Red Tool has some matrimonial intentions in “Shriek Now or Forever Hold Your Piece”, and you can bet Harley’s shrieking up a storm!

As far as insane plots go, Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti give us a textbook case of how crazy you can make a scenario and still believably extract your protagonists–and they do it cleverly by having already introduced the solution many issues ago so that it doesn’t feel like some wretched deus ex machina just for the sake of resetting the status quo.

Will They or Won’t They?

So here’s the insane scenario: Red Toll has filled a church full of people (all bound and gagged) and an actual preacher person to perform a wedding ceremony for him and Harley. Harley doesn’t take well to this, of course, because Tool has been, well, a tool, including tattooing her patatootie with a hammer and his phone number. At this point the only thing separating Red and Harley’s previous lunatic boytoy is their sense of humor.

Naturally Harley opens up a can of whoop-ass on our Deadpool twin, but their fight doesn’t have a chance to progress very far because guess what:
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First of all Tool-Boy proves to not be a match for Harley’s high-kicks!

The police have been alerted the situation in the church and they’ve got the place surrounded. Worse yet, they actually shoot up the place causing all manner of insane damage (including to the unwitting parishioners–this riot team probably causes more riots than it prevents).

Needless to say the wedding is off.

Do They or Don’t They?

What happens next is the classic enemies-have-to-help-one-another-out-of-a-jam trope. That’s not really the name of a formal literary trope, but I’m too lazy to look it up and you get what I mean: even though Harley was dragged her against her wishes and had nothing to do with the kidnappings, she’s now marked along with Red Tool.

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Let the negotiations begin!

Fortunately there are some sneaky things to be leveraged here. First of all, Red Tool reveals that the parish participants aren’t just average Schmoes and Joes randomly abducted off the street. Red Tool has been planning this wedding for a long time apparently, and he’s gathered quite a village of Coney Island’s most wanted.

And remember that subplot about the corrupt Mayor and his corrupt Chief of Police and all that corruption? Well this is where it starts to pay off. We’ve seen Harley manipulating the Mayor and their relationship has been pretty antagonistic throughout several story arcs now. Well the new Chief of Police Harry Spoonsdale has got ambitions of his own and if there’s one thing Harley understands it’s basic human psychology. I’ll let you do the math and hopefully pick up the book and enjoy how everything unravels.

John Timms is on art duties for this issue, with a two-page dream-sequence assist from Moritat (Red Tool’s dream, not Harley’s for a change of pace). I love Timms’ facial expressions more and more with each issue, though he’s got some long-legged figurework that is occasionally a little too stretched for my own tastes. Alex Sinclair’s colors as really stand-out here too; in a book where your two primary characters are all red and black operating under mostly dim lighting, everything tracks beautifully and Timms’ denser panels don’t get lost despite all the detail. One panel late in the book of Harley mostly submerged in the ocean is so nicely done you can almost see the moonlight moving on the water.

Re-read value on Harley Quinn is always high just because of the density of the images and the language. So many puns and word silliness to pick up on a second go-round, and so many fun little nuances in the characterization as well.

Should They or Shouldn’t They?

If I had to nitpick something in this book, it would be the sultry way Harley teases Red Tool at the end. On second read it didn’t bother me (another reason re-reading it great with this title), but my initial reaction was–for the first time ever with this book–that it was kind of cheap. Not in the way it was drawn, necessarily, but just in terms of Harley’s behavior. After she and Red Tool seem to come to an understanding about “appropriateness” it’s clear that such things are less easily defined than they ought to be. I don’t know. It kinda leaves a bad taste in my mouth even though on second read I accepted that she was merely being playful.

Recommended If…

  • You’re intrigued by Red Tools anti-hero antics. He’s quite the charmer–not. But still a lot of fun.
  • You like watching Harley run circles around her men.
  • Harley talking about her ass nonstop for almost 22 pages is as good a reason as any to sign up for the crazy-train.

Overall

Harley and the Red Tool work out their differences–sort of–and come to an understanding with the new Chief of Police as well. Is this match made in hell headed for something more serious? Or will Harley for once in her life learn to slow down? As far as a potential team-up partner Red Tool has his charms, but does he really have what it takes to keep up with the likes of the crazy Quinn girl? Guess we’ll just have to keep reading to find out. Not that I’m complaining!

SCORE: 9/10