Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Batman: Arkham Knight : Batgirl and Harley Quinn Special #2 Review

Gosh, But These Ladies Can Chat

Written By: Tim Seeley
Art By: Matthew Clark, Sean Parsons, Rob Schwager
Letters By: Travis Lanham
Cover Price: $0.99
Release Date: January 4, 2016

*Non Spoilers and Score At The Bottom*

Concluding the poor widdle digital title that went unloved by DC’s marketing department, we return to an early adventure of Batgirl and the origin of Harley Quinn as defined by the video game Batman: Arkham Knight. Except that Harley looks nothing like she does in that game. And neither does the Joker. Neither does Batman, come to think of it, though you only see him in one panel, all ensconced in shadow. So maybe we should dispense with the whole video game backdrop and take this issue on its own merits, because it wouldn’t be the first time a comic book publisher slapped the name of a licensed property to which it had no connection in order to artificially boost sales. Unrelated to that thought, be sure to buy DC’s anthology title Legends of Tomorrow due out in March! While you’re waiting, you can read my review!

Explain It!:

We pick up right where the last issue left off, at the weird Liquid Black Circus and Carnivale where a newly-minted Harley Quinn has set a tiger free for funsies. While Harley continues to free various circus animals—and a hippo—Barbara Gordon changes into her Batgirl gear that is reminiscent of the uniform she wears in Batman: Arkham Knight. Harley bumps into a bunch of laughing hyenas, which she promptly frees and promises to keep as pets. So hey, we find out how she got her “babies,” if you were wondering. Batgirl comes on the scene and tackles Harley, then tricks the tiger into getting caught in an oil slick and breaks the tiger like a rodeo bronc—and she doesn’t fucking shut up the entire time. There’s something endearingly old school about all of this chatter describing what is happening in-panel, but there’s a reason you don’t see it in modern comics and that’s because it’s ridiculous. Barbara even goes so far to tell no one in particular that she learned how to ride a bucking bronco from a library book, a fact which is neither relevant nor plausible given the scenario of riding an enraged tiger. She eventually subdues the striped cat and turns her attention to Harley.

They duke it out, Harley with her giant mallet and Batgirl with her, uh, Batgirl abilities, and all the while they chit-chat like a couple of old hens. Exchanging some quips in the heat of battle is standard comic book fare, but people don’t normally have expository conversations while they are fighting for their lives. Batgirl explains to Quinn that the Joker doesn’t love her, he’s just using her because men are dogs, every one of them, am I right ladies? Unsurprisingly, Batgirl beats the snot out of Harley, who is then beset by a hippopotamus—ah yes, the carnival hippopotamus! Why, I remember going to the traveling carnival as a lad to see the laughing hyenas and trick hippos. Incidentally, did you know that hippopotami are the most vicious predators in the jungle? Babs defuses the situation by tossing out a flash grenade, which stuns the hippo and also allows Harley her escape.

Later, presumably, Batman tells Batgirl she done good, kid, despite having told her to stop copying him last issue. She tells him she is strong, she is invincible, she is womaaan and takes off on her Bat-line. There’s also an epilogue where the Joker laughs at Harley and she threatens to end their arrangement, but then the Joker hands her a flower made from playing cards and she crumbles because she is a cheap date.

If you stop trying to link this comic to the world as defined by the Batman: Arkham Knight video game, you wind up with a mediocre and largely forgettable book. Most of the dialogue is terrible, and goes on way too long in juxtaposition with the action happening on the page, but the story is also insipid and pointless so if you’re in for a penny, you’re in for a pound. The only thing this comic really “gave” us is Harley Quinn’s origin, a fairly unsatisfying story that is incongruent with her character across all Bat-media. Matthew Clark’s art is good, yet this issue lacks the cool montage pages and panel designs that the last one had. For a buck, you can’t expect too much, but if you can put that dollar towards a 7-11 burrito instead, I recommend you do so.

Bits and Pieces:

Its ties to the Batman: Arkham Knight video game are tenuous, and the story is ho-hum and inconsequential, but this isn’t the worst thing you can get for a buck these days. I’d say a can of that “Mountain Dew Berry Booyah” shit is worse. Whatever it’s called, I don’t know. The shit they give kids today is deplorable. I saw a kid eating a slice of pizza and drinking a 16 oz. “Red Bull” as a drink on the side, I almost called the police. That boy’s heart is going to give out before he turns twenty. And don’t get me started on the smart phones! Which, incidentally, you could use to download and read this book, if you were so inclined.

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