After a bit of a mixed start with its first three issues (the very first issue was a #0 issue), it looks like this series just might be getting back on track. I am a pretty big fan of Harley from the Batman: The Animated Series days and while the Harley that Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner are writing is nowhere near the same Harley, whether in terms of characterisation or visual design, she is distinctly reminiscent of the totally goofball and oddball behaviour of that first appearance that catapulted her into the big leagues of DC’s characters. Its actually been quite fun to see how Jimmy and Amanda have been tackling her and despite a somewhat mediocre issue last month, my enthusiasm for this title is still fairly high.
The new issue is a Valentine’s issue. This is odd considering that we had Valentine’s a week back. I don’t see why this issue wasn’t released last week, two days before Valentine’s, to kind of fit that whole atmosphere and mood better. But still, it is probably for the best. I doubt that anyone celebrates Valentine’s by getting all violent and taking out a bunch of mass murderers and assassins who are coming after her. Yeah, definitely not. But that’s totally Harley! Kind of.
Harley Quinn #0 was very much one of the best comics of last year. The humour was great, the rotating artist gallery was a fun thing, and the writing just generally was good. Harley Quinn #1 had a lot to live up to and it met some expectations, but failed others. But it is undeniable that Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti wrote a really fun comic with Harley at the center of the proceedings and the series could very well be the bright spot in the grim and grittiness of the New 52 if it could keep going in the same vein all the way. But that’s not what happened with the latest issue.
Harley Quinn #2 is a bit of an odd-beast for sure. It has some really great moments, but then there all the other things that bring it down. The jokes fall a little flat, the writing is not as good, we are already into guest stars and we already have an assistant artist to help out Chad Hardin with the pencils. It is a really weird thing. I liked the story here, but I felt that a lot of the potential was just squandered. I expected more out of it.
With its latest issue, Scott Snyder and Jim Lee’s Superman Unchained is moving into its climax for the first story arc. After a bit of a rough start, the creators are all in the saddle good and proper, and the recent issues have been really good. Its kind of significant I think that I find this new series to be miles better than what’s been happening in the main Superman series, with its revolving door of creators, none of whom stick around for long or if they do, then the fare is pretty mediocre. A good story and good art can go a long way.
We’ve had some pretty major revelations in the series so far. Some really startling revelations at that, and Scott kicked things off like this from the very first pages of the debut issue. Since then there are a lot of things that have happened that have pretty much redefined Superman for me, especially in the New 52. And I’m loving it all because Scott and Jim have really upped their game. The new issue is more of the same and there are quite a few jaw-dropping moments in it.
Just a few days ago the sales figures for the month of November were released and it turns out, surprise surprise, that Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner’s Harley Quinn #0 was the 2nd bestselling issue of the month. Comic Book Resources’ sales report post mentions a figure of 114,000+. That’s pretty damn fantastic for an issue that got lambasted to hell and back for its controversial elements back in September. There was, in fact, so much criticism of the issue before it hit stands that I thought it would barely sell. But sell it did, and quite handsomely. It was also a pretty damn fantastic issue for me, one of the best that I read last month.
The first issue (technically the second issue) brings the story forward, and also restores the fourth wall that Harley repeatedly broke in the previous issue and it presents a protagonist who is most definitely crazy, but also possesses a strong violent and rough streak, thanks to her previous association with the Clown Prince of Crime of the DC Universe, the Joker himself. Equal parts serious and hilarious, Harley Quinn #1 is a fun issue overall, but it does have a few missteps that prevent it from being as great as the previous issue.
When I last checked in with this series, which was back in August with the third issue, the title was just about getting its legs and giving me enough to impress. The first two issues lacked the distinct firecracker vibe that has characterised Scott’s Batman or even his The Wake, and so they were a bit disappointing. But the third issue was fantastic and I really enjoyed it. So much so that I felt this could be an extremely promising series with future issues.
And I certainly wasn’t disappointed at all. The new issue, which was meant to come out last week but was inexplicably delayed till this week, built wonderfully on everything that Scott and artist Jim Lee have done till now to give an issue that is super-fantastic. And a lot of this has to do with how the two of them have portrayed Lex Luthor in this issue, and the big reveals about the global techno-terrorist group known as Ascension that has been harrying the Big Blue for a while now.