In my last review of this series, I spoke of a wonderful device called a gaydar, tracking the levels of romantic tension between the two titular characters of this series: Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy, in case the title wasn’t a giveaway. During that review, we managed to pin both the score and the gaydar to about a 7.5 out of 10 – not perfect, of course, but a decent foundation for future issues. Since correlation obviously equals causation, I think it’s fair to say that the gaydar and the review score are heretofore intertwined, and directly impact one another. This is supported by the fact that not only was there significantly less romantic tension in this issue, but I also ended up liking the issue a lot less. Clearly that must be the reason behind the comic’s dip in quality.
Or, you know, the other reasons I’ll be diving into for the rest of this review.
I hope it’s quite clear that I don’t want to dislike this issue. Three of the four comics I’ve read this week haven’t done much for me, and that’s not something I enjoy – I don’t sit down at my desk to look at the hard work of industry professionals I have a lot of respect for and think, “how can I tear that work down?” to myself. These are talented people working on these products, and it shows on the pages. But I can’t help but dislike it, and I think to calmly explain why a helpful and constructive experience for everyone involved. None of the comic is bad, of course. It’s quite easy to read, and I imagine will be considered rather harmless when reading this issue in a trade; presuming the rest of the book is more at the level of the quality in the first issue. But I’m poor as hell, and I have to factor in the money factor when talking about a comic. What makes this book out of all of them worth your money? Sadly, I can think of fewer reasons than I could for issue 1.
Houser’s writing is something I enjoy – she’s a direct writer and knows when to let the images speak for themselves. Unfortunately, there isn’t much to say about this issue. They escape the Floronic Man, who appeared at the end of issue one. They talk for a scene about how Ivy’s holding up after Heroes in Crisis, and finally, they walk into the next trap for issue 2 (now with Mad Hatter!). The conversation between Harley and Ivy between the two setpieces is interesting enough: the concept of feeling betrayed by the heroes who promised to get you help is an interesting one.
It’s a good scene – if only slightly soured by the fact that they draw the conclusion that they need to ask Mad Hatter to meddle with Ivy’s brain – but it’s really the only notable scene in this issue. The first half is mostly a rather generic action scene, and it’s followed by more setup for the next issue’s action with the Mad Hatter (who keeps repeating the same tired Alice in Wonderland lines). There’s not much this issue has to say, and there’s not much to say about it as a result, but I do hope they dive a little deeper into Ivy’s mental state in the future.
Regarding the artwork, I’d like to take a moment to give props to the Inks by Mark Morales, as well as the colouring by Hi-Fi. While I didn’t like the art as much this time around, the mood of the issue stays consistent and strong thanks to their dynamic work.
The art is the same as the writing in many respects here: it certainly isn’t bad, but it leaves a lot to be desired. Adriana Melo is a very capable artist, and there are moments where she gets to display her talents with pride. Take this one-page spread, for example:
That’s a good page, managing to display several necessary moments in a quick period of time, while also showcasing Melo’s chops at drawing Harley. The main problem is that while the great parts of Melo’s work remain, the choppier sections have felt a little more prominent. More faces that seem just a little off, more poses that are just slightly less dynamic than they need to be for me to really enjoy them. Not only that, but there was none of the sinister imagery from the first issue to tide me over in this one, so this chapter ended up having little to none of what enthralled me about this book in the first place.
I imagine drawing monthly comics can’t be an easy feat, of course. The good news, however, is that once again, some of her simpler faces are just as compelling, and I wouldn’t mind seeing more of them taking up the larger panels. These two panels here feel so much more effective with the slight exaggeration of their expressions.
There are absolutely strengths to this comic, and I love it the most when Melo is playing to them – so I hope we see more content from Houser next issue that Melo’s work can really shine with.
- The first issue was compelling enough for you to read the second before the trades.
- Heroes in Crisis is something you want to see followed-up on, and its fallout dealt with.
- You still believe Harley and Ivy are America’s dream couple.
I want this book to succeed! These are two characters I really like to read, from a team whose work I really enjoy. It’s a shame that what I loved from issue one just wasn’t as prominent in this issue, and I hope that it gets those things back in the issues to come. You could do great things with this comic, and I want to see them happen.
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with an advance copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.