I have a confession to make. In case it’s not been obvious from previous reviews of this and other books, I really like seeing comic book heroes and villains just doing the most banal stuff and Harley Quinn exemplifies why. The juxtaposition of the most mundane, everyday things, like taking a shower, brushing one’s teeth, making breakfast, when set against the absolute whackadoodle lunacy of crime fighting, life-and-death traps, and insane characters and concepts (like Goat Boy and Egg Fu) always enriches the character for me. It’s why I wish they would show Batman doing more Bruce Wayne stuff. I mean, I don’t need to see him drop trou and read Mad Magazine on the pot or anything, but the occasional out-to-dinner that isn’t about intelligence-gathering wouldn’t hurt now and then. What’s the fun of an alter-ego, after all, if it’s never employed, has no personality, and never gets any page-time?
Harley doesn’t really have an alter ego per se, but when she’s not dimension-jumping or knocking some goofy Russian spies’ heads off, she’s doing normal things like eating (always eating), shopping, working one of her two jobs (as Dr. Quinzel and with the roller derby), and landlording. As the title suggests, issue no. 14 basically takes you through a “A Day in the Life” of Harley Quinn.
Starting with a freezing cold morning shower
There’s no big event here: Harley’s just gotta get through her day so she can go on a date with Mason Macabre, but in typical Harley fashion the day doesn’t seem to want to cooperate. So we get complication after complication from her cold morning shower, to forced overtime, to her peeved roller derby sisterhood. Along the way she also takes out muggers (multiple times), saves lives, and makes new friends.
For a book that is often silly and might be dismissed as superficial, this is an issue that argues that Harley’s got range and the series doesn’t have to be all pizza farts and space aliens. It’s also an issue that demonstrates what’s so attractive about this character to the female demographic: Harley is a woman who can kick butt, has a good heart, tries to do more than she probably should, but also just wants to have fun.
Midway through the story one of the patients at the old folks’ home where Harley works goes into arrest and there’s an impressive tonal shift as Harley tries to resuscitate the woman. At first read it might feel like an intrusive Public Service Announcement for CPR, but I really appreciated the seriousness and the brief reminder that knowing how to do this could mean the difference between life and death for someone. The sequence is also drawn beautifully.
And speaking of drawing, I feel so grateful as a reviewer that I have such awesome artists to review! Chard Hardin does it again, rendering every dog, every motorcycle, and every walk-in character with precision and care. If you lined up all of Hardin’s characters (principals as well as the bit-players), you would be amazed at the range of expressions and manners. I have never confused one character for another in one of Hardin’s books and that’s not something I can say for most (including books by other artists that I love). Some moments here that I especially loved aside from the CPR scene include Edgar’s body bouncing on the bed, Harley being set upon by the pets, and Seymour Bupkin.
Alex Sinclair’s colors also shine–literally! The sheen on Harley’s stockings is super-sexy, the motorcycles are full of polished chrome, and, as always, the skin tones glow wonderfully.
Some of you might miss the red and black this time around
And if you have a chance, check out Amanda Conner’s variant cover with colors by Paul Mounts (the one that doesn’t have Mason on it). It’s much more indicative of what’s on the pages and it’s just a lot more fun as well.
Mason Macabre. Yech. On the cover and between the pages and between the sheets.
Oh come on: you knew I was going to say that.
But more seriously, I was glad to see this end as it did and I know Mason’s got more to contribute to the series (he’s still got secrets), so we’ll just have to see how it all works out.
Perhaps with the exception of Seymour Bupkin, this is the most G-rated issue aside from the Power Girl arc. There is one image of a guy who looks like he might have been shot in the butthole, but I guess that’s up to interpretation.
- You really enjoy the whole “Day in the Life” trope.
- You like to see Harley be a doctor.
- It’s time for Harley to move on and get over Puddin’. It’s really not, though, even if you think so.
Light on story, this book doesn’t further any major plot points, but is nonetheless a series of highly varied and fun vignettes that carry Harley from her waking moments to the end of a very long day. And it does this with style and substance–both fun and heart–as we can expect from the team of Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti at their best. With gorgeous clean art from Chad Hardin and sumptuous colors from Alex Sinclair, this book is visually satiating as well. Next month’s solicits promise us all this is about to boil over and potentially have a real impact, though, so we’ll have to wait and see.