Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Harley Quinn #39 Review and **SPOILERS**

A Little Bit of Razzma Zsasz

Writer: Frank Tieri
Artist: Inaki Miranda
Colors: Alex Sinclair with Jeremiah Skipper
Letters: Dave Sharpe
Cover: Amanda Conner & Alex Sinclair
Cover Price: $2.99
On Sale Date: March 7, 2018


Well, Coney Island has been overrun by weirdos and malcontents…feels like the 1980s all over again! I can’t wait to get back to it, so let’s hop right into my review for Harley Quinn #39, commencing right now!

Explain It!

The first time I went to Coney Island, I was 16 or 17 years old—right about 1992, therefore. It was a pretty dingy spot, but it had, by outward appearances, come a long way back from its filthy, crime-ridden days of the 1970s and 80s, which partly inspired the great Walter Hill film The Warriors. But it was still pretty crappy: most of the amusement lots were empty and the place was thick with cigarette and weed smoke. It took about another twenty years before Coney Island became what I would consider an amusement park destination for any family (that wants to haul out to the ass end of Brooklyn), but today it’s as nice as DisneyWorld…well, maybe not that nice. Somewhere between Six Flags and Busch Gardens. But you know…it was nice before the 1970s, it was once a vacation destination for New York’s wealthy elite during the Gilded Age. And in between that time, and the 1970s, it got crummy and nice again two or three times. Coney Island is a neighborhood constantly on the brink of decline or ascension.

Looking at this issue of Harley Quinn, it seems like Coney Island is due for a sharp downturn, what with Penguin’s band of weirdo supervillains running around, creating mayhem. I was under the impression that the Penguin was looking to take over New York City, but it appears that running ol’ Coney is enough for him. He might face some stiff competition, however, since Killer Croc seems to think all of Coney is his territory—he even ousts King Shark from the New York Aquarium, located at the Western end of the Coney Island boardwalk. During this transitional period, it looks like they can occupy the same space, Condiment King even setting up a hot dog stand just across from Nateman’s—and putting it out of business! Who will save Coney Isle?

Not Harley Quinn, apparently, who is making good taking out Victor Zsasz as one of her “Harley4Hire” jobs…with Red Tool’s surreptitious help, once again. Harley finds him out this time, and she’s rightly pissed that he’s stalking her when she specifically said she wanted some time apart from the Coney crew. Speaking of which, what’s happening there now? Looks like Coach is confronting Frank about his advice to Harley about leaving in the first place—and that’s when she’s felled from behind by Hugo Strange! And Frank peels off a mask to reveal he’s False Face! Okay, this story just got like three times weirder.

I have one nit-pick from the files of Eric Shea, Continuity Kid: I don’t like how Zsasz is drawn in the interior. The body looks okay, but he’s covered in these haphazardly slashed scars when he’s supposed to have tally marks—like Amanda Conner’s drawn him on the cover! Beyond that, this is another solid issue with some good gags and a story that’s getting more and more engrossing by the issue. That’s how comics are supposed to work, right? I’m curious to know what Penguin’s plan will be—the New York mob families are fighting back, capturing Signalman in this issue and then teaming up with Scarface and the Ventriloquist, and I am betting that’s going to lead to a crazy gang war. What’s the Hugo Strange angle? I don’t know, but I am looking forward to finding out!

Bits and Pieces:

As Coney Island slides into a gritty, urban, supervillain-infested ghetto, Harley Quinn faces her secret benefactor and tells him to buzz off. The mastermind behind all of this chaos is revealed, and it's not someone I'd have expected! If the art was a little better, I'd be clanging bells for this series.

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