The change in regime at the creative helm of Harley Quinn has been paralleled by the change in control of Coney Island itself. Change is messy, sometimes violent, and always comes with some necessary adjustments. The latest issue from the new team of writer Frank Tieri and artist John Timms is perhaps a symptom of the growing pains new creative teams must go through to establish themselves apart from their predecessors.
Thanks to Dr. Hugo Strange and False Face, another of Batman’s crummiest villains, Coach has been kidnapped after discovering how Harley was drugged and manipulated by Penguin for nefarious purposes. I’ll come back to this one. A quick headbutt to the face and a visit from Scarface quickly move Harley (and Red Tool yay! Guys?) back to the sideshow paradise beset by the various villains from Batman’s JV Squad. One of the few heavy hitters, however, is Mr. Freeze, who has commandeered the coastline and is confronted by former Coney Island circus attraction, Killer Croc.
With the changes in attitude and changes in latitude we saw in the past few issues, I’m disappointed to see that Harley’s Coney Island rumspringa was just a plot by Penguin and the less-famous Dr. Strange. That revelation, above all else, made me “meh” out loud on this whole story. Harley didn’t get to make her own choice as to how to grieve and recover from the death of Mason Macabre? She was forced into it by a drug-wielding madman?
I’ve also come to the conclusion that multiple artists over several issues on a book is fine, but not when it’s one continuous storyline. Harley’s new look has been decently consistent, but secondary artist Moritat really missed the mark on her in his pages. He did, however, draw a wicked Killer Croc. On the other hand, primary artist Timms has produced a sub-par Croc while hitting Harley’s look solidly. The struggles of a constantly shifting creative team are real and, unfortunately, has produced an inconsistent book since the departure of Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner, regardless of who is on pencils. I’m looking forward to seeing where the story is headed with Killer Croc’s background and Harley returning to Coney, but I’m hoping to see the return of the Harley we’ve grown to know and love over the past few years.