Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Harley Quinn #6 Review and **SPOILERS**

The Hardest Part

Writers: Jimmy Palmiotti & Amanda Conner 
Artist: John Timms 
Flashback Artist & Colors: Jill Thompson 
Colors: Alex Sinclair 
Letters: Dave Sharpe 
Cover: Amanda Conner & Alex Sinclair 
Cover Price: $2.99 
On Sale Date: October 19, 2016


By the time I was old enough to go to the record store myself and purchase my own music, the punk rock scene had long been over. That didn’t keep me from purchasing albums by the Ramones, the Misfits, Black Flag, the Sex Pistols, and any other band names I saw on t-shirts for sale in the back of Thrasher magazine. To me, it all belonged under the genre “punk,” though I could make obvious distinctions between United Kingdom and American variants, and even differences between West Coast and East Coast punk rock. At that same time, the only living variant of punk was called hardcore, and I went to a lot of hardcore shows—specifically New York hardcore, which differed from Boston or Huntington Beach hardcore. Now, I hear that “punk” can be applied only to the UK bands like the Damned and G.B.H., while Dead Kennedys and Minor Threat belong in the category “hardcore.” Meanwhile, the music I saw live as a teenager is now called “speed metal.” Point of all this is that labels are bullshit, and no matter what you like there’s always going to be some jerk to explain why you’re wrong about it. That’s why I like Harley Quinn. It defies all conventional formulas and preconceptions about what it should be, and stands out by virtue of doing of its own thing. Let’s check out the latest issue, okay?

Explain It! 

Now that the band is assembled, Harley Quinn’s band has their inaugural performance! And wouldn’t you know, they’re opening for Purple Satin, the very band of larcenous knights in shining armor that Chief Spoonsdale asked Harley to tail. Hold on—not Harley Quinn, with the Mohawk and punk rock garb (which isn’t a lot different than what she wears on a normal Friday night, quite frankly) she’s now G.G. Harlin, and the Skull Bags! And boy, the Skull Bags have a lot of songs about food. Gross food, mostly, but foodstuffs nonetheless. Puts a different spin on the original name solicited for this miniseries, “Eat to This Beat” (it’s now subtitled the far less inspired “Undercover Punker” parts one through three), like maybe the predilection towards food will mean something down the line. Or maybe Harley Quinn is a grody comic book sometimes. No big deal. The crowd does not respond well to these victual-themed tunes, so Harley grabs one of the louder hecklers and beats him stupid with a mic stand, to the thrill of the crowd. Now that’s what I call a natural performer. Give the people what they want!
The Skull Bags’ show concludes with G.G. Harlin throwing clumps of poo at the audience, which is something her namesake G.G. Allin actually used to do. I don’t think, however, G.G. Allin ever brought a duffel bag of crap collected in the cluster of rescued pets living in Harley’s building. This impresses Purple Satin, who have finally decided to show up, and they invite Harley to an afterparty. While Purple Satin plays on stage, Harley explains that the guy she destroyed on stage was a plant—an animal-abusing criminal lined up by Harlem Quinn. And throwing crap…well, it was just throwing crap. Anyway, she tells Big Tony, Eggy, and Red Tool to head out and she’ll text their location when she gets there. In the band’s van, she gets cozy with the lady member Jello…and notices the heart carved out of soap with “J <3 H” written on it. Harley asks about it, and Jello says a fan gave it to her, and then they get all sexy times as Jello asks if Harley’s ready for some excitement. Honey, Harley Quinn is excitement!

We descend, with Harley Quinn, into her watercolor memories of her time as a psychiatrist at Arkham Asylum. She’s seeing the Joker because he bit off another inmate’s ear and crushed his skull by slamming a door on his head. Joker toys with her a while, then reveals the soap heart he carved, with “J <3 H” on the front, just like the one Jello is wearing! And which we know she stole from that mail truck last issue! As he is pulled away by the CO, Joker explains that he attacked the inmate because he’d impugned Dr. Quinzell and he was defending her honor. And she is touched by this gesture, of course, because let’s face it: she’s pretty crazy. Later, but out of Harley’s memories, some of Purple Satin and Quinn are heading across the Williamsburg Bridge into Brooklyn, for this so-called “excitement” that was promised. At a non-descript concrete building, some pleasantries are exchanged and they take a secret elevator down to an underground super villains’ club! Which I’m am 80% sure is something that actually does exist in Williamsburg.
This story arc continues to be a lot of fun, and I’m enjoying the punk rock stylings of the Skull Bags. There aren’t any shocking reveals or crazy twists that turn everything you believed to be true on its ear, but the jokes land and the art is great and it’s terrific to see team Harley Quinn on such a tight focus. Now if someone wants to put some punk rock music to G.G. Harlin’s lyrics about curdled milk, I’d be glad to give it a listen!

Bits and Pieces:

Harley Quinn and her band the Skull Bags are taking New York by storm--and it stinks! Not this comic book, which you will have to read in order to understand the context of the previous sentence. Ha ha, see what I did there? The ol' rope-a-dope. What, that isn't what "rope-a-dope" is? Then what did I do, a "bait n' switch?" What?! All I did was write something stupid? Aww,

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