It’s hard to be believe it’s been two months since Harley first started putting together her Gang of Harleys and the regular lineup went into deep-freeze, but we’re back and the gang’s all here in this latest installment titled with spectacular obviousness “The Gang of Harleys” (what, no pun? Ah well).

To recap: Harley’s life has spiraled out of control and she’s decided to hire a crew so that she can attend all the things that need attending (her jobs, her social life. etc.), while leaving the ladling of her special brand of justice to her thralls. Harley’s gang is a gang of supposed do-gooders, but their methods are definitely on the lee side of the law. Harley thinks she’s taken care of any potential problems, however, by making sure to leverage a little blackmail against the mayor. Like most of Harley’s plans, this doesn’t quite turn out as she would expect.

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How is she even free on the streets in the first place?

The Sea Chest Full of Treasure

I wasn’t keen when this storyline first reared its head. A little Harley goes a long way and a whole gang of them felt like overkill. But Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti always manage to keep things lively and moving. Even when there’s an element or gimmick you’re not too crazy about, it cycles out soon enough and I expect this Gang of Harleys will do the same. In the meantime, they’re entertaining enough (and provide endless cosplay variations on the character).

And while I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of Mason Macabre, probably no one was happier than me when the cops bust him mid-dinner-kiss on his first date with Harley. The character has been lingering around for a long time and hasn’t done anything especially interesting yet. Having him carted back to jail again might mean that particular thread is about to go nuclear, though, so it’s something to keep an eye on.

Also keep your eyes open for a slew of maritime gags regarding our next “villain” who resembles a certain spinach-eating sailor whose name is Horatio and who eats some leafy green stuff as a prelude to what’s sure to be a bad trip.

Thumbs up to letterer John J. Jill, who continues to come up with the weirdest and most wonderful thought bubbles (this go-round it’s a school of fish). And also worth calling out (always, but particularly this go round) are Alex Sinclair’s colors. Hardin doesn’t scrimp on the details in each and every panel and Sinclair has a knack for adding still more light and depth to what he’s given. The first-date restaurant scene is notable for the beautiful cityscape outside the windows and the encroaching light of the helicopter. This continues to be a beautiful book overall and one I enjoy reading the most (sometimes in spite of myself). This team clearly takes pride in what they are producing!

The Fishy and Smelly

Last issue, I expressed a concern that too much insanity was going to water the cocktail of what makes this book so delicious, and while I’m still feeling cautious, for the moment Harley is holding her own in the crazy department. Her team is effective and they can be brutal, but, lacking her glee, they come off as “straight” to Harley’s zippity-doo-dah.

Still, maybe there’s just too many characters. I confused Harvey Quinn and Harley Queen at first, thinking Hardin did a very puzzling redesign. My knee-jerk reaction was of there being some snappy voice of complaint about how his appearance might be considered an offensive caricature (we can’t have that in a Harley book, can we?) and this was some bizarre course-correction. But then I went back and looked at the whole team and saw that there are actually two different men and not just one. I’m blaming it on the long interlude, but I still think juggling all these people is going to get tiresome (at least for me it will).

And speaking of interludes, there’s a two-page digression in the middle of the book in which Harley buys a bunch of a parakeets. This might be setting up for some payoff later on, but for the time being it just stands as a weird vignette (filler perhaps?). It’s amusing at least, so not necessarily a bad thing.

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Harley enjoys a two page non-sequitur break from the main storyline

Amanda Conner’s cover (also with Sinclair’s colors) is a wonderful homage to Lee Bermejo’s We are Robin. There’s a Joker 75th Anniversary variant by Eduardo Risso, but to be perfectly honest, it looks a little thrown together at the last minute, which is a bit of a disappointment.

The Dirty Old Boot

Popeye’s big ol’ buttcrack. If you’ve read the book, you know what I mean. If you haven’t, consider yourself warned. Just kidding. It’s all good and funny.

Recommended If…

  • You want to see what kind of trouble a bunch of loony Harley-wanna-be vigilantes can get into.
  • You like big stupid fun.
  • You ate your spinach today.

Overall

The Gang of Harleys starts carrying out their mission and and things appear to be suspiciously under control for the most part. Naturally, this means it’s all about to go south. Artist Chad Hardin delivers some spectacular work (everything from a great exploding van to a great exploding men’s room). If you’re looking for something in between Gotham Academy and Detective Comics that’s mostly just goofy entertainment without it being too filthy for your grandma nor watered down for the tween crowd, Harley Quinn is still a safe bet.

SCORE: 8/10