Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Harley Quinn #5 Review and **SPOILERS**

Youth Nabbed as a Sniper

Writers: Amanda Conner & Jimmy Palmiotti
Artist: John Timms
Colors: Alex Sinclair
Letters: Dave Sharpe
Cover Art: Amanda Conner & Alex Sinclair
Cover Price: $2.99
On Sale Date: October 5, 2016


Here begins a three-part story arc that I’m really excited about for two reasons: one, it’s a three- and not a five- or six-part arc. Hooray for shorter multiple-issue tales and one-shots! The other reason I’m excited about this is that it has Harley Quinn infiltrating the New York punk rock scene, which, though not really in existence today, is something near and dear to my heart. Mind you, I was a dumb little baby when the scene was actually in existence during the late 1970s, but a lot of the bands that broke out of the CBGB’s circuit like the Ramones, Talking Heads and Blondie comprised the soundtrack to my grade school days. Those who listened to last week’s podcast know that Blondie is a particular favorite of mine, and the fact that this story is titled “Eat to This Beat” tickles me tremendously. So basically, expect higher scores than usual if this book continues to pander to my interests. If the next couple of arcs have Harley visiting pre-20th Century New York City or eating Cuban sandwiches, then I’ll probably name it Book of the Year. But for the moment, check out my review of Harley Quinn #5!

Explain It!

Robbing a mail truck seems like a really old school crime, like something that would happen in the Old West to the Pony Express. I bet it happens more often than we think, however, though only in Coney Island would an early-morning robbery be committed by four knights in medieval armor on horseback, with rifles modified to look like lances. That’s what’s going down right outside of Harley’s apartment, and the shenanigans cause her beloved mailman Mr. Ben to crash into a light pole, which in turn rouses her from slumber. She and Big Tony run downstairs with shotguns to confront the dastardly knights, who grab the goods and scram—but not before one of them comments on Harley’s hotness. Tony and Harley rush to Mr. Ben’s aid, but it is too late…this postman will not make his appointed rounds. Before he croaks, Mr. Ben tells Harley had he had a special delivery from Arkham Asylum for her, but the Horny Knights made off with it. She doesn’t seem interested in this obvious token from the Joker, however, Harley Quinn is more interested in revenge!
Later, Chief Spoonsdale of the NYPD is speaking with the media at the scene of the crime, explaining that he’s going to shut down these marauding knights once and for all. I wonder if anyone’s had to utter that sentence with any seriousness since the 14th Century? Spoonsdale hops in his car where Harley is already waiting—remember they established a mutually-beneficial relationship like seven or eight issues ago? Before the Rebirth. Turns out he knows who are behind a rash of recent knight-based crimes, it’s members of the punk rock band Purple Satin, which is at once the absolute best and absolute worst name for a punk rock band. Problem is, one of the members of this band is the son of a powerful New York Senator, meaning the NYPD can’t go after him because law enforcement and politicans are inherently corrupt. The police chief wants Harley to go undercover, into the seedy underbelly of New York’s robust punk scene, and shut them down. There’s a two-hundred thousand dollar reward attached to this, though Harley doesn’t need much more motivation than the opportunity to skewer people with flagpoles.
Harley consults with her Beaver, and decides the best way to go about this is start a punk rock band! She asks Big Tony, who plays lead guitar obviously, and then solicits her Gang of Harleys for talent…but none of them can play musical instruments. Harlem Quinn can sing, but Harley wants to be the lead singer, and there’s no room for back-up singers in punk rock! Frankly, there’s little room for any actual singing, come to think of it. Egg-Fu, in a robotic four-armed gorilla suit because of reasons, can play drums—which I’d expect is merely a matter of programming drum patterns into the robot and letting it swing. This just leave a bass player, and Big Tony has a lead—our old pal, Red Tool, who we last saw having the arm of a deceased sex offender grafted onto his newly-shorn stump. He’s dispensing some justice, better known as killing several people, when Harley and Tony show up by helicopter…because that’s a thing they can do for some reason. Red Tool agrees to join the band, so now there’s just one more thing to do: give Harley Quinn a kick-ass Mohawk! Plus some traditional payot. Now that the band’s together, let’s check out Purple Satin, holed up in some motel in Sheepshead Bay and poring through their ill-gotten booty. The only female member of the band, Jello, opens the package sent to Harley from Arkham Asylum, and it’s a heart carved out of soap with “J <3 H” engraved into the front! Now I wonder who could have sent that?
I really like seeing John Timms back on this book for a while, I just wanted to state that outright. The issue itself is a lot of fun, full of Harleyverse cameos and jokes and absolutely crude moments that are hysterical. Though this relationship with the Chief of Police and Harley was established many issues ago, I believe this is the first time we’re seeing it used, and I do like the idea that the NYPD would use Harley as its personal Suicide Squad…because of course, when you enlist Harley, you potentially enlist twenty other characters as well. I can’t wait to see more of this punk rock scene that can apparently support more than one band, and I definitely need to know more about these Purple Satin dopes. I mean, Senator’s kid or not, you don’t kill a postman and get away with it. That’s a felony.

Bits and Pieces:

The opening issue to Harley Quinn's punk rock adventure is a lot of fun with some really hilarious jokes...and not a lot of punk rock. Still, the reinforcement of a previously-made arrangement with the City of New York and a solo Red Tool scene counts as character development in my book. I really love when John Timms draws Harley and the crew, he's got a style that is sexy without being pornographic, and it looks really fluid. I am really excited for the rest of this story, though admittedly I have a bit of that New Yawk bias. So sue me.


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