Harley Quinn has gotten a serious makeover for D.C.’s New 52. Here she put her nose in her studies, to distance herself from her dysfunctional family. After she gets a job as a psychiatrist at Arkham, she disguises herself as a inmate. Thinking she’ll understand the mentally ill better. Unfortunately The Joker finds out and she has a chemical bath. After that her common sense and sanity are destroyed. With that Harley Quinn was born. Now I just don’t love Harley because she’s sexy, I love her because she’s sexy and fun. The “experimental,” Harley D.C. New 52 Issue 0 was released several months ago. Issue ten will be released this August. So to catch up I’ll bring you up to speed with the past nine issues.
This issue is pretty much, cut and dry. It feels like the famous Daffy Duck’s Duck Amok, or Bugs Bunny’s Rabbit Rampage cartoon. Harley is breaking the fourth wall, after she realizes she is getting her own comic. The writing is penned by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti. An husband and wife team, that occasionally collaborate. Amanda is best known for her illustrations on Archie comics, D.C. and Marvel comics to name a few. Jimmy Palmiotti is known for writing and inking Marvel Comics in the early 90’s.
Harley tries to imagine what she will look like for her new comic. As well as what adventures she will have.
It’s not a bad thing, almost as a woman is trying to find a perfect outfit. Harley is searching for the right “image/illustration,” for her breakout role. Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti, Charlie Adlard, Art Baltazar, Becky Cloonan, Darwyn Cooke, Tony S. Daniel, Sam Keith Bruce Timm, Jim Lee, Stephane Roux, Tradd Moore, Chad Hardin, Adam Hughes, Dave Johnson, Dave Johnson, Jeremy Robots, and Walter Simonson (whew), do a great job with the designs and possible stories. What will the demographic be? Will she be a Betty or Veronica? We’ll see her from everything to an punk rocker to an secret agent. One page deals with Mustah J, turning into a plant creature trying to eat her. So she bashes him to death with a hammer. It’s quite symbolic, as a reader. It’s telling me that she won’t be on one side of a fist fight. That the New 52 will show a strong/independent Harley.
Harley’s first issue involves an unknown person that has passed away. Leaving her an building in Coney Island, N.Y.C. She’ll become its new landlord. Complete with sideshow attraction tenants. There is also a small story arc of bounty hunter trying to kill her. Issue one doesn’t have any…Issues. It opens with some great social commentary with a man on a cell phone, not caring about walking his dog. Harley riding a motorcycle has stopped in her tracks feeling sorry for this dog.
These panels work, because there is no dialogue, you can see the up-close images of this neglected dog. Harley felling sorry for it. A nice back and forth of sad faces, tears streaming down the cheeks. Ending with that classic close up of a explosion in Harley’s eye pupil exploding, we know it’s on. You can tell that writer Jimmy Palmiotti and company has seen this one two many times. Followed by excellent artwork from Chad Hardin. They have taken their own anger, and expressed it creatively. Mind you this is only the first four pages, and I am digging it. It’s something any animal lover can relate to.
We then get this Ghost Rider knock off is trying to collect the bounty on Harley, on the Brooklyn Bridge. Since Jimmy Palmiotti once worked on Ghost Rider we as the reader will think he is a Bad Mamma Jamma. We see Harley make mince meat of him. Her weapon of choice is a hybrid, Super Mario clown mallet. The violence is quick and to the point. There isn’t too much blood and gore. Some of the actions are made to happen so quickly that as a reader we just need to use our imaginations on what Harley is doing to her victim. It almost feels like reading an original copy/reprint of E.C. Comics Tales From the Crypt.
The pacing works, and is never boring. The rest of issue one deals with Harley’s tenants. The sideshow freaks should turn into her sidekicks. Yet they’re just background characters, they have nothing to do with her unless it’s for a one-line comment/joke. She’ll also have to pay $6,000.00 monthly due to back taxes on the property. So during the day she’ll be Dr. Quinzel Psychiatrist for an old folks home. At night, she’s captain of a roller derby. Straight, to the point and some great dialogue from the Clown Princess of Anarchy.
This issue, gives us an Harley with heart and soul. We also get her BFF Poison Ivy for extra measures. Harley decides to take matters into her own hands, after she overhears an local animal shelter will kill the dogs, cats, ECT, that didn’t get homes. She tries to adopt the correct way, however her application is rejected. So with the help of Ivy…they spring the animals. Followed by placing them in her apartment.
Act II and III deals with the animals not receiving the correct vaccinations/proper nutrition. As well as another bounty hunter trying to collect on Harley’s bounty. At first I thought this would be rinse, lather and repeat. However this has some great tongue and cheek humor. Harley once again disposes of another bounty hunter with some dark humor (thanks to her new found furry friends.) Ivy, does express her desire to spend some “quality time,” with Harley. All and all I still found myself entertained. Granted we get some shots with Harley and Ivy in bed together, but they act as girlfriends, not “girlfriends.” It continues to show the great chemistry between these two. Sadly the sideshow freaks are still in the background and have little to do with the story.
This is a nice Valentines Day issue. Harley is alone, and apparently Ivy disappeared and has left a plant. It contains berries that a curious Harley ingests them. It makes her breath out a love potion that affects both men and woman. The final act feels like a Benny Hill sketch. There is a moment when a prison bus is driving by and catches a whiff of her breath. After the driver is overcome with her berry breath, he loses control of the bus. It turns over and she is chased around town by convicts. It’s ending deals with her breaking into a hardware store, and dealing with her “crushes.” It feels like an Army of Darkness moment. Yes, she is standing on some boxes with a conventional weapon…yet the parody/pop culture references are unpredictable. Let’s not forget an female police officer that stops by the store. She also becomes entranced by Harley. I love Harley’s response “I don’t like girls…I think.” Her facial expression says it all, (wish I could have found a pic of the panel). This doesn’t feel like it was written from 2 of the six writers of a certain series of unfunny films.
Again this could have worked as a 5-10 page story at the end of any D.C. New 52. It deals with Dr. Quinzel at the nursing home counseling an kindly old woman claiming her daughter in law, son and grandson want nothing to do with her. So Harley takes matters into her own hands…performing an home invasion on the WASP-Y family. The bounty hunter story-line comes into play, as Harley has tied up her captors and placed them in the trunk of a stolen car. She takes a break at a Star Burger and has a one and one moment with a shady character named Guido…get it?
This is an Star Wars reference, however there was no build up to it. Even Harley’s body language is telling the reader this is a waste. It comes, quickly, leaves quickly and we’re back to the story. I’m not going to give away the twist ending between Harely’s resident and her family. Again just when you think you know how the story will end…you don’t, still you feel satisfied.
Issues 5 and 6
We get an interesting two part story involving an Mr. Borgman. Who is an cross between cyborg, and the legendary comedian/writer Carl Reiner. His design is memorable, and I’d wish we get an action figure of him. With a lower body of robotic legs, that don’t seem to work anymore. Follow by an robotic right eye. He’s a resident that lives at the nursing home that Harley works at. Borgman knows who Harley is (being a former secret agent), he makes a deal with Harley. If she helps kill his remaining Russian adversaries from the cold war. He’ll use his resources to call of the hit placed on her.
What follows is Harley trying to study the files of these Russian agents, left by him.
She tries to keep awake but goes into a dream sequence with Russian mustika dolls, and bears. The dream sequence should be symbolic, and I’m sure there is a point…I think it’s up to the readers to understand the dream. It’s hard to describe, she is trapped in a doll. She breaks out, is naked…then a bear takes off his fur to give her a coat. It gets weirder, seeing Harley and Mr. Borgman together feels that these issues were written on a feather. It great to see this former agent on motorized wheel chair, barking out orders and Semitic one liners.
Each kill is mixed with old school Three Stooge, Marx Bros humor. Again I don’t want to give away too much, they feel old school, and satisfying. Sadly Borgman leaves and for now unsure if he will return. Also Ivy returns and finds who has placed the hit…but I’m getting ahead of myself.
We get closure on who has placed a hit on Harley. Ivy left a few issues ago, to do some research. While discussing who the mysterious person could be, they decide to do some sunbathing at the beach. Meanwhile two brainless beefcakes try to hit on them. In which the two ladies have their fun. Burying one up to his neck and leaving him there. Followed by a dog walking by with a full bladder. Another one is succumbed to Ivy’s pheromone dust, and just becomes her slave until he comes to and leaves. They still have great chemistry, and know how to play off each other. Several bounty hunters, break into Harley’s apartment. While the ladies are kicking butt and taking names. Finished by the identity of the person who placed the hit. You know the drill spoiler free…not giving it away.
This issue, tries to go back to the Issue 1. As if this were a T.V. show, they will go back and re-make the pilot. We get some interaction with the roller blade team that Harley joined. As well as the sideshow freaks of the building Harley is the landlord of. While rollerblading, a Russian bulldozer literally runs her over. She gets even, destroying her aggressor. it gets her kicked off the team…but invited to a “Fight Club,” derby. She also decides that since she has kept all the shelter pets from issue 2, she has had the tenants build a shovel-pult, “get it”. Placing it on the roof, it’s supposed to catapult the dog waste…at targets that end with hilarious results.
SDCC Invasion (technically Issue 9)
Harley decides to run amok at SDCC ’14.
It’s supposed to be if Harley existed in our world. She has created her own comic book. Hurl Gurl, a superhero that upchucks her way out of any situation. It feels as if Jay and Silent Bob would invade comic con…or what they did at a certain Hollywood Studio in 2001 (Hint, Hint, Wink, Wink). It’s not about her selling her comic. It’s about her meeting some “surprise guests.” It’s about her spending some “use your imagination,” with several Mustah J’s behind closed doors. It’s about several attendee’s dressed as Harley not realizing they get to have a “special meet and greet,” with the one true Harley Quinn.
Amanda Connor and many other contributing artists, have given Harley an extreme makeover.
If you took the DNA of Daffy Duck, mixed it with the DNA of Hope Solo, finalizing with a female Mr. Hyde you’d get Harley. She reminds me of a character Reese Witherspoon portrayed in the 1996 film Freeway. The backgrounds look and feel like a comic of the late 80’s -90’s. I love the look and feel of the Coney Island buildings. As a former New Yorker I frequented Coney a lot. I love how Amanda Conner took the Steeplechase Clown of yesteryear, and made it look like the Joker. Ivy looks great too, she’s half naked from time to time…but I love the orange tats down the sides of her body. Fein-ally the background people and supporting men and woman, have mugs. They are like snowflakes no two are alike.
Some are beautiful, others look like they were hit with an ugly stick. Of course I did mention my thoughts on the Issue O Artwork. The Covers have that, pick me up you won’t be disappointed feel.
Harley can play off of anyone. Whether it’s Ivy, the sideshow freaks, Mr. Borgman, you get the idea. It’s witty and for the character that the comic is named after it works. Same goes with her living in Brooklyn, N.Y. where else would Harley reside? If not Arkham than Coney Island. There is a reference to Army of Darkness, Star Wars, Pulp Fiction…but it’s not written from 2 of the six writers of…you get the idea.
In regards to the demographics…males will probably love her for her figure and outfits. Not to mention the violence. Females will dig her because Harley is her own woman. This comic is not for the kiddies. For me I think with the sexuality, violence, and possible over the head pop culture references…It between a PG-13 – R, rating.
So thanks for letting me play catch up, next time it will be issue by issue. For more visit your local comic book store, or digitally download the comics…until next time follow my lead recite me creed and smile…darn ya…smile.
The satire and pop-culture references are not pushed down our throats. Excellent writing by Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner. If you like a hybrid of realistic/cartoon violence these comics are still for you.