Harley takes gang member Bolly Quinn on an international adventure to take down the call center conglomerate in Mumbai that has been ripping off the senior citizens at “Dr. Quinzel’s” day job.
This was a plot thread that was planted before “Rebirth” but then got subsumed by the Hot Dog Zombie Apocalypse that has been the focus of the last three issues.
Now we return to the crisis Harley has been suffering as of late: the feeling as if her life doesn’t have sufficient direction or purpose and that her relationships are shallow or otherwise imperfect. She’s not going to solve all of this in one issue, but it does appear that her opening monologue in which she worries about her friendship with Poison Ivy and frets over cutting off Red Tool’s arm is setting the stage for the direction in which writers Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti will be taking the character in this new (but basically carried-over) iteration prior to the DC renumbering.
I like this direction as it gives shape to Harley’s adventures. She is questing rather than merely jumping from one zany adventure to another without any particular theme to tie things together aside from wanton violence and butt jokes.
That said, this issue’s quest of Harley trying to do something meaningful and right feels like its heart has come along for the ride, but might have left some of its soul at home.
I’ll confess up front that I don’t prefer these international jaunts which take our heroes far afield. They work now and then, but I feel like if the protagonist of a comic has a home base, that’s always the best place for their adventures. Batman’s best stories are in Gotham, Superman’s best stories are in Metropolis, and Harley Quinn’s best stories are in Coney Island.
But she’s only in Coney Island for the first handful of expositional pages before she takes off to Mumbai to open up a can of whup-butt on thieves whose call-center is making fraudulent calls to bilk seniors out of their savings.
Cue all manner of silly cultural clash as Bolly Quinn (whose name is Shona) introduces Harley to her cousin Hari who takes them straight to the lair of the dragon. But solving a problem like this is always more complex than Harley would like and so she can’t just go in guns-a-blazin’ as she would like.
Fortunately (or conveniently) the security for the company consists of a giant robot who will henceforth do all the destruction that Harley can’t bloody her hands with. In this instance I feel like the writers have introduced a complex problem and then dispensed with it a little too easily; finding a means by which we can get the sort of wanton chaos we associate with Harley while absolving her of the responsibility for it.
Harley vs. the Shogun Warriors?
Then things get really weird.
In true Bollywood style, the robot is taken down and it is revealed to be run by an obstreperous child whom Harley bends over her knee for a spanking. With the company in ruins and information about the owners wrenched from the thralls who are overseeing the operations, Harley then heads to Russia (admitting, in a bit of admittedly funny fourth-wall-breaking, that there’s only three more pages to resolve the storyline). With stunning efficiency, the team manages to get Harley to the Russian thug in charge and dispatch him with both good humor and lots of stabby gratuitousness. The last three pages, in fact, read more like a more typical Harley comic and are the best of the book.
Joseph Michael Linsner is on art duties for this book (with no dream sequence for a guest artist to step in). Overall I like Linsner’s work: it’s clean, his action tracks well, and in a book as dense as this one can be, he handles tight panels and a lot of dialogue very well–his framing and layouts are very effective. And again, he especially makes the best of simple nine-panel layouts in the last sequence in Russia.
Don’t know about you, but I want to try that bacon-flavored vodka myself!
I hope we’re done with robots and aliens for a while in Harley Quinn. I enjoy the occasional wackiness on this extreme level, but given how over the top Harley is all by herself, seeing her in more grounded circumstances is, for me, always more gratifying. There is something potent about Harley being the most incongruous thing at the scene. When you have giant robots and kids in oversized diapers who drive them, it kind of detracts from Harley’s own unique brand of insanity.
All that said, this was still an entertaining read. As always, look in both the foreground and the background for all kinds of little Easter eggs.
Not to mention Frank Frank.
- Giant robots is actually your thing!
- You like watching fraudsters get their due (I know I do!)
Do you like your Harley stories straight-up crazy? Because “108 Million Ways to Die” qualifies. In her attempt to “do good” and render her life meaningful, Harley takes her nutsy sense of justice to Mumbai (and then Moscow) to mete out punishment to thieves who have hurt her patients and countless others. It’s a bit of lunacy tinged with schadenfreude: so all-in-all, I’d say pretty typical amusing Harley fare.