an aesthetic you think you’d like, you will love this.
- You like your comics raw, dirty, and want to see lots and lots of pasty white skin.
- Lobo and his overcompensating crotch rocket give you a thrill.
- Weird, freaky, half crab monster pirates.
Harley’s Little Black Book takes a turn I’m only half able to follow in this outing with guest star Lobo and rockstar artist Simon Bisley. The story is about what you would expect and visually this is a feast for fans of Bisley or other artists of the acid genre. There’s something here to offend everyone and the violence is not for the weak-hearted, but if you can slip into the unhinged fantasy of it all, it’s at least entertaining and certainly worth multiple reads just to get the full impact of its graphic nature. This book isn’t for me, but I think fans of these things might love it and it certainly gives you a lot of bang for your buck.