Harley Quinn has had one heck of a year, both in-universe and out–her big screen debut was one of the lone bright spots of the otherwise maligned Suicide Squad film, while on the comics side Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner have been busy carving a reputation for one of the most entertaining mainstream comics on stands. In Volume 6, Harley meets the Fool with the Tools, competes in Roller Derby, and pilots a Harley-zord. Just another day at the office for the former Harleen Quinzel, but is it good?
Harley Quinn Vol. 6: Black White, and Red All Over (DC Comics)
Volume 6 collects Harley Quinn #26-30, where Harley’s life on Coney Island is really shifting into high gear. But before we check in with her, we’re almost immediately thrown into the origin story of Red Tool–real name Wade Wilson Wayne Wilkins–who lost his arm, and later his ability to feel pain thanks to experimental nerve surgery, in the war. Like many others, he’s got the hots for Harley, so he does what any gentleman would do to attract the attention of a fine lass: he kidnaps her, tattoos his phone number on her asscheek, and sets up a wedding for the two without her consent!
Red Tool is a focal point of the trade–it does detail his origin, after all. However, if I’m being honest, I’m not sure I’m a fan of his. He’s a shameless knockoff of Deadpool right down to his rhyming name and costume, but Deadpool’s trademark is witty banter and rather than being bitingly clever, Red Tool is just…kind of a doofus. His origin story is top-notch and the blatant Deadpool references (Wayne Wilkins?!) are pretty in your face, so it’s clear they are owning the knockoff. Palimiotti and Conner are definitely clever enough to write Deadpool-like dialogue better than almost anyone, but for whatever reason, they just don’t. Sure, he has a crazy side, but for the most part he comes off like a lovesick fool cosplaying Deadpool. He’s not exactly a terribly likable guy, either, considering some of the stuff he put Harley through from day one. So if he’s not relatable nor is he bringing the laughs like our favorite Merc With a Mouth rarely fails to do, what’s the point?
Red Tool gripes aside, this is a hilarious, engaging graphic novel. Harley’s adventures really run the gamut here, so there’s really something for everyone. There’s a roller derby featuring her badass alter ego Killer Kwinn, a shootout with the police (looks like her…arrangement with the mayor is about to be called off), and even a crazy-even-for-Harley-Quinn Transformers/Megazord style battle with a transforming car that looks a mecha-Harley Quinn (for some reason).
It’s a funny book as well, as you’d probably expect. Palmiotti and Conner hit some home runs with the puns and sexual situations Harley gets herself into. A favorite scene of mine though was mecha-Harley winning a battle via “ass blossom”–missiles coming out of its rear end. She deposits said missiles into a house as if the mech was taking a dump and okay when I type it in front of my eyes it’s clear I have the sense of humor of a 12 year old.
The artwork, mostly handled by John Timms with help from Chad Hardin, is solid as always. This volume in particular features some killer covers (especially the cover they chose for the trade, via Harley Quinn #30) and some awesome full-page spreads. Harley chained to the tree to kick off the last issue is frame worthy. There are some scenes where things look a bit rushed, like a recurring issue where if Harley’s face lacks enough detail she look something like an alien. It can be a bit off putting, but not enough to take you out of the story. Overall the artwork is energetic, colorful, and sexy.
Is It Good?
Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner continue to use their mastery of Harley as a character to tell interesting, unique stories, backed up by John Timms’ solid artwork. Harley Quinn Vol. 6: Black White, and Red All Over is eccentric, endearing, and a little bit all over the place, much like Harley herself. This volume is worthy of a spot on any Harley Quinn fan’s bookshelf–especially if you’re a fan of Red Tool.