It’s Harley vs. Red Tool (hmm, that name sounds vaguely familiar…) in the latest issue of Harley Quinn. A versus issue sounds like fun, but is it good?
Harley Quinn #27 (DC Comics)
So what’s it about? The official DC summary reads:
Harley’s known for her even temperament and economy of language—oh, we can’t even finish that sentence. Let’s face it: she’s crazy, and she talks too much. So what happens when she discovers a nemesis even more insane and more hyper-loquacious? It’s Harley vs. the unbelievable Redtool!
Why does this book matter?
Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner have made Harley complex, funny, and a lot of the time endearing. She’s still silly as heck (she talks to a stuffed beaver for crying out loud), but they’ve instilled a uniqueness in the character that has separated her from the other crazy characters out there. One such character, who also kills and cracks jokes, appears to be spoofed this week ::coughDeadpoolcough:: which makes this a necessary read.
Time to fight!
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Last issue ended with readers finding out Harley was going up against Red Tool in her roller derby league. Just one loop around the track and then weapons are allowed. For an underground league of killing–which sounds a bit much for a “hero” like Harley–those are some high stakes. They don’t disappoint as there’s a lot of action and violence in the first eight pages or so all about Red Tool and Harley coming to blows. They also deliver some rather silly dialogue with a ton of alliteration going on, which helps make the action feel less serious.
The remaining 14 pages progress the plot with the villains (briefly introduced last month), reveal much of Red Tool’s backstory (told via kidnapping), and effectively set up the next issue. All in all Palmiotti and Conner have once again stuffed this book to the gills. I don’t know if it’s the amount of dialogue or what, but most of their issues read like you’re getting your bang for your buck given how long it takes to read them.
They’ve done well to establish a unique relationship between Harley and Red Tool, although the mystery of who he is and how he knows her is still up in the air. They’re both weird, love to enact justice, and are pretty bad with boundaries.
Artist John Timms does a fantastic job drawing this issue, with a great deal of pop from Alex Sinclair too. The style reminds me of something out of the Image Comics’ 90s days as it’s detailed and always nice to look at. Small facial expressions work wonders to land humor, but beyond that the art allows the dialogue to flow nicely even when it runs long. Considering how many panels there are on each page to sustain all this dialogue Timms should be given extra kudos that’s for sure. The full page splash is also really quite beautiful with a ton of detail in the stained glass windows and quite a dramatic angle to boot.
It can’t be perfect can it?
By the end of this issue I don’t know if I like Red Tool, nor do I really care who he is. He’s outrageous and silly for sure, but the voice isn’t quite defined yet. I know he’s supposed to be a bit of a silly take on Deadpool, but it isn’t as obvious as you might think. The costume is there sure, but he’s not as funny as Deadpool is, just goofier.
I didn’t find much of this issue that funny either. There’s the–at least for this series–usual butt and beaver jokes, but they’re so light and not edgy that they just didn’t elicit laughs out of me. Maybe they’d work better on teenagers, but overall it’s like reading characters who think they’re funny but aren’t.
I’m a bit hazy on the whole Harley killing folks thing.
Is It Good?
The issue rolls along at a good pace with plenty of action, exposition, and interesting story elements. I wouldn’t call Red Tool a smashing success who needs his own book anytime soon, but he certainly adds a certain element that’ll make me come back next month.