I love the idea behind this series and that it’s a nod to the fans, but I admit that I’m not 100% convinced it works. As a short-run limited series it might pull off a great story, but here we are three issues in, the real Harley Quinn is still in Harley Sinn’s clutches, and the gang is still trying to rescue her.

I’m filling in for Cat on this review and it’s been interesting to read this book because there’s just something missing about it that I can’t quite place. Of course, we shouldn’t want all the Harley books to be the same, but perhaps I nonetheless had an expectation insofar as tone is concerned with this and it’s somehow stymied me.

Jimmy Palmiotti is working with Frank Tieri on this one, so there’s good continuity from Harley’s primary series, but it also lacks some of the whimsy.  The situation is certainly outrageous enough and there are enough wild characters in this book to populate a town of Seussian proportions, and yet it’s not overall zany to the degree of the flagship book.

So what is it?

It’s a team-up story with a gaggle of diverse “Harleys” in variously colored getups fighting a villain with likewise is running her own Harley team.

Spoiler
In fact, we find out at last in this issue that Harley Sinn actually auditioned for the original Harley gang and was rejected–hence her desire to avenge herself on the Maven of Mayhem.

The focus is on the team (as it should be). And in this issue we get some background/character development on Bolly Queen’s family and her relationship with them. Briefly, only, and to provide some exposition before the bombs are flying:

GangofHarleys_03_01

Interestingly (or perhaps confoundingly), Harley’s team is pretty level-tempered and definitely geared to “hero” roles rather than anti-heros. And maybe this is what doesn’t quite work. The team lacks edge. When the bomb hits, they flee to the safety of the freezer, where they then rationally figure a way out of the situation and then methodically hunt down Harley Sinn. While I like the idea of a Harley-inspired team and enjoy the interactions between Bolly and Harley Queens and Harvey, they’re a bit on the bubblegum side of things for the moment.

One of the things that Harley Quinn does so well in her own title is skirt that edge between sweetie-pie and total-freakin-lunatic. And maybe it’s not fair to compare the two books, but given that they so closely share this world, it’s kind of hard not to.

Ironically, this is exactly what Harley Sinn’s complaint is: that Harley Quinn hired the wrong team: a buncha softies incapable of getting the job done. So we’re shown the contrast of Sinn’s brutality and the conclusion I suppose we’re intended to draw is that Harley made the right choice and that Sinn’s methods are abhorrent.

I’m just not sure I buy it. What the comic really tells us is that it’s okay to be brutally awful if you’re the protagonist, but not if you’re the villain. Because let’s face it, Harley herself has done some astronomically awful things.

And that’s okay. That’s who the character is. I’m not sure there’s actually this much leeway left in her development to try to soften that reality. It feels disingenuous to the character and a little bit self-consciously preachy too.

GangofHarleys_03_02

Even so, this is an entertaining book. Not sure I love Mauricet’s art here (with an assist from Alex Tefenkgi). The book is very dense and the panels feel crowded with business and dialogue. The action tracks well enough, but it does exhaust the eye. Also, Hi-Fi’s colors on this one miss the mark with Harley. She looks so green. and Sinn is purple by contrast.  Neither tone works well, I think, and together, they only accentuate the sickly/bruised-looking affect of one another.

Recommended If…

  • You’re in for a penny, in for a pound. If you love the concept of this Gang, there’s plenty to delight here.
  • The sub/dom overtones between Quinn and Sinn is a turn-on?
  • You can’t get enough Red and Black costume variations.

Overall

It’s hard to judge this book at this point because frankly it feels like a slow burn in spite of the density of action in this issue. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but whereas Harley’s regular title seems to accomplish a lot of movement forward, this title feels like it might be spinning its wheels just a bit. Harley is still in Sinn’s clutches and the gang is a little bit tighter on the trail, but still lurching forward blindly. The reveal of Sinn’s origins (to some extent) isn’t enough of an “event” to propel this, and neither is the destruction of Bolly’s parents’ restaurant. Feels like something more needs to happen here, but maybe this is just one of those transitional issues. I’m willing to hang in for now and find out!

SCORE: 6/10