Wednesday, July 27, 2016
Harley Quinn #30 Review
A Squee Grows in Brooklyn
Art By: Elsa Charretier, Hi-Fi
Letters By: Travis Lanham
Cover Price: $3.99
On Sale Date: July 27, 2016
**SCORE AT THE BOTTOM**
Did you write the book of laughs?
And do you have faith in kicking ass
If the Joker tells you so?
Now do you believe in Coney Isle?
Can an amusement park remake the vile?
And can you teach me how to skate so low?
Well, I know that you're no supervillain
'Cause I saw you on Surf Avenue, chillin’
With some friends, all smiles and flirt
Man, I dig that dude Tony’s shirt!
I was a lonely, middle-aged ol’ cranky
Who said comics were poor and stanky
But even I had to grab my hanky
The day the villain died
So bye, bye, Miss Joker’s Concubine
Took the killer out of Gotham and she’s doing just fine
And them good ol’ boys that think it’s still eighty-nine
Tell ‘em this’ll be the Harley of mine
This’ll be the Harley of mine
As a lifelong resident of New York City, let me give you some important advice: don’t come to New York City. I don’t mean that as a threat, I mean it is now a fairly lame place to visit, when there are more interesting and cheaper cities to tour. Most everything unique has been stripped from the city, replaced by banks, or high-rise apartments, or (as is increasingly seen these days) nothing. And the remaining stuff unique to New York is so remote that it doesn’t justify the shlep. You’ll go to Brooklyn for a seven dollar slice and a twenty dollar beer from Estonia and stroll around looking at crafts you could get on etsy.com for cheaper. You can get everything cheaper outside New York, including t-shirts that read “I <3 NY.”
The hyper-gentrification of New York is something Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti have explored in Harley Quinn often, but not quite to the degree shown in this issue. It’s not just her trying to thwart rapid urban construction, but also taking a rude subway rider to task, and helping an elderly fellow reconnect with his lost love, and investigating a phone scam that’s cleaned out a bunch of bank accounts. Throughout this whole issue, we see Harley doing good, and quite frankly it is something to behold.
Harley Quinn was not created by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm to be a horrible supervillain, but they did construct her as a murderous accessory to the Joker. She was not without her own personality, but was totally under the Clown Prince of Crime’s thrall. Over the years since Batman: the Animated Series was on the air, there’s been some character development in comics and video games, but by and large she was still emotionally tethered to the Joker. When Palmiotti and Conner took on this title, the first change they made was to bring her from Gotham City into the “real” world of Coney Island, Brooklyn. A place you can see. A place you can feel. A place where you have to pay rent.
The slow burn of Harley Quinn’s growth from a sociopathic madman’s accessory to a wise-cracking anti-hero happened so gradually, I almost missed it. Harley Quinn’s well-meaning goofs often result in as much chaos as her homicidal lunatic plots against Gotham City, so it’s easy to perceive it all as business as usual. But little by little, Harley’s shed her former green-haired beau’s trappings (once in a demonstrable way during a Suicide Squad story arc) and become someone who can be looked up to. Yes, that’s right. I don’t think a Mormon would want their daughter reading Harley Quinn, but I would. If I had a daughter. I’d also want her to read the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. But that’s another review.
So here’s the deal: if you drank the Harley Quinn Kool-Aid and love her weird, warped world, if you dig her fighting “the good fight” and the stupid jokes that make you chuckle anyway, then you are going to love this issue. I didn’t even mention the opening sequence that features Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, Deadshot, Power Girl, and many others because I shouldn’t need to. This is the best issue of Harley Quinn I have ever read, period. And maybe for the first time, I see how Harley has transformed from a one-trick pony to a multi-trick pony, one of them circus ponies or whatever. If you haven’t been reading this book, then you can wait to hop on until next month. This one is for the fans. And I enjoyed the hell out of it.
Bits and Pieces:
DC, why don’t you have Elsa Charretier drawing all the things? Why aren’t you sending gift baskets of cash to her house until she agrees to draw two back-ups a month, at exorbitant rates that you are compelled to pay? Why aren’t you fanning her with palm fronds and having a trained helper monkey feed her succulent, ripened grapes off the stem? Is there a vision problem at your offices, DC? Perhaps you need to do company-wide eye exams? Let’s set something up. In the meantime, please forward the appropriate chests of rare gems and silks that Ms. Charretier needs to become exclusive at your company. Thank you.