This is a strange conclusion to Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti’s run on Harley Quinn, mostly because the series is ending only to be rebooted in August as a twice-monthly ongoing series with basically the same original team intact.
It’s a slightly bizarre decision on the part of DC, but honestly nothing surprises me with DC these days. “A Tree Blows up in Brooklyn” closes out this run at 30 issues despite the fact of its popularity and that it’s likely just going to pick up where it left off with its new No. 1.
Unfortunately this issue doesn’t make any waves as a conclusion to the former series, nor does it do anything interesting to set up the next. It’s something we haven’t seen from Conner and Palmiotti: a middling issue in which some things happen in a sort of “day-in-the-life” way, but there’s very little actual tension and incredibly low stakes.
Sometimes we need a filler issue between big storylines, but this one feels more filler than just a tonal shift and Harley is actually disappointingly goody-goody to a degree that even makes me tilt my head (especially since they had more recently been upping the violence in this book).
Is There a Plot?
Sort of. Harley is trying to save the titular tree (the title itself being a play on a famous coming-of-age story called A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith). In typical extremist fashion, she chains herself to said tree in an attempt to thwart the oncoming bulldozers. Then she is reminded that she has caregiver appointments and puts Big Tony in her place as a proxy while she’s off on other adventures.
The book also features an opening dream sequence that is fun, but also just sort of filler within filler.
Enjoy a who’s who of cameos in the opening dreamscape!
Harley’s other adventures include helping an elderly man through his grief and telling bad jokes in a bar. Ultimately she calls in Poison Ivy to help her solve the tree problem, though how they go about doing this isn’t particularly exciting. About the only thing this book sets up as a potential plot point for the new series is that there’s a scammer at the care facility where Harley works and she asks her Oracle-clone Harley Gang manager to look into it. Presumably this will come back eventually as Harley takes revenge for this scumbag bilking her patients out of their life savings and causing them to have to leave the hospital for what we can assume is less-than-ideal care elsewhere.
We also have a new artist on the series for this issue: Elsa Charretier. Charretier’s previous work for DC has been on Starfire. I like her style for the most part; it has a quirkiness that suits Harley Quinn, though I think her Harley tends to look a little bobbleheaded at times and generally everybody’s eyes are just too far apart. More importantly, she has the right energy for Harley Quinn: her panels are well-blocked and the action always fills up the page in a way that’s easy to read and makes the best use of the space to prevent a lot of dead background which can tend to bring the pacing/energy down.
Her linework has sharper angles than John Timms and less detail than Chad Hardin who have been the series most regular artists, but I think overall she is a good match, though this is a comic where the facial expressions could always go more zany and in that regard Charretier seems almost restrained.
In a Harley comic about a tree, who doesn’t expect Ivy to figure into the mix?
I’m so rarely disappointed by a Harley Quinn comic, but I have to admit this one left me scratching my head. The political-leaning rants felt a bit shoe-horned in and the jokes were not especially surprising or hilarious. Most of all, the story (what little there is) was predictable in a bad way: nothing of particular note happened.
All-in-all a rare dud entry for this otherwise spectacular team.
- You want to close out your Harley Quinn collection
- You love that pin-up worthy cover from Amanda Conner (I do!)
Harley Quinn has had an amazing run with Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti holding the reigns from the crazy sled, so the flatness of this final issue is disappointing perhaps on multiple levels. Newcomer artist Elsa Charretier infuses the book with a good helping of wackiness, but there just isn’t much of a story here and the action is just so-so. The good news is I’m sure this book will be great again when it comes back in August and frankly, for a 30 issue run to have only one “meh” issue is nothing whatsoever to sneeze at!