HARLEY QUINN # 7, written by Amanda Connor and Jimmy Palmiotti, art by Chad Hardin, colored by Alex Sinclair and Paul Mounts, is a gory black comedy romp where Harley and Ivy figure out and take out who put a hit on Harley’s head. This is fine…if you like dismemberment and a murderous Harley. If you don’t, well…
Nobody is more worthy than their own series than Harley Quinn. Her first solo book had her breaking the fourth wall Jennifer Walters style and had her to my recollection, more of an anti-villain or anti-hero feel. Harley’s success story of cross media adaptation and has at least in the last half a decade or more, been more or less independent of The Joker. While I see and feel what Connor and Palmiotti are aiming for here; I feel the execution isn’t quite right. The ingredients are there; but, with this current issue, I think a slight dialing back is in order for my tastes .
A canon, official Harley and Ivy pairing is perhaps one the best parts of this book. No more teasing, no more queer baiting. It’s refreshing to say the least. That’s an ongoing positive here. Ivy’s firm, if not exasperated and vaguely mothering of Harley keeps with tradition and it fits. Their banter, especially when Ivy keeps trying to get Harley to get to sleep as she stakes out to see who is behind Harley’s laptop hacking, is very, very funny. The situational humor during fight scenes are likewise great stuff.
Harley’s menagerie of misfit friends and associates (that beaver…), her stolen dachshund, etc, are all pitch perfect for a grotesque John Waters or Its Always Sunny In Philidelphia-like atmosphere. The comedy here is actually pretty effective; and for the most part was fun to read. You can tell they are aiming for that sort of crass, Secret Six -like tone here. Amanda and Palmiotti are always good at that kind of irreverent humor. I do think their run on Powergirl is overall better and more effective, however.
Harley’s pajamas are also a better costume than her actual costume.
Art really wasn’t doing it for me much. It’s just okay. Sometimes pretty, sometimes not so great. At times it didn’t=flow terribly well for me; there were moments from scene to scene and even just panel to panel that left me confused. To be fair in some cases the script wasn’t helping. I did not like Ivy’s internal dialogue here either. Coloring, likewise was rather blase and a bit too bright. I feel Ian Bertram, who just drew BATMAN ETERNAL #11, with his R. Crumb and Chris Burnham-esque artwork (which I liked quite a bit), would be a great fit for Harley and co, particularly with this tone and content.
Ivy’s strange depowering during the home invasion, despite wearing her suit was a bit glaring. Ivy’s a powerhouse. When you act like she doesn’t have her powers the way that she does, you’re doing it wrong. What makes it worse is that she uses them rather fully later in the book. The whole arc here is a bit lackluster, the reveal not terribly jarring. It’s not bad. But it’s not as great as it could be?
I like gory, comedic violence but this book is just a bit too much. Not to say it shouldn’t be violent; but with a bit more restraint, a bit more pulling back, and it would be fine. Am I too prudish? Maybe. It comes down to the fact that since the reboot, Harley’s body-count has just skyrocketed. And it doesn’t really sit right with me. I realize this is a new Harley, but something about Harley blowing up dozens of children via a videogame among some of the other things she’s done in the reboot has put a bad taste in my mouth.
All this may simply be related to my overall disfavor of Harley now having the permanent bleached clown-makeup skin and harlequin colored hair. I always thought the fact that Harley could take off her costume and make-up further distanced her from the Joker despite being his moll/side-kick. It also was a great metaphor for her being able to discard it all…if she wanted. That there was always a way out or a chance to change. Her being bleached just like the Joker makes her more derivative and eliminates the duality that she formerly had. It’s less subtle. Perhaps it will grow on me. Perhaps not. This is fun stuff in princple, and Harley’s making bank in sales, which is a good thing. I’m interested to see the trail of carnage she can create, whether I can stomach it or not.