“Nocturnal Omission”

Poison Ivy has come back to Coney Island on a tip from Sy Borgman (of all people) as to how they might discover the identity of the person who has placed a hit on Harley. This hit has precipitated half a dozen assassins to come after her so far and the bounty keeps increasing. The online solicitation, it turns out, originated from Harley’s own loft so a girls’ night stakeout is in order (replete with Chinese takeout, of course).

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The Good

You only have to flip to the opening page of Harley and Ivy kicking back on the beach to know there’s something special about the creative team that’s putting this book together month-to-month. Hardin’s details are just a joy. From the crowd of beachcombers to Harley’s dachshund wagging its tail at a seagull stealing a hot dog, there’s always so much to look at and all of it just radiates. Hardin’s art continues to serve perfect comedic timing in the panels where it counts the most. Look for one sequence where a bounty hunter shoots through the floor and we see the repercussions three stories down. Moments like this are especially rewarding because they aren’t just sight gags: something’s going to happen as a result and you only have to keep turning the pages to see what.

I’m not a big Poison Ivy fan, but the long history of these two fatal attractions gives them an easy friendship that works–their partnership is well-balanced (Harley is never out-shined in her own book by her own guest). Props also to the writers this go-round for finally giving Tony something interesting to do; he’s a character (one of Harley’s tenants) with lots of potential who Hardin has had a bit of a struggle drawing in the past but now looks very comfortably part of the crew.

Some may quibble with the “big reveal” regarding Harley’s mystery hit man, but I don’t think it should be a disappointment and I’ll tell you why: [SPOILER]

So Harley’s put the hit on herself. She’s done it in a state of sleepwalking for the purpose of sussing out people who might want to kill her, thereby preemptively killing them first when they show themselves. Yes, it’s absurd, but you do realize that you’re reading a Harley Quinn comic? And you do realize that she’s a complete lunatic, right?

And maybe the complaint isn’t so much about the motivation but that you wanted to see Harley take on some significant threat. I get that, but I don’t think Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti ever set up the hitman thread as anything but light continuity to create an environment in which there could always be some stalker in the wings (and this issue has now ensured that this will always be the case going forward). Frankly I was relieved at this unexpected turn because an endless cycle of fighting Big Crime across lengthy arcs can get boring really fast. Instead we’re almost guaranteed that Harley’s adventures will continue in their picaresque fashion with each issue bringing new delights. Let’s face it, Harley herself doesn’t have the attention span for drawn-out exploits, so why should her comic book?[/SPOILER]

Don’t forget to look for the alternate Bombshell cover. I couldn’t find it at my local comic shop, unfortunately, though Amanda Conner’s covers are always a treat anyway.

The Bad

If there’s ever any question as to the audience for this book, look no further than the introduction of two idiotic muscle-bound beach bums who inexplicably arrive on the scene wearing what Harley calls “Spee-don’ts”. Perhaps these beefcakes are lured by Ivy’s pheromones, but it’s never explicitly stated why they are dead set on painting the girls’ toenails. Forgivable only because it makes for a hilarious moment later in the book when the one Harley brings home with them witnesses a moment of carnage that only Harley could orchestrate.

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The bunny slippers make the fight, really

The Ugly

If you enjoy black humor (really, really black) then you’ll have no complaints. Otherwise assume there’ll be a lot of violence–and one particular sequence in which Harley and Ivy place bets on which side of the fence a corpse will fall might make some a little queasy. I laughed out loud, which probably says more about me than the comic.

Recommended If…

  • You want to find out who’s put the hit on Harley and why.
  • A Harley/Ivy team-up is on your reading wish list.
  • Something funny, off-beat, and really well-executed is exactly what you’re looking for.
  • You’ve been poised for a jumping-on point for this series.

Overall

This might have been a perfect score if I hadn’t thought the Speedo bums were a bit weird (even for a Harley Quinn comic). If you haven’t been reading this series, pick up this book! If you don’t like it, then you know the whole deal is not for you because everything about the art, the characters, and the tone seem to be exactly perfect for what Conner, Palmiotti, and Hardin are serving up: sheer silliness with a substantial side of savagery.

SCORE: 9.5/10