How do you mess up a comic series so quickly?
If you haven’t been able to tell from previous reviews, I’m a fan of Harley Quinn. I’ve got a metal print signed by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti sitting right next to me as I speak. In planning my half-sleeve tattoo of nerdy things I love, Harley’s diamonds are right up there with Cap’s shield. As a fan of the Crown Princess of Crime, I put this forward to you, gentle reader: how do you mess up a comic so quickly?
After the departure of Palmiotti and Conner, it was clear that the comic would be moving back to a slightly sillier, more “villain-of-the-week” kind of comic, rather than the character-driven one that ended a few months ago. The Penguin has come to take his revenge on all of Coney Island, apparently, and taking out Harley and her friends is the centerpiece of Penguin’s dastardly plot. As is hypnotizing everyone in Coney to hate Harley for a minute or so. This is the big climax of the first post-Palmiotti/Conner storyline and I’m…reading it. That’s the most I can say right now, because I am distracted by just too many things that won’t allow me to enjoy the story as I want to.
Writer Frank Tieri has done fine, really, in picking up a new direction for Harley. I’m a bit miffed about having certain characters just randomly show up for the big fight-o-rama with no other interaction (Catwoman, Poison Ivy, and Harley Sinn, apparently recovered from having her kneecaps blown off). Having artists shift from issue to issue and A-story to B-story within the arc is distracting. I’m not sure anymore, looking back over the past few issues, that there is as clear a design for the newest iteration of Harley as I imagined. The artists seem to be chosen based on their abilties to draw certain villains with Harley and the bunch as a secondary consideration. Inaki Miranda does one hell of a Killer Croc. Looks great every time. Several of his other characters, however, have solid black eyes and Harley herself just looks odd. The running mascara/bags under her eyes are indistinct and off somehow. His character design is fine, but nothing stands out as fantastic besides Croc and Scarecrow. Meanwhile, in pages interspersed throughout Inaki’s darker tone is the slightly-Chibi-esque style of secondary artist, Moritat. In their own comic, the gang of Harleys hunting down Superfriends-era Solomon Grundy would be a Scooby Doo remake I’d pay for. The sharp contrast going from Inaki to Moritat is just too much to keep any integrity through the comic, however. It really, really bugs me. If the B-story is a section unto itself, fine, no harm-no foul. But interwoven with a completely different art style? Nope.
I’m still hopeful for the Old Woman Harley arc coming next, but I’m going to be wary of the series and it might have to go on pause for me if the inconsistencies in art and story aren’t addressed quickly.