After last issue’s entertaining, if a bit hollow done-in-one story, Harley finds herself in a caper we can hopefully sink our teeth into. Is it good?
Harley Quinn #5 (DC Comics)
“EAT TO THIS BEAT” part one! There’s been a string of brutal robberies and slayings up and down the East Coast, and the assailants are…knights on horseback?! Harley’s got a lead on the men behind the iron masks, but to find them she’s going to have to go undercover in the strangest place of all…New York’s punk scene!
If you haven’t been following up with the renumbered Harley Quinn, this is as good a jumping on point as any, as the first arc was a short three issues and issue #4 was self contained. As the synopsis says, numerous acts of violence have been perpetrated by mysterious knights riding on horseback, and Harley’s hell bent on taking ’em down. To do that, of course, she’ll have to shave her hair into a multicolored mohawk and covertly create a punk rock band.
The premise is as out there as any other for Harley Quinn, which depending on your view of the series thus far is either great or not so great. Personally I dig it, and as creators Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner explained in their exclusive interview with us, the arc will eventually include some aspects of Harley’s past, where the more resonating, emotional beats can usually be found. So even if this first issue isn’t your cup of tea, I’d suggest chalking that up to setup and sticking out the story arc, because as they said–and things in this issue corroborate their claim–things will be heating up soon enough.
Harley Quinn in a punk band is pretty much a match made in heaven, and the situation should create some memorable moments. This issue mostly kind of just plants those seeds though, so we won’t see the fruits of its labor until later down the line.
As far as taking this issue at face value, a lot of Harley Quinn issues are kinda like fast food. It’s easy, it’s over quick, and while it might not be the most enlightening thing in the world, damn is it tasty. And there’s room in life for both–I can appreciate a well cooked meal, but sometimes nothing sounds better than a quick greasy cheeseburger. You aren’t going to find a lot of allegories to real life problems or biting political commentary in an issue of Quinn that you might in some of the more haughty superhero titles, but you are going to have a hell of a lot of fun with one of the most unique characters in the Big Two.
Speaking of uniqueness, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Red Tool, who appears in this issue. Red Tool is of course a blatant copy of Deadpool, but hey whatever because who hasn’t fantasized about a Harley Quinn/Deadpool crossover? Red Tool gives us the ability to live out that fantasy without all the nasty little legal issues like copyright rearing their ugly heads, so let’s just enjoy it.
I quite like the artwork in this issue, handled by John Timms this time around. He draws a Harley that is ever so slightly more realistic than the previous issue. It’s also a lot more sultry than previous–while there isn’t any overt sexuality, Harley is laying and leaning in provocative positions while wearing not much more than a nightie in a few panels. Couple this with the excellent coloring, perhaps most noticeable on Harley’s multicolored hair, and you have one good looking issue of Harley Quinn indeed.
The layouts can be quite inventive as well, and I really like Red Tool’s custom speech bubbles (hmm, doesn’t another wisecracking antihero have this in common with Red Tool?) that look like literal tools. Good stuff.
Is It Good?
This is another ‘junk food’ kind of issue, as while it isn’t the most stimulating experience in the world, it drips out just enough dopamine to make your brain crave more. It also helps lay the ground work for what should be a more emotionally satisfying storyline coming down the pipeline.