Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Harley Quinn and Power Girl # 5 Review and *SPOILERS*

Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One

Written By: Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray
Art By: Stephane Roux, Flaviano, Paul Mounts, Marilyn Patrizio
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: November 4, 2015

Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One

*Non-Spoilers and Score At The Bottom*

They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, but what if that man has no stomach? And instead of being a man, he’s a bafflingly massive semi-robotic head? And instead of food, he eats the collected sorrows of vast solar systems? I know what you’re thinking: I can change him. Well, turns out you might be right in this particular instance, as Harley Quinn and Power Girl go against that galactic consumer of misery, the Harvester. Will they succeed? Or do they get…harvested? Since this is a prequel, then we know they don’t. But read on anyway, one of them might skin her knee or something.

Explain It!

Last issue of this miniseries came out six weeks ago, but for some reason I feel like it’s been six years. It was a different time, six weeks ago: Star Wars hype was at a low hum instead of an incessant throb, Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy seemed like a silly proposition instead of a foregone conclusion, and the bunion on my left foot was a mild irritant instead of virtually crippling me as it does today. Luckily, I was able to fairly well remember where we left off: Harley and PG are stranded on planet Whatsitsname with Vartox the Space Sleaze and Groovicus the Space Case, and it is being threatened by a massive, bearded semi-robotic head known as the Harvester of Sorrows. How massive is he? Power Girl throws some poor S.O.B. at the Harvester as an offering and he gets stuck in one of the giant cranium’s pores. Which, of course, leads to a few pimple jokes because this is a Harley Quinn comic book. Vartox and Groovicus explain what the Harvester of Sorrows does, which is to cause conflict and hate across solar systems so he can feed upon their misery. Which really makes me feel better about having left that dog poop in my neighbor’s mailbox after they didn’t bring in their garbage cans for the hundredth fucking time.

An explosion happens for some reason, knocking everyone out and allowing Harley Quinn to have a dream where she is visited by her spirit animal, which is an Indian guy in what looks like a Highway Patrolman’s bomber jacket. In fact, he sort of looks like a young Erik Estrada, but he speaks like a Bollywood actor. I’m sure I’m supposed to know who he is, but I don’t and it doesn’t seem to matter much because his main function is to remind Harley that she’s got “hard light gloves” which was nice of him because I and the artist had forgotten as well. Quinn uses her gloves to make a motorcycle, which she then flies straight into the mouth of the Harvester…yes, a flying motorcycle. All the shit that goes on in this book, and that’s your sticking point? It’s made of hard light, okay?

Inside the head of the Harvester of Sorrows, which is just a head anyway, Harley finds that it looks like a School House Rock cartoon with 3-D block letters spelling giant words like “DESPAIR” and “REVULSION” and probably, in smaller letters somewhere, “WEIRD SCIENCE DC COMICS BLOG DOT BLOGSPOT DOT COM.” I liked the way this splash page looked, but I have two comments: one, I would have much preferred these letters to be rendered and shaded by hand. These are manipulated in Adobe Illustrator (I assume that’s the program) and overlaid on the drawing, and it looks okay, but I think it would have looked more cohesive and funky if everything was hand-drawn. And two: is this really the best way to express these concepts? Which I guess is really a question. But despite the image’s impact, it does feel weird to see “loathing” expressed as just the word itself in stylized, oversized lettering in a comic book. I’d at least expect to see some buff dude in a spandex shirt that reads “Loathing Man.”

Harls is accosted by some of the Harvester’s inner security, which look like bits of fruit and smell like berries. They cover Harley in bubble gum and begin to assimilate her mind into the Harvester, which turns out to be his undoing! Trillions of minds assimilated across the universe but Harley Quinn’s turns out to be the monkey wrench! The giant cords that comprised Harvester’s facial hair wind around and recolor themselves (good job, Mounts) to become the giant face of…the Joker! Which turns out to be a death sentence for the Harvester who blows up, but only after Power Girl gets everyone to a minimum safe distance. And they all live happily ever…no, wait, on the final page it looks like Vartox is proposing to Power Girl. Heeere we go again!

There’s plenty of good bits in this book but it’s so uneven and weird that I don’t know what to make of it. Power Girl is barely in this issue, and when she is all she does is act like a bitch and tell everyone to shut up. There were so many scenes that seemed like filler, and then the big climax fell a little flat. The art is pretty good throughout, though one artist does a better job overall—I’ll leave that to you to decide which one I mean. There are several great splash pages in this issue that are very cool and creative, unfortunately they only highlight the lack of story and consequence.

Bits and Pieces:

What many thought would be comic bookery’s Thelma & Louise has turned out to be more like Jack Kirby’s Fourth World: nice to look at, but incomprehensible to most. If you were already digging these characters’ antics in previous issues, then you’ll get more of the same here. If you’re a little bored of watching Power Girl fume while Harley Quinn burps on her, then you can probably pass. I’d say there are worse ways you could spend your four bucks.


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