Things are going pretty well for Harley.
She’s got a new place of her own, a new job, some friends.
If only she didn’t have random assassins lurking around every corner trying to collect a $2-million reward.
And it’s Valentine’s Day.
Without her “Puddin'” to keep her company, Harley spends most of the day alone riding on carnival rides at the beginning of Harley Quinn #3. But everywhere she goes, she’s reminded of how alone she is.
Even Big Tony has someone else — or rather did until he admits he played too hard to get. All that’s left for Harley to do is to get dressed up and hit the town, looking for someone to buy her a few drinks.
Harley Quinn #3 gets away from the central assassination plot to just explore one long and violent night with our plucky killer. After eating some berries from one of Poison Ivy’s plants, Quinn becomes a walking love-air freshener that makes everyone around her fall in love with her.
That leads to trouble when a bus full of convicts crashes, and it’s time for Harley Quinn to put on her best impression of Ash from Army of Darkness.
The plotting is much more refined this issue, and it’s the best issue so far from the married writing team of Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti. Harley’s puns work better here amidst the carnage and violence, and while it’s still a lot of over-the-top madness, it’s easier to suspend disbelief this time around with a sequence of events that’s a bit more plausible — enough to just go with it.
Perhaps the biggest saving grace for this issue, and maybe the title itself, is Big Tony — the character who seems the most grounded and relateable. I’m glad he’s not forced to become Harley Quinn’s love interest, and the fact he’s got someone else in mind makes him more than just another fixture for the title.
It’s also a nice perspective to see Harley Quinn become the object of everyone’s obsessed desire. Though she likely won’t get it, Quinn’s own love for the Joker seems just as crazy and one-sided.
Chad Hardin is back for the art, and this time he goes it alone. There’s a much more consistent look overall to the book, and Hardin’s Harley is looking better and better now without the unnecessary lines or twisted facial features. Hardin knows how to compose panels and keep things interesting. If I had to compare him to anyone — he’s DC’s artist on the level with Stuart Immonen or Sara Pichelli. The lines are clean, characters are distinct, visuals are detailed and attractive, and the title is one of DC’s best looking.
And where Immonen has Marte Gracia, Hardin has colorist extraordinaire Alex Sinclair. None of the panels look dull or lackluster thanks to Sinclair’s saturated primes and the vibrant and atmospheric lighting tones. Even Quinn’s skin is a perfect off-white that makes her look less zombie-ish and fits her character.
Though it’s another one-off story with some plot lines that might come back in future storylines, Harley Quinn #3 is a lot of fun if you’re willing to accept Quinn and the title’s various machinations. It’s evident from the storm cloud that follows and drenches Quinn that we’re dealing perhaps with unreliable narrators, and it’s part of the fun.
Every and anything goes, and this is a good two steps forward for the title in some ways because it’s easier to see why readers love Harley Quinn.
Harley Quinn #3 (2013)
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Words: Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti
Art: Chad Hardin
Colors: Alex Sinclair
Letters: John J. Hill