Harley Quinn #4 (Comics Review)

I seem to be developing a very weird relationship with Harley. Her new series, while been quite the sales success, hasn’t really wowed me as much as I expected it to. The first couple issues were great, but the last two haven’t been as as great sadly. Part of that I think is that story-wise Harley is not that easy a character to write when she is taken so completely out of her element as Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner have done. But, it does give them a lot of opportunities to tell some really exciting stories, and on that front at least, the writing duo has delivered well.

In the new issue released this week, we see a very normal day in the life of Harley. She is currently a building manager on the side while performing as a shrink in a hospital and is also a roller derby enthusiast at night. And she has assassins coming after her, for reasons she has yet to discover. Exciting times certainly, but something is lacking here all the same. I need an over-arching plot for this series, something that says this is what the series is about. However, with Stephane Roux as the guest artist for this issue, I loved the visual beauty of the series, and want more of it.

Harley Quinn 04The bulk of the issue is taken up with Harley doing her job as a counselor/therapist at a local New York hospital. She previously had some of her cronies wipe her record clean so that she could actually get a job and what not, thus establishing her own life separate from her other troubles, and this issue shows how that is turning out for her. The first of her cases that we see is that of an old woman who is estranged from her family, who visit her no more than twice a year and generally just ignore her completely. Harley gets caught up in the righteousness of the whole thing and decides to take matters into her own hands.

Which is where a lot of the awesomeness of this issue comes in.

What I absolutely love about Harley Quinn is that it is just so damn funny all the time. Along with Larfleeze, I think this is the only of DC’s titles where humour is front and center, with the other books being all serious 90% of the time. Harley Quinn is humourous 90% of the time, so there’s a nice contrast there, and much of my attraction for the series comes from that contrast. Jimmy and Amanda are wonderful at these moments and they crystallise that here by inserting a major Star Wars reference in the issue, specifically, that cantina scene from Star Wars in which Han Solo is confronted by the Rodian mercenary Greedo, who is working for Jabba the Hutt. The way that Jimmy and Amanda write that scene is absolutely brilliant and a great nod to one of my favourite SF movies of all time. They handle the entire scene with particular deftness and even they are sort of parodying that classic scene, they leave their own mark on it.

And it is glorious. Really.

Out and about, the two writers show off other aspects of Harley’s life too, such as her role as a building manager and her role as a member of a local roller derby team. I love that they are taking the time and space to show off as much of Harley’s life as they can, and thus prevent her from becoming a one-note character.

At the same time though, I’m getting a bit concerned because there is still no over-arching plot that I can see here. The mystery of who wants Harley killed and why is still a mystery. We haven’t seen any development on that front at all since the subplot was introduced. We continue to get the latest monthly adventures of Harley and that is that. I’m ready for something more substantial.

Like I said, Stephane Roux is the guest artist this month, with regular penciller Chad Hardin absent here. And I think that Stephane did an awesome job here. When I first saw Stephane’s Harley art in Harley Quinn #0, I was totally ready to get him on this title as the regular artist. I think I’ll settle for guest issues from him. A consolation prize is better than nothing! That doesn’t mean of course that his pencils are perfect here. There were a few panels where the expressions were a bit too cartoony, going into anime-styles almost, and in a couple Harley is posed awkwardly, but overall, I loved his work. And Paul Mounts did a fairly good job with the colours, especially when we have Harley putting on the make-up to become Dr. Harleen Quinzel. Good stuff there.

Overall, not as satisfying an issue as I was looking for, but it is still decent. Some good twists in the story here.

Rating: 8/10

More Harley Quinn: #0, #1, #2, #3.

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Posted on March 22, 2014, in Comics Reviews, Review Central and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

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