Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Harley’s Little Black Book #2 Review and **SPOILERS**

Red, Black and Green. Know What I Mean?

Written By: Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner
Art By: John Timms, Mauricet, Hi-Fi
Letters By: Marilyn Patrizio
Cover Price: $4.99
Release Date: February 10, 2015

*Non-Spoilers and Score At The Bottom*

One thing you don’t hear from any of the presidential hopefuls is their political positions on Harley Quinn. Do they approve of her clothing, or would they force her to mend them? Is she an American citizen, or should she have to be Naturalized being that she comes from the land of Bonkersonia? Most importantly: will any candidate attempt to stem the gushing tide of Harley Quinn titles issuing from DC Comics? Because let me tell you, dear reader, anyone attempting that will be sorely disappointed. I heard Jimmy Palmiotti asked for a break on Harley Quinn and DC Comics kidnapped his poodle and sent tufts of fur until he turned in twelve scripts. Printing problems almost delayed the last issue of Harley’s solo title, but Dan Didio and Jim Lee went down to the plant and colored several hundred thousand copies with magic markers. Harley Quinn is a force of nature, you can accept it and allow Harley to wash over you like a cascading fountain of poop jokes, or you can prepare yourself for a fight to the death. And it’s more than likely you will lose. Read on for some no-nonsense Harley Quinn reviewin’!

Explain It!

So it’s no secret that Harley Quinn is not a beloved title around here. I don’t think anyone hates it, but personally-speaking I find it a little lean on plot (though always incredible, art-wise.) Indeed, her books get passed around like hot potatoes amongst the Weird Science Get Fresh Crew, ultimately landing with me because I’m the Mikey in this Life cereal commercial of a website. Actually, it’s more like Cocoa Puffs, with Jim playing Sonny and Eric playing one of the kids scarred by Sonny’s manic freak-outs over cereal. I would never eat a bowl of cereal again if I saw a gigantic cuckoo bird having spastic withdrawals over it. Talk about getting scared straight!

So for this review, I want to announce something outright: this is a pretty funny book. I chuckled out loud at least three times while reading it. Other scenes caused a reflexive smirk and even brief grins. It wasn’t all fart jokes, either, but honest-to-goodness comedy scenes that contained humorous moments and elicited joyful tics. I must wonder: did I change, or did the comic book change? Did the book’s depiction of Hal Jordan as an over-the-top flirting dudebro tickle me in some specific way or was it just flat-out funnier than Harley’s ultimately meaningless crossover with Power Girl? I tell you, it’s left me with some existential anxiety. What is a comic book? Do comics exist if no one reads them? Does the emotional reaction reside in the comic, or in the reader? This might explain why Ernie Bushmiller’s Nancy ran for so long.

Anyway, this book begins with two dudes—like, literal dudes, that say “dude” and everything—camping in Bryce Canyon National Park when a spaceship crashes nearby. They go check it out, and from it emerges a dying alien who hands them a box and tells them stuff they can’t understand because she speaks an alien tongue. She dies, and a week later the two dudes are in Denver, trying to break open the box in order to sell its contents on WeBay. Inside are a Green Lantern power ring, and Black Lantern and Red Lantern power rings in a special case that seems designed to keep them separated. One of the dudes accidentally splashes milk on the case, which dissolves the spheres holding the red and black rings, then the rings merge into one…Quinn Lantern Ring!

There’s a pretty funny page where Harley bids on the Green Lantern ring but gets outbid by Geoff Johns, then the seller contacts Harley directly and says he’ll send her the red and black ring for five grand. She clicks on “Buy It Now” and waits for her package to arrive. Meanwhile, ace test pilot Hal Jordan flirts his way onto an experimental plane, then flirts through the air at flirty-flirty miles per hour. While soaring around, he sees a ship has capsized, so he lands the plane in Hawaii and makes up some nonsense so he can go rescue them as Green Lantern. While this happens, Harley Quinn’s new ring arrives (that’s a heck of a delivery service, Denver to Coney Island in no time) and she puts it on and becomes even more evil and destructive than ever! She crashes a cop car into a fake brick wall, makes a guy blow up his own forearm by plugging up his pistol, and spins a car around like a merry go round (causing the inhabitants to spray vomit everywhere) before smashing it into the Brooklyn Bridge. This gets the attention of Hal via his ring, so he races cross country to find Harley being an impudent lil scamp!

So they fight and exchange some pretty comedic banter, and yes Hal flirts with Harley the whole time here, too. I loved this aspect of the dialogue, playing up and exaggerating his character was so funny to me. Maybe it’s because I know it will annoy his eternally supplicant fanboys to see this. After fighting a while, Harley and Hal agree to settle their differences with a big power ring arm wrestling match, actually making giant arms and wrestling in the air right over the Brooklyn Bridge. Quinn appears to be winning, when Hal takes a shot in the face from an orbiting spaceship, where the original ring thieves in an Azakarian warship look to reclaim their property. Harley zips up to fight them, but she is overcome and loses the ring. Then Hal shows up and he is likewise overpowered. So then Harley Quinn takes the Green Lantern power ring and clobbers the warship with a giant mallet made of light! I loved that. Then it ends with Hal kissing Harley and her squeezing his butt.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention the London Legion of Heroes, those jokers from the last issue of Harley’s Little Black Book, also made their way to Coney Island to hang out with Harley, which I suppose we’ll see the fruits of next issue. It seemed so inconsequential to the main story I didn’t even bother mentioning it. But the stuff in the main story was gold. The art was, as expected, top notch, and the jokes were funny—the dialogue between Hal and Harley was genuinely laugh out loud humorous. Did this book get better, or did my outlook on life get sunnier? I’d better get on the subway before I lose my hatred for humanity!

Bits and Pieces:

I am as surprised as you, my loyal tens of billions of readers: I really enjoyed this issue. And I don’t mean that as a slight against the comic, but more owning up to a personal epiphany about the character. Harley Quinn is a goof. She fights against and then teams up with Hal Jordan to great comedic effect. Plus, you get to see a new Lantern ring, possibly the most dangerous one of all! I enjoyed the heck out of this silly comic.

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