Sunday, July 19, 2015

Harley Quinn #18 Review

Written by: Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner
Art by: Chad Hardin, Jed Dougherty, Alex Sinclair and Hi-Fi
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: July 15, 2015

Cutthroat Gotham

The Gang of Harleys story continues and while it hasn't been a home run yet, it's at least been fun.   Last issue's introduction of Capt'n Horatio Strong as the big bad was pretty damn cool and in case you didn't read the issue, he's Popeye and he's awesome.  Like I said, it's been fun, but that's never been an issue with this book.  It's when Palmiotti and Conner mix the toilet humor and pop culture references in with an engaging story that we get something special.  While the Gang of Harleys has that potential, it hasn't quite gotten there yet.  Does this issue begin the ride down realizing your potential avenue?  Let's find out...

The issue opens with a nice, little recap of last issue and while it doesn't seem like it would necessarily get a newbie up to speed, it was good for a guy with no short term memory like myself. Then we get down to business with Harley and the Gang (and an awesome Eggy in a shark suit) heading off to Harpoon Hanks.  They are a little too late and Harlem and Harvey are already in Coney General Hospital and Horatio has left the scene.  After learning about Horatio's alien seaweed, the Gang splits up with Haley and Bolly Quinn heading off in the direction Horatio was last seen.

Palmiotti and Conner then give us a bit on gentrification that comes off more preachy than I'm used to in this book.  Hey, I don't like the hipsters much either and am aware that our country is slowly turning into a huge mass of sameness, but I read this book for laughs, not social commentary.  Actual, I read it for funny social commentary and this just wasn't that funny.

The next scene shows that Rockaway hasn't quite made it to the level of Brooklyn just yet when Harley and Bolly get phone jacked.  Harley tells the would-be robbers that her phone has a bomb in it and again, it's a little too drawn out of a joke to hit hard when we finally get the explosive punchline. It does lead to the two finding Horatio and the issue picks up the pace and the laughs.

The sailor man is trying to get a tattoo, but the needle won't pierce his now strong from alien seaweed skin.  He's pretty pissed and it gets worse with Bolly and Harley trying to kick the crap out of him. Desperate times call for desperate measures and Harley grabs some seaweed and things get trippy. They also get pretty awesome.

If you think that a drug induced vision of Harley as a pirate captain on the seven seas going against the Joker, Batman and so many other pirate themed Gothamites sounds funny, then you'd be right.  Palmiotti and Conner poke fun at the comics, but my favorite was the Killing Joke reference.  It all leads to a great fight between Harley and Joker...insults and clothes fly everywhere and it ends in a great looking full page spread.  I hope somebody out there picks this as cosplay for next years SDCC. Get on it, people!

The issue then kicks into high gear with a cool flashback fight with the Gang (minus Harley who landed in the hospital after her drug issues...just say no, kids!) trying it's hardest to defeat Horatio, but ending up on his ship somewhere in the Atlantic.  It doesn't look good for the Gang, that's for sure.

This issue was good, just not great.  It starts off pretty slow, but once Harley takes the seaweed, it picks up nicely.  The pirate Harley bit was the highlight of the issue and that's kind of a shame because it is the part that pushes the story forward the least.  It was fun though and looked fantastic.

In fact, the whole issue looked great.  Regular artist, Chad Hardin, always does a great job on this book and his character work on the Gang is great.  However, it was Jed Dougherty's pirate themed part that stole the show.  Seriously, they were some of the best looking pages I've seen in quite a while and even though I hate using this phrase, they were worth the price of admission alone.  Kudos also go out to Alex Sinclair and Hi-Fi for their color work that make Hardin's and Dougherty's art pop of the page.

Bits and Pieces:

This issue was fun, but that's never been a problem for Harley.  I really want a better story to hilarity ratio in this book and this issue isn't quite there yet.  There was no problem with the art, however, especially Jed Dougherty's awesome Gotham as an old pirate movie scene.  If you are a fan of Harley and have been enjoying the Gang of Harleys story so far, you will not change your mind.  However, I don't see this issue winning any new fans.


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