Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Harley Quinn #14 Review and ** SPOILERS**

It’s Not Where You’re From, It’s Where You’re Atlee

Writers: Jimmy Palmiotti & Amanda Conner 
Artists: Khari Evans & John Timms 
Colors: Alex Sinclair 
Letters: Dave Sharpe 
Cover: Amanda Conner & Alex Sinclair 
Assistant Editor: Dave Wielgosz 
Editor: Chris Conroy 
Group Editor: Mark Doyle 
Cover Price: $2.99 
On Sale Date: February 15, 2017


Hmm…something hinky happened with the solicit for this issue…the DC Comics website shows a story about the vampires imported to devour New York City’s homeless population (and somehow frame Harley Quinn in the process), but this issue…isn’t about that. Of course, it does recall a moment dropped in an earlier issue of Harley Quinn, as this series is known to do, but it’s not about vampires eating the homeless. Which, all things considered, might be just as well. What is this issue about? Well, you’ll have to read my review of Harley Quinn #14 to find out! And you’re in luck, because it’s right here!

Explain It!

Okay, so at the beginning of this issue, the Deputy Mayor Ms. Berkowitz is explaining to the batch of vampires unloaded from a shipping contained last issue that the best place to consume homeless people is Times Square. They have also provided a tiled abattoir in which the vampires can better prepare their smelly morsels, which is sort of a new twist. Cannibals, then besides blood drinkers. And that’s all we see of them for the rest of the issue. It sort of ties in neatly with the solicit, but is meaningless to most of this actual comic book. Something happened here…and I’m not sure what, nor do I think I really care. In the broad light of day, Harley and Harlem Quinn roll into Coney Island on the back of a bad-ass Harley Davidson motorcycle. I mean, I assume it’s bad-ass, because it’s a Harley Davidson. I’m not sure what qualities make a motorcycle bad-ass, except perhaps how noisy it is. It was given as payment to the Gang of Harleys for a good deed they’d done, and despite Harley Quinn’s desire to get her motor runnin’, head out on the highway, it has to be sold to pay some of the mounting bills that plague an asylum escapee with property on Surf Ave. in Coney Island and a crew of murderous heroes to do her bidding. While talking turkey with Big Toney, a window in the ground floor wax museum as Casa de Harley smashes out, and several humanoid bug-things emerge, carrying a boulder! At least it looks like a boulder! For now!
The boulder looks more like a cocoon…more like a turd, if you ask me. At one end is a faceted gem, which, when turned towards the sunlight, begins to absorb power and starts zapping the hell out of people trying to break up the ceremony. Harley is able to overcome one of them by throwing an axe in his head, but not in time to stop the coming of Zorcrom, an entity awoken by Harley and Red Tool a few issues back, when they investigated the hoary forbidden chambers beneath the wax museum. Zorcrom looks sort of like the Thin White Duke, except naked and made completely of some reflective material. Upon emerging, he steps on one of his loyal bug followers, and then proceeds to destroy the rest of them to show what a vindictive dickhead he is. When cops show up, things start to get hairy and Harley Quinn feels she must get involved. While Harlem Quinn goes sick over some police officer viscera that has stained the sidewalk, Harley learns that Zorcrom is from Strata, captured and kept from the sunlight which gives him tremendous powers. And now he’s in the sunlight. Making a connection yet?
Harley is able to send him away by gesturing in the direction of Washington D.C. when asked about our leader. I have to say, there was a little Trump commentary but nothing too demonstrative, I think. I know a lot of comic book readers would appreciate that so I wanted to mention that the restraint, especially for as funny (and outspoken) a writer as Jimmy Palmiotti, is acknowledged. Meanwhile, at Arkham Asylum, Harley Sinn is languishing away in a cell with literal bars—I love this rendition of Arkham as a classic prison in the tradition of Alcatraz. She’s being transferred to another facility, which is a cover-up for Sinn being recruited by a shadow government in order to perform assassinations. Guh? I expected her to be sprung from Arkham but I didn’t think she’d be groomed to be the next Deadshot. The secret organization fakes her death and sets Sinn up with her first target: Randy Houser, a guy with a Band-Aid across the bridge of his nose, universal symbolism for “bruiser.” Twenty minutes later, Zorcrom is tearing Coney Island apart. But some help arrives, in the form of Atlee from Strata!
So…weird issue? Weird issue. There are lots of decent scenes, but it feels like half of the book is given over to setting up future stories. And while Zorcrom was clearly the “main” story, this comic lacked focus and read like a lot of filler. All that being said, there were some genuine moments, where Harley Quinn is unsure of herself, and good character interaction overall. Plus, no surprise at all, the book looks great. I’d say that this could be the worst possible issue since Rebirth to jump on Harley Quinn, but I’m not sure that this series will ever return to its former trade-to-trade writing formula. The jury is out as to whether this is a good strategy, but I personally like it. Being a regular reader of this series, I appreciate these “breathers.”

Bits and Pieces:

While the Deputy Mayor does one thing, and Harley Sinn does another thing, Harley Quinn does this other thing that ends up involving a favorite character from the underworld society of Strata. The issue is sort of aimless, and is probably impenetrable to new readers. But for those of us on the Harley trolley, it should read nicely enough.


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