Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Harley Quinn #4 Review and **SPOILERS**

A Day in the Life of Harley Quinn

Written By: Amanda Conner & Jimmy Palmiotti
Art By: Joseph Michael Linsner, Alex Sinclair
Lettered By: Dave Sharpe
Cover Price: $2.99
On Sale Date: September 21, 2016


One oversight in the membership of the Gang of Harleys—and yes, I know this is a review for Harley Quinn and not Harley Quinn and her Gang of Harleys—is that there’s no Gnarly Quinn. Seems like a lay-up to me. A Jeff Spicoli from Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Harley Quinn style. The character can be female, that’s fine. This comic’s already got plenty of weed jokes “rolling” around (see, I can do it, too!), I don’t see why we can’t just have a pot head Harley. Or an alcoholic with a penchant for artisanal beer called Barley Quinn. Gosh, writing comics is easy! I see why Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner do it. And boy, they do it pretty well, as you’ll learn when you read my review of Harley Quinn #4!

Explain It!

Hold on a second…is this issue the beginning of a new tale, at number four? Did we really just read a reasonably concise three-part comic book story? I thought all story arcs had to be written in five or six issues, in order to fit into a neat trade! And it’s been absolutely killing some of these opening Rebirth salvos, in my opinion: two- or three-part stories dragged out over six issues. But it looks like that won’t be the case with Harley Quinn, and I absolutely embrace it! It’s not like the events of last issue are forgotten, of course: Coney Island is still being hosed down from the recent zombie invasion, and Nathan’s Nateman’s hot dog stand, where the infestation started, isn’t doing very brisk business. Harley endeavors to help Nate-man, and help her stomach (and probably assault her toilet) by offering to promote Nateman’s on the boardwalk for a half dozen hot dogs with the works per day. Plus fries. Plus a drink. Nate-man does get her to wear the paper hat, at least.

On the boardwalk, Harley strolls along eating hot dogs, which is probably illegal in some states, when she comes upon a new booth named “Frank Frank.” It’s staffed by friend to Palmiotti and Conner, and co-author of Harley Quinn and her Gang of Harleys, Frank Tieri, dispensing honest, straightforward, “frank” advice for cash or barter. Harley trades a hot dog for the meaning of life, which Frank reveals to be “life is meaningless.” Very zen, Frank Tieri. Harley offers another frankfurter (to Frank! Ha!) for clarification, and he says that life is meaningless, but we can have meaningful lives—then he closes shop to eat his two fully-loaded hot dogs. I hope he ate them somewhere in the vicinity of a toilet.

Harley contemplates this wisdom while riding some kiddie rides, then she gets a call from Big Tony that prompts her to tell Bolly Quinn to meet her at the airport. The two hop on a flight to Mumbai, India to deal with the scam artists that have been cold-calling the elderly and clinically dopey to weasel their personal information from them—the groundwork for this story was laid several issues ago, before the Rebirth. Bolly’s arranged for her cousin Hari to pick them up and take them to the hotel where they change into stealth outfits. Hari, smitten with Harley (and she doesn’t think he’s too bad, herself) begs to drive the girls around on their mission and probably sniff Harley’s pigtails when the opportunities present themselves. Then…oh, a bunch of crazy stuff happens, including Harley taking out a giant robot manned by a little Indian person in a diaper. In the end, Harley Quinn slits the throat of the Russian mobster at the helm of this grand scheme to pilfer the social security checks of old folks, and the day is saved!

You really have to read an issue like this to fully get it. I could tell you about every scene, but you would still miss a lot of the commentary and satire and downright funny moments. Harley constantly fights for the common people, and her every decision seems predicated on it—she is a true hero, folks. The art in Harley Quinn is always top notch, and this time is no different…and yet, I felt like it lacked the usual sex appeal of a Harley Quinn book. Maybe that’s a good thing for some of you, me, I like a little cheesecake with my comedy bloodbath.

Bits and Pieces:

It's a one-off issue after an opening story arc! Do my eyes deceive me? You mean this won't be unnecessarily padded with meaningless scenes and overwrought dialogue? Hooray! And I'll tell you, this issue is chock-full of stuff, all done in the name of justice! And sometimes hot dogs. This is a real solid issue in the series, and I do hope we see more single-story issues to break up the formula a little. If ever there were a book to do that, it's Harley Quinn.


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