The latest one-shot for the DC vs. Vampires series is all about Harley Quinn. It’s definitely a pivotal issue in the development of this series since, after all the despair and betrayals of DC vs. Vampires, it finally offers a ray of hope, and a possible solution to the Earth’s vampire infection. However, being about Harley, I wasn’t sure what I’d be getting when I opened the book. I’ve said this before, but, at current DC Comics, Harley Quinn’s identity is so fractured her entire personality and affiliations will change from writer to writer, making it so there’s really nothing to latch on to if you liked the character from a previous version. It is what it is though, until DC editorial takes a hard look at what the character has become and makes some changes.
Sure enough, Harley is completely different here than in her current solo series, where she’s more of a silly two year old. Here she’s sort of Rambo Harley. A serious, murderous fighter, who commands her own team and doesn’t want to follow anyone else, nihilistically trying to find a way to use the current crisis to her own gain. Even the artwork is very jagged and rough to depict this very tough version of Harley.
It’s not Harley though, once again, it’s just another fractured variation. However, because her character is treated more seriously, we do have some dialogue that’s easier to read. I found some lines cute like “If I turn around and you’re a vampire, I’ll be sad. I’m sad.” But there were other bits of dialogue in the book that I found wince-worthy, like a running gag of Harley and Catwoman talking about Clayface looking like a piece of poop (no thanks!)
Harley’s a pretty brutal character in this book, with her own gang behind her, including the aforementioned Catwoman. I appreciated, at least, seeing Harley as a villain again, but it’s clear DC vs. Vampires wants to turn her into one of the ultimate heroes. The crux of the book is that Commissioner Gordon gives the Vampire antidote to Harley, because she is the only one who can get in and out of town. Harley then goes through a dilemma on whether she should go against her nature and carry out the mission, or continue to only look out for herself. I couldn’t help but feel this scenario was just a bit forced in order to give Harley the most pivotal role in the series. I know that Gordon says Harley is the only person who can get in and out of town, but that doesn’t mean she’s really trustworthy. Would Gordon have trusted the Joker if he could get out of Gotham? It just didn’t sit well with me. I wish that Damian had been made into the one with the antidote, since the series had already put him in an interesting position of being infected, but also working for the heroes.
Speaking of Damian, when I reviewed DC vs. Vampires: Hunted, which starred Damian, what I really liked about that issue was how well drawn the action was. The action in this issue isn’t nearly as good. It really stood out in the Damian issue with how Neil Googe was able to convey the speed at which Damian was attacking, and masterfully using the panels to show a massive fight between him and a Vampire as they fell down floor after floor. All of it done on one page! The only big fight that happens is between Harley and…
Catwoman. It takes up about three pages and only shows them kicking and throwing each other once or twice each before it’s abruptly over. There’s a lengthy list of artists making up this book, but Mike Bowden and Eduardo Mello are listed as both the pencillers and the inkers. I really feel they could’ve done more with series that is so action oriented.
Back to Harley and Catwoman, it’s interesting to read how DC has been pushing these two as “besties” lately, probably to fill the void of Harley and Ivy. I didn’t buy that Catwoman would be the one following Harley around in a group as one of her sidekicks, but the twist that Catwoman had been infected and was trying to stealing the antidote from Harley did surprise me.
It also surprised me that Harley wound up taking the antidote so that she is immune to becoming a vampire, thus mankind’s greatest hope now, which I imagine is going to affect readers differently based on how they feel about Harley as a whole.
While I’ve lamented the lacking action scenes in the book, the art in general just isn’t great. There’s quite a team behind it: Mike Bowden, Livesay, Eduardo Mello, Le Beau Underwood, and Antonio Fabela. But it’s generally very jagged, and the proportions on the characters and the shapes of their faces are very inconsistent. I wish Harley’s face had more expression on it when it came to that *reveal.* The colors are very punchy though, like the orange in Clayface or Harley’s candy colored hair, though it’s definitely time to move back to just a red and black color scheme.
- You want to read a pivotal chapter in DC vs. Vampires
- You want something similar to DCeased or Injustice
- Harley’s inconsistent characterization doesn’t bother you.
DC vs. Vampires: Killers takes another big step in moving DC vs. Vampires‘ story forward. However, some poor artwork, dialogue, and continued wonky characterization for Harley make it so I can’t call this comic good.
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News a free copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.