Harley Quinn is back this week with a new issue. Nothing witty or anything at all to say besides that. Let’s just find out: Is it good?
Harley Quinn #4 (DC Comics)
Harley Quinn is heading to her new job as a psychiatrist for a nursing home, under her former identity as Dr. Harleen Quinzel. While there, she meets with lady who tells her a sad story about how her family never visits her and she is extremely depressed because of it. Her story moves Harley and the crazy clown girl knows what she must do… and it is completely crazy and is rather poorly thought out to boot.
Yeah. She’s plenty nuts already and we don’t need to make her worse.
This issue was a bit of a switch for me, being the weakest comedy-wise but the strongest with the story itself. Writers Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti downplay the playfulness — dipping into a much more mean-spirited sense of humor and a rather oddly placed parody scene. The initial setup is that a family for an older woman is being neglectful and not visiting the poor lady, so Harley decides to kidnap them and then kick them into the ocean while still being tied up. The initial solicits or implications implied that this would be a very nasty family and deserved what’s coming to them, but it’s quite the opposite as it turns out upon initially meeting them and the twist that comes later. They have their problems to be sure, but they do nothing to deserve what happens to them and it paints Harley in really bad light. It personally would have been better if this storyline made them a more villainous family or she was just originally kidnapping them so they could go meet the lady.
There is some humor here that works though in comparison, like the entire roller derby scene or the initial meeting with this family, though the issue is still weak in comparison to the rest of the series. The story here, or more so, the progression is the strongest part of the comic. We finally get some answers to learning about how Harley is able to walk around in broad daylight or even get a job , we get to see her at her jobs (very good at showing both sides of her and her characterization), we get follow up on on a person who was watching her, and we even get a neat cliffhanger that has a lot of potential for fun from the sounds of it. Characterization for Harley was a mixed bag this time like I said. Showing her at her jobs did a great job at showing the kind of person she and made her a rather likeable, if still insane character; while the main plot with the family made her rather unlikeable.
Look Harley, you can’t ask a kid questions if you stuff a sock into his mouth.
The artwork is provided by Stephane Roux, who did half of issue #2. Roux is better than Hardin at drawing people and facial expressions (most of the time, since there are some that look rather weird and do not convey the proper emotion for the moment) and features a style that is a bit more cartoonish and goofy. As such, Roux’s work fits the tone of the series a bit more here, especially backed by Paul Mounts’ colors. He is also as good at drawing backgrounds, scenery, and layouts as well. All in all, it’s a good looking book even with a fill-in.
Is It Good?
Harley Quinn #4 is the weakest of the series so far. The story is getting more interesting, and the artwork is beautiful; but a lot of the humor missed its mark and even hurt some of the characterization for Harley. Even with its misstep, this is still a comic worth your time reading and maybe even the humor will work for you when it didn’t with me. Give it a shot and see what it has in store.