Last month Harley made her way back to the West Coast in pursuit of Sparrow Adaro, who is faking her own kidnapping to extort money from her mother. Things got a little complicated when Deadshot arrived to pick up a few bounties of his own. Unfortunately, Harley’s cowboy sidekick did not survive the encounter, but we have a smash-up opening in “Tug a’ War” with Harley and Deadshot facing off.

Harley_21_01

And yet Harley manages to make it through shower glass without a scratch!

Simply Smashing!

This may be the most violent Harley Quinn issue since our titular anti-heroine took on the Russians almost fifteen issues ago. I said this the last time, but it bears repeating: if you have missed the “old” psychotic Harley, this interlude has been a real treat–much darker and more violent that previous issues (and so much more so than the recent somewhat fluffy Road Trip special). While Harley still plays psychotherapist and has a bit of a soft spot, she spends way more time blowing holes (quite literally) in people’s heads.

The inclusion of Deadshot in this storyline is not entirely critical, but it’s amusing to see the dynamic between Floyd and Harley, particularly at the end when Deadshot sheds his costume for a drink with the Mistress of Mayhem. I’m never a fan of guest appearances for the sake of adding market value, but this is a case in which the characters work well together and in context of the story. Writers Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner provide some genuinely funny exchanges between the two, and ultimately Deadshot’s presence doesn’t take anything away from this being Harley’s adventure.

John Timms finishes this short arc on art duties, which nicely gives the story continuity in terms of the design. As mentioned before, Timms’ renderings can be a little shy on details in wide angles, but he captures the energy of the action and violence very well and gives the book a strong sense of motion throughout. While I’m glad regular series artist Chad Hardin is returning next month, I still feel Timms is a good match for Harley’s zaniness, even if his looser, more plastic style might not be to everyone’s tastes.

Props also to Paul Mounts on colors. He’s awesome as usual and never gets sloppy with tiny bits of business. Check out the scene in the gym where he mostly avoids flat-washing the background of tiny people, and the care he takes with coloring the string of blood falling to the floor from the pink-haired woman’s mouth.  More broadly he does  lot of awesome skyscapes from morning to night, which lends a nice sense of time passing throughout the course of the story.

 Harley_21_02

And Harley takes pride in the violence too!

A Little Bashing

Everything about this adventure has been a win, but I have to call out one smirch on the blotter: There’s a moment when Harley flips Deadshot the bird. The image is blurred/pixelated to censor it out, but the panel feels very awkward. It doesn’t help at all that John Timms put the action so prominent on the page, which draws the maximum attention to the pixelation dead center.

Firstly, the vulgarity isn’t really necessary, and secondly, the composition of the shot just makes for an ugly page since the focal point is blurred out. In fact, because my eyes were drawn to the character’s face, I didn’t even notice what she was doing at first. The whole moment feels like an attempt to push the “edge” further. But in a book that tiptoes on so fine a line with the violence–and crosses it beautifully and frequently–this bit of business just fell flat.

Recommended If…

  • You need some Deadshot in your life!
  • You want to see how Harley’s Harleywood adventure turns out.
  • You like things violent and fast-paced.

Overall

Harley Quinn continues her West Coast terrorism in the conclusion to a tale that combines all the best parts of stories about hitmen, mobsters, and the rich & famous. I’ll be glad to see Harley return to Jersey, but this has been a fun bit of off-roading that once again proves you don’t need 6-12 issues for a fun and full story arc. Palmiotti and Conner just continue to do it right.

SCORE: 8.5/10