Back in August of 2017, Paul Dini and Bret Blevins concluded a nine-issue backup story in the regular Harley Quinn comic series, but the story didn’t actually end! And now at last, eight months later, the tale will wrap up in this two-issue mini dedicated to the Harley Loves Joker era.

It feels like an awful lot of wind-up for a mere two issues (I think I originally thought this would be an ongoing series–or at least an “event” book). But I guess less is definitely more when you consider some of the endless “crisis” books we sometimes encounter in this medium. And at the end of the day, two solid issues of classic Harley and Joker is not only well worth the wait, but worth its weight in gold.

Unfortunately, much of this first issue is necessary recap and exposition about what’s come before: how Harley has gotten herself and Joker into a pickle after leading the Gotham Police straight to their hideout. And the subsequent pickle of finding a new hideout only to get neck-deep in depth with the Wonderland Gang Carpenter. Adding to the stress of this, there’s a new villain in town who is scooping all the Joker’s heists: a strange ferrety woman who calls herself The Grison (which, in case you didn’t know, is an animal of the mustelid family, of which ferrets and weasels belong to as well).

Liberal use of the “Babies” throughout this book!

The best thing about this comic is that it is pure Paul Dini playtime: there are kooky characters, silly scenarios, and wacky antics galore, but the heart of it–Harley doing her best to impress and please her Puddin’–is not only intact, but fully on display.

The Joker takes a slight backseat in this adventure, but it’s a slight adventure to begin with, frankly. The throughlines are pretty basic and the power battle between Grison and Harley seems to be simply rooted in a sort of facile jealousy. For the whole of the book, Harley attempts to solve their money problems (having an encounter with the aforementioned Wonderland Gang), and battles the Grison one-on-one as she foils Joker’s colluded plan with the Penguin in an attempt to capture her. A lengthy flashback that provides an origin story for our weaselly foe (and perhaps Bud and Lou) also occupies much of this book and reminds us of Harley’s own origins as a scholarship-winning gymnast who somehow managed to exploit herself through a degree. Overall, it’s just a fun read with great big splashy action in bright bold colors (compliments of regular Harley Quinn series artist Alex Sinclair).

That’s okay Harley, I was maybe dozing a little myself

Bret Blevins knows just how to walk that edge of making this comic book sexy without it devolving into smutty. Harley maintains her childlike gang-moll appearance and demeanor, and Grison, though weirdly naked, doesn’t feel exploited for it. And all the while, this book invokes the spirit of the Bruce Timm cartoon while not attempting to replicate it–Blevins’ art is just a good match for the style, tone, and energy of the original TV adventures.

There are moments where I feel like the Joker looks strangely too ordinary (he’s just not grinning enough, perhaps), but as he’s treated like an almost secondary character here, it’s not that big of deal: this is Harley’s book, primarily anyway. All the action sequences with Harley are rendered with awesome acrobatic alacrity, whether she’s embarking on a break-in, duking it out with the weasel, or, showing her gymnastic fighting style in that college-era flashback, she moves with grace and power–even at her silliest. When, in her regular series, she seems to rely so much on knives, guns, hammers, baseball bats, two-by-fours, and all the rest, it’s nice to be reminded here that as far as weapons are concerned, her body is really her primary one.

Recommended If…

  • You can never get enough of old-school Harley & Joker hi-jinx!
  • You needed closure on this storyline (didn’t we all?)
  • Dini and Blevins are the new Dini and Timm.

Overall

Paul Dini and Bret Blevins give us the first of a two-part mini, that recalls an earlier time in Harley Quinn’s life: when she would have done anything for her Mistah J. This story continues from a nine-issue backup in Harley Quinn that ran last year (issues nos. 17-25), but if you missed that particular event, this book recaps the important details for you. The Grison is a fun addition to the gallery of rogues, though I’m guessing this outlier isn’t going to end well once Harley puts her mind to verifying that she needs to vamoose. Enjoy the camp and color: this book is heavy on the exposition, but still a joy to read!

SCORE: 8.5/10