Harley is celebrating 25 in style! This slightly plump special issue packs in a little extra Harley for those of you can’t seem to get enough. And to sweeten the deal, Chad Hardin makes a triumphant return after what seems like a long absence from the title!
Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti have saved some particularly fun interactions for this premature birthday party for Harley–most importantly some major developments on the Madison storyline as she rallies from the beatdown she last took and hires a mysterious big gun who has lots of little guns to help her exact her skeevy design for revenge.
Yeah, forget the clever scheming, she’s just throwing all the firepower at her fingertips in Harley’s direction and hoping something will hit.
When Harley’s party goes belly-up with bullets, we get an impromptu Gotham Sirens reunion which is certain to please any fan–if you like Harley being brutal with her girl gang, you’ll get served a good helping of that here.
Guns and violence for everyone!
This is pure mayhem entertainment. We get the crazy grab-ass party at the outset (including a surprise visit from Peej–the indomitable Power Girl herself), and then it all devolves into killing–both hilarious and awful.
Hardin captures the shift in mood perfectly from the crowded loft full of happy friends (everybody is here for the celebration), to the grimmer darker exterior fight where Harley is leaping dangerously out of shadows to brutalize an entire gang of what look like professionally trained personal riot police. Just seeing all those happy faces turn on a dime as the situation changes is a triumph of a tonal shift and Alex Sinclair’s colors help it along with lots of moody blues and deep shadows.
“Surprise, Surprise” doesn’t necessary pack in any story surprises, but it’s just a satisfying read with a big fat cliff-hanger ending.I was a little disappointed to see Red Tool thrown in a backseat position for the moment. Catwoman really hasn’t been a regular character in this series and Ivy and Harley had amicably split last we saw of them, so I don’t feel any particular loyalty to either at this point and in that way they feel slightly intrusive.
But next issue, this book is back to being its own again and as much as I’ve enjoyed the split between it and the supplemental story, I’m definitely looking forward to some meatier stories now that it won’t be sharing it’s pages. Having these five extra pages in this issue has reminded me of what we’ve been missing and primed me for less abbreviated arcs going forth!
Harley Loves Joker
What in the world is going on with Harley Loves Joker? Just when you think the pie in the face is coming, Paul Dini and Jimmy Palmiotti stuff a whoopie cushion under your seat!
So, last we saw, Harley and Jenna the Carpenter were trying to settle the bill for Harley’s surprise new hangout for Mistah J., while Joker, increasingly suspicious, finally decides to confront his little nut muffin about what she’s been doing behind her back.
Her life is flashing, but is it about to end?
It feels like we’ve been waiting for this moment through the whole book: mirthfully enjoying the silliness, but bracing ourselves, in spite of Bret Blevin’s cheery pencils (J. Bone is still inking). Bracing ourselves for that moment when the Joker finally snaps and clobbers the crud out of sweet little Miss Mischief.
And then something strange and surprising happens.
And if you think I’m going to spoil it, think again!
Harley Loves Joker is going to conclude in it’s own title book, so we have a spell to wait to see how this all wraps up. Frankly, I’m not sure I’m done flinching yet, so I suspect it’s going to be a whopper. We know we’ll probably see Batman again as Joker and Penguin attempt to catch the elusive Grison. But we don’t know whether Harley’s new Hideout is about to go kablooey (one way or another). If you want the full impact, you want to read this book!
- You like killing! Harley opens up a can of whup on too many bad guys to count, literally littering the street with their corpses. Just like the good ol’ bad days.
- You want to keep abreast of the bizarre developments in the Harley Loves Joker feature!
Conner and Palmiotti and Dini kill it in the writing for both stories in this celebratory 25th issue, and Chad Hardin’s art brings back some series nostalgia for its early days. There’s so much detail in this book and all of it is delightful and terrifying in turns. Both stories come to very dramatic peaks, so this is certainly a nail-biter of an issue, but in the best of all possible ways! Don’t just pick this up because it will be a collectors’ issue one day; pick it up because it’s a joy to read!