Avoid this comic. No, I’m not going to beat around the bush with any witty introduction. You should not buy this comic. It is an abomination on every level.
This comic is so unbelievably awful that dissecting every aspect that makes it bad would take forever. However, I will do my best to offer you all the highlights.
What Story Does Frank Tieri Want to Tell?
You’d think with the premise of this story (Harley needing to fix the origin stories of famous superheroes) that the overall tone would be bright, airy, and fun. Frank Tieri, rather jarringly, seems to want to make this a more serious dystopian drama, however.
Most of this issue is focused on Harley from the dystopian world describing her backstory and how the world collapsed under Starro. It seems a bit pointless to spend so much time developing a backstory for dystopian Harley and her world. This is only a 6 issue mini series that is already a third of the way done. We will never see this version of Harley again when the series is over. Why focus so much on her development?
The reason why this overly serious tone to the main part of the story doesn’t work, however, is because the other half of the story is trying to be a screwball comedy. The tones clash, for one thing, but the comedy completely and utterly falls apart. I mean, it REALLY does, I can’t emphasize that enough.
Yes, they say that comedy is subjective, but there are still some objective traits involved with comedy that can make it work. Set up, pay off, and delivery would be three of those traits. The comedy in this comic has none of those elements. Throughout the story, our Harley will just SAY things at random: references to movies, food, etc. It’s as though the mere fact that Harley brings this stuff up is supposed to make it funny. It’s not. Just making a character chatter on with random references is NOT comedy.
Let’s explore other elements as to why this comedy doesn’t work, shall we? Look at the jokes below:
None of these jokes have anything to do with the context of the story (going back to the lack of set up, pay off, and delivery). They are just random references to things that I imagine are minor annoyances or embarrassments in Frank Tieri’s life (or perhaps Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Connor since Frank Tieri began as a fill-in writer for those two). I have to say, none of them sound like something Harley Quinn would say at all. “This is for passing gas and blaming it on the dog” sounds like a joke Jimmy Palmiotti or Frank Tieri would make in their casual day-to-day lives as the humor of men their age. That is being projected through a clown girl who is supposed to be somewhere in her twenties or maybe early thirties.
This type of humor has NEVER fit with Harley’s character. It’s the writers projecting too much of themselves through Harley without considering who she is.
What Has Happened to Harley?
To cap it all off, Harley herself is a completely repulsive character is this comic. Combined with the horrible attempts at humor, we hear Harley make a reference to the fact that she once was in a three-way make-out session with the usher of a theater and his sister. (Can you see why some people might have thought this comic was Harley “screws” the DCU with how DC allows the character to be written at times?)
We also see Harley straight up murder the versions of her friends in this universe without remorse. Then there is a weird exchange between her and dystopian Harley. The latter shames Harley for murdering her own friends. Harley claims that if she had friends like hers, she’d murder them, too. Then dystopian Harley reminds our Harley that the people she killed were not Harley’s friends, but hers, right after she just shamed our Harley for killing HER friends as if they were her own. Nothing about this interaction makes sense.
Think of the experience this comic provides, however. We’ve got a protagonist who makes horrible, disgusting non-jokes, enjoys killing, hooks up with multiple people at the same time, shows little guilt over destroying a world, who is also teaming up with another version of herself who also dislikes her. There is nothing in this comic but characters hating each other, acting selfish, or being gross.
The artwork, meanwhile, is garish and ugly, which is perfectly fitting for the content of this comic. I hate picking up comics where the artwork does nothing to warn me about the content I’m about to read. Therefore, I’m glad this art style signals what this comic really is. It does get annoyingly sexualized at some points, however, like when dystopian Harley conveniently is putting on face make-up…with no shirt on.
- I would not at all recommend this comic.
This is going to be the lowest rated individual comic I’ve ever reviewed for Batman News. I can’t think of anything good in this miserable comic.
It might not be something that everyone understands, but Harley Quinn, as she’s supposed to be, is a character that really means a lot to me. I resonate with her vulnerabilities, the bright, cheerful mask she put on, and a style of humor that had good timing and cleverness to it rather than…whatever it was that I read in this comic. It really hurts to see her used like this.
The Jimmy Palmiotti/Amanda Connor run on Harley sold because Harley was already popular (Jim Lee noted Suicide Squad comic was selling better whenever Harley was on a cover despite the comic not being well reviewed) and because Deadpool was popular at the time. It was NEVER a good series. Marvel has since allowed Deadpool to have depth and evolve. DC, however, is still putting out comics for Harley trying to capitalize on 2014 Deadpool. There’s a lot to indicate that readers don’t want that anymore, but that doesn’t seem to matter to DC. They just continue to keep putting out series like this that barely sell. What a waste.
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News a copy of this comic for the purposes of this review.