“Undercover Punker Part 2: The Skull Bags Big Snag” gives us our first glimpse of what a Harley-based punk group would look like. Along with Red Tool on bass, Big T on guitar, and Eggy on drums, GG and the Skull Bags makes their debut to a mostly surly audience.  I was actually pleased that they weren’t an instant hit (I mean, honestly, how could they be? They’re making this up as they go along).  As frontman/leader singer, Harley’s lyrics wax rhapsodic on food primary (of course they would!), though her second song’s scatological props upped the ante on just how hardcore a punk concert can get. Fortunately John Timms (whether editorially mandated or just out of a sense of good taste) omitted any visuals as Harley flings poop at the audience while declaring that chimpanzees do it all the time (and everyone likes chimps, right?).

I don’t like chimps. But like I said, so long as we didn’t have to suffer any gratuitous splotching, this was mostly pretty funny–and let’s face it, excrement is likely a fitting commentary on the musical musings of this particular gang of misfits.

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Let ‘er rip!

Harley wins the crowd over with not only her poop-tossing, but by bashing in the face (and other tender bits) of one particular troll who we later discover was a plant on the part of Harlem Harley, who volunteered to get smashed up. Harley takes particular delight in this on account of the man runs an illegal dogfighting ring and we all know how much Harley likes to defend the rights of helpless little animals.

It’s one of those moments I kind of wish would happen less often: Harley’s violence is “justified” by demonstrating that the guy she just busted up was a bad dude and not just your average punk rock music critic who didn’t appreciate her warbling.  I know Harley’s trying to improve her image, but maybe it’s okay if she just beats people up on occasion for being rude jerks–they don’t always have to be grim criminals because, really, who made Harley judge and jury anyway? The fact that this guy was a dogfighter doesn’t make Harley’s behavior any less violent, vicious, or sketchily out of bounds.

But I’ll let you decide the relative morality of it all. Does it makes me feel better knowing the guy deserved it? And what will she do the Purple Satin people once they are laid open to her judgment? Will they get more–or less–consideration?  Given the direction that writers Amanda Connor and Jimmy Palmiotti have been taking this book, I could hazard a guess. Can you?

Timms continues on art for this arc, with a couple pages assist from the painterly stylings of Jill Thompson, who provides an interesting little flashback.

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Remember Dr. Quinzel before she irrevocably lost her marbles?

Love the tone of Thompson’s interlude. It’s a playful moment for which her soft lines and gentle expressions fit perfectly. It’s also a big contrast from Timms, whose characters are also so sharp and sleek (that mohawk could cut glass). Still don’t like Harley with her head shaved, but it was fun to see all the characters undercover as punkers (Timms rendering of the Red Tool was especially nicely done here), and he handles the crowded punk club and all of its variety of denizens without any hint of laziness in the rendering, which is always impressive. One thing I always love about the Harley Quinn books is their superior art!

Harley’s gambit looks to be paying off so far. She finds herself in the exclusive company of the gang she’s trying to infiltrate, and they lead her straight to–a house party? Weirder still, one in which the guests are dressed as “heroes and villains”. This should provide plenty of crack comedy for the upcoming issue. How many Harleys and Jokers do you think there will be at the party? And how will Harley herself react to it all?

Recommended If…

  • You’re into the punk scene and all of its wackiness.
  • You long for a little old-fashioned Harley & Mistah J action.
  • You want to see someone get destroyed onstage in one of Harley’s more violent takedowns.

Overall

While I feel like this arc was off to a rocky start, the plot is thickening in interesting ways and even though this issue was short on good guy vs. bad guy throw-downs, I actually enjoyed the interaction between Harley and the punk scene (dog poop notwithstanding). It was also fun to see some interaction between Eggy, Red Tool, and Big T as her bandmates bonding over basketball. For some reason I’m thinking our mysterious Big Bad might not be who we’re all assuming it is, so we’ll just have to see how it all plays out.

SCORE: 8/10