It’s rare for the Harley Quinn team to swing and miss, but this issue just didn’t connect for me. It’s definitely a bridge piece and it does have some fun stuff, but a long and very verbose segue-way about Harley’s parents felt completely inorganic and dragged the whole thing down for me.
I think I get what Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner were going for here, but it feels labored. It doesn’t help that too many things are going on in too short a number of pages, either. In a strange way, perhaps giving this beat more room to breath might have helped it to feel less crammed at us.
This book also continues to share its space with the “Harley Loves Joker” feature, so it’s already been a study in very tight storytelling–when you only have half the panels to work with, they must do double-duty, but this whole issue we feel the writers working hard to get it all in, and that makes it a bit of mash.
First, we have to deal with Clock King and Sportsmaster. They’re grade-Z villains, but they have been fun in the past. Here we get some of the same hi-jinks (with a surprise assist from Harley’s Dad), but the action is over too quickly and ultimately feels inconsequential. It’s main effect is to spark a dialogue between Harley and her mother, but as an inciting incident it feels like overkill.
Top-notch action for an opener is the highlight here
Then there’s pick-scenes about Red Tool and Madison and these are just further bridges setting up the next line of action, and then there’s Harley and her mother.
This conversation is so dense–even though it only covers a couple of pages–that it also feels like overkill. Overkill and slightly non-sequitor. Harley is definitely at that anti-hero crossroad in her life, but given that she officially broke it off with the Joker a while back and then reaffirmed her feelings about that break-up with the more recent imposter, having a heart-to-heart about it with her mother seems out of place at best, dead horse-beating at worst.
It also left me feeling vaguely confused because, after all, this storyline is sharing half its pages with another story in which Harley is still head over heels with a Joker who hasn’t exactly been so terrible to her. Maybe they’re ramping up to it, but for the moment I’m feeling a schizophrenic uneasiness about the juxtaposition.
And perhaps that’s not such a bad thing, but it didn’t really make for a satisfying reading experience.
John Timms and Joseph Michael Linsner trade off art duties at the usual scene/time/place breaks. Still not a big fan of Linsner’s rendition of Red Tool, but it’s always fun to see him in the comic. Timms’ work, as usual is strongest during the action sequences. He does what he can with the panels that get incredibly verbose and manages to make it work without looks too flat. That in itself is quite an achievement!
And just to be clear, I’m not being critical of the comic merely for having a wall of words (even though I wish this had more room to stretch). I just think the timing is odd and the it feels completely out of character.
Harley Loves Joker
Meanwhile, Paul Dini and Jimmy Palmiotti continue this delightful storyline as Harley squabbles with Jenna the Carpenter over the cost of her surprise new hangout for Mistah J. Harley’s got to come up with big money and fast, so she schemes up a plan to hit drive-throughs wearing ridiculous animal costumes. Meanwhile, Joker is getting frustrated by Harley’s peculiar behavior, and suspicious of her time away.
When she comes home frothing mad, he treats her like a reasonably concerned boyfriend might, but she yells in his face and slams the door. I guess if I were him, I’d be angry too.
She’s never going to get three-million dollars at this rate!
Bret Blevins (pencils) and J. Bone (inks) continue to make this feature consistently bright and energetic (with colors from Alex Sinclair). The purple and pink gorilla suit that Harley wears to one robbery is daft and inspired. And I love that the Clock King makes a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it appearance here as well.
- Relatively sane mother-daughter bonding between crazy people sounds like a nice way to spend your evening.
- You love the BtAS-inspired Harley Loves Joker!
A dense bridge between arcs that unfortunately feels largely skippable–a trait I so rarely ascribe to this book, I almost don’t know how to score it. But the fact is that while this book has some to-be-expected bright action moments and the Dini/Palmiotti added feature continues to be excellent on all levels, the main book suffers from too much talk–some of which just feels out of character and a little too on-the-nose borderline preachy to me. It also could just be timing. Maybe we’ll find out there’s a reason Harley and her mother need to have this conversation now, but for the moment I just don’t see it.