Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Harley Quinn #56 Review and **SPOILERS**


Guest Writer: Mark Russell 
Guest Artist: Mirka Andolfo 
Colors: Arif Prianto 
Letters: Dave Sharpe 
Cover Price: $3.99 
On Sale Date: December 19, 2018


You know, Harley Quinn is not a bad character to use for social commentary. She’s arguably one of the more “regular” figures in comic books, being that her costume consists of cut-off jeans and shoulder pads. She also deals with day-to-day stuff like rent and friendships, and other things many DC Comics intellectual properties don’t bother with. So if you’re going to comment on the human condition, Harley Quinn is a good facsimile of a human to use. But then…the commentary itself has to be valid as well. Does that happen in this issue? I’m not sure…but I bet my review of Harley Quinn #56 will let us know!

Explain It!

Harley Quinn is having terrible problems with her allergies, because one of her tenants is keeping too many cats. This is a problem canonically, because until this moment, the entire second floor of Harley Quinn’s apartment building kept scores of rescued animals, including cats. There were lots of jokes about how bad it smelled in the Long Ago, when this comic book was entertaining. But now, all of a sudden, she’s terribly allergic. So the solution is—and I can’t believe I’m writing this—for Harley to strap all of the cats to her body so she can walk around Coney Island and give them away. Didn’t we just establish that she’s very allergic to cats? I understand that this issue is just a soapbox for Mark Russell to make a ham-fisted point, but I don’t see why we should dispense with internal story logic. 

Those reading Harley Quinn only since Sam Humphries took over might wonder about some of the concepts seen in this issue. For one thing, Harley’s pal Eggy is around again. And there’s a reference to the wax museum on the first floor of her building. I don’t know that it would be horribly confusing to neophytes, but these things haven’t been referenced in months. So Harley gives a kitty to Nate over at Nateman’s hot dog stand, then that night he is beaten by some dudes who don’t think people should accept pets from women. They believe that men should dispense pets—and those pets are, for some reason, ferrets, snakes, llamas and pigs. Of course, this is an allusion to GamerGate, ComicsGate, Men’s Rights Activists (with one store called Mike’s Rent-an-Animal in case you were still wondering). But it is a misguided commentary, because the issue isn’t that men in the incel community don’t want llamas instead of cats, but cats with massive boobs on them. 
As you might imagine, Harley confronts these guys, and they converge en masse on her apartment building. She cuts off one guy’s hand, a cat shoots another in the chest with a sniper rifle. One cat flies a drone to drop another cat on some guy’s head. Then Catwoman shows up and snags one’s neck with her whip. Then they all leave. That’s it. No big realization, or “coming together” moment. A bunch of guys try to kill Harley Quinn, but are thwarted by cats, so they leave. Will they come back another day? Maybe. Are they going to keep peddling their male-centric pets? Probably. Ultimately, the solution seems to be that the only way to deal with folks on the side of entrenched nostalgia is to throw cats at them or shoot them. 

Which is, very simply, bullshit. I personally have a problem with voices on the internet that want to denounce others but “don’t have the time” to explain why. This feels like that, a very reductive look at an ugly thing happening in comics, positing one side as someone idly giving cats away while the other side is forcing people to accept their pets through violence. That doesn’t really explain what’s happening. And without even that much context, this story is like some weird dream had by an infant. I think, if a point about ComicsGate needed to be made, then Harley should have been giving away cats, while men wanted there only to be cats outfitted with battle armor and oversized guns. The idea could be developed from there, but I’ve spent too much time already coming up with a better allusion than the lazy shit we got.

Bits and Pieces:

A half-formed commentary on ComicsGate masquerading as a complete story.



  1. A thinly.veiled revenge fantasy...just read it and the complete lack of any quality control on the editors part pissed me off, come on DC I payed money for this tripe!

    1. I agree 150% Why hijack a book for your little fight and make people with this on their pull pay the price

  2. Sheesh. . .I thought this sort of stuff was Marvel's flag to hoist.

  3. Reading these old reviews...Russel really hasn't changed has he? GG and CG love free in his head. Amd for someone who probably cons8ders himself "inclusive" and anti-hate speech" he sure has some violent fantasies about people he disagrees with.
    What a trash human being.