Harley Quinn #18 review

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Harley Quinn delivers another straight-up blast of adrenalin in this week’s “Abduction Reduction”.  Come for the cannibalism, stay for Paul Dini’s dessert.

Yes, we have another two for the price of one as we continue Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti’s regular adventures with current continuity Harley in the front pages and a flashback to the 90s with Palmiotti and Dini’s “Harley Loves Joker” (part two).

I’ll just be upfront and say I don’t really love the whole Terminator throwback storyline that has been gradually building in the main comic for the last couple of months, but Madison’s cannibals are my favorite thing this week across the board. They are perfectly (dare I say deliciously?) awful. And they’ve got our Harley, though she refuses to go down–even punched out and chloroformed, she’s still fighting.

This provides the awesome opportunity for Red Tool to at least attempt to be the hero we know he can be, and I couldn’t be more excited to see what happens with the meat eaters meet the meat cleavers in the next installment.

Don’t take them on by yourse–well of course he will

Joseph Michael Linsner tackles the time-travel tale (in the first three pages) and I feel like the art here is sharper than in previous books: the lines aren’t as smudgy, though the colors still feel a bit worked over. Nothing bad, just noticeable in a way that’s slightly distracting, particularly with the skintones. The panel in which Deve emerges from the shower is a good example where you just feel the digital brush all over it.  It’s a style choice, but not one I’m especially fond of.

John Timms covers the art for the rest of the book and I feel like this is some of his best work yet. Love the angle he chooses for the Mayor’s rather exuberant reaction to Madison’s revelation of the cannibal solution. Love the abduction closeups of Harley–our own perception is narrowed down to her experience in an interesting way, without making it from her deliberate point of view.

And Red Tool just shines in this book. He’s much more sleek under Timms’ pen and I like the narrower physique; he’s not such a shumbling bruiser here.

Lastly, I absolutely love the Amanda Conner and Alex Sinclair cover. Perfect example of something that happens in the book even if the context is a little “off”, and therefore draws you in without lying to your face. And it would look spandy on a poster too, I bet.

Harley Loves Joker

Our bonus story continues in the second part of “Harley Loves Joker” from Paul Dini and Palmiotti, with art from Bret Blevins (and once again inks from Jay Bone).

Harley and Joker have gone on a spee–comedy-free to throw off the scent. Joker figures that if the crime doesn’t bear his signature. It’ll be all that more delicious to watch him flounder for clues. Except he makes a fatal error: in typical “I love you, I hate you, I love you” style, he gifts Harley a prize fur coat from their haul and she carelessly casts off her Harley hoodie to put it on.

Leaving Batman a pretty obvious clue as to the culprits.

The story here continues to be pretty straightforward. The real joy is in Blevin’s fun art and the Harley/Joker antics which demonstrate a real contrast between, for example, their relationship in something like Injustice: Ground Zero (or even in Harley’s signature book), and the way it was always portrayed in Batman: the Animated Series.

Which is not to say there weren’t plenty of dark moments in the cartoon and Harley took more than her share of lumps. But there was always something about the plasticity of the cartoon (physically and emotionally for Harley), that somehow made it funny–or at least palatable–until the armchair warriors stepped in to declare it A Notoriously Bad Thing™.

Here we return to that aesthetic. Joke isn’t a gallant and his reasoning for everything involving Harley is pure selfishness, but he has his one moment of trying to please Harley, which, ironically, looks like it could be his downfall.

I love the subversiveness of the whole thing. It’s deceptively simple, but Dini always knew how to make Harley and Joker complex enough to have teeth. If you enjoyed the last installment, you will definitely enjoy this one as well.

And there’s Batman. Everything is always even better with Batman.

She’d have been better off with the concussion

Blevins outdoes himself. For the nostalgia factor alone, you want to pick up this book!

Recommended If…

  • You still miss BtAS even after all these years.
  • Obstinate cannibals are your choice of houseguests!
  • You want to see Red Tool coming into his own.

Overall

Conner and Palmiotti have a lot of balls–in the air. They are juggling fast and furious between two concurrently running throughlines and a major setup for an upcoming arc. Add into the mix Palmiotti and Dini’s more animated adventure about the earlier antics of Harley and her Mistah J. and this is quite the buffet. Sup with leisure; there’s much to delight the palette here.

SCORE: 9/10

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