“Red and Black is the New Green” as Harley undertakes the power of a dual black and red lantern ring to become mind-bogglingly rageful and destructive. If ever there was a premise tailor-made for Harley Quinn, this book gives her the opportunity to cut loose with pure evil without losing her signature sense of humor or taking her so far she can’t just come back at the end as though nothing ever happened.

The plot in this one is pretty simple, but the execution: everything from the ridiculous dialogue to the zany imagery, catapult it from predictable schlock to a really satisfying time spent immersed in comic book fantasy.

A couple of idiots find a dying alien who has crash-landed in the desert. She leaves them with several lantern rings, which they sell on “MeBay”. In a frenzy of bidding fever, naturally Harley loses out on a green ring, but through a “second chance” buy gets hold of a cheaper ring that combines the red lantern rage and the black lantern death auras.

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MeBay, eBay they’re all the devil

The combination ring transforms Harley into a death-dealing rage monster who vaguely looks like Maleficent. And the energy signature of the ring sparks off an alarm for Hal Jordan, who comes to investigate. He then has to fight both Harley Quinn and some invading aliens who were after the ring from the time it was lost in the desert. Tables are turned, of course, when Jordan gets taken out of the fight and it’s up to Harley to assume his green lantern powers to save the day.

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But not before we get to see him do his superhero thing

John Timms is on the majority of the art duties for this book, and as one of the regular Harley Quinn series artists, I feel like I’ve gotten to know his work pretty good. So I was especially impressed with how dark he takes Harley in this issue. She truly looks like a menacing threat and the fight between her and Green Lantern, though full of quips and silly imagery, is handled seriously–which actually brings some real tension to the action. Harley is about to blow up New York, after all. This isn’t just the usual gang brawl on a street corner that we’re more accustomed to seeing.

Artist Mauricet adds a three-page subplot about the London gang headed by Tiffany Terror (from Harley’s Little Black Book issue No. 1) and featuring the loathsome disgusting character of Pub Crawler. It’s unclear at this point where the creative team is going with this gang of misfits since they don’t play into the action of this particular story. They feel like a bit of black bean, but they manage to infuse the story with some signature gross-out humor, so if you’re into that, consider it a bonus.

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Timms pulls all the stops in the arm wrestling

Folks, the grousing about Harley Fatigue may continue, but so long as Team Harley (Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti) turns out books like this, the people who are tired of looking at her face are just going to have to deal with it.

And in case I haven’t emphasized it enough, the Harley Quinn series is every bit written for a demographic that’s not me. But unlike some other female-centric Batbooks that fall into the same category, Harley Quinn is exceptionally well-written. Heck, Harley doesn’t do anything I wish she would, but I always come away from her adventures feeling won over.

All that said, the Little Black Book is the perfect arena for those of you who only want her in small doses and can appreciate her more when she’s tempered by other cool characters. Here you definitely get the added bonus of a guest-starring superhero who probably otherwise wouldn’t have anything to do with Miss Quinn except in an out-of-continuity arena like Injustice.

Recommended If…

  • You love Green Lantern / Hal Jordan and want to see him in an off-beat comic.
  • Maleficent Harley sounds like a good mash-up.
  • You prefer Harley Quinn but don’t want to overdo it.

Overall

When you want something fun and full of puns with a side of exploding heads, Harley Quinn is always going to be your girl! Her Little Black Book is shaping up to be a great bi-monthly romp with a big emphasis on its stellar guest stars, but also a nice bit of tethering continuity that links this series as well as creates ties to Harley’s solo book. You don’t need to read everything to enjoy this, though, and that’s perhaps the real beauty of the fine tightrope walk that Conner and Palmiotti traverse. If you’re skipping this book because you’re sick of so much Harley Exposure, you’re only cheating yourself.

SCORE: 9.5/10