This has been an absurd three-parter, but there’s no denying the appeal of Harley teaming up with Power Girl to take on the Sportsmaster and the Clock King in this final installment titled “Clock Blockers” (go ahead and get your giggles out now–we’ll be spanking moneys later).

Throw in some three-eyed purple cat creatures, one much-abused wedding dress (with tiara), a personal nuclear-missile launcher, and it’s pretty much just an average day in the life of Harley Quinn.

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Fiiiiiiiight!

The Good

We finally get back to the mall and the brawl that was teased in issue no. 11 before Harley and Power Girl got sent into another dimension. It’s not much of a fight, but it’s about what you would expect and pretty darn funny (Power Girl punching Sportsmaster clear out of his inline skates right through his racket is one of the best panels in the whole smorgasbord of Chad Hardin’s art). After the fight we have a zany interlude I found rather welcome knowing that this was going to be the last few pages we’d get to the spend with these two characters as a team. So as ridiculous as the Power Girl show was, I just enjoyed the heck out of it and Harley’s constant fretting that every little bang might bring PG’s memory back. Of course what does bring it back is about as awesomely ludicrous as one could hope for.

Speaking of Hardin’s art, I know I’ve probably said this before, but Hardin’s work on this series is phenomenal to the point of spoiling me for other artists. Just flipping through this book you can see the attention to detail (even on tiny objects like Clock King’s watch) or crowded scenes (like the one in which Power Girl meets Egg-Fu in Harley’s loft). His range of emotions for Harley is staggering and even when she’s in the background, she’s always animated in full detail.  And the eye-candy is everywhere from Power Girl’s crazy Heat-Miser hair to the monkeys, to the numerous cityscapes (speaking of which, don’t miss the store called Degamick’s–Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti sure like to push the boundaries with their side-gags!).

Also, I gotta say again how much I appreciate Hardin’s sense of continuity. When Sportsmaster gets decked, he returns with a bloodied uniform and bare feet. It’s amazing how often character’s clothing and visible injuries waffle around from book to book or even within the pages of the same book. A (nameless) comic I once read had a female character in completely different attire three times in a single scene from one page to the next. I never see Hardin cut corners or do sloppy work and that’s a huge part of why this book is such a joy to read for me. Often I just go back and flip through to look at the pictures.

Props especially too for Alex Sinclair, whose colors define and contour Power Girl’s whole body during her strong-woman routine. Hardin’s got the anatomy down, but Sinclair gives all of her muscles tone with shading and highlights. His work throughout the book is great as always, but this one little bit stood out for me this time around.

Darwyn Cooke has a great variant cover for this book, but I have to say I prefer Amanda Conner’s (with Sinclair’s colors); those expressions on Power Girl’s and Harley’s faces are priceless.

The Bad

Some super minor nitpicks: the moment in which Clock King sets time back to rescue Sportsmaster, I was a little confused at the outcome because, for some reason (the way the page cuts back to the previous explosion, perhaps), it felt like he’d misjudged the settings and that the two of them were incinerated (rather than just Sportmaster alone). Obviously that wasn’t the case, but I did have to turn back to look at the panels because I really thought Conner and Palmiotti had just nuked two Bat-villains (even lame ones) right off the grid with impunity. Perhaps that even works in the story’s favor (I laughed), but I found the uncertainty to be a bit of distraction that ultimately I could have done without.

The other nit-pick is about Harley firing the gun.

Spoiler
It happens off-panel. Not necessarily a “bad” thing, but I am curious about the choice. Deliberate edit? We’ve seen Harley do far worse. Hopefully this was calculated to maximize the comedic effect of Power Girl returning to the scene to find both villains incapacitated rather than some mandate to trim back the violence, but given the fact that this whole story so far has felt comparatively sanitized raised a little flag for me. We’ll see if next month Harley’s back to eviscerating enemies in full view.

Also, there are monkeys. I hate monkeys. (This has been your totally irrational subjective comment for the day). On the plus side, the monkeys get…well…you know.

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No context necessary: this is a Harley Quinn comic!

The Ugly

I really could have done without the little butt-crack window on Harley’s costume. It was kind of funny, but also kind of gross. But otherwise, no real ugly this go-round: just a lot of slapstick silly, some double-entendre (and less subtle sex gags), but overall, this issue, in keeping with the light-heartedness of the whole arc, just delivers a lot of well-packaged nonsense in 20 delicious syrupy page servings.

Recommended If…

  • You want to see the wrap-up on how “PeeGee” gets her memory back (and what she does when she realizes Harley’s been lying to her all this time).
  • More zany antics from Sportsmaster and Clock King would amuse you.
  • It was about time you saw Power Girl do a burlesque show.

Overall

Sometimes I want some substance from my comics–or a story that at least is marginally grounded in reality insofar as comic books are concerned. With Harley Quinn I’ve come to expect not a whole lot of either and that’s okay. While some may have found the conclusion to this three-part arc to have been too quick and too facile, I just laughed the way I might at the end of some Saturday morning cartoon in which devastating things should have happened but somehow didn’t and we’ll see the characters all up to their wacky hi-jinx all over again after the commercial break–that’s the spirit in which to read this comic. That said, all of this frivolity does need the occasional gravity to hold it down (just as dark stories need their occasional levity), and I hope we see some consequential action in the next few issues (nothing dire, just a little more heart to accompany the hilarity).

SCORE: 8/10