After a surprisingly (and in a lot of ways, refreshingly) short, three issue arc, Harley Quinn kicks off a new one in issue #4. Is it good?
Harley Quinn #4 (DC Comics)
The issue starts by briefly touching on the events of the last arc, as we see Coney Island is still in cleanup mode after the whole zombie infestation debacle. This serves as a jumping off point for the new arc though, as Harley strikes a deal with the local Nate-man’s hot dog guy (the source of the infestation of last arc) to reinvigorate his failing business by acting like a walking billboard. This sends her marching about the boardwalk, exclaiming to anyone who’ll listen about how much she loves putting Nate-man weiners in her mouth (replete with the expected innuendos), which eventually leads her to a mysterious new storefront named “Frank Frank”. Curious, Harley enters to find, naturally, a man named Frank dispensing frank advice who trades life advice for a hot dog–or a frank, if you want to play along. Frank Frank eats franks by the frank-shore…or something.
From there, Harley gets a phone call that sends her off on her next mission, along with Bolly Quinn, to Mumbai. This kind of meandering plot can be seen one of two ways–you can either intepret it as engaging or aimless. Harley Quinn has always been a little lighter hearted than some other DC titles, so at least you know what you’re getting yourself into. For my money though, I love it. I could read Harley’s thoughts on watching paint dry and be entertained, so long as the dialogue is written as sharply as it nearly always is by Jimmy Palmiotti.
That’s the other aspect that might be a problem for some: it’s not really too action-heavy. Be prepared to read a lot of dialogue. Again, this wasn’t an issue at all for me and in fact that’s what I come into a book like Harley Quinn expecting and wanting, but your mileage may vary.
This issue was a lot of fun, but in some ways also felt a little hollow. It’s a done-in-one, which is always welcome, but it’s also hard to make such issues feel like they ultimately mattered. I had a lot of fun reading it, but at the end of the day could I have completely skipped this issue and not missed much? Probably. So your enjoyment of a comic like this will come down to what exactly it is you’re here for. If you want to sit back and enjoy the ride, you’ve come to the right place. If you’re looking for impactful action and insane cliffhangers that make the next issue seem like a must read, I’m not so sure you’re going to walk away from this satisfied.
The artwork is unsurprisingly consistent with most issues in the series. Outside of some panels where Harley looks a little off-model, she’s rendered beautifully here and the art always complements the wacky goings on in the storyline. The robotic baddie introduced later in the issue is drawn well and pretty unique, which can be tough since how many menacing robots have there been over the years? There’s also a great scene in an Indian tech support call center that I thought was done extremely well.
Is It Good?
Harley Quinn #4 does what this series does best: it puts you in the passenger seat to observe a day in the insane life of Harley Quinn, from eating possibly alien-infected hot dogs to battling mechanical baddies in Mumbai. The pacing may not appeal to everyone, but if you’ve been enjoying Conner and Palmiotti’s take on Quinn thus far, you’ll continue to enjoy it here.