Harley Quinn’s still getting accustomed to her new digs, and she makes the rounds meeting her tenants.
Quinn’s new building hosts a menagerie of freak shows, carnival attractions, and one House of Wax and Murder run by Madame Macabre who dresses the part down to the Elmyra skull that keeps her ponytail together.
Harley’s in the market for a refrigerator — the bigger the better — and Macabre points her to a chemical factory unloading its inventory. On her way back home, Harley stops by a pet adoption where a group of protesters inspires her to call BFF Poison Ivy for a mission possible.
Together, the deranged duo create a scene by releasing all of the pets, en masse. As Quinn tries to get control over the situation by chasing after the strays, another assassin tries to run her down.
There’s a lot to like about Harley Quinn #3, though there’s also a feeling this train could derail itself at any point. Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti are still building up the environment and atmosphere for Quinn’s world, and while there are plenty of elements worth holding onto, the foundation just isn’t all there.
Again, the title shows potential with amazing art by Chad Hardin and Stephane Roux who create a beautiful issue with some minor flaws — most likely due to having two artists’ interpretations in the same issue without breaks. Overall, the tone doesn’t shift too heavily in one direction, but seeing Poison Ivy de-age page by page is a bit jarring. Details are great, and the styling is very unique. You get the sense that DC has put the issue in very talented hands because of the polish.
But back to the plotting — things are still interesting and a bit mysterious as Quinn finds it difficult to continue her pace of killing and storing her would-be assassins. The setup so far has Quinn’s life packed with things to do, places to go, and people to meet. None of it, so far, feels weighted enough, especially the central assassination plot that’s sort of simmering when it should have a greater degree of urgency.
Poison Ivy’s guest-starring role adds some flavor, but it also highlights the problem with the issue and title — the lack of a tangible center that will carry over with heavy influence. It’s like a switch that turns on and off. Scenes
play out one by one without solid cohesion. It feels episodic, but that’s the direction the writers are going as they build up to something.
That’s not to say Harley Quinn is a stinker. The antics give Harley character, and the over-the-top action sequences add a bit of flair to the title. Again, the art is beautiful with its dynamic facial expressions, moving action, and attractive characters. I wouldn’t say the writing is dead on arrival — right now, it’s just a little lackluster. Sometimes, it just feels a little juvenile and distant, and I’m not sure if this, as the status quo, will continue to hook anyone but the casual reader.
That said, I don’t think we’ve seen the peaks or even the valleys, so I’m holding out hope. I’m waiting on Conner and Palmiotti to rev this title up with something that’s original and endearing. Original because the title is suffering from being borderline cliche. Endearing because it’s really difficult to relate to Harley without the dynamic that made her so popular before — that unrequited love/obsession many can relate to.
Don’t get me wrong — Harley can exist without the Joker. But it’s going to take more than a hijink-of-the-month to keep me interested. We all know Harley is a few cards short of a full deck, but it isn’t clear whether readers should approach the title the same way. For all of the mayhem and murder, are we in on the joke or just hanging along for the ride?
Harley Quinn #2 (2013)
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Words: Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti
Art: Chad Hardin and Stephane Roux
Colors: Alex Sinclair
Letters: John J. Hill