Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Harley Quinn #29 Review and **SPOILERS**

Repo Kaiju

Written By: Amanda Conner & Jimmy Palmiotti
Art By: Chad Hardin, Alex Sinclair
Letters By: Dave Sharpe
Cover Price: $3.99
On Sale Date: June 22, 2016


I think I like Harley Quinn best when a story arc has ended and a new one is about to begin. I get giddy with anticipation for whatever wacky violence will ensue, and since it’s Harley Quinn virtually anything can happen. Will her adventures happen in Brooklyn or take her to the far-off land of the Bronx? Will she travel through time or float around in outer space? Will there be sexual innuendo? Well, we can kind of infer that last bit, but in nearly every other respect this comic book is more like a stream-of-consciousness Robert Crumb comic than your standard capes n’ tights fare. And I love Zap! Comix, so maybe that’s why this speaks to me. Or maybe it’s the fact that Harley’s always eating at Nathan’s Frankfurters on Surf Avenue. Or maybe if you read on to my review, you’ll find out how I really feel!

Explain It!

Jimmy Palmiotti: Yo, Chad.

Chad Hardin: Hey, Jimmy.

JP: Some good work you’ve been doin’ fer me an’ Amanda lately, I’m really impressed over here.

CH: Thanks, dude.

JP: So whaddayou wanna draw fer that upcomin’ issue of Harley Quinn over here? You tell me, whatcha been itchin’ ta draw that we ain’t written yet?

CH: Um, how about dinosaurs?

JP: C’maan Chad, youse could draw dinosaurs any time, I mean sumpthin’ really unique over here.

CH: I don’t know. Giant robots?

JP: Say no more, cuz.

This issue opens with such a great splash/title page, a shot of the Harley kaiju we’ll be more familiar with in the near future and Harley and her extended cast depicted Golden Age All-Star Comics style, inset into snow globes instead of circular panels, a point that will also be relevant later. In fact, screw it, you would have seen it in a preview anyway, so here it is:

At the Henshin Auto Plant in Detroit, CEO Mr. Tomo is going over some newly-produced stock with his assistant, concentrating on a special line of vehicles that were bought by Mr. Tomo personally. Turns out they are all giant transforming robots, and Mr. Tomo uses his to kill his cheating wife and her lover, then kill himself with a gigantic revolver that is pretty funny to look at. A few days later in Brooklyn, Harley Quinn and Tony are looking over a fairly impressive collection of snow globes a previous tenant left behind, which is just the thing Harley Quinn needs to plug the hole in her stuffed beaver that was left by Red Tool’s bullet rampage. There’s no point in making quips when you review Harley Quinn, is there? Just a straight re-telling of the plot is weird enough.

Tony informs Harley that the building is eight grand in debt, due to having to maintain the ground floor wax museum until Madame Macabre returns from her walkabout. Harley is mildly concerned by this, but has to take off to eat lunch with Poison Ivy. Lunch is, of course, Nathan’s hot dogs, which really shows what kind of friend Harley is. For one thing, Ivy traveled lord knows how long to get to Coney Island, while Harley got to stroll next door. For another thing, it’s freezing out, as evidenced by the coats and hats worn by Harley and Ivy, and Nathan’s is an outdoor eatery. I’m not really sure why this scene proving Harley and Poison Ivy are still sexy buddies happens, unless it has something to do with the end of the recent Poison Ivy: Cycle of Life and Death miniseries. Knowing the work of Palmiotti and Conner, I’m betting this will seed some future story, so let’s move on.

Tony has a lead on repossessing a bunch of half paid-for cars in some lightly guarded lot, and even secures a car carrier truck to do the job. Tony and Harley catch a quick nap in the sleeper cab before pulling the heist, but accidentally sleep until morning, so the duo incurs multiple counts of Grand Theft Auto in broad daylight. Tony’s client is Mitch O’Bannon, owner of a chain of bowling alleys who pays them their pre-arranged sum of twenty large, plus throws in some free games as Harley’s insistence. While Harley and Tony slip on the requisite bowling shoes, O’Bannon slips into one of the transforming kaiju robots and peels back the roof of the bowling alley to extort the twenty grand back from Tony. We learn that Mitch has been hired by mafia boss Dominic Capablo, who we might remember as the father of the kid Quinn accidentally killed during her fight with Red Tool during Skate Club, who wants Harley dead for offing his son. O’Bannon goes in for the kill, but Harley hops into another of the repossessed cars and transforms into a big-titted robot that looks surprisingly like Harley Quinn herself.

And then what follows is a pretty fun and really well-rendered giant robot fight between Harley and O’Bannon, with Harley fumbling at the controls and firing off lots of mis-aimed missiles, and Mitch fairly well wrecking her until the inevitable end, when Harley Quinn launched an obscene amount of missiles from her upended ass. Harley and Tony take off in the giant robot get-up for Capablo’s to confront him, which they do by peeling back the roof and taking a big missile dump on his mansion. Harley decides to keep the big transformer and make some modifications, which I could have guessed because she does seem to hang on to some cool object or weird character from every story arc.

This was a cool one-and-done story with some great artwork and action, mainly done by giant robots fighting which makes it even cooler. The character moments were cool enough, and I enjoyed a lot of the dialogue between Tony and Harley which read as pretty genuine. But this was no When Harley Met Tony, it’s a fairly uncomplicated plot driven towards depictions of kaiju fighting, which works just fine for me. I’m getting pretty sick of having to reiterate that Palmiotti and Conner are seasoned comics creators that always align with great artists and put out quality stuff, but then they keep making good comic books so it’s a vicious cycle. It takes two to Tango, but it takes three at minimum to play a game of Clue. It really makes you think.

Bits and Pieces:

Here's a one-shot issue of Harley Quinn that is really entertaining and very well-drawn and nicely plotted. What gives, anyway? It's almost as if this comic book has achieved a consistent level of quality by being apart from the general DC Universe and being allowed to do its own thing. I really appreciate this one-and-done story, too many comics write in long five- or six-issue arcs to fill trade collections, when they could be writing two- and three-issue stories and use single issue plots to fill the gaps. This probably would be a good issue to jump on the series if you're so inclined, because it provides a lot of backstory and will let you know up front whether this is something you might enjoy, or something you think is unbearably stupid. Me, I think it's joyously stupid and I look forward to next month, when a new arc begins!

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