Maybe there’s been some grousing about “Harley Fatigue” lately, but here’s the deal, people: when a team can maintain this level of consistency in terms of quality, I don’t care how many titles they want to put out. Harley Quinn sells books not because she’s faddishly popular or panders to some particular demographic, but because she’s entertaining, period. So the more’s the merrier. I’d rather see a whole shelf full of Harley than one more rotten issue of ______ (pick your poison).
Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner have license (and run with it) to do outrageous things with this character and it almost always works, no matter how goofy or off-the-wall they get. Let’s face it: hardcore realism in superhero comics is a modern aberration when you take the whole of the history of comics into consideration. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a comic book that’s immersive in a naturalistic world (and I’m a dyed-in-the-wool fan of Nolan’s BatFilms). But I grew up on a diet of comics that were never hung up on realism and you know what? They were really fun because of it. Frankly I miss fun in comics most of the time, but I know I can count on the Harley team to bring it, always.
That, and high-flying kicks!
The premise of this series is that every other month Harley’s going to team-up with with some other character in the DCU–to ostensibly help fight crime, but more likely make a mess of things, wreak much destruction, and then happenstantially thwart the foe. This month: Harley heads to London to help Wonder Woman against some traffickers who are plotting against her.
Which apparently, for Harley means gassing Diana and going after the baddies herself.
Does it help at all that she’s her biggest fan?
Like all of Harley’s hare-brained schemes, this makes absolutely no sense given all the possible options (like a phone call, for example, or just a straight sit-down. But Harley’s got her own way of doing things and if it provides her the chance to suit up as Wonder Woman herself as a bit of fannish wish-fulfillment, more’s the better.
Other fun story things to enjoy in this oversized issue:
- The action takes place in London and the change of scenery is actually quite nice. It provides Conner and Palmiotti the opportunity to introduce all manner of bizarre villains and supporting cast members.
- Wonder Woman is awesome. She suffers Harley’s indignities, but gets the job done without totally blowing her cool. She is grace under pressure–and even willing to go out for drinks at a pub afterwards. I don’t know about you, but I want to be pals with Wonder Woman.
- There’s a nice flashback of Harley’s childhood–we actually see her parents and siblings (it’s been forever and a day since they’ve been in a book). While it calls into question the age differential between Harley and Diana, I love that Conner and Palmiotti used an old style Halloween mask as an integral part of the action (that business is straight out of my own childhood).
Great things about the technical bits insofar as this being a new series:
- This is a one-and-done that requires no in-depth knowledge of the wacky world of Harley’s solo series. While it takes place in that same continuity and we even see some of the Gang of Harleys, the primary action is in London and you get a complete story sans cliffhangers or other typical series bait. If you like Harley in small doses, you might like this book!
- Amanda Conner actually provides interiors here (with an able assist by Harley Quinn regular John Timms). I don’t think we’ve see Conner’s art inside a Harley book since issue #0 (though she regularly provides the covers). Her Harley is wonderfully childlike without losing any of her fierceness or power. She also draws amazing splashy action scenes (who doesn’t love those?).
- Also gotta say, I love the way Conner draws Eggy. With the soft coloring, he almost looks edible.
- Paul Mounts and Hi-Fi are on colors, so the book has the look and feel of the regular series, which is always a plus as far as I’m concerned.
Not-really-bad-but-maybe-on-the-fringe: Tiffany Terror and her gang (including notably disgusting vomitus Pub Crawler) are yet another instance of Conner and Palmiotti introducing a random extra gang into the mix (as they did with Harley Quinn & Powergirl with the ex-girlfriends). Here, this superteam doesn’t actually do much to help out. In a way that’s great because the focus lands squarely where it should belong: on Harley and Wonder Woman. On the other hand, they’re sorta of a toss-away gag-gang that produces a few yucks, but ultimately just fill a few pages. Other than orienting Harley when she arrives in London and needing to be rescued later, they don’t serve much of a purpose.
Just the aforementioned Pub Crawler. He’s kind of Britain’s version of Six-Pack, I guess. And come to the think of it, he’s not nearly as vile, which is maybe surprising.
- You enjoy a one-and-done comic-reading experience now and then.
- You’re a fan of Harley Quinn, Wonder Woman, International Adventures, or Women in Outfits That Threaten to Fall Off At Any Moment (WOTTFOAM).
- You want something fun and funny to wash the grit out from between your teeth after reading DK3 and other such stuff.
I just enjoyed the heck out of this. It was exactly what I needed for an afternoon bon bon. The double-sized issue definitely delivers double the fun and you only have to come back for more if you want another different adventure with the Mistress of Mayhem. Harley still isn’t much of a superhero–and even when she’s trying to fly straight she can’t seem to help but go crooked, but she’s always entertaining anyway.