Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Harley Quinn #1 Review and **SPOILERS**

All Aboard the Harley Train

Written By: Amanda Conner & Jimmy Palmiotti
Art By: Chad Hardin, Alex Sinclair
Lettered By: Dave Sharpe
Cover Price: $2.99
On Sale Date: August 3, 2016


For those that missed the first number one issue that came out around four years ago, here’s your second chance to own a Harley Quinn #1! This time, it’s attached to the Rebirth event, but she doesn’t get her own Rebirth issue…and indeed, there’s no change to the book’s creative team, or setting, or cast of characters. I think that’s because, when DC was coming up with Rebirth on a Friday afternoon in late April or early May of this year, they looked at what needed to be changed in Harley Quinn and determined that it should be nothing. Harley Quinn has been a huge success for DC Comics, and I’m not sure anyone at the company and possibly on the creative team can adequately explain why. If you’re interested to find out, right here is the best place to hop on. But if you’re even more tentative with your three-dollar investments, then give a look at my recap and review!

Explain It!

With all this Rebirth business flying around, one has to wonder if Harley Quinn #1 will pick up where the last issue left off, or if it will subtly change some of its elements to fit the new DC Universe. Well, wonder no more, dear reader, because this issue begins with Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy taking in a spa day, sponsored by Harley, as payment for restoring some Brooklyn wetlands in the last issue. If you are new to Harley Quinn, you will find that the comic doesn’t do subtle. Foreshadowing, yes. But you’ll never wonder what it’s getting at or if a particular exchange implies something. Harley Quinn is a blunt beeyotch. While they go through massages and treatments and scenes of squishy side boob, Harley Quinn details her situation: owns a residential building in Coney Island, works at a nursing home in her guise of Dr. Harleen Quinzell, has way too many pets. Later, Harley Quinn literally takes the stage at Coney Island and lays out her entire life. Like I said, not subtle. She goes through everything: her childhood, her work at Arkham Asylum, her relationship with the Joker and eventual break up, the move to Coney Island...all stuff that happened in the first volume of the series. Harley even has the entire cast of wacky characters—and I mean the entire cast, including the Gang of Harleys and her roller derby crew—come out on stage to her introduction. If you’re a prospective reader looking to get into Harley Quinn, now is the best time. The first third of the book is a Harley Quinn primer.

The actual story begins when we pan out from Harley, now alone on stage, and see that only her murderous admirer Red Tool and recently freed and de-powered genie Jimm Salabim are watching from the balcony. Quinn collects the pair and strolls out to the street, informing Jimm that she’ll need him to work at Madame Macabre’s wax museum four days a week, while the Madame and her son are in the eyewitness protection program. Then, a bunch of flesh-eating zombies show up.

Seems that around four days ago, a wayward teenage alien crash-landed in a cow pasture somewhere in Oklahoma. As some shotgun-wielding humans came running, the alien shape-shifted into a cow, in order to blend in with the other bovines chewing cud. He was eventually herded into a barn, where he chilled out for a while until he was eventually processed—and by “processed” I mean murdered, drained, and flayed—and his carcass was shipped to a meat factory, where it was whipped into a paste and extruded through sausage casings in order to ultimately become a shipment of frankfurters to Nathan’s Nateman’s hot dogs on Coney Island! Everyone that ate them that day, which was a crap ton of people, got zombied out. And let me tell you, on a warm summer weekend day, they push a ludicrous number of hot dogs at Coney Island. Like, the entire enrollment at West Virginia University amount of hot dogs.

So now Red Tool and Harley Quinn are fighting off a bunch of zombies, and doing their best not to kill all of them since many are local residents. Tony runs out and essentially joins their huddle against the oppressive onslaught, which really starts to upset Harley because she was friendly with all of them! Red Tool announces that they might get infected if bitten, which is a pretty big leap to make but does confirm with Zombie Logic, and to illustrate his point he gets bitten on the arm by a punk rock zombie! Harley helps out and severs Red Tool’s arm at the elbow!! I mean holy crap! That escalated quickly! Tony, Harley, and Red Tool retreat with his arm up to the roof, where they put Red Tool in the scatapult (yes, it is what it sounds like) with the plan to pitch Tool towards the hospital with his arm in a cooler, and he just has to stagger in and get fixed up. The streets are lousy with zombie types, so they take the chance and launch Red Tool, but he faints dead away right after taking off!

So second verse, same as the first…if you liked Harley Quinn, it’s going to be more of the same. If you wanted to start reading Harley Quinn, welcome aboard! You will become an expert in one issue. Though, come to think of it, I don’t think I saw Sy Borgman. But anyway, though the first third was necessarily exposition-heavy, the rest of it got right back to the business of Harley Quinn, which is to be an intensely wacky fun time. And guess what? The art, as always, is great. I feel like a broken record here. This is one of the most consistent comic books I read, but it is an acquired taste. Slavish devotees to the Paul Dini/Bruce Timm Harley might bristle at some changes to her origin, detailed here. Whatever the formula is to Harley Quinn, I have no idea. But it works. And it could be what you’re looking for in comics, too.

Bits and Pieces:

Despite the renumbering, this issue makes it perfectly clear that nothing has changed in Harley Quinn and things have picked up directly from the previous issue. Pretty much everyone makes a cameo in this issue, but the actual story is mainly dedicated to three members of Harley's massive cast of characters. Due to a big explanatory section at the beginning, this is the perfect spot to jump on the series. Longtime fans won't have to feel cheated because the story is classic Harley Quinn fun. A win-win for everyone!


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