There are some big shifts being set up in this issue which, though it definitely feels like one of those bridges between the major action, still brims with plenty of Harley craziness.  Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti are finally pushing the conflict between Mayor DePerto and Chief of Police Spoonsdale into almost-open warfare as the two have a clash in an otherwise fancy restaurant that leaves one of them bleeding on the mens’ room floor. The government corruption and Harley’s gradually developing buddy-relationship with Spoonsdale has been simmering under the surface throughout Harley Quinn for literally years. It would be nice to see Spoonsdale deal with the awful mayor once and for all (with Harley’s help, of course).

Meanwhile, there are a couple of other threads that continue in the short span of pages here: we’re finally introduced to the fact that Red Tool is conspiring with Poison Ivy on a “surprise” for Harley, though we don’t know what. Ivy and Red Tool make for interesting compatriots. They both love Harley in their own ways and this will form the basis of how well they cooperate with each other because they have absolutely nothing else in common (and Ivy even tries to brush Red Tool off at first).

Not entirely sure what the tool is planning here. I’m almost afraid to conjecture given that the writing team almost always seems to upend my expectations in this book.

Lastly Harley has a date with Goatboy:

I can’t decide if Goatboy is stylin’ or looks like a Disco-pimp. Or both!

It’s a platonic date–to take her parents out to dinner on a cruise boat, but I have to admit Goatboy is rather charming and It’s nice to finally see him get a little “screen” time of his own. It’s also nice that his being a goat isn’t made too much of a fuss about–and Harley’s parents seem fairly tolerant (they must be, given her past history and lifestyle, etc.).

Of course dinner couldn’t possibly just go smoothly. The cruise ship is boarded by two wackos who decide to take this opportunity to stage a robbery. And not just any wackos, of course. Harley’s already had a run-in with these dorks before (with spin-off results). It’ll be interesting to see what happens between them all this go-round.

More great work from John Timms here: his ability to generate a range of interesting mugs to represent the city residents is fun and refreshing. He also does some really nice things with the angles on the conversation between the Mayor and the Chief of Police. This is a dialogue-heavy scene and could have ended up being very flat.

I only thought it was a little weird that Harley didn’t dress more conservatively to go to dinner–especially since, in the last issue, she made so much effort to be very “normal” in her therapist role. That struck me as an odd choice (odder than having a goat for a date, strangely enough).

Lastly major props to David Sharpe’s letters: as always, they’re amazing. The mix of crazy word-balloon shapes, and word emphasis is always delightful (I think my favorite one here was Red Tool’s “hello” as he’s calling for Ivy in the park. Just weird and wonderful way of conveying character.

Harley Loves Joker

Seemingly disparate storylines are starting to come together in this delightful add-on romp from Paul Dini and Jimmy Palmiotti.

While Harley is off with Jenna, secretly trying to rebuild the Joker’s hideout, Joker himself is conniving with Penguin to put this newly introduced weasel-burglar (The Grison) in her place. Joker is irritated that she’s poaching on his turf and convinces Penguin to stage an event that will offer the little weasel the kind of opportunity to show herself (and fall right into the Joker’s trap). The storylines aren’t quite dovetailing yet, but we get a sense that they will continue to come together as Penguin inquires after the Joker’s main squeeze only to seed his mind with a bit of uncertain curiosity as to what exactly Harley is up to, after all.

Love this appearance by the dapper man with the monocle

Most of this comic relies on physical comedy (much like the cartoon), so the story seems to only be creeping forward in barely-there increments, but it is creeping. Also, the physical comedy stuff is generally pretty funny. In this issue, it mostly involves Jenna and Harley getting slapdash around the work Jenna is trying to do, which is a little less exciting than previous chase and fight scenes, but it’s still amusing.

And, as always, Bret Blevins (pencils) and J. Bone (inks) make it fun no matter what. The build of the new hideout provides lots of creative space for wackiness, and it’s also a great contrast in terms of tone and energy to the meeting at the Iceberg Lounge. It’s also good to see them continuing to work in new characters into this story. The inclusion of the Grison, Penguin, and the Wonderland Gang keep it from feeling too boxed in between Harley and Joker, and give the two characters time apart, which they probably need in order to be effectively dysfunctional together.

Recommended If…

  • You like a fish-out-of-water story (Goatboy in public and Harley trying to hold it together for her parents is a delight).
  • Spotting killer art is like a sport to you: both teams on both stories are just killing it dead.

Overall

Mason and Madame Macabre have been rescued and Harley Sinn temporarily neutralized, but, as usual with a Harley Quinn comic, that doesn’t mean our happy heroine is going to chill through the remainder of the pages of her own book. On the contrary, brace yourselves, because things are always craziest right at that moment when you realize that dinner with a talking goat may be the least weirdest and surprising thing! As usual, stay for the hijinx in the Paul Dini-infused villain’s story as well: two treats in one!  Both installments feel like bridges to bigger and better things, but you can’t go wrong with either of them!

SCORE: 8/10