Harley Quinn #1

harley quinn 1 cover connerA couple of years ago, the morons left in charge of DC comics while the adults were out of town decided that  D.C should stand for Dumbass Comics. Everything got dumbed down, the sex and violence went up, the guys turned into jerks and the girls turned into sluts. For God’s sake, they even had Batman and Catwoman humping away on the page! But to me the greatest sin of the whole debased attempt at getting more kids to buy DC comics was the virtual evisceration of my favorite comic book character – the classic Harley Quinn.

The New 52 Harley Quinn murdered children and went around hitting on men other than Mr. J – so much for the woman who was so obsessed with love ( as opposed to sex ) that Etrigan threw her out of hell before she could drive him insane with her romantic drivel! Gone was the cute, goofy, funny, obsessive romantic of the past, replaced by a much grimmer, much sluttier, kiddie-murdering dirtbag. And that simply isn’t good enough. Get this through your thick heads, DC, the thing that made Harley cool, made her more than a Joker rip-off, was the cute. It’s all about the cute, it’s all about the goofy. Without these things, Harley is a redundancy, a lame reflection of the Joker, a female version of a character that we already have!

Now, for whatever miraculous reason, the clowns who messed up the circus have actually made a smart decision – they have brought back something very close to the classic Harley. The new Harley Quinn #1 took me completely by surprise — as opposed to Harley Quinn 0, which was as crappy as I expected. Harley is pretty much back to her real self, being wacky and funny, talking to her beaver –  a stuffed one as far as I can tell –  and using her mallet to knock people’s blocks off. As much as I love Amanda Conner’s artwork (can you say “Power Girl”?) her writing (she gets first credit over Palmiotti so I am assuming it is mostly her work) on the Zero issue had me thinking that she should put away the typewriter. Turns out she was just having a bad issue. Conner’s writing on this latest issue is funny, goofy, inventive and has me looking forward to many more such issues. And I love the idea of Harl being involved with a freak show, if there is a more fitting setting for my favorite clown girl I don’t know what it is. Even Arkham runs a close second.

The other outstanding thing about this issue is the artwork. Though I would prefer a more cartoonish style, I love the way this guy Chad Hardin does Harley – even the street hooker costume and the bi-colored hair are bearable under his deft handling. She’s cute enough for my taste while at the same time being gorgeous…

harley chad hardin

I think Hardin is probably my favorite Harley artist outside of Bruce Timm. Maybe Conner is equal second with Hardin, can’t really tell yet. Either way, Hardin is an excellent, excellent choice. Very nice color art by Alex Sinclair as well. Man, colorists are real artists these days – god bless the bloody computer!

Hardin is also very good at expressions, as we can see in these panels featuring both Harley and the little guy who is about to become her new pet wiener…

harley quinn wiener

I especially love the mouth in the fourth panel. Could have done without the snot, though!

A puzzling thing about this comic – puzzling in a cool way – is the inclusion of, of all people, Glenn Danzig as a supporting character. I have recently been spending a lot of time watching the videos of “Mother” and “Am I Demon”, so it felt kind of surreal to see him pop out of my television and into this comic. True, the character is called Big Tony, and at about 3’2” high he’s a bit taller than Danzig, but there is no mistaking that classic outfit…

harley and glenn big tony danzigThe only thing I don’t like about this welcome change in Harleen’s fortunes is the cover. Nope, much as I love Conner’s art, I don’t dig the cover at all. Too stocky, face too full, hips too narrow. Oh well, you can’t have everything…and she does make up for it with the cover of number two…

harley quinn 2 conner cover

Like any good first issue, Harley Quinn #1 leaves a few questions un-answered. Will Harley end up running the Freak Show? Who left her the place to begin with? Is it the same person who keeps sending third-rate hitmen to try to do her in? Will Harley get that new job as a shrink? Will Glenn Danzig sue me for making fun of his height? Hell, I don’t know. But if issue one is anything to go by, it should be great fun finding out!

 

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