Harley rings in the holiday with a special all her own (in case you actually missed her front and center in the regular DC Rebirth Holiday Special). And somehow the schtick of Harley wandering off in her dreams/hallucinations hasn’t gotten old under the pen of Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti. This go-round Harley is knocked unconscious during a botched attempt to visit Mall Santa with Red Tool. While the start of the fantasy sequence isn’t as obvious in many other instances, I think we know she’s tripped the light fantastic the moment she enters adventure mode. Nothing wrong with that, though. It’s always just a question of what crazy things will she encounter in these liminal spaces–and who.
The throughline of Harley’s adventure is her attempt to get a complacent Santa back on track after his Ho Ho Ho is hijacked by an evil dark feeling who looks–of course–like an evil dark former ex-boyfriend of Harley’s.
Looks like Santa’s going to need alternate plans for that sleigh
The premise is absurd (well, of course it is). Harley has banged her head (hence the title: “Egg Noggin”) and dreams that she must save Christmas by being shrunk down and sent into Santa’s brain to fix his bad attitude about delivering presents to all the hopeful children (and Harley herself). Even though there’s no clear delineator to the fantasy, it’s easy to guess we’re in Harley’s head the moment the shrink gun come out.
So Harley is miniaturized and off to do some psychoanalysis of the jolly old elf, only to encounter not only Santa’s horrors, but her own!
The harrowing imagery doesn’t stop at maimed reindeer and shadowy frost-giants. Harley’s dreamscape is full of the kind of bizarre dream imagery we’ve come to associate with Harley. As she tracks down Santa, she goes from one igloo to another, each a pathway into a different compartment of Santa’s brain.
Knowing this is a dream there’s very little serious tension in the book. The entertainment is more in seeing what kind of silliness lies next in her path. The writers compensate well for that formula by making sure to alternate between the absurd and the genuinely shocking. When you think the book is just rolling along farcically, it suddenly takes a terrifying turn. Playing with that balance makes the book work.
That, and who doesn’t love zombie heroes?
Of course Harley is going to save Christmas (in her own way). This is definitely an issue that’s all about the journey with a negligible plot and the usual helping of puns.
A whole pack of artists contributed to this Nightmare before Christmas, and almost all of them Harley Quinn semi-regulars: Moritat opens the book, followed by Joseph Michael Linsner, Bret Blevins, and Inaki Miranda. Because this is not a story with multiple fantasies (but rather multiple fantasy locations), I didn’t feel like the art held together as well as other collaborative efforts. Moritat and Miranda are a good match for the framework of the story as they both use similar styles.
To be honest, it’s not a style I especially love (particularly those horrifyingly toothy children), and I’m confused by Hi-Fi’s coloring for Harley herself: she looks like a blue cadaver. Or a chiss (well, she does do a double lightsaber-like thing in the middle, so the reference is appropriate). She’s not quite so blue once we get away from those pages, but that opening sequence really stands out bizarrely.
But an extra nod to Amanda Conner and Alex Sinclair for their inspired cover: it’s always a joy to see Harley dangling mistletoe at the disgruntled Dark Knight. Makes me wish Bats had been the book proper, but as a pin-up it’s still mighty cool!
Overall this book is a fun feast for the eyes and nicely complements the big fat holiday special. So if you like this kinds of season fare, it’s worth a gander even if it’s not the warmest, fuzziest of tales. For the right (morbid) sense of humor, this will just hit the spot.
- You like your holiday fare on the dark side.
- You never get sick of violent superhero mutations.
- You harbor a secret desire to see Santa’s North Pole utterly desecrated.
The imaginative inner world of Harley feels unlimited in this Holiday Hallucination from Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti. This one leans heavy on the grotesque, though, so if you’re looking for cute smiley reindeer and presents wrapped up in colored bows, you might want a different comic. But if wholesale slaughter and other abominations are your style, this might bring you some ghoulish Christmas cheer. At the end of the day Harley’s fantasy world is generally harmless, but between Santa’s bikini beach and a rather dark elf massacre, this is definitely not one to stuff in the kiddie stockings!