Two weeks ago we had a strong epilogue to the most recent storyline and now we get “The Mourning After”, which unfortunately feels like an epilogue to the epilogue.  It’s pretty common that following a big story we need a bridge to get us going into the next thing and Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner often insert a somewhat light one-and-done transition in which old threads are closed out and other bits of continuity are brought to fore, which simultaneously setting up the next big thing.

This book follow that pattern, but I found the emphasis on grieving to be overkill.  Part of that, of course, is because I was personally done with Mason Macabre pretty much the moment he was introduced, but more objectively, I feel like we already saw the aftermath of Mason’s death previously.  Here, the issue feels ponderous with mourning and spends the whole opening in a rainy cemetery with everyone grieving like it’s the end of the world.

To be clear, I think it’s well-written, but I also feel like the time for it has passed. It seems strange to still be pounding on this theme more than a month after Mason bought it. And yes, time is strange in comic books, but the emotional reality (at least for me), is that I’ve moved on from this storyline many weeks ago.

But maybe I’m just an insensitive sociopath.

The rain also just pushes this too far into melodrama for my tastes

From here, Harley tries to get back into some semblance of her normal life, which is a good and healthy depiction of moving on from a tragedy.  Of course, for Harley, that means leaping back into the roller rink to clobber some skate foes. It’s entertaining, but just feels like filler to me. Also, the art, by Otto Schmidt was a bit loopy–it stands out from the rest of the comic for it’s somewhat fish-eyed perspectives, and extreme character expressions.

In a weird way I can make a case for it: Harley’s sort of feeling a little unreal and needs to take on some activities to ground her, but in the end it just didn’t work for me and the crazy bloated thighs especially we bizarre.

Let’s get ready to ruuuuummmmble!

In addition to Schmidt, Bret Blevins and Moritat also contribute to the art, and the combination of all three makes for a very uneven reading experience. Honestly, Blevins’ work in the opening sequence is pretty weak: long sad faces with no nuance, bodies that feel staged in the panels. They all look like actors going through the motions here. Moritat’s closing scenes in which Harley arranges to take some time off with her friend Ivy feels stronger, but is also nothing stunning. In fact, the two women’s bodies, again, just look like putty models arranged to stand next to each other. The angles and interaction between them is mostly static and uninteresting.

Otto Schmidt did colors throughout the skating scene, which further lends to some lack of cohesiveness. The whole middle section looks like a pink pinball machine sandwiched between two Alex Sinclair bookends–you definitely feel it in the reading.

The most important thing this book does it that it usurps the status quo.  Harley is taking a leave from the wax museum and it’s up in the air whether her “family” will continue to be ongoing support in future books. This also is an unsettling feeling. After Palmiotti and Conner invested so much time in establishing this world, for the moment if feels like they are tearing it down.

All things must change, but in this case, it seems like a case of a good thing being deconstructed by a storyline that doesn’t feel like (to me) that it deserves so much weight.

Recommended If…

  • You want to see Harley wearing meat. Seriously. Like Lady Gaga.   Sigh.
    • The Amandar Conner cover, on the other hand, is aces!
  • You like dreary moping juxtaposed with cartoonish bubblegum skate violence.

Overall

Falling flat on the coattails of last issue’s wrap up of the “Vote Harley” storyline, this post-epilogue epilogue feels pretty skippable, unfortunately. Nothing especially wrong with the writing except that it seems emotionally redundant–and the art doesn’t really bring anything elevating to the table on this one. I’m hoping Harley rebounds from this grief with renewed purpose and renewed joy. For this issue, however, it’s a bit of melodramatic and sentimental slog.

SCORE: 6/10