The best part about Harley Quinn, or at least the current iteration in the comics, is that she’s good at heart but willing to bring a lot of violence down on minor villains. For instance, a bully might tick her off and she rips his ears off. I take a look at the heroically insane Harley Quinn to ask the question, is it good?
Harley Quinn #26 (DC Comics)
Harley is moving to New York (apparently it’s a train ride away, who knew?) and she settles down in Coney Island. The mayor is up to no good and her roller derby league is about to get serious.
Why does this book matter?
With the Suicide Squad movie only a few short months away this book is going to have a lot of attention and thus the quality better be high! At the same time, the creative team is up for a GLAAD award for their work on this series (the winner will be announced April 2nd) so they gotta be doing something right!
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
I wasn’t once bored while reading this book. I’m going to be completely straight with you people, I was never a big fan of the comic book version of this character. The identity never seemed locked down enough and it wasn’t the Harley I grew up with in Batman: The Animated Series. This version of Harley is solid though as she’s just the right amount of good mixed with the right amount of rational insanity. Take for instance an early scene in this issue where she takes on four bullies. They are giving her trouble because she’s on their turf and to teach them a lesson she tears out their hair and ears. It suits the character too because Joker bullied her for years, and it sends a strong message to the readers.
Later Harley deals with a guy who comments on her “tasty ass.” There are two full pages devoted to this interchange and in a lot of ways it could serve as a lesson to jerks who treat women like pieces of meat. At the same time though the dialogue is interesting and fluid and it never feels preachy. That’s impressive.
The issue also opens with a fantastic bang as Harley is having a nightmare that creatively weaves in Joker. Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti have a very well written work due to the snappy dialogue, solid captions and a story that is paced well. While Harley gets comfortable in her new surroundings the story flashes back to Wayne Wilkins recuperating in the hospital. We see how he goes from slightly hurt man to monster cyborg killer and while that’s typical comic book stuff, the dialogue is mature and complex.
The art by John Timms and Chad Hardin is quite pleasing on the eyes too. Harley always looks sexy, yet respectable; humorous moments land well (which is really tough!) and even when there are dialogue heavy moments you’re never bored. That’s in part due to the well designed layouts, like a four-panel tier where Harley is dealing with the bullies. In the first we get the bully reaction, then a soft and gentle Harley moving in for the kill, in the third panel a reaction from the bully as he appears to understand what might just happen, and finally in the fourth panel she lays the smackdown and he’s in full panic mode. The page is finished with a panel running along the bottom of the mayhem she’s inflicted. This all adds up to well paced storytelling which, like a shadow boxer, hops and moves along with the dialogue quite well.
It can’t be perfect can it?
The weakest element of this issue is a one page setup of the villains. It’s not necessarily bad per se, it’s just a very “been there done that.”
The Metamorpho story is also a drag largely because it doesn’t go anywhere.
He probably deserves it.
Is It Good?
Strong social messages, well balanced and paced storytelling with fantastic dialogue makes this a winner from beginning to end. Bar none this is how character writing should be. On top of that it’s very new reader friendly.