Tini Howard’s Harley Quinn run is…mediocre. I’ve read Harley Screws Up the DCU, so Tini’s writing of Harley is almost refreshing in a sense. This issue in particular is probably the most decent I’ve read so far. That’s mainly because it’s just mostly innocent dialogue between characters setting up where the story is at now and where the story is going in the future. If only Tini would completely remove the little innuendos, this might not be a bad book for kids. The fact of the matter is, however, that most kids don’t read comics these days.
I, for one, don’t despise Sweeney Boo’s artwork for this series. That said, the colors are so bright and solid (some of the items that are colored have no detail, so you just get solid blocks of bright red, green, and yellow) that I can understand how some readers would find it obnoxious. My only personal gripe about the artwork is that Sweeney Boo really does draw Harley as if she’s a rabbit. She gives her a buck tooth that constantly sticks out, pigtails so long they look like rabbit ears, and giant feet as well. I also think that artists in general have been drawing Harley a bit too young-looking. Harley is childish, that’s true, but we need to remember that, physically, she has to be in her 30s now.
The Story Is There, But the Execution Is Not
Once again, most of this story is just dialogue between Harley and Captain Carrot, and it’s all pretty innocent. I continue to be reminded that this series has some interesting ideas that just aren’t executed well, however. The set up of Harley taking on a new job and worrying about her mental illnesses interferring is great! But what ARE Harley’s mental illnesses? I’m not just asking in regards to how she’s been portrayed in the past, I’m asking what her insanity exactly is supposed to be in this book. She’s being punished for pulling a fish out of another dimension… but how does that relate to her being crazy? Later…
Harley is given a carrot by Captain Carrot to defend herself when she gets into trouble. When she uses it, Lady Quark comes back and tells Harley that she has desecrated the multiverse; now Harley’s world must die. How is using a weapon from another dimension, clearly for the purpose of self-defense, related to Harley’s insanity?
Tini does finally try to give Harley some smarts as she talks to her students. The thought is there, but once again, the execution needs to be much better. If we saw Harley subtly doing things that were very smart throughout the series, showing that she isn’t nearly as dumb as people think, that would work. However, making Harley act like a ten year old 99% of the time only to all-of-a-sudden use doctor jargon just does not make it believable.
Weird Continuity Issues with Poison Ivy
Meanwhile, Ivy comes back. Luckily, Tini holds back on the over-sexualization of their relationship and makes them mostly carry on a normal conversation. There are some weird continuity errors here, though. Ivy comes to Gotham, wearing the same clothes as in her own series, but her reunion with Harley is completely different. The context of Ivy’s return has also changed. She came to Harley with secrets and lies in her own series, but doesn’t appear to have anything to hide here. Ivy is also portrayed as a completely different character. She’s more or less the regular, dangerous, plant-goddess Poison Ivy in her own series, but here, she’s just Harley’s girlfriend who gets along with everyone in Gotham just fine.
It’s a very weird half-way point in trying to match continuity between these books. It’s also interesting how Ivy and Harley will completely change personalities just to fit each other’s stories and complement each other at all times. I doubt we’ll have to worry about that too much longer though, since Ivy is quick to announce that she’s due for some time in Slaughter Swamp. She says she actually won’t be able to be around Harley that much. I’m sorry, what?
DC Doesn’t Want to Do “Harlivy”
This is the third or fourth time DC has done this in the past 4 years. They will orchestrate some kind of event to drive Harley and Ivy apart. They will then spend issue after issue on the separation of the pair, building up to a grand reunion where it seems Harley and Ivy will FINALLY be together consistently. They’ll let the two get back together for one issue (if that) and then orchestrate another immediate separation. The cycle then continues. They’ve done this for years now. Anyone who’s been paying attention can figure it out. It’s kind of DC’s work-around to do their romantic relationship, while also NOT doing it.
For a person who really wants Harley and Ivy together, I imagine that’s disappointing. For a person like me, however, who does not like this pairing, I just have to wonder why DC keeps baiting this relationship if they don’t actually want to do it? Perhaps it really was all a show to keep up appearances after the Max Harley Quinn show did their relationship in full.
Heather Anne Campbell presents to us a story where the Joker approaches Harley to control a giant robot*. While the Joker is explaining the controls to Harley, she accidentally fires off the canons, killing him. Then the story moves along at an incredibly rapid pace where the Joker’s death triggers a bomb that will explode at the base, and Catwoman and Ivy show up to help Harley stop it before there’s an explosion which is followed by a heartfelt message about starting anew, etc.
There are good things to this story, like Filya Bratukhin’s manga-style artwork, and Heather Campbell has a great voice for Harley. However, the story was way too crammed and fast-paced. It became nonsensical very quickly.
*(Harley mentions she hasn’t talked to Joker in forever. Well, that’s because DC is too afraid to let them ever interact!)
- You’re still interested in anything which includes Harley Quinn after all this time.
- Any moment between Harley and Ivy will get you to buy a comic.
Tini Howard continues a mostly harmless, yet nonsensical run with Harley Quinn here. I still don’t believe continuing with a mediocre ongoing series is going to help Harley’s character though. What would it take for DC to take a break from giving the character a solo series? Because I think giving the character LESS exposure would actually do her good right now.
Disclaimer: DC Comics presented Batman News a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.