Last month’s “Extrastellar Exploitations” in the Galaxia Del Sombrero have led to this month’s “Excess of Exes” as Harley Quinn and Power Girl are deluged with a downpour of minions sent from the evil Oreth Odeox. While “Peej” tackles the onslaught single-handedly, Harley finds herself matched in combat against a suture-happy cross between Johnny-5 and the Bugs from Starship Troopers. And if all that wasn’t enough complication, enter the fighting team of XGF, Vartox’s former lovers (and one-night stands). Yes, folks, it’s pretty much just a regular issue of Harley Quinn and Power Girl, with all the zany flips and flops you would expect from the creative team of Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti, and Justin Gray.
Stephane Roux again helms the majority of this title on art duties and once again does a nice job with filling out this world full of absolute weirdness. With Paul Mounts again providing colors for the first 18 pages, the book has great continuity from the first issue with all the same amazing galactic fills, electric bolts, and tonal shifts as previously enjoyed.
The last four pages are done by the team of newcomer to Harley, Elliot Fernandez, and series regular Alex Sinclair. Fernandez’s linework is very nice: clean delineations, a good variety of composition angles, and well-rendered facial expressions. His all-but-Leia-in-slave-garb rendition of Vartox is actually overblown on the testosterone without being overtly sleazy. And Sinclair’s crazy color job on Harley’s motorcycle, which matches Mounts’ work in the art galley, is way groovy.
Harley puts her art appreciation to good use
Groovy is perhaps the best adjective to describe this book overall. I like depth and nuance in comics. I like thoughtful, introspective characters and even the slow burn silent, mindful action. I like a narrative that examines the human condition and comments on the state of the world.
Yeah, Harley Quinn and Power Girl really does none of those things, but it does something equally important: it provides an entertaining diversion from commentary-laden media by holding up a mirror to the silly side of human experience and letting us laugh at ourselves, our popular culture, our history, and our lust for an old-fashioned, unapologetic beat-down by sexy chicks on a mission.
For that reason alone, it’s always worth a read.
The Less Good
This is a personal pet peeve of mine, so you can skip it if you disagree, but I think this book is pretty cluttered already (not to the point of obliterated comprehension, but pretty close). And yet Conner, Palmiotti, and Gray have decided to add six characters into the mix in the form of Vartox’s ex-girlfriends (and one boyfriend, Cherub). This harem throws yet another shoe into the machinery of Harley and Peej’s primary goal: to get home. Though Harley starts things off in a bad way, however, this gang is more likely ally than foe.
I spent a lot of time looking at the characters and they are an amusing amalgam of the typical superhero alliance: there’s the animalistic one, the token culturally diverse one, the young spunky one, the mechanized one, the de facto team leader, and the token opposite gender (in this case, he’s a man since the group is all-female). If nothing else it serves to show how easy it is to put together a superhero team. On the other hand, the comic book world is packed full of such teams and this one is no less generic (aside from Cherub’s running commentary about being ignored for his gender).
XGF: might as well stand for eXtraordinary Group Fatigue
Like the Gang of Harleys in the regular series, I have a feeling this group may try my patience, but so far the writers have made the Harleys work well enough, so I’m going to lean on the side of optimism here. I hope we get to see them send up and parody the standard superhero “team” dynamic more, however, because at the moment the XGF feel like they’re being played pretty straight compared to the rest of the lunacy that’s going on in this title.
- You like science fiction stories–or the parodies they spawn: this is both!
- You just need a break from regular DC non-continuity (let’s face it, we all do now and again and this is the perfect distraction).
- You like to watch Power Girl clean up against whole legions of adversaries.
The jokes continue fast and furious, so be sure to give this a second read in case you missed some of those backwards references and tongue-in-cheek digs. The writers keep a fair balance of inside-gags and goofs that everyone can appreciate, so it never feels like you’re at a party where you don’t fit in. Perhaps that’s the magical appeal of the Harley Quinn series overall: it never takes itself too seriously, and it welcomes its audience in with open arms. Other titles might do well to adopt less “fixed” ideas about who “should” read their books; universality, after all, is what has made the flagship heroes endure over the last 75 years. While this is just a 6-issue mini-series, it’s nice to know that this team of creative artists are enduring in their own right. And for those of you who really only like Harley in small doses, this is the perfect adventure arc.