Wednesday, April 13, 2016
Harley Quinn and Her Gang of Harleys #1 Review and **SOME SPOILERS**
We’re All in the Same Gang
Art By: Mauricet, Hi-Fi
Letters By: Dave Sharpe
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: April 13, 2016
**SCORE AND NON-SPOILERS AT BOTTOM OF PAGE**
When I was a kid, there were roughly one zillion gangs in New York City. Most of them were small groups of kids looking for something to hook up after their graffiti tags, but there were a lot of tough crews, too. In my era, the most dangerous gang was—I am not making this up—the Decepticons, a massive number of teens and young adults that would prowl the East Side of Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn, many carrying their trade weapon: a hammer. I only sort of encountered them once, when about three-dozen of them entered a courtyard in which I was hanging out, and me and my friends booked the other way before any of them got near us. I mean, you’d think a gang called the Decepticons would be a bunch of Transformers fans, ready to cosplay at the next comic convention. But nope, these dudes held Manhattan schools in their thrall, and even spawned a gang dedicated to fighting them named (you guessed it) the Autobots. You know what scares me more than the Decepticons, though? A gang of Harley Quinns. For one thing, they’re going to have hammers, too. For another thing, I am way more afraid of a violent crew trying to do good than a crew trying to do bad, because the bad ones will just beat you up and leave. The ones trying to do good will inadvertently beat you up—and then try to help! But do we have anything to fear from this Gang of Harleys, or will it be a playful, jovial romp through modern-day New York City, not unlike an episode of prime-time sitcom Friends in its heyday? What do you think? And incidentally, I’m not going to spoil every last moment of this issue; since I’m getting this review up early in the (American) day, you might see this before visiting your local comic shop, and I wouldn’t want to give it all away before you get there! Is my prudence worthwhile? Read on and see!
For those who haven’t been reading Harley Quinn but have decided to read this miniseries for whatever reason, a while ago Harley put out an ad for applicants to her Gang of Harleys, a bunch of violent sociopaths who want to do good, preferably by causing others pain. Ultimately, membership in the gang coalesced thuswise…GANG OF HARLEYS ROLL CALL!
Erica Zhang aka Harley Queens: First generation Chinese-American girl who ran away from her crowded home at age seventeen. For those outside of New York, Queens has a large Asian population.
Antonia Moore aka Harlem Harley: A brilliant student with an awesome black and white Harley outfit and two-tone afro puffs! Also: she’s black.
Shona Choudhury aka Bolly Quinn: Her parents own a restaurant on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Care to guess what kind of food it serves?
Harvey McPherson aka Harvey Quinn: Michigan native who moved to Manhattan so he could wear singlets in public. Harvey is the only male member of the gang.
Carlita Alvarez aka Carli Quinn: Hailing from a large, stable family in the Bronx, Carli is known to be versatile with her weaponry as well as proficient at math.
Hannah Borgman aka Hanuquinn: Yep, they did it. Why not? The great-niece of Harley Quinn series regular Sy Borgman, Hanuquinn is a transplant from suburban Connecticut to Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Because of course she is.
Holly Hamden aka Coach: Blind and wheelchair-bound Coach is the accountant/office manager for the Gang of Harleys, and also gets into the action with her heightened senses that are a result of her handicaps. If that bugs you, complain to the folks at Marvel, they started it!
So it’s a veritable Hogan’s Heroes of multiculturalism in Harley’s crew, with several of their crew names based on ethnicity. I wonder how this will play out on the internet today, but for my part, I think a lot of the names are pretty funny, and playing up to their lesser stereotypes helps me to parse their characters a little faster. You can call it lazy if you like—playing up to stereotypes often works!
We see the Gang in action, bludgeoning several members of a hipster gangsters running an extortion racket in Williamsburg. These panels are so meticulously rendered, I think it’s clear that the creative team have a thing against hipsters. The Harleys commentary is actually pretty hilarious, and some of the people in the background are ridiculous in their hipsterdom. To settle things, Harley Quinn dumps a quart of milk down the head gangster’s gullet, which sends him packing because he’s lactose intolerant? Is this a commentary on almond milk or something? After the hipster mafia takes off, Harley and her Gang stroll around the street fair…I mean open-air market at Williamsburg, sampling rarefied cuisine and chatting about this and that. For instance, Harley calls her crew a bunch of wannabes, then goes into a Port-A-Potty to “pinch a loaf,” as ladies are known to say.
Thing is, Harley doesn’t come out of that plastic bathroom, and eventually the Gang gets a call from some shadowy figures who claim responsibility for kidnapping their leader. So now the Gang, along with Harley Quinn’s supporting cast from her solo book, get to finding the old psychotic jester. And much like Harley would do, they begin looking in their neighborhoods and favorite haunts. Hannuquinn takes everyone to her favorite pizza joint, Harlem takes them to a dance club, and Harley Queens takes everyone to a Mets game, bless her heart, which tickled this Queens County boy to no end. Ultimately, they learn something about Harley’s kidnapping, which you can learn too if you look at the clipping I’ve posted below this paragraph. But there’s another twist that comes later, one which you couldn’t possibly know about because it involves the introduction of a brand new character! Oops!
You see a lot of internet chatter about there being too many Harley Quinn comics in the market, but what you don’t see in the same amount are people commending them for maintaining a fairly strict continuity and consistent characterization across several books. Of course, the fact that Palmiotti and Conner have their fingers in most of them has a lot to do with this, but I will say that if you get a Harley Quinn book with their names attached, you’re sure to get a really well-drawn and expertly-plotted book with some gags, some violence and suggestive language, and a lot of payoff for fans of the character’s recent adventures. If you like Harley Quinn, then you’ll probably love this. And if you don’t like Harley Quinn, then you’re probably not even reading this review. So I’d like to conclude by saying: your momma, your momma’s momma, and the horse they rode in on, which was your sister.
Bits and Pieces
The pilot episode of Harley Quinn and Her Gang of Harleys gets off to a pretty solid start, with some good gags and great artwork throughout. We're introduced to a fairly large crew, but thanks to many of their names being related to their ethnicities, it's easier to keep 'em all straight. I think I can hang around on this for another five issues, but it will remain to be seen if I want to follow the pathological antics of angsty killer clowns much longer than that.