Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Harley Quinn #27 Review and **SPOILERS**

Love Maims

Written By: Amanda Conner & Jimmy Palmiotti
Art By: John Timms, Alex Sinclair
Letters By: Dave Sharpe
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: April 27, 2016

**Non-Spoilers and Score At The Bottom**

I encourage anyone that hasn’t watched a roller derby competition to check one out, if feasible. I went to one years ago thinking it would be sort of a goof, and with the intention of watching girls fight. Turned out to be a pretty engaging sport that isn’t hyper-violent or sexualized, except perhaps in the derby players’ assumed names. It’s sort of like football, on roller skates, and played in a circle—and instead of a ball, one of the players is the ball. None of that is important to know, however, when reading Harley Quinn. The roller derby matches in this comic book are primarily slugfests where Harley reaps vengeance on some bullying woman or another. Indeed, last issue they dispensed with the whole derby aspect with Skate Club, which is like Fight Club but on roller skates. We left her just as she was about to tackle a new competitor, the enigmatic and totally not like Deadpool at all Red Tool! How do you think she’ll fare against this challenger? Where are those Diamond shipping numbers again?! Oh, never mind, you can read my review to find out!

Explain It!:

I’ve made a thing about Red Tool being a parody of Deadpool—and to be sure, he is, right down to his stylized, yellow word balloons and penchant for puerile humor—but his character design is somewhat unique and chuckle-worthy, from a satire perspective. He’s got a mostly black, skin tight suit with a big red X across the front, and a red T on his face so that the crossbar highlights his eyes. The funniest part is that he’s got two buzz saw blades as epaulets…there’s just something so incongruous about this guy that is basically a ninja but he’s got Lobo accessories. He’s also got the mouth to match, and is hitting on Harley just as they begin their Thunderdome match where the rules are “pummel or be pummeled.” There actually is a rule here, that weapons can’t be used until after the first circuit, which I suppose doesn’t apply to buzz saw epaulets. Once weapons enter the mix, things get dangerous: Red Tool taunts Harley into swinging wildly and accidentally braining a mob boss’ son in the audience. Admissions is at your own risk, Harley points out, and gets back to fighting. She kicks Red Tool into a barrel of weapons, which then sort of pop out and fly into the crowd, killing everyone bloodily. That’s when Red Tool releases some knockout gas from the ceiling, which he says should last for four hours, and sets to tattooing some specific patrons’ foreheads, while singing a tune about himself that I really hope Jim will sing on this week’s podcast!

We cut to a quick scene of a couple eating at a posh restaurant in downtown Manhattan. We learn the dude is Harry, a somewhat corrupt cop, out with his wife and soaking up some cop favors when the mayor calls and appoints him Chief of Police. It isn’t relevant for the rest of this story, but I have the feeling it will be important in the next issue or two. Back to Red Tool and Harley, they’re at the top of the Wonder Wheel landmarked Ferris wheel, Red Tool pitching woo to Harley who is shacked to the car. Nice rendering, Timms, but every other car is supposed to be white, Sinclair. That’s how you know which are stationary and which slide back and forth to scare the shit out of your girlfriend! So ensues one of the strangest and protracted conversations I have read in comics for a long time, between Harley Quinn and Red Tool, over some fake Nathan’s hot dogs and some fries, which Red Tool shoves in Harley’s mouth because she can’t use her hands. The gist of it is that Red Tool seeks to show Harley that he’s like her—someone with a good heart that just happens to be a destructive, murderous night jester of inestimable horror. This is bolstered when we see Harley’s friends back at the Skate Club where people with “TRAITOR” and “GREEDY” can be found tattooed on their foreheads, obviously the handiwork of the Red Tool. They call Harley, who confirms she is okay, despite being chained to the top of a Ferris wheel. Red Tool peeks out to see if the carny is still there—but if he was on duty, wouldn’t the Ferris wheel be moving?—and Harley takes the opportunity to kick him out of the car and send Red Tool plummeting to the ground. There, he falls on a crook that was holding up a couple, a fall which certainly killed the criminal and should have killed him, but hey this is comics. Harley then uses a lockpick in an awesome fashion to get out of the handcuffs. You’ll just have to see it to understand!

Harley goes back to her place where her roller derby buds are lurking about. She invites them up for sugared cereal, and they show her phone pics of the tattoed offenders back at Skate Club. Harley feels a pain in her tucchus and takes a look in the mirror to find Red Tool tattooed a phone number on her butt! She calls the number and Red Tool tells her to meet him at 500 Marine Avenue at 3 PM, so Harley flits about here and there, getting ready for her big date with a freshly-laundered costume and some loaded weaponry. She pulls up to the location, and it’s an ornate church. Inside, Red Tool stands at the altar with some likely priest, and the pews are packed with shackled attendees. There’s gonna be a shotgun wedding! No, Harley isn’t pregnant, but she probably does have shotguns.

For once, I don’t love the art in a Palmiotti/Conner joint. To be clearer, I do like the art, but I don’t think the style works best for this book. There are a couple of cheesecakey scenes that don’t read because the art isn’t specifically “sexy.” That may work better for a lot of you, I don’t know. I was, however, very disappointed by the colors—and I don’t mean that Wonder Wheel joke about half the cars needing to be white, I mean that the colors were dark and seemed way off the entire time. Normally I don’t have anything to say about the colors, but this time they pulled me right out of the story. Other than that, this issue is everything you wanted to know about a parody of Deadpool, but were afraid to ask, and it’s pretty funny at that. I think this Red Tool story is okay and I’m definitely interested to read the next issue, despite the fact that I always cry at weddings.

Bits and Pieces

In this issue, we learn the Secret Origin of Red Tool, and as Harley points out, it ain't much. Some decent jokes and nice scenes of bludgeoning and skull-cracking are ruined by really bad color work. A forced conversation with Red Tool brings out some nice Harley Quinn character moments as well as opportunities for silly, and if you're a fan of that wacky homicidal imp then you'll enjoy this issue plenty!

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