Somewhere in the Galaxia Del Sombrero, Harley Quinn and Power Girl are having “Extrastellar Exploitations”. If you haven’t been reading the regular Harley Quinn series and just picked this up on a lark, writers Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti, and Justin Gray sum up the predicament pretty efficiently in two panels on the first page (with a helpful note from editor Chris Conroy to remind us that this story actually takes place between panels that occurred in Harley Quinn No. 13). If, on the other hand, you have been reading Harley’s regular title, you already know that this little misadventure will be a self-contained 6-issue mini that will land these two right back on Earth where they left off. In the meantime: Power Girl still has amnesia, Harley’s still made a dynamic duo of them, and they are off to face Zardoz (I mean Vartox) and acquire a bunch of three-eyed purple cat creatures.
So are we ready for this? Probably not, but let’s proceed anyway.
Valeron is a sleazy conquered world world full of lava lamps, bean bags, and 1970s in-jokes, but if you’re not part of Generation X (or older), there’s still plenty to appreciate in its oppression by Oreth Odeox, cosmotyrant and hater of hedonism, and Mo’zit Blaqhed, judicial magistrate and all-around revolting, seeping eruction-face. Not to mention ally rad Groovicus Mellow. Odeox holds its rightful leader Vartox on its moon, Lustox. This Vartox has a power ring that may be able to get Harley and PG back to Earth but getting to him is going to be complicated (naturally!).
This book really moves! Though a good deal of it is actually expository in nature (setting up the world, setting up the threat of Odeox, introducing key characters, etc.), Conner, Palmiotti, and Gray excel at keeping the action lively (and funny) even while doling out the necessary information. The Harley/PG dynamic is reestablished with Harley going overboard and PG trying to set the crazy girl straight. This can only get worse before it gets better, right?
Stephane Roux does his best work ever for this title. From the gloomy environment of the opening landscape as Harley and PG make their way through the ruined planet, the cosmic hydra, and a whole lot of zany actions and antics, every expression is pitch-perfect. Roux consistently picks angles to showcase the best bits of action. Even a slightly static big frame of Power Girl punching out a bunch of minions works well because it nicely shows the contrast of how little energy it takes for her to send the men into backflips (one of them right out of his shoes).
I feel like I have sometimes criticized Roux in the past for environments that were maybe a bit lacking or some consistency issues with costumes and characters, but everything here is rendered with wonderful attention to the details. Major props, too, to Paul Mounts whose colors are literally stellar, bringing this foreign galaxy a depth and tone that is both dark and bright. I couldn’t help thinking how fun this would be as a cartoon (but then I have had that thought before with this series in general).
The Karflippian Toe was funny in its first reference, but the second one and then the brain-you-with-a-2×4 mention of the humps was overkill. Felt like a rare misstep for the writers, who generally seem to know when enough’s enough. Such a minor thing, though. Barely worth the mention. When all you have to complain about with a book is a single flat gag, you know you’ve had a great read.
I was enjoying this too much and then it ended. Bummer that we have to wait a whole month to see the continuation. I don’t doubt that this story will be able to maintain its momentum over the next 5 issues. If it were an ongoing series, I’d be less sanguine about its long-term future, but as a self-contained story, this feels like it’s going to be a winner.
EDIT: this bit of ugly is on me, folks, but I accidentally left Justin Gray off the list of writers. Gray’s no stranger to collaborating with Jimmy Palmiotti (and Amanda Conner) in DC titles (most recently check out Jonah Hex, All-Star Western, and, of course, Power Girl vol. 2).
- You like zany space adventures! The creative team really cuts loose with alien schtick and it all feels fun and fresh.
- You love Power Girl even if she does look like a space-hooker with her “sleeves yet no pants”.
- “Strangely attractive clown girl” is your idea of a great play date!
- “Comics are supposed to be fun!”
The unusual mix of Power Girl and Harley Quinn doesn’t get old in this mini-series opener that lands our two heroines on a fallen planet in the midst of multiple levels of crisis. There’s never a dull moment and artist Stephane Roux makes every page worth a second look. If you want to be entertained and Secret Six wasn’t fun enough–and Gotham Academy is geared too young for your tastes–then give this adventure story a try!