The “Angry Bird” storyline comes to a close, not with a whimper, but with a great big bang that nonetheless feels more sound and fury than anything else. Maybe if this had been a three-episode arc with only a handful of villains, it would have made more sense, but the sprawl of it and the repeated kidnappings and the resolution of so many villains in such a tight finale makes it all feel a bit inconsequential, signifying nothing, as the saying goes.
Really, about the only thing that does come out of this storyline is an apparent return to the status quo, as Harley Quinn reconciles with her gang and her other besties, to return to Coney Island and set things straight. Given that these stakes felt a little artificial to begin with, it’s not much of shift, so other than a lot of reckless violence and gratuitous use of many familiar villains, I’m not quite sure what writer Frank Tieri was going for with this plot.
All that said, if you just want a rollicking good time and like the colorful cast of dozens, this wrap up is entertaining from just a goofy smash-and-crash perspective. Everybody gets a little piece of the action!
It’s everyone against each other and everyone for themself!
This book features Mad Hatter in a surprise opening role (controlling the Gang of Harleys in a way that feels like it comes clear out of the blue), and also the likes of Solomon Grundy and a rather stumpy, strange little Scarecrow in an ineffectual sequence which might you have scratching your head. Also there’s Penguin, of course, in a final showdown with Harley Quinn herself, and, compliments of Poison Ivy, a 50-foot daisy that punches with its leaves.
Yeah, at that point I probably just sort of checked out as the fabric of reality was pretty much stretched gossamer-thin and whatever happened next really felt like it wasn’t going to actual matter much. In Tieri’s defense, he does have Eggy pronounce it the “worst Kaiju fight ever,” which is actually pretty funny.
Penguin doesn’t manage to put up too much of a fight of his own in the end, though the sequence feels just as long as the previous fight against any number of other villains. This is Oswald Cobblepot, not Zsasz, so the fact that he puts up any kind of fight at all is kind of silly. And of course this is the finale, so we know Harley and her cohorts and going to mop up the place.
But that’s all there is to it, really. And unfortunately it feels like a marshmallow of a story in the end: big and fluffy and it tastes delightful for a moment, but not a whole lot of substance, ultimately.
Yup: these two are getting sent back to the Penguin Café
With art duties once again split between Inaki Miranda and Moritat, it’s kind of a menagerie. So much of this looks rushed and sloppy: from the inconsistent facial expressions to the rather muddy melee combat. Many of the villains feel so off-model they’re like cosplayers pretending to be villains rather than the real McCoys.
The closing scene by Moritat especially feels tacked-on and slightly ludicrous. The Riddler pulls Jim Carrey faces while the others are crammed into panels haphazardly. A wide angle on the hot dog stand looks like something Al Jaffe would have drawn in Mad Magazine, and in another panel the Harley Gang are all just bodiless heads floating against a blank background. Which is not to say these style choices can’t and don’t work, but juxtaposed against Miranda’s previous pages they stand out as messy and half-considered, unfortunately. And once again it begs the tone: is this a cartoon playground or are we supposed to take any of these characters seriously? By the end, I’m thinking they might as well be hitting each other with frying pans, unfortunately.
- You just like to see big brawls and the goofier the better!
- Scarecrow, Solomon Grundy, and the Mad Hatter has your cup of tea!
Harley Quinn continues to struggle with tone and direction issues under the new team of Frank Tieri and his band of merry artists (in this case Moritat and Inaki Miranda). For all her popularity, Harley is a hard character to write. Go too far into silliness and the book becomes frivolous throw-away Looney-Tunes. Go too far into the gore and it becomes Deadpool with pigtails. Neither really showcases what Harley can be as a character; she really needs a delicate balance of sweet and crazy to work. While the “Angry Bird” storyline struggled to achieve that, it had moments, so here’s hoping the next arc will get us a little closer.